I do a lot of previews. So does Jason Winter. They usually follow the same format. Private previews mean we get on Skype with a team and they either stream their gameplay to us and we can ask questions or we actually have access to the game and walk around with the dev team while hearing the latest and greatest about a game’s upcoming content. More “public” press previews have a bunch of press from various sites in a private Twitch or YouTube stream and it’s a big group call. Either way they usually follow the same format: we’re shown something, we ask questions, we move on to something else, ask questions, then finish with a more generic Q&A. Some companies have very personable people driving the presentation, some may not. It’s nice to get acces to things early to tell you, our readers, about them, but you really never know if the presentation will be interesting or not headed into them.
When you talk about a game that you aren’t all that familiar with (such as my being not very familiar with Adventure Quest in any incarnation) then you REALLY don’t know what you’re walking into. I never really played AdventureQuest. Many of you have and may have for a long time as the Flash version has been around since 2002. Some of you probably migrated (or played both) when AdventureQuest Worlds dropped in 2008. Yeah, believe it or not I was never one of the literally MILLIONS that played these titles. I don’t have a good reason either. Perhaps I was wrapped up in other MMORPGs at the time and never really knew it existed.
On that note, I wasn’t even watching Adventure Quest 3D’s development at all until a lot of MMOBombers kept emailing me about the game and if we had any information. I really didn’t know what I was getting into when I stepped into my preview this week with the team at Artix Entertainment…and boy was this presentation a bit different…in a great way.
I probably spent about an hour hanging out with Adam Bohn (you AQ players know him as Artix von Krieger) and team wandering the world of AQ3D and chatting gaming. Literally. Yes, we talked about AQ3D, we talked about the massive undertaking that it is for a small company to try and unify iOS, Android, and PC players into the same world, we chatted about the game’s class system where players can swap classes on the fly and in the future may have to unlock multiple classes to get a final class they really want (think unlocking Gladiator and Conjurer in FFXIV to get a Paladin and you have the idea), and more. But we also traded stories about the gaming industry, Artix’s devastation when Unity decided to no longer support Flash in 2013, and other items.
This preview seriously felt like a bunch of gamers sitting around swapping stories about their gaming pasts and the industry as a whole. I learned quite a bit about AQ3D in the process.
First, AQ3D may seem simplistic at first and compared to some other MMORPGs out there, maybe it is. But do not make the mistake of thinking that means it is easy. The big, vibrant, colorful world is impressive. Even more so when you consider that this is Artix’s first foray into the third dimension. Long time AQ players will likely “Sqwee” a little the first time they see the city of Battleon in 3D. The game’s fast load times in between zoning into dungeons, shops, and other locales is a testament to the programming behind the system that actually dynamically loads and unloads assets as you come across them. The game’s fast travel system lets you jump to almost any map in the game to group up quickly, and future enhancements will allow friends (regardless of platform) to send codes to each other so that you can instantly jump to your friend’s location and play together.
And that’s the name of the game, playing together quickly. AQ3D is its own story. It’s not a continuation of previous games in the franchise. In this version, Artix has put the focus on quick play. Allow players to group up quickly, knock out a dungeon, and move on. Maybe you’re on the go and only have a few minutes to play? No problem. The controls easily make tablet play comfortable. Swapping classes, fast travel, inventory management, gear…it all works very quickly through basically one master menu. While “Pre-Beta” continues, lots of early backers are already in game leveling up multiple classes.
Our first game experience involves chasing down a big baddie in the game’s new intro sequence. Visually the game looks great and I opt to play as a Guardian. I quickly change to Mage (skipping Warrior and Rogue) and start raining fireballs and lightning on my foes. Gameplay is smooth with solid animations and very little stutter for a game this early in testing. Each time we travel the map we’re thrown right into a new adventure and players will appreciate jumping right from fight to fight (with varying difficulty of course) without a lot of walking or traveling downtime.
While AQ3D will be free-to-play, the game will also feature some monetization. This will likely come in the form of an in-game cash shop but Artix ensures me that there will be no pay-to-win debate on their business. Judging by the very creative gear some players around me were wearing (including a paper bag head piece with a face drawn on it) there is going to be plenty of room for cosmetic sales.
If you want to get in on some early testing, you can become a Guardian now for $25 and score some lifetime perks.
All in all, AQ3D seems to be shaping up nicely and AQ fans are probably going to enjoy the game’s transition into 3D quite a bit. But a word of warning….don’t call it a chicken…in AQ3D that’s a “Dricken” (dragon and chicken) and the team behind the game’s passion doesn’t just extend to their hard work but also to the lore of the land, so get to know your critters.
My thanks to the team at Artix for their time and their CLEARLY evident passion for gaming and their franchise. It was refreshing to see on what usually would have been a run-of-the-mill preview. You’ll be able to play AQ3D on Steam, iOS, and Android devices.