MMO Cartographer: Welcome to the Aura Kingdom

    
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For this week’s edition of the MMO Cartographer, I have pulled Aura Kingdom out of my magical bag of maps. It is a bright, colorful, adorably cute anime game from way back in 2013, developed by X-Legend Entertainment and published in the west as a free-to-play title by Aeria games.

I had no trouble getting it set up and running through Steam on Windows 10. That might sound like a low bar to clear, but I have recently installed another older game that wouldn’t run until I hunted down .dll files that were missing. At least this one is all there! For an older game, the system requirements are very low. This is good news if you’re trying to run it on a toaster or if you like to jack all your settings up to ultra-max.

I dimly remember checking out this game in the past, but if I had a character at some point in the past, I don’t have it anymore, so it turned out to be a totally fresh start with brand-new characters. There are 14 classes, and they are not gender-locked. After some of my other adventures, I thought it would be good to settle on just one in order to make some progress, so I chose a Duelist, a dual blade-wielding melee class. The character customization is average, with a number of faces, hairstyles, and colorings to choose from. The last step in character creation is to select an Eidolon, a magical companion. I chose the Cheery Sylph, the one that was rated best for healing because I thought that might be a good way to avoid dying. It turned out that I didn’t really need to worry much about that.

When you begin the game, you’re in a dream or a flash-forward, all decked out in fancy gear and facing dangerous foes. The first NPC you meet is the unfortunately named Analisa. She gives you weapons and sends you off to meet your destiny.

Once you’ve completed that, you wake up in Port Skandia without your fancy pants, ready to start your grind. There are a bunch of quests that send you to talk to some NPC, kill x-number of critters, or collect so many items, and then return to the NPC, who will give you the next task or send you on to the next NPC. There are also “hidden quests” out in the world, although if they are trying to hide, they don’t do a very good job of it: They have exclamation points and the words “hidden quest” floating above them.

When you first get sent out of town, you’ll be killing bunnyhops. They are round bunny creatures that are as just cute as their name suggests. There is also a big boss bunnyhop roaming around and a tiny bunnyhop that is the target of a hidden quest to tame that you get from a cabbage right outside the town gates. As you go, you fight other kinds of monsters, some of which are not supposed to be cute but are cartoony enough to avoid the dark grittiness that is so popular these days. I especially liked the sunbirds, which look like forest penguins.

There are some small differences in the controls from similar MMOs, but you can reset them if you need to. They aren’t difficult to get used to. Right-click to attack; left-click to interact with objects in the world. Easy peasy. I used WASD and mouselook to navigate the world, but you can use click-to-move if that’s what you’re used to. The only thing that really got to me is that “I” opens the item mall, not your inventory. That’s “B” for “bag,” which you may already be used to from other games.

Another feature I want to mention briefly is that your stat gear and your appearance gear are separate. I took off my appearance gear to see what the stat gear looked like and found myself standing there in pink underwear.

Fighting animations are full of flashy effects and the combat feels smooth enough. All the characters I tried were relatively easy to get the hang of, and switching between them didn’t cause me a lot of confusion. As you’d expect in this setting, there aren’t any gore effects. It would be very strange if there were.

One of the first quest lines sends you out to find a bad guy who, like you, has an Eidolon. His name is Brian. In fact, many characters have ordinary names, which can be a little jarring. Brian just doesn’t sound like a villain you’d fight in an MMORPG. At least the names are easy to pronounce and don’t suffer from any of the awful fantasy name cliches, like meaningless apostrophes and overuse of rare letters. (Perhaps that’s just odd localization?)

I didn’t get into crafting or upgrading gear (or upgrading the stones that go into the gear) because the levels and the gear come pretty fast, at least in the beginning. And I am not much of a crafter. I am afraid I am a dyed-in-the-wool murder hobo.

As you level, you’ll get points to spend on attack and defense stats. There’s an auto button, but I like to spread out my points more than that does. You’ll also get to choose passive skills and abilities from the Envoy’s Path, which is set up in a grid pattern. You can choose skills next to ones you’ve already unlocked, so you might want to consider where you’re trying to get to when you select those.

It would be fair to say that this game has training wheels. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, especially if you want to play it with kids or with someone who is new to gaming. It has auto-run to quest targets, it auto-loots items, and if you need to use an item for a quest, it appears in the quest tracking panel, so you can right-click it right from there. The main quest line chains together, but quests would be easy to find anyway, as they are marked with the conventional exclamation point and question mark. Even my 70-something-year-old mother, whose only video game experiences are solitaire and match-3 games, could get up to speed in this game without too much trouble.

The cute anime MMORPG subgenre seems to have fallen out of favor here in the west at least, with fewer titles still running or being released than there once were. It is a shame, at least for those of us who enjoyed them. The good news is that there are still older titles out there that have some population still playing them.

Every other weekend, Massively OP’s Mia DeSanzo opens up her satchel of maps and decides where to go next in MMO Cartographer, Massively OP’s journey through MMO worlds, be they old or new, ordinary or unusual, or well-loved or long-forgotten. Expect the eclectic!

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Utakata

From the sample pic, the pigtails on that Cheery Sylph seem to be worth it though. Just saying. <3

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mpandu.nky

You can enjoy Aura Kingdom on mobile nowadays. It’s got the usual autoplay and P2W, but good to play every now and then when on commute or on work lunch. It’s pretty smooth and has got a good playerbase.

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Hydlide S

Gonna play Devil’s Advocate here. The thing with playing on a private server is that if you do decide to pay money for things, you’re taking away money from the skeleton crew that actually makes updates for the actual game. Granted, they likely make more money overseas than they do on the NA version but it’s still kind of a crappy thing to do to a game that you enjoy.

That being said though, the private server is a much more enjoyable experience.

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Castagere Shaikura

That’s the thing with the private server. You don’t really need to buy anything. The game on steam is the Aeria Games version and they are just as bad as PWE with their cash shop. They make you spend money for things like more bag space. The first thing on the private server at level one you get an item the gives 50 bag slots at the start. Drops for great gear happen all the time along with treasure chest drops with no need of a key. The private server is just better.

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Castagere Shaikura

Thank you for this. But if you’re going to really play this game do it on the private server. The inventory space you get alone is worth it. Please keep us up to date on how far you get. You need to at the lease play to 50. By level 40 you get to pick a second class which opens the game a lot. Since you picked duelist make sure you pick a secondary that works well with it. The private server website has a lot of good guides. I wish more MMO’s had a duel class system in them. I have a Mage/Gunslinger and its a blast to play.

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Akagi

It’s nice, but the official server is P2W. The private server is a lot better, although XP rates are a bit higher than what I would want, because I was level 55 in like a level 45 zone and I would 1-shot everything. I played for the story, but it got repetitive and for now I’ve put the game on hold. With Classic WoW coming in a few days, I don’t know when will I get back to Aura Kingdom.

Also the game is poorly optimized as its built on an engine that’s being pushed to its limits so there is a lot of FPS drops when loading objects even on a high end PC. What’s curious is even if you glide through the whole zone and it still unloads and reloads objects…

But other than that, this game has one of the most fantastic anime visuals I’ve seen in a long time. The first and second zone give me some early One Piece vibe with the pirate/coastal cities and I love that. After that it’s a bit different, but the art style and visuals remain gorgeous.

If you plan on playing, DO NOT play on the official Aeria server, play on the private server instead. Both servers have equally low population, probably the private server has about 10% more players and its only drawback is that it gets content updates a bit later than the official server. It will probably be too late to do dungeons and everything with other players, but you can at least play for the story, which is surprisingly good for a F2P Asian MMO.