Free to play MMORPG, with a serious case of anime, yes it can only be Aura Kingdom. Or, as I like to call it, Anime: the Video Game. But enough joking about what this game is about, let’s look at the positives and the negatives of Aura Kingdom, a game I found in Steam’s many, many free to play titles. But just because it’s free doesn’t mean it’s free from scrutiny, nor is it something to pass up. Let’s get our inner anime on! Believe it! Plus Ultra! Believe in the heart of the cards! Uhh… DRAGON BALL Z! Okay, I’ve said enough anime things now.
|Windows Release||July 2014|
|Price on Steam||£Free (Steam link)|
Eidolons, magic and melee is the name of the game, as you play as an Envoy of Gaia. You have the power to call upon powerful creatures, known as Eidolons, which assist you in battle – But such a power comes at a cost. After being rudely awoken from fighting off demons, you come to find yourself going from town to town, into cities and greater, trying to understand more about the powerful spirit that follows you. Having seen an evil side to your powers, you go to seek knowledge and acceptance in a world that both fears and admires you. You set forth for a massive adventure, one that will shape the world as you know it.
If you have ever played an MMORPG, then you will know what’s up, but let me give you a breakdown of how this works. You have stats, gear, costumes (which effectively changes the appearance of your character), mounts and more.
You play as an Envoy of Gaia, a powerful warrior who keeps the peace. You choose one of up to 14 playable classes, including titles like Shinobi and Reaper. I chose to play as a reaper, which meant I got some devilish summons and was able to fight with a powerful ranged blade, a scythe. Once you have customised your appearance and given yourself a name, you jump straight into the action, fighting demons from the get go in a tutorial battle. There are various in game tutorials, most of which appears to be re-watchable. This comes in handy, as some of the tasks in the game aren’t wholly intuitive, but get much easier as you play.
Combat is a combination of running up to an enemy in the overworld, clicking it and using actions in your action bar. These actions can be moved around, as well as the ability to put items in the action bar for quick access. Actions are learned throughout the game, as you progress in level. Some actions are more effective than others, but everyone gets access to a basic attack, along with an action or two that they get at level 1. These can later on be upgraded through means of Secret Stones and upgrading the stats of your character.
To upgrade your characters stats, you must level up, to a current maximum of level 90, where you get to level up Offensive stats first, followed by Defensive after hitting level 10. Your defensive stats are used to decrease damage taken or to avoid it completely, as well as increasing your health. Your Offensive stats increase the base damage of your character, the attack speed and the critical chance. These all make the characters build differently, so it’s important to get the stats right, as you aren’t likely to increase them easily later down the line.
As well as stats, when you level up, you might get a Mastery, to improve one of your skills further. These are changeable, incase you come against a foe that needs to be killed faster or needs to be easier to maintain a long fight against. Finally, you get access to talents, which increase your stats further, or give you access to weapon specific bonuses, or even new abilities. This is hugely important for when you figure if you want to focus on PvE (Fighting bosses and raids), or PvP (Fighting other players). The right skill can make all the difference, but don’t worry! You can amend these talents later down the line by paying a fee to respec the character.
Your main source for experience is in quests, but it’s wholly possible to level up by just fighting monsters, or even doing a task such as fishing. The quests give you points towards unlocking more items in game, as does eavesdropping on characters around the world. A recurring pair are Romeo and Juliet, whom you can hear doting on one another regularly. There are many different currencies in game, these points and gold are just a few. You also get daily quests, where you repeat an action for gold, experience and tokens.
You have skills outside of combat to be levelled up, which includes Archaeology, Cooking, Fishing and Smithing. These are all levelled up by repeating a task, so can be a good way to just switch off from grinding for experience. Aura Kingdom promote these other tasks by giving you the occasional quest related to the skill at hand. This might be to fish up some cod for a man who has collapsed out of hunger, or to make a specific item. It seems as if the game only really wants to focusing on this past level 40, as many skills are just simply undoable until then, or are just outside of people’s price range. Interestingly, you can either do this automatically, or manually. Each different skill has a different method for both and they have their pros and cons. If you just wanna get lots of objects whilst walking off, feel free to leave it on auto, but you won’t get as many of the high end items. A great example is at level 40, you get to equip a fishing rod that allows you to catch Copper Sharks, which have a chance of dropping an item which sells for 1 gold, or you can get recipes and the likes. On auto at this level, you will not be able to get those; it must be caught manually.
Finally, there are numerous different ways to play co-operatively, such as instances and raids. These are more powerful fights which requires more than one person to get involved, which means the loot is better and as such you are rewarded for playing co-operatively. You can find people in their group finder services, or through a guild, which you can join relatively easily, or through the general chat. Communication is key to doing the larger quests, and the first instance, Dimension Hall, is accessible from level 20+.
The graphics style of Aura Kingdom is wonderful – It’s as anime inspired as it gets. Want proof? Here you go:
I am in two minds about the audio of Aura Kingdom, as for one it’s set to “Mute all” by default; a confusing decision. But when you unmute it, the game does sound good, if a little on the cliché side. It’s fair to point out that the music gets repetitive, but this is true of most MMOs. Different zones have different music, but typically it’s just one track on repeat. My personal favourite music comes in the form of the main city of the game, which is a huge place, heightened by the high fantasy music that comes with it.
The easiest comparison to make is to World of Warcraft, as both of these games are fantasy MMORPGs. Now don’t worry, I appreciate the vast fortune poured into WoW by Blizzard, so I won’t call Aura Kingdom ‘worse’ than WoW on that front, but with that said, this is definitely the best anime MMORPG I have ever picked up. It’s weirdly not the only one, but it’s the one with the most polish, to a point. It’s also stylish to look at, without being a computer killer, with great graphics options.
Sure, it has its flaws: Numerous quests where it randomly spouts out nonsense like the character’s name at the end of a dialogue tree; Glitched jumping; Camera being able to look through objects including the ground; the list could go on. But what this game does is offer a free to play MMORPG, without a need to buy all the goodies. You can definitely benefit from buying goods, but you can easily get through the game without it. It’s not hard, it’s pretty grindy, but if you have ever played an MMORPG where grinding isn’t a major part of it, I would recommend you’re not playing an MMORPG at all. Oh the community doesn’t seem too bad at all either.