Hands-on: Dipping into Ashes of Creation’s Apocalypse battle royale

    
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The first question we need to ask is: What am I, the sheepiest of all PvE sheep, doing in a PvP battle royale game? The second question follows: How quick will it be until my inevitable death?

The answer to the second question is pretty simple, as I have a lifespan measured in microseconds. But as for the first, there’s a very good reason why I downloaded, registered for, and played Ashes of Creation Apocalypse. Like many other MMO fans, I’m terribly curious about this ambitious upcoming MMORPG and will leap at any opportunity to check out its combat, world, and design — even if it means a death sentence.

This battle royale mode, which started up earlier this week, is ostensibly designed to test the game’s systems and be an ongoing companion to the MMO. While some fans and backers are concerned that this might take an H1Z1 route for the worse, for others it’ll provide some idea of what we might expect when Ashes of Creation emerges from development.

I admit it: This is my very first battle royale match in my very first battle royale game. I know the concept behind this game mode (having covered countless battle royale titles over the past years for MOP), which is good because the game spends zero time explaining any of it. After fiddling with a slightly obtuse lobby screen, I jumped into a match and found myself in a square with other people who were hacking away at each other with axes.

Turns out they were Nerf axes or something because this was a pre-show staging area and nobody could be hurt. Then the “apocalypse” happens, we get a psychedelic light show, and then we’re on griffons gliding down to our choice of a landing on the battlefield. I’ve had dreams that make more sense than this.

If you’re not familiar with these games, you just need to know that battle royale is a PvP mode in which you and everyone else in the match is thrown onto a map that’s ringed by a circle of death (here it’s an ominous red wall). Every minute or so, the circle grows smaller and players are gradually corralled together. If you die, you’re out of the match, and it becomes an issue of last person to survive while scavenging for weapons, killing quickly, and trying to stay ahead of the wall.

Naturally, I’m there solely to be a sight-seeing tourist, which means that I’m easy pickings for anyone with half an inkling for PvP. So let’s talk about what I saw, shall we?

At this point and confined to this particular battlefield, Ashes of Creation is reasonably pretty… but not quite done. It was really hard for me to put my finger on why the visuals weren’t clicking for me, and the best I can explain is that they have a slightly muddled look like how graphics can get when a computer is still loading in the full textures. The closest visual analogue to this game might be Elder Scrolls Online, and that’s not a terrible insult.

I wasn’t kidding when I said I died a lot. In my first match, I died to “gravity” when I jumped off a ledge that was a tad too high. In my second, I made it all the way down a stairwell before some jumpy, jittery player with a spear lunged at me and hacked me to shreds.

Try three! This time I was bound and determined to run away and hide, like any good sheep would. Here I hunkered down in a hut for a while, contemplating the future of player housing in this game and hoping that I wouldn’t die an inglorious…

…well, I died. Obviously. To this guy above. You see, to add insult to injury, whenever you’re killed in this game, the camera starts following around your killer. All you can do is seethe and call down curses and pray that he’ll be killed (which he was) so that you can start following around his killer. And so the pattern goes.

At least all of this started to give me a feel for Ashes of Creation’s combat system, which as far as I could figure out was “lunge at each other, swing away wildly, and hope that you one-shot the other guy before you get one-shotted.” It wasn’t that inspiring, to say the least. There was so little feedback or ability to take multiple hits that I honestly didn’t care about making it to the end. Every encounter felt like a random flip of the coin between a winner and loser, and while the weapon names and effects were impressive, there’s no time during a match to figure out what each does or how effective they’re being.

Of course, you’ll want to help yourself to a grain or two of salt along with this preview. It’s an early build of a side game of a main MMO in development, and I can’t gauge how effective and fun it is compared to other battle royale titles. At least the matches were functional start to finish and showed us some pretty scenery, fluid animations, and wicked-looking instruments of death.

I’ll look forward to trying out the Ashes’ PvE side when that’s released to public for consumption — and I’ll give wide berth to any PvP activities when the game launches for good.

Massively Overpowered skips scored reviews; they’re outdated in a genre whose games evolve daily. Instead, our veteran reporters immerse themselves in MMOs to present their experiences as hands-on articles, impressions pieces, and previews of games yet to come. First impressions matter, but MMOs change, so why shouldn’t our opinions?
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Khrome

@Justin i wonder how you never played Fortnite. Apocalypse is a nigh perfect clone, literally the only two things missing are building and actual guns. The movement, the melee, the item collection, literally everything is identical.

And it still manages to be worse.

I honestly hope that this isn’t the combat we’re getting.

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Jo Watt

It’s not. Stated many times that the game will be a action/tab mix combat. They have this combat mode in BR to make sure the action side of things work properly. Once we get the actual mmo that’s when we should start to see the hybrid combat. Not sure about the sieges or horde mode tests yet.

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Jeremy Barnes

Scratch Ashes of Creation off the list of MMORPGs to watch.

Alyn
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Alyn

“some jumpy, jittery player with a spear lunged at me and hacked me to shreds.”

Yup, that about describes pvp. I am not jumpy and jittery enough to enjoy it. My twitchiness is gone with age-

Easy Rider
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Easy Rider

Welp, it was kind of fun. And yeah, still waiting for the MMO.

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Toy Clown

In the early stages, development said AoC would have BDO-equivalent character creation and graphics. I remind myself its still in Alpha and that the Battle Royale is a testing environment. Releasing the Battle like this is ingenious as a stand-alone, although from reading some comments below, I can see it’s confused some people.

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Alberto

This is EXACTLY how we got Fortnite and Just Survive BOTH of those games releases a Battle Royale to help both advertise the Actual in Dev game and BOth Stopped making the Real game in favor of the more profitable BR mode.

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Jeremy Barnes

Yea, lost all interest when they release the “Battle Royale” to “test the systems”. My BS meter is going off the charts. I expect it will end up similarly to those other games.

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Jo Watt

I doubt it. Those games really had nothing going for them until the BR mode blew up. AoC really only has the MMO driving it. These other modes arent gonna go anywhere for them other than small population testing. There’s really no point in “crossing it from a list” when you can wait for further developments and then decide, there’s still plenty of time.

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socontrariwise

Starting to wonder if I should not get a refund. This has turned into a full scale combat/PvP focused thing in development instead of the sandbox MMO I was expecting from the Kickstarter. Seems to thread on its own toes after just showing landscapes with an obsession of glowy things and initial small group combat. Basically it seemed to make decent progress and I was waiting for the crafting and economy and node development details to hit and now we suddenly have this barebones one hit kill module. What exactly is the reason that launched? To test online capacity? Because it clearly does not test combat since that isn’t the combat system.

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Jo Watt

Like most people are saying and I’ve seen many others say it as well. Not many care for the BR aspect but are simply using this as a means to get into the game just to see how it’s looking, get a feel for the movement and combat (although it will change for the mmo into the hybrid tab/action).

But so far it looks good and feels ok. Obviously there is much to improve on but this is prealpha (a real prealpha, not a Korean prealpha/alpha test were it’s a finished product just being localized)

Cant wait to see how things keep moving along.

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AurochsReborn

wait… Battle royale? wtf? i thought Ashes of creation was a mmorpg?

cross another game off the list

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Jo Watt

Clearly you didnt read this article or many of the others that state they are doing 3 modes atm for testing. This 1st is a BR for the action combat tests. The next 2 will be a Castle Siege mode to test sieges and the other is a Horde mode to test the monster invasion systems. And while this is all for testing it is also being used as a prequel deal showing what happened to people left behind leading into the mmo.

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Sorenthaz

From what I understand the combat is meant to be fairly bare bones until Alpha 2 where they effectively throw in MMO mechanics and put a more traditional spin on combat (including tab-targeting I believe?). And Alpha 2 will essentially be when the MMO testing begins which they were slating for around early or mid 2019?

Can’t find the old email I had about info for it. But apparently there’s an AoC wiki that lays it out:

https://aocwiki.net/Release_Phases#Alpha_1 and I guess that’s the phase that I’m talking about. Alpha 1 is basically broken up into two phases with Apocalypse being Phase 1 and the actual MMO being Phase 2 with an intended release date of somewhere between April-June.

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Bhagpuss Bhagpuss

I haven’t managed to log in since Apoc went live but I played for a couple of hours in the early access granted to backers last week. It was my first Battle Royale too and I realy enjoyed it. I had more trouble finding other players to kill me than I did getting killed. Most matches, if I hadn’t actively tried to seek out other players I’m not sure I’d have had any fights at all. I got killed by the wall more often than I did by players.

I agree there’s something slightly off about the graphics. Not quite sure what it is. There’s a fantastic amount of detail inside the buildings, though. The furnishings are gorgeous, which bodes very well for housing in the eventual MMORPG.

As for the combat, it’s a lot more complex than you suggest. As you loot weapons and armor you get access to a number of different skills and attacks. I imagine for those who are adept at this sort of action combat there are plenty of options available. The MMORPG itself will have tab targeting and a type of more traditional MMO combat anyway. This is action-only for the specific purpose of the arena.

From my couple of hours there, I thought Apoc looked like a fun game in itself and a great advert for the upcoming MMORPG. If they fix the blasted launcher bug so I can log in I’ll be playing it some more.