RaiderZ Open Beta Preview

Welcome to the RaiderZ Open Beta Preview! It’s been a long time coming, but with the recent Open Beta release of RaiderZ, an action MMORPG from Korean developer MAIET Entertainment (developers of GunZ: The Duel), it’s clear that the age of low quality free to play gaming is coming to an end.

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RaiderZ, published in the US by Perfect World Entertainment and Europe by Gameforge, is likely the first in what we imagine will become the next MMORPG trend, offering breathtaking visuals alongside a more active combat system, similar in every conceivable way to TERA Online, the first in the genre.

COMBAT EVOLVED

This system alters traditional MMORPG combat mechanics in 4 core areas: first, you don’t have a mouse cursor by default, so moving your mouse moves your character camera; second, without the mouse cursor, [Left-Click] is now used to swing your weapon; third, [Right-Click] is used to block incoming attacks, significantly reducing their damage; and finally, double-tapping the [WASD] keys allows you to roll/dodge, avoiding damage entirely.

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It may not sound like much, but these simple changes are the foundational elements of the action MMORPG, and make up the heart of gameplay in RaiderZ. Mastering these simple basics, alongside a traditional hotkey bar filled with skills and spells, is paramount to progression.

That’s the bright side of RaiderZ – the combat is tight, refreshing, active and enjoyable. The dark side rears its ugly head as early as character creation with a severely limited choice of classes, and no choice of race. You can choose to play as a Fighter, Beserker, Cleric or Sorcerer – the staple fantasy standard, minus the Archer and Rogue – and it’s just not enough.

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That said, much of the pain here is mitigated by the option to multi-class at level 10, which works by simply allowing you to choose skills from any of the 4 class trees, mixing up your abilities as you see fit. This won’t let you wear armour that’s specific to those classes, but as all weapons can be used by all classes, and swapped on the fly, it definitely helps keep your character feeling original. That, and the huge amount of armour options available to craft.

ON THE HUNT

Crafting plays a large role in RaiderZ, and is regularly encouraged via specific crafting quests that generally see you receiving a huge equipment upgrade with minimal effort. It also reinforces the idea of crafting, so you start doing it regularly – and end up changing gear every couple of hours. Recipes can even be added to your quest list, a fantastic feature that’s used to full effect.

Creating requires you to collect materials, either from monsters or traditional gathering professions, which forms the basis for much of the gameplay in RaiderZ – Monster Hunting.

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Scattered across the world are hundreds of different monsters; some are small and easily defeated, others are enormous and often require a group of players to defeat – hunting them for their delicious monster parts quickly becomes a core goal for players looking to progress quickly.

Again, the combat mechanics and monster animation are spectacular, turning many of these battles into epic, memorable experiences; some enemies will leap 100ft into their air and come crashing down, others require deft reflexes to block and parry incoming blows that would otherwise result in immediate death. Additionally, attacking many monsters in specific areas or with specific attacks will see pieces of them break off onto the floor, allowing you to pick them up for a combat boost, or even use them as a weapon. An often epic addition that further diversifies battle, making for some crazy scenarios.

THERE’S WORK TO BE DONE

Elsewise, RaiderZ operates along fairly traditional MMORPG progression. You’ll complete quests to increase your level, and by doing so, earn skill points that can be spent to learn new spells, skills and abilities.

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The UI isn’t fantastic; it feels awkward most of the time, making it difficult to join a group or invite players to your own, and it looks a little dated. This could be addressed quite easily, especially the inability to invite players to a group via the chat channel – this is particularly frustrating, as seeing a player yell ‘LFG Black Rock Cave’ and not being able to do anything but respond and suggest a place to meet is a little less-than-friendly.

Dungeons are available, though there aren’t as many as you’d expect, and the lack of a dungeon finder or equivalent system again shows that developer MAIET still have a lot to learn about MMORPG gameplay in Western markets. PvP is missing almost entirely, with player duels making up the bulk of the gameplay.

This is probably my biggest disappointment, as the combat mechanics above scream open-world PvP destruction, but don’t allow for it. It’s been said that RaiderZ was designed as a PvE experience, focusing largely on the monster hunting element; though, personally, that sounds a bit more like a ‘PvP is hard to develop, and we want to launch as soon as possible.’ With any luck, PvP arenas and battlegrounds will be added soon – it’s still open beta, after all.

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Outside missing a little polish, RaiderZ is an incredible addition to the genre and a giant leap forward for free to play MMORPGs. It’s visually stunning and ever rewarding, never leaving you without a goal to complete, or group of people to complete it with – though, given the focus on group-based play, this element deserves immediate attention.

The current open beta test allows players to reach level 35, alongside experiencing the first in-game event: Halloween. More details regarding how the cash shop monetisation will work are coming soon; stay tuned for the full review come release.

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