Twice upon a time...
The land of Dereth lay in ruins. The three races, Human, Tumerok, and Lugian,
all fled underground to avoid being wiped out completely. No one knows quite how
it happened. However, it is rumored that deep within various vaults around the
land, magic stones contain the true history of this broken world. Now, adventurers
are finally journeying to the surface once again, striving to take back the land
they once called home. Are you up to the task?
Call 2 is the latest in the increasingly crowded field of massively multiplayer
online role-playing games (MMORPG) currently available. When the original Asheron's
Call was released several years ago, people openly questioned whether or
not the market could sustain three different MMORPGs (Ultima
Online and Everquest were the other two). Since
then, however, we have seen the launch of Anarchy
Online, Dark Age of Camelot, Earth
and Beyond and a number of other titles, both big and small. So, what has
happened to the number three game in the intervening years? Well, a heck of
Unlike other MMORPGs that are still using updated versions of the same software
used when released, Asheron's Call 2 is NOT an expansion to the existing
Asheron's Call. It is a true sequel in every sense of the word. Besides
taking place centuries after the first game, the new game is quite different
than the old. The graphics system has been completely overhauled, the quest
and fellowship system has been reworked, the skill system has been modified,
crafting and resource management have been drastically changed - this truly
isn't your fath...um...older brother's Asheron's Call.
The graphics are the first change you'll notice. If your computer is up to
par, you'll witness some of the coolest effects in PC gaming, with top notch
hardware Transform and Lighting, great textures and amazing environmental effects.
This is the prettiest MMORPG currently out there, but that beauty comes at a
cost. In order to run at the highest graphical setting, you need a 2 Ghz CPU,
256 Megs of RAM, 128 MB Video Card and 2.5 Gigs of hard drive space. That's
a lot of power. I tried a rig using a 64MB GeForce3 card and a 900Mhz CPU, and
the auto-detect set me at "low" graphics setting. Yikes. The game still looks
decent at lower settings, but if you ever see the game running on a better computer,
you may just find yourself buying new components.
We here at Game Revolution pride ourselves on rewarding games that try something
new...as long as that something new works. Asheron's Call 2 tries
a lot of new things, with varying degrees of success.
The quest system is phenomenal. The first generation of MMORPGs were little more than glorified chat rooms. You could do very little to affect the world, and your role in the global scheme of things mattered very little. Asheron's Call 2 sets to change that from the very start of the game. You can receive quests a number of ways: NPCs, slaying specific monsters, drinking specific potions, etc. Upon completion of a quest, you get a lot more experience than you would just by fighting monsters.
not all quests are a walk in the park Accomplishing some of the tougher quests
requires some help, which is where the fellowship system comes into play. You
can temporarily band with a number of other players to take on a specific task
together. You share both items and experience and you get some company when
venturing deep into unknown lands.
The fellowship system works very well by forcing players to work together
towards common goals and affect changes to the world. While there are standard
quests that every player gets, the game becomes more involving as you increase
in levels, with much more quests and adventures added regularly.
If a fellowship is just too communist for you, you can always swear allegiance
to a player. Allegiances work like a giant pyramid scheme. The people on the
top of the pyramid provide help and support to the lower level people, and in
return get bonus XP from their underlings. The end goal, in an ideal situation,
is that one character is eventually elevated to rule the land, but that will
take a long, long time.
In addition to your monarch, you can join one of the kingdoms, which dictates
the Player vs Player fighting. The three main categories are: Peace (no one
can fight each other), Kingdom Conflict (you can only fight those from other
kingdoms) and Free-for-all (do I really need to explain this?) Most servers
don't allow PVP combat, but in those that do, it's truly a madhouse.
There are some changes to Asheron's Call 2 that, while functional,
violate long standing RPG tenets and may piss off a good number of the RPG faithful.
Crafting was a big part of Asheron's Call in that you could make just
about anything, from broadswords to teacakes. If anything, Asheron's Call
2 makes crafting even more important as there are no stores in the
land of Dereth. None. Everything you wear and use you either have to
make yourself, find off a monster, or buy from another player. No other RPG
has ever done this, so kudos for them for trying. Next thing you know, they'll
stop hiding things behind waterfalls.
Resources are reclaimed from items that you find as well, so when you loot a monster, you pay attention to facts that previously seemed unimportant. "Yes, those sandals are made of 50 iron so I can melt them down and craft them into a sword!" Not very glamorous.
Also, your inventory is based not on weight or shape, but the sheer number
of objects. Holding 50 individual feathers is the same as holding 50 pieces
of chain mail. And items can be changed into gold at any time. That's right
- no need to carry things back to town to sell them as you can exchange them
for gold immediately.
you, the system works well and has caused me to do more crafting than I've done
in any other MMORPG... but I don't like to craft items. It takes a long
time to learn and it's one of the least exciting things about the game. I like
to run around hitting things with arrows and swords. It's what I know. I long
for my characters to be able to walk into a store and just upgrade all my weapons
and armor, but that won't happen. Remember, since this game is online only,
they may add stores in the future (Please take the hint, Microsoft, please!),
but for now you're left to fend for yourself.
Of all the things that sets Asheron's Call 2 apart, the monthly event
system is probably the neatest. Carried over from the original, every month
brings a new problem to the land. Be it a drudge infestation, the reclaiming
of territory, unseasonable weather, evil magicians, whatever, the possibilities
are endless, and the players affect the outcome. Towns may be rebuilt or destroyed
completely, areas may be rid of monsters, and the players involved may learn
more about the land they call home. The monthly events, combined with the quest
system, give Asheron's Call 2 the one thing that most MMORPGs don't have...
a point. Who knows, maybe you can help shape the land to your liking... or rule
it with an iron fist! Mwahahaha! Oh, excuse me.
I could continue to write about the features of this game for ages. The elaborate skill system, for instance, consists of a lot of numbers and acronyms such as HP and XP. It works well and lets you tailor your character the way you want to, even allowing you to unlearn skills without any penalty.
No MMORPG has had a smooth launch, and Asheron's Call 2 is no exception.
Lag affects gameplay quite often. The quest system is downright buggy at the
moment. You can receive quests you've already completed (no, you can't complete
them again) and some quest items may not function properly. Fellowships and
quests sometimes don't quite work, forcing you to repeat many quests. It's definitely
a work in progress, but no more so than any other game in this genre at their
All in all, Asheron's Call 2 is a welcome addition to the increasingly lucrative genre of online persistent world gaming. It's a MMORPG that gives you a reason to play, and that reason changes month to month. With a beautiful game engine and elaborate quest system, the game doesn't disappoint. If you try it out, who knows, you may just see a handsome Lugian with a sword in each hand wildly striking monsters to death. If so, say hi. Now if only I could buy a new set of armor...