First Impressions: Fractured’s alpha playtest begins to put the pieces together

First Impressions: Fractured’s alpha playtest begins to put the pieces together

As we reported at the end of last week, MMORPG sandbox Fractured opened up its alpha test to all backers. With this test phase, Dynamight Studios has continued to move ahead with development, adding a new player tutorial, grouping features, and even fleshing out the housing system.

While Fractured isn’t my typical cup o’ joe, I was pretty excited about the chance to get in there and see what the team has been up to. So if you’ve been looking over the fence and wondering just what’s going on in the Fractured pool, climb on over and let me break it down for you.

Comfy in Legends of Aria or Albion Online? You’ll be right at home in Fractured

The absolute first thing that came to mind was how similar this game feels to Legends of Aria. From the isometric camera angle to the click-to-move controls, I would certainly say they were cut from the same cloth. In fact, the first thing I did was click on a tree and my character started to shove it until branches fell down into my pockets, which I recall was similarly doable in Legends of Aria. Combat is also very similar to Aria and Albion Online. The way the combat skills are mapped to the Q, W, E, R, and other traditional movement keys is exactly the same.

In fact, even the interface itself, albeit much thinner and less refined (expected at this stage of development), is all-too-familiar, from your skill bar to the tutorial and map on the right hand side of the screen, and even the inventory, character, and similar buttons along the bottom right. Some of this surely derives from a common ancestors like Diablo and Ultima Online. In any case, players who have some nostalgia or enjoy those similarities will have no issue playing here.

The new player tutorial is light but gets the job done

One of the new features Dynamight was testing was the tutorial. To be fair, it offers only the thinnest veneer of a tutorial, but honestly it is perfectly serviceable. There are two components to the tutorial: a small checklist and a green star on the map. That’s it.

There are no NPCs to talk to or any pop-up dialogue boxes that will direct you toward anything in particular, but you really don’t need those things here. The checkbox tells you to harvest wheat. You walk over to where the green star is and click on the wheat. Boom, you did it. On to the next one.

Housing looks promising

I didn’t spend the necessary time yet to try out any of the housing features, but from what I can see, it looks promising so far. In fact, it’s what you can literally see that I like about it.

It appears that you can actually plan out your house and its features before settling on where everything will be built. The image above shows it nicely. If you are going to build a fence around the door or a water trough on the side, then their locations will be shown as a semi-transparent blue color. In fact, any player will be able to see these blue objects and can interact with them and help build them out. So, all you generous, kindhearted souls with materials to spare can go around and help out your fellow players.

It’s early days right now, so it’s difficult to know how configurable and detailed the furniture and other housing items will be by launch. But it is apparent that you can currently build just about any crafting station you would need already.

Combat is still pretty loose

One of my biggest gripes with the current iteration of the game has to be the combat. For some players, this won’t be a deal breaker, but for me, combat is always first and foremost. The main issue I have with it right now is just how loose the character control is.

Let me try to explain: You hold down left click to attack. You also hold down left click to move. You see where this is going? If you are fighting a single mob, it’s not too much of an issue, but the moment you have multiple baddies on the screen – forget about it. If you miss the click by a little bit, you start moving all around your enemies like you’re trying to grab something out of their pockets. It’s absolutely maddening for a traditional 3-D MMORPG player who might not be used to the clicky combat and movement of isometric action RPGs. Let’s not even get started on trying to perform ranged combat with this system. “Yes, running up beside this goblin instead of shooting him with my arrows is exactly what I wanted to do!”

Normally, OARPGs like this will offer a keybind for standing still while attacking, which is necessary especially for ranged toons, but if Fractured has one, I didn’t stumble across it in my playthrough. And I am not alone – check out MJ’s stream. I know she is trying to shoot balls of magic at those spiders, not pet them!

I can only hope the developers haven’t implemented target locking as a conscious choice. I’m not looking for hand holding here, but without target locking, it is a bad situation. One right click, and now we’re auto-attacking. That’s how it should be done. And yes, I know that you can right click to attack too, but I felt like it wasn’t as reliable, which seems impossible. The right-click attacks seemed to just swing at thin air so… I don’t know what was going on there. It’s pretty hard to describe, but within two combat encounters and you will understand where I’m coming from.

The skill system is very cool

On the exact opposite end of the spectrum has to be the skill system. It takes me back to my original Guild Wars days of capturing skills – sort of. Essentially you learn skills by killing mobs. That’s right; I must murder you and all your friends to gain your powers. Now that’s some real old school Sylar from Heroes stuff.

In actual practice, though, players have a bestiary that contains information about all the different mobs they’ve killed. As you kill them, you increase your knowledge about the mob. It is a fairly cool system. I really like the idea that certain mobs have skills that you can gain from them. It shows a bunch of different information about the mob in addition to any possible skills. It ends up being a bit of a grind, but honestly, I don’t mind. At least not during my first playthrough.

So, that’s my hot take on Fractured. If any of you were curious about how the gameplay felt at this stage, then let this be your guide. If you like what you’ve read, head on over to Dynamight’s site and get yourself signed up. This isn’t the first backer’s access test, so I would expect to see more in the future.

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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Fractured is one of those I watch closely for the future – it has already a lot of elements I like in a mmorpg, a dev team I know and trust and as long as it doesnt run into any financial hiccups it should become a good to great sandbox mmorpg that serves multiple playstyles depending on world/race you chose

Robert Mann

I’m pretty sure there was a hotkey for that… would have to look to remember it though.