Korean MMOs are usually rushed, the localization is usually horrible, they’re grindy, and typically they’re not optimized very well. I went in expecting to find the exact same situation going on in ASTA and when I started out I have to admit I let out an audible sigh. Well okay, the sigh happened after character creation.
Creating a Character
If you’ve ever created a character in an MMORPG before, this is just standard fare. You pick your race you pick your class, you jump into the game and pray to God you didn’t mess anything up. I was kind of glad to find that the creation process was a little more involved than usual in that some races were available for certain classes while others weren’t. That’s pretty normal, but it should also be noted that when you’re in the process of choosing a race/class, even if a race can become a specific class, it might not excel at it.
Humans, for example, can use any class, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. You need to choose carefully, no matter which faction you are going with. As always, there are two factions set on destroying one another, and each race has a different starting area. In other words, you can have a different experience with each new character, ensuring that the game has some replayability.
I decided to do things a little bit differently this time and roll a healer which I’m not entirely sorry about, but we’ll get to that later. For now, you probably want to know whether or not the game was good. Let’s talk about that.
Localization Issues in Asta
The first thing I noticed when I entered the world of Asta Online was the poor localization. I walked up to an NPC and he said something in English so broken, I thought I was literally going to have to get a translator for the translation. That’s how bad it was. I’m not even making a joke here. To be honest, since I didn’t watch the opening cinematic (sue me), I’m not sure WHAT the storyline was supposed to be, other than you fell to the planet inside a meteor. There were some points where the localization was perfectly fine, for example in voice acting and in cinematics, it worked out well, making me think that they actually hired two different teams. What does bother me, as one of my colleagues pointed out, was that the game was actually held back to correct localization issues. What exactly did they fix?
Just after posting this review to social media ASTA reached out to us on twitter to say that localization is still being worked on.
@MMOGames Hello 😉 Localisation is still being improved as we speak. In such a huge game, there is a lot to do. Glad you enjoyed the game!
— ASTA Fantasy MMORPG (@Asta_MMO) April 22, 2016
Getting into the Game
I’m going to be honest, this game is just like most MMOs, and it even has a cash shop. You walk around, you take quests, you finish quests, and you level up. That’s pretty much the long and short of it, but there are some features I happened to notice that may set it apart from other games.
First of all, Asta Online has a public quest system, meaning you can walk into an area and immediately join other players in taking on a task. These areas are typically set, and you won’t find any random quests popping up, but that doesn’t mean it’s not fun. One great early public quest was the elimination of nine-eyed pigs in a pumpkin patch. Killing the required number would result in the spawning of the Dark Nine Eyed Pigs, and killing them culminated in a boss fight, which was a little bit tough, but as a healer I didn’t have a problem taking it on solo. I was able to heal myself after all. The public quests do render pretty good rewards as well as decent experience points, so there’s no reason NOT to get involved with them as you come across them. These quests led to an interesting discovery, that discovery being that monster encounters are apparently not locked, meaning you can jump in and fight alongside anyone you want. In addition to that, as a healer I found that I could heal or buff anyone, even if they weren’t in my group. For an MMO that’s not exactly revolutionary, but I’ve seen a lot of MMO’s make the mistake of not allowing players to interact in that manner if they weren’t grouped.
Leveling up the Old Fashioned Way
The leveling process is manual, meaning once you level up, you will have to allocate skill points on your own. They have the standard categories available, though as a healer I focused more on my energy than anything else. Along with leveling, you also have Divine Spirits to worry about, which fit into a series of slots that open up as you level. These spirits will enhance your stats, and due to the limited slots, it is best to choose something that will go along with your class. For example as a healer, I would choose something that facilitated by energy regeneration, but other classes would choose something different. Divine Spirits can be crafted in the window, and if you’re looking for a more permanent stat enhancement, you can always try your luck with the enhancement slot machine at which you can trade gold for the chance of upping your stats. I had pretty good luck with it, but it does warn you that your stats can go down.
Into the Dungeon
When I hit level 8, the game informed me that I would be permitted to enter dungeons, which was a bit of a relief to me as I was downright tired of dealing with the horrid quest dialogues. I opened the dungeon finder and queued up, only to find that no one else was actually queuing for the dungeon. They weren’t queuing for any of the dungeons. I ended up walking around and waiting for who knows how long before I decided to attempt a dungeon on my own. Fortunately, as I walked through that huge forbidding cave entrance, a ranger appeared and asked to group with me. We did pretty good taking on the tougher mobs, but when it came to the boss, we fell a bit short and my new partner in crime rage quit before we could try again.
A Few Things to Know about the Game
There are a few things that you absolutely need to know if you are thinking of trying out this game. First of all, it’s beautiful. The graphics are top notch, and you won’t find anything else that looks this good in the F2P realm, unless you play Blade and Soul, which is a thing of beauty. Secondly, it plays really, really well, but it is very much a traditional MMORPG. The standard hotbars are there, and it is a pretty grindy game. Fetch quests are standard, though there are tradeskill quests that you can embark upon to break up the monotony.
Overall, the game reeks of Pay to Win with an obvious cash shop and limited inventory space that is going to run you into problems as you get into the late game but I have to say, I had fun. The group dynamics are good, the loot system works, and when it comes right down to it, this game is a great World of Warcraft clone with an Asian theme. It’s easy to see why so many people are playing it.
The game is a standard Eastern MMO, but even so, it carries itself pretty well. The controls are very responsive, the game itself works well, and I found it to be enjoyable, even for what it was.
There isn’t really anything innovative here. The public quest idea was pulled from Rift, of course, and you could see influences from several other games at work as well. The game works well, but there’s really nothing in here that I haven’t seen a million times before. Does that mean you should avoid this one? Absolutely not, it’s a lot of fun.
I didn’t get a chance to join a guild but I did group with several people. They ranged from friendly, to angry, to not talkative at all. One guy ran through a dungeon with me and we never said a word to one another. I did find that everyone was more than eager to help on public quests and while the chat seemed to contain a lot of broken English, everyone was very friendly.
Both graphics and sound were pretty amazing. There are a lot of people who won’t agree with me, and I can already hear you screaming about this now, but I’ve seen a lot worse that ran a lot more poorly.
Value for Money: 7/10
Well the game is free, and there is a cash shop, but I found that as a casual MMO it’s not too bad on the wallet. The one thing you will want to consider is expanding your inventory, especially if you plan to venture outside of the starting zones. There are also several other items that will help you to get ahead, but honestly, the game seems to have a solid PVE experience for free.
+Easy to Learn
-Difficult to Use Dungeon Finder
-Odd Mount Animations
Related: ASTA, MMORPG, Review