My First MMORPG: "Perfect World"

Rowdy Rob's picture

My First MMORPG: "Perfect World"
Perfect World: load screenPerfect World: load screen

I've played a fair share of solo CRPG's, but I came across an MMORPG that seemed quite inviting and well-worth test-running. That MMORPG is called Perfect World, a new Chinese-mythology-themed MMORPG released by "Perfect World International," and is said by many to be quite competitive with, if not surpassing, other MMORPG's such as "World of Warcraft." On top of that, it's FREE to play; the service company makes its money by selling you bonus items and services (completely optional). Although it's genuinely free, "Perfect World" is a REAL, commercially-developed MMORPG; it's the real deal, and not just some freeware wannabe.

Here is a chronicle of my beginning journey, and since I've never played an MMORPG before, this is from the perspective of a complete MMO neophyte. I will try to be as brief as possible, so bear with me when I cut corners and such in the retelling.

Although the game is Asian-themed, the presentation is very Westernized. There's nothing here that would look out of place in a Western RPG. There's NO CUTESY anime stuff in this game at all. In fact, it all looks TOO Westernized; those who are looking for something radically different from the Tolkien-inspired fantasies might be disappointed. It's "World of Warcraft" with a slightly different skin, as far as I can tell. And that's not a bad thing, in my opinion....it's not too esoteric to the point of being unapproachable to Westerners, culturally. Really, it doesn't feel very "Chinese" at all to me, so don't be afraid to dive in.

A few things about PW that separates it from other MMORPG's:

1) At higher levels, your character can FLY!!! And that means the concept of "aerial battles" comes into play!

2) You can also acquire mounts, such as horses, dinosaurs, exotic creatures, and so forth, which allows you to travel faster. Although other MMO's have "mounts," in this one, some "mounts" can FLY! Again, aerial battles are possible (and likely)!

3) It's genuinely free-to-play. Although the company makes money selling you "bonus items," there appears to be little incentive for you to purchase them unless you're really hardcore. Even if you do buy a few items here and there, overall, it's still cheaper than a monthly subscription to another MMORPG. But for casual gamers, this is a real-deal MMORPG for free!

4) You can tweak your avatar's facial features more than any other game (!) I've ever played! Spend enough time, and you can probably make a near-exact clone of yourself!

5) Clans can battle in arenas for territories! Thus, there's an incentive for clans to recruit good players (like yourself!) to help them win territories! This seems like a good idea in that it promotes online comraderie, rather than bar players from snobbish clans.

6) While I can't compare it to other MMORPG's, since I haven't played them, the presentation here (graphics, audio, etc.) is very slick, gorgeous, and professional!

Perfect World: the Game

"Perfect World" is based on Chinese mythology, and is set in the fantasy world of "Pangu." Here's the "Cliff Notes" version: There are three "sentient" races for players to choose from: human, winged elves, and "untamed" (a half-human/half-beast hybrid). There is a background story-line here; basically, as far as I can tell, the "Perfect World" is threatened, not only by corruption, but by the undead "wraiths" and such, which you must battle. I know that my description is perfunctory, but check out the website for more background. Bottom line: there appears to be a "plot" to the game, which goes against what many have said is a weakness of MMORPG's: lack of plot.. The more "quests" you complete, the more plot is revealed to you.

Perfect World: The Installation:

With all the rigamarole, it took about 2+ hours to download the client, unpack the installation, download the "worlds," etc., on a high-speed connection. Approxamately 3 Gigs of storage on your hard drive is required. Once installed, the client downloads "updates" and whatnot, taking another 10 minutes or so.

Character Creation:

There are rather limited race and character class options in this game, compared with just about any other CRPG. Races: you can be human, "winged elf," and "untamed" (a human/beast hybrid), each with specialized skills and adjustments. Each race offers male and female genders.

Character classes are fairly limited: each race essentially has two classes: variations on "warrior/archer" and "magic user/cleric." Hardcore D&D'ers might balk at such limited choices of race or class, but I found it really didn't matter much in the actual game. And there are no "alignments;" you are who you are in this game.

I chose a (boring, I know) human warrior, and named him "KodaiSamson." I wanted to name him "Kazuhiro Samson," but apparently that name was too long for the game to accept.

One aspect of the "Character Creation" process that was extremely impressive was the vast ability to create your character's physical appearance! I've never seen a game, MMO or otherwise, that allowed the gamer to tweak his avatar's facial appearance to this degree! There are so many tweaks and options that you can spend HOURS getting your avatar to look just right! You are encouraged in the game to create an avatar that looks as close to your "real life" appearance as possible, so that's what I did. While I didn't quite get my avatar looking like my exact duplicate, here's what I came up with after about a half-hour of tweaking:Perfect World: KodaiSamson (me!)Perfect World: KodaiSamson (me!)

(P.S. I'm better looking in real life than my avatar! I didn't spend enough time tweaking my facial appearance!)

Finally, joining the game:

After finally getting past the character creation, I managed to log into a server and was dumped into the "Perfect World." My very first view was of my character surrounded by what appeared to be giant enemy bugs and walking carnivorous plants. I clicked on the "fight" button, and my character started chopping away.... was I doing the right thing?

I saw many "players" running around doing the same thing, hacking away at the "enemy." It was at this point that I started to recollect "Unreal Tournament." All these players were running around, chopping away at anything that moves, seemingly oblivious to my presence. Seeing these other players running around was really the only clue I had that I was playing an MMORPG, and not a solo CRPG.

After a few minutes of "killing," I discovered an NPC "Guide" that gave me a mission: kill 10 "beetles" and present myself to a guard at "Everblade" castle. I did, easily, and was on my way.

Impressions from a newbie:

Other than the shape of some buildings (Eastern style), I see little here that would be out of place in a Western RPG. The striking thing about "Perfect World" is how "Western" it is, boding well for its success here in America. Part of that impression is the fact that other players are running around with names like "Hotbabe," "BeerSwiller," "SmokeBong," and whatever else. The overall ambience was not very "Asian." I know I keep stressing the lack of "Asian-ness," but I'm somewhat afraid that the "Chinese" motif might scare away potential Western gamers, so I want to reassure you that this game feels very "conventional" from a Western perspective.

Presentation:

The presentation is incredible. From the installation graphics on forth, it is clear that this is a big-league game!

Keep in mind that I've never played "World of Warcraft," so from my perspective the graphics in "Perfect World" are very impressive. Certainly not "Elder Scrolls: Oblivion" or "Gears of War 2," but definitely on par with the previous generation of videogames (i.e. Unreal II). In fact, it was the presentation that sold me on this game..... I was expecting a whole lot less than I got!

Sound and music are pleasant and perfunctory. The in-game music is mildly Eastern-themed, but not in an esoteric "Chinese restaurant music" way. It's pleasantly orchestral and unobtrusive. As for the sound FX, they seem rather limited to basic footsteps, sword chops, and so forth. I'd like to hear the monsters "roar," but as far as I can tell, the game's sound FX are rather spartan. Perhaps I haven't seen enough of the game to make a true judgement. (note: I did come across monsters that laughed at me!)

Gameplay:

To be honest, from the moment I stepped in, I didn't feel the MMO compulsion. If it weren't for the fact that I saw a bunch of player characters doing their own thing, there was little to separate the MMO experience from the solo experience. Likewise, I did my own thing, completing missions and whatnot, without even attempting to chat with the other players in the realm, who seemed to be in their own little world. There was nothing stopping me from trying to start up a conversation with a random stranger, but everyone looked too busy running around killing creatures and moving about; I didn't want to impose on their fun.

On higher levels, I hear that you will be invited to join "clans," but from my perspective, nobody even noticed my weak self, and likewise, I didn't pay much attention to people roaming around me. I was just playing a high-quality single-player CRPG.

The only sense of "multiplayer" I got was when someone named "Samuraibabe" challenged me to a duel in the town of "Everblade." Since in PvE mode, there was nothing at stake (no permanent damage), I agreed to a duel. She proceeded to kick my butt in under a minute, and then moved on. Hey, that was kind of cool.... I need to meet up with this "Samuraibabe:....." :-)

Speaking of battles, apparently your participation is rather limited. You click on the "enemy," then you click the fight button, and your character starts attacking. I understand that this is very similar to how "World of Warcraft" handles battles, but after some hardcore "Baldur's Gate" battle-sessions, this seemed to be a letdown. Admittedly, I am only a newbie, so there's perhaps more to the battle system than there initially seems to be.

Conclusion:

I'm having fun! I'm not having "multiplayer" fun yet, but the game is holding my interest, even as a single-player game. As my character "levels up," I expect to be solicited by the various clans, and perhaps I can make some online friends and really feel the grasp of the MMORPG genre.

Since I haven't dealt with the "chat" feature yet, I haven't made any online friends, and thus I haven't felt like I HAVE TO PLAY all day an night. My gaming sessions have been casual, played in one-hour bursts over the past few days. I'm doing my own thing for now, and I'm cool with that. I do need to explore the "chat" system, though.

I guess I'm highly recommending "Perfect World," but I'm hesitant to do so because I don't know what I'm comparing PW against. Is it really as good as World of Warcraft or countless other MMORPG's? I don't know. All I know is that, for a free game, it's definitely commercial-quality, and it's free to play, and the presentation is tremendous. If WoW or other MMoRPG's are this good, then I'm getting a good deal for free what you guys are paying a monthly fee for!

Here's the YouTube teaser trailer to whet your appetite:

And here's a link to the "Perfect World International" website:

http://pwi.perfectworld.com/

Come join me in the fun!

Comments

Bill Loguidice
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Excellent! I promoted this

Excellent! I promoted this to the front page.

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Rowdy Rob
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Experienced MMORPG'ers needed!
Bill Loguidice wrote:

Excellent! I promoted this to the front page.

Thank you for the vote of confidence, Bill! Considering the fact that I rushed through my post, I am quite curious how a REAL, EXPERIENCED MMORPG player might feel about "Perfect World." Is it comparable to the commerial RPGs, such as "World of Warcraft?" Or is it just a distant pretender to the throne?

Since I have never played the other MMORPG''s, I don't know how well "Perfect World" holds up. All I know is that 'Perfect World" is surprisingly good, and more than worth my time. That having been said, I haven't played it in the past couple of days......

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Mark Vergeer
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Registered and downloading the client file on my laptop

I registered as lactobacillus I am definitely going to check out this game!

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Matt Barton
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Neat, I haven't heard of

Neat, I haven't heard of this game before. It's certainly interesting that it's free to play, though I suspect that more people than you think will be willing to buy the bonus items. If people spend hours and hours (or even weeks) grinding for a certain piece of gear, why wouldn't they be willing to spend a few bucks to get it right away? This seems like a better option for those unwilling to commit to a monthly fee or with little time or patience for grinding. Only downside would be that people with lots of cash might have an edge over poorer players with better skills. WoW dabbled a bit with this (I think) with some kind of collectible cards; you could get a code for a special item. Haven't heard much of it, though.

Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your perspective), WoW does have all the features you seem excited about (except for the carefully detailed facial options). There are mounts (many, many kinds) and some that fly, and now there are certain areas where you can fight on horseback (or dragonback, as the case may be). I've been glued to the expansion (Lich King) pretty much since I got it, and am having problems getting real work done!! Just hit level 80 with my gnome mage last night. I decided to rejoin the alliance so I could "raid" with my friend. Did the first one last night--a 25-man run to kill a bunch of dragons. It's almost like playing an intramural sport when you have all those people so well organized!

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Mark Vergeer
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The Perfect World download proves to be less of a hassle

The Perfect World download is very easy and you'll be able to access the world without any big problems.

The WoW free trial download gives you a very basic simple 'play world' which is very limited. It may be a great game but getting to know it and experience the 'full enchilada' is something that you really have to invest time in. Not only play time but also download-time.

The WoW website offers downloads of the full-version clients with specific accounts and you can download various clients of the various WoW versions that are out there. But instead of offering the latest & fully patched clients for fresh users they offer the 'oldest' version which needs to be consecutively patched and patched. This process takes a long time and often the downloads can be deemed as fairly unnecessary as the consecutive downloads and patches sometimes contain a whole new version of the game that is in turn patched again and again and is sometimes replaced by yet another newer version. After downloading the enough data amounting to roughly three times the entire game at a very very slow download speed I decided WoW had too steep an access curve for me.

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Rowdy Rob
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World of Warcraft Vs. Perfect World
Mark Vergeer wrote:

After downloading the enough data amounting to roughly three times the entire game at a very very slow download speed I decided WoW had too steep an access curve for me.

My experiences with Perfect World made me curious about just how good WoW is in comparison, so I did a little more research into WoW.

It seems like WoW has a much "richer" world to explore, particularly with all the expansions. There's also a LOT more variations in character races and classes in WoW, and apparently many more skills and spells to choose from (although I am not sure how extensive PW's skills and spells are, since I haven't really gotten that far in the game yet).

Keep in mind that I've only scratched the surface of PW, though. I've basically been hanging around the town of "Everblade," and haven't seen much of the world or how extensive it is.

As for the graphics, it appears that PW is better, but at the expense of framerate. I didn't really think too much about the framerate until I saw some WoW gameplay videos, and it appears that WoW is smooth as silk. Perhaps you really need to have a super-high-end machine to appreciate PW's graphics with all the settings at full blast at a smooth framerate. WoW's graphics appear to be lower-polygon and less in the FX department (cast shadows, water reflections, etc.). That having been said, WoW's graphics are still great for such a game, and are more than acceptable. Shadow-casting, reflecting bump-mapped objects do not make for a great RPG experience in and of themselves.

In my research on WoW and PW, I discovered something that just leaped out at me. Here, it's better that I SHOW you rather than tell you...
WoW Game InterfaceWoW Game InterfacePerfect World Game InterfacePerfect World Game Interface

Notice anything similar about these two screens? The PW interface appears to be near identical to WoW's, complete with the buttons on the bottom screen, the chat window in the bottom left, and the round mini-map at the top right! If I drop my resolution down, the interface button and map sizes in PW would probably be an exact match to WoW's interface in the screenshots above! I can see a lawsuit brewing here!

As for the difficulty in installing WoW, if it's a game I expect to be enjoying consistently for months or longer, I can put up with the initial installation woes. But it sounds like WoW attracts many players who are otherwise casual computer users or neophytes. When those players take the game home from the store, what happens????

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Matt Barton
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That's true about the

That's true about the installation procedure--what a pain. Even with a high speed connection, it can take several hours to download all the patches and get the game running. What's really stupid is that even if you download the entire game (rather than try to install it with old CDs or DVDs) you still have to do all the patches. Why the hell don't they patch the download themselves to save you the step? I don't get it. Surely it's costing them more for downloads.

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Mark Vergeer
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Wow - download woes

Yeah, one would expect the 'full download' to be the latest fully patched version or at least a version that would only require minor patching. Alas this is not the case.... now Perfect World is a different story altogether.

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Armchair arcade Editor | Pixellator | www.markvergeer.nl

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Mark Vergeer
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I am still in the process of downloading Perfect World

I am going to install it on my Vista Core2Duo machine. I upgraded the power supply and it now is able to use the Nvidia 8600GT without any problems. And it'll run Perfect World beautifully no doubt. I opted not to go through with the installation on my notebook as I basically want to keep that game-free. I restarted the download and I am currently at 43%. There are a few patches to be installed afterwards. I am very curious after that experience. Will it be as painfull as the endless WoW patches?

Xbox 360: Lactobacillus P | Wii: 8151 3435 8469 3138
Armchair arcade Editor | Pixellator | www.markvergeer.nl

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Mark Vergeer
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Updating Perfect World

Updating to the latest version is pretty straightforward. Far smoother than WoW.

Xbox 360: Lactobacillus P | Wii: 8151 3435 8469 3138
Armchair arcade Editor | Pixellator | www.markvergeer.nl

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