Fight or Kite: Warspear Online is a retro MMO that left me asking questions – mainly, ‘why?’

    
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I absolutely love and adore retro and retro-inspired games – games from the 8-bit era are my bread and butter. The NES was my childhood growing up, as it was for many of us, so I really can’t get enough of it. Here in Fight or Kite, I’ve written about several such games, from offline titles like Monster Sanctuary and Moonlighter to MMOs like Leafling Online. In fact, I’m constantly searching for a great retro MMO.

Most recently, my quest brought me to Warspear Online, and I can’t even bring myself to sugarcoat it: Things got nasty. It’s just a very rough experience and not at all what I was expecting. Still, the game does offer some notable features, and it does technically work, which is, you know, something. Let’s talk about it.

Launching the game is quick and simple

Let’s start at the beginning: launching the game and creating your character. First up, the interface was really jarring. Initially, I couldn’t place my finger on it, but I think I’ve realized what is going on here: This is a PC port of the mobile game. The dialogue boxes are all so big, and you have to click on everything (rather than hover over them) to get more information or details on them.

There are no cutscenes or fancy splash screens to slowly introduce you to the game, its world, or any of the inhabitants therein. As soon as you click to create a new character and begin, you’re given the option of picking a faction and one of the five different classes each offers. Of course, I realized eventually that I could click and get a bit more description of each one, but it still felt sudden.

Once I read through the classes briefly and made a selection, I was given a few options of how to customize my character. Visually speaking, I actually liked the look of it. The options were pretty spare, but I can live with it assuming there’s a decent amount of cosmetic gear in the game.

Point-and-click has never been my friend

Then the game began, and I realized I was going to be stuck with pure point-and-click movement only. This was probably the first thing that soured the experience for me. I know a lot of gamers enjoy it, but as I said, NES was my early gaming experience, and on NES, most games were obviously not point and click. I’ve tried to get into those games, even the acclaimed best-of-the-best, and I just can’t.

Regardless, I didn’t want to completely write Warspear Online off just for that. Continuing on, I moved through a few quest dialogues. The first handful were nothing special at all, just your typical fetch quests. The game also offers some crafting abilities and gathering to pair with it. I was fairly focused on leveling enough to join the arenas (this is a PvP column, after all!) that I didn’t look into the economy elements further, though.

After I completed a few of those, I could move on to something a bit more interesting: the combat. Or at least it should’ve been more interesting. Unfortunately, there’s just not a lot of redeeming qualities here. I can summarize the combat as auto-attacking with the occasional keypress. Players have five skills by default, each of which consumes a small amount of MP and has a short cooldown. As you level up, you’re able to assign a skill point to one of the skills, empowering it somewhat. It does appear that some additional skills unlock at higher levels, and there is some sort of enhancing available. I can’t imagine things getting much more spicy, but I suppose it’s possible.

Having seen more than enough of the combat in this game, I was in the perfect position to talk intro PvP, so I wanted to check out the modes Warspear Online gives us. We have four: 2v2, 5v5, and two different 3v3 maps. Unfortunately, once again, I wasn’t able to actually participate in any of the arenas, but it wasn’t for any lack of trying. I queued up and waited patiently for around an hour to no avail. I’m likely just too low in level, and everyone who is fighting is maxed out. It feels all too familiar to PvP match-ups in way too many MMOs.

Still, I can give you an overview of what to expect. The 2v2 and 5v5 arenas appear to be simple annihilation modes – personally, those are my favorite type. The 5v5 arena explicitly notes that it normalizes levels and gear of the players, which is really great to see.

One of the 3v3s, Temple of the Seals, sounds like the all-too-familiar conquest mode where players capture points until a team hits the point threshold. The final mode, Crucible, also normalizes player level and gear in a deathmatch-style arena.

As you’ll notice from my image, each of the arenas also requires use of some tickets. While most items and buttons in the game have decent enough information available, these didn’t. Some searching online didn’t really enlighten me on the topic either, so I’m a bit unsure of how the mechanic works. I assume players are given a few for free as newbies, but you will need to purchase more somewhere.

Graphics and skill animations are surprisingly sharp

Despite the simplicity of the overall game, it actually has rather nice retro graphics. In fact, that’s initially what caught my attention. I browsed the store listings screenshots and videos and was looking forward to what I had ahead of me.

As your character attacks or uses a skill, a smoothly animated effect will appear. I played as a Chieftain, so I had a cool firebird ring as well as a giant astral bear that would appear. It’s smooth and fluid and exactly how I wanted the game to look. It’s just a shame about… everything else.

Surprising amount of monetization

Given how many of these free-to-play games I test out, I have a pretty good grasp on how they’re monetized, and yet I’m still sometimes taken by surprise, especially when a game that appears to be a simple port like this one is monetized to the hilt.

I get it – the game’s free-to-play – but there’s so much for sale in this game. All the fan favorites are here: extra time, experience boosters, cosmetics, the works. You name it, they’ve got a way for you to buy it. There’s even some emojis for sale, which I admit I kind of like the idea of.

So that’s Warspear Online in a nutshell – a bit disappointing overall. If you’re someone like me who can’t help but want to play a retro inspired MMO, I wouldn’t fault you for giving this one a try. However, I’d probably steer you more towards Leafling Online or better yet Arcane Waters. While the latter isn’t out yet, the demo left me hopeful.

Every other week, Massively OP’s Sam Kash delivers Fight or Kite, our trip through the state of PvP across the MMORPG industry. Whether he’s sitting in a queue or rolling with the zerg, Sam’s all about the adrenaline rush of a good battle. Because when you boil it down, the whole reason we PvP (other than to pwn noobs) is to have fun fighting a new and unpredictable enemy!
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