Trion welcomes action-RPG Devilian into its fold


After a cryptic teaser site posted last week, Trion Worlds is finally ready to make its big announcement: The studio will be publishing Korean import Devilian as part of its library.

In a nutshell, Devilian is a full-fledged action MMORPG in the vein of Path of Exile and Marvel Heroes, although it contains a few unique twists. Chief among these is the ability to charge up and unleash a “devil” mode with your character, increasing damage and changing your look.

Devil theme aside, it’s a somewhat more light-hearted take on the ARPG genre than, say, Diablo III, with a special emphasis on player relationships and guild features. So how did this partnership come about? Read on and find out!

Two developers walk into a South Korean bar…

Trion Worlds is absolutely serious about building up its Glyph platform, evaluating at least two or three contenders every month. The team is also on the prowl around the world, especially in South Korea, where it previously acquired ArcheAge.

Devilian came to the studio’s attention when one of Trion’s people ended up hobnobbing with one of the game’s developers in a bar. After discovering that Trion and Ginno had similar views on what makes a quality and fun MMO, Trion decided that business could be done.

While Devilian hasn’t proven to be a monster hit in Korea since its August 2014 launch, Trion saw potential for it to be much bigger in the west, where ARPGs are quite popular these days. The two studios have been in talks over the past year and are now ready to import Devilian by the end of 2015.

Without overtly referencing the trials and tribulations of its handling of ArcheAge’s import, Trion did mention that it has learned a few important lessons from recent events and will be handling Devilian much better, starting with “more authority” in its relationship with the Ginno team. Scott Hartsman also emphasized that putting the customer first and foremost will remain a top priority with this new game.

What is Devilian?

I’ll admit that “Devilian” as a name isn’t exactly winning me over — it sounds like a bad translation or perhaps a mid-’80s hair band — but watching the developers casually play through a zone gradually won my interest.

The best way to describe this game is to start with Diablo III (a comparison that Trion was reluctant to make), slice away the grimdark elements, and add in a full layer of persistent world MMO functionality. As in the first two games of the Diablo franchise, you’ll be limited to playing character classes that are gender-locked (four to start, with the promise of more to come). A vast majority of your time will be spent roaming, killing, and looting the meat and spectral piñatas on the landscape.

However, it will be more than just a generic Diablo. The devs I spoke with didn’t stop testifying that Devilian had every right to call itself an MMO, from its fully featured guild setup to the sprawling open world littered with cities and dungeons galore.

Even though there are gender-locked characters, Devilian will give you many ways to customize the look and playstyle of your avatar. First things first, however: the classes. Devilian’s line-up features the dual-wielding Berserker, the stealthy Shadow Hunter, the spell-slinging Evoker, and the trap-springing Cannoneer.

Don’t forget that you’ll have your devilian mode, which means that you get to customize two looks for your character instead of just one. There are plenty of cosmetics available as well, so don’t worry that you’ll be looking exactly like 25% of the game’s population.

Each class has three skill trees boasting very different combat proficiencies. The Shadow Hunter, for example, could choose to specialize in being a ranged, shuriken-flinging fighter or an up-close assassin. The characters vary even more when you factor in the game’s talisman system. Talismans are items that can be powered up and slotted in increasing number as you level. Think of them as a cards from which you can construct many different builds, each tweaking your character’s stats and abilities. They can also be crafted, which adds an immediate benefit to those who like to make their own stuff and aren’t overly fond of having to churn out piles of outdated gear.

Presents and possibilities

Devilian won’t be an MMO that’s concerned with player housing and gardening. You’ll be on the road and out in the field most of the time you’re playing. While it might be prudent to stay in an isometric viewpoint for ease of combat, there is an option to bring the camera in to third-person over-the-shoulder view as well.

Hartsman said that he was deeply impressed with Devilian’s social features, one of which being the ability for players to give their friends presents every day. It’s not an empty exchange of buffs, either; the more friends group together, the better their presents get. Getting to friends or objectives isn’t too difficult, either, with various ports and the ability to auto-run to a destination.

Guilds, too, will have plenty to do starting with leveling up and bestowing perks on their members. Guilds can form alliances, which can then be called upon to fight world bosses or defend against enemy guilds. Yes, there are guild wars, although these are completely consensual (as is the 20v20 PvP maps).

Taking a cue from RIFT, Devilian has its own version of instant adventures called eternal hunting grounds. Choose to do this, and you’ll be transported right into the thick of the action with other players. It’s ready-made group content without the stress.

I asked the devs what they personally enjoy about Devilian. The combat got a big thumbs-up (“I get to be a whirling ball of death!” one dev squeed), as did the expansive guild and talisman systems. But perhaps the most repeated factor was how Devilian truly supports players who have a limited game time budget and want to get the most out of 15- or 20-minute sessions. This is the game for lunch breaks, before school stints, and parents who have to balance other responsibilities, I was told.

The roadmap going forward

Trion’s goal is to get Devilian ready to launch by the end of 2015, which means a lot of testing, iteration, and polish. Sign-ups are already open on the English site, with the beta coming soon.

While 2015 is Trion’s goal, Hartsman said that it is not going to commit to a particular date right now. This is because the team wants to test the game hard and make sure that it has its monetization and game functionality down before it heads out the door.

Devilian will be “fair free-to-play” in line with the rest of Trion’s stable. The nitty-gritty details haven’t been worked out yet, but there will be a cash shop that sells mostly cosmetics, in-game currency that can be used to buy cash shop item equivalents, and a subscription option for those looking for more benefits.

Trion will be working hand-in-hand with Ginno to make Devilian a title that a western audience will find appealing and accessible. The studio said that it has “significant” input with the developer in many areas, including character customization, loot, and advancement.

“The devil is in inside us,” Devilian says in its tagline. But what’s truly inside Devilian? That remains to be seen until we get our hands on it later this year.

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