Before I begin, this article is purely a personal opinion piece, based on 6 hours of gameplay and 3 characters belonging to different clans. Swordsman Online, developed by Perfect World, entered test phase 2 earlier today, and I got in for a look.
With Age of Wushu leaving a deep impression, minus the combat which I didn’t enjoy, my hopes were extremely high for this game, which was delayed for a couple of years due to an upgrade in game engine. So how did it fare in my eyes?
I was deeply disappointed, I truly am. While Swordsman Online can boast of its 10 authentic martial arts clans for players to choose from, every player wears the same look for the first 20 levels. To add a further blow, players are not transferred to the clan base before or after choosing.
In fact, players choose the clans to join in a house, and then carry on like everyone else. No branching storyline, no differentiation in clans to show other than the skills.
From what I remember in Age of Wushu, every clan has got different quests to allow players to understand its foundations more, its beliefs and get to know the important people. Not in Swordsman Online, everything is rushed for players to progress.
The maps are really small as well, leaving no room for actual exploration. I might be spoiled too much by Age of Wushu, but I am estimating each map in AoW is about 10 times the size of that in Swordsman.
There is also no actual “qingong’ thus far except for some instanced quick time events, with just a double jump to show in actual play.
The 3 clans I tried were Wudang, Emei and Tang Clan. After the above disappointment, I thought that I should move on, and perhaps the clan bases will be all grand and stuff, a gigantic place to explore and even bigger than those in Age of Wushu. Man I was wrong.
Seen above is the map of Emei. Doesn’t take a genius to really know how puny it is, with only a couple of NPCs around. Ok, it is closed beta after all, but what are the chances of a massive base expansion come launch? And every clan base is an instance, players can’t just go riding up a mountain and reach them.
The combat system in Perfect World’s other new game, Saint Seiya Online, was near perfect for a classic point and click. Everything seems like a mass in Swordsman Online, from a normal gamer’s point of view. You see, the “normal attack” key cannot be dragged and placed under the number keys, since they are taken up by the set skills.
With most of the other keys confined to different functions, the default attack keys are just right click and the console key. Yes, the one beside the number “1” on your keyboard, which did not work for me. Eventually, I placed the normal attack key under “E”, which is reserved for chained combos.
There are different skill sets to learn, for example the Taichi Swordplay set has a few skills under it. New skill sets can be learned when progressing in the game, and players can change them during battle. Pretty much like Guild Wars 2, except that the weapon stays the same.
Partying for dungeons in Saint Seiya Online is extremely fuss free, with the system automatically allocate individual players of the same level range together and even make sure different classes are chosen. I have no idea why. but Swordsman Online reverted back to the confusing system of looking through a list of parties with slots, hoping the leader will accept.
This led to the chat window spammed with players looking for parties for the first instanced dungeon, with most eventually choosing to go solo. Why, Perfect World, would you take a step back?
The only saving grace during my 6 hours of game time is probably the awesome graphics. Everything looks so pretty, minus the same clothing every single player is wearing. It is a shame that Swordsman Online seem to be bogged down by its gameplay features.
I will still be playing Swordsman Online, and I am actually on my 4th character now to test out the different clans. If nothing major changes my views, I will not be posting any more personal updates. I am seriously underwhelmed by the game, and I can’t believe almost nothing on my list of expectations is met.