Wakfu Asia review: what an Asian thinks of a non-Asian MMORPG
Mary-Anne Lee | On January 28, 2014 at 10:30 am
Wakfu is a game made by a French company. And so as an MMORPG it’s very different from what we Asian gamers are used to. Although it has a fun and casual East meets West art style, it uses grid and turn-based combat, and is generally more slow paced and less bloodthirsty compared to the typical MMORPGs we cut our teeth on. But as an Asian gamer, I like it! Here’s why.
The World of Twelve
Wakfu is a continuation of Ankama’s older tactical MMORPG, Dofus. It’s a full expansion on the previous game, bringing gamers deeper into the universe known as the ‘World of Twelve’. The World of Twelve is a series of islands and archipelagos, and is home to four different nations as well as a dark force known as Ogrest.
Ogrest is pretty much the final boss, and the end-game content of Wakfu. However it remains to be seen whether players actually get there or not, since there are so many other things clamouring for their attention along the way.
Wakfu’s World of Twelve goes well beyond a typical MMORPG’s level of immersion and offers sixteen professions to sink your time in, on top of the average quests you can do for the citizens of each faction. Unlike other MMORPGs, you can take up all sixteen professions in Wakfu. The professions are split into two categories: gathering and crafting, and can be learned by talking to select NPCs.
Caring for the environment.
With Wakfu, you also have to take note of your environment on top of questing and crafting. This is nothing as simple as understanding how different weather patterns affect movement and combat. Wakfu pushes the concept of environmental friendliness right in your face.
Each non-quest-only mob you slay in Wakfu does not automatically respawn. If there’s a special boss mob that is an integral part to a particular quest, it’s safe. But if it’s a random bird that you may or may not have to kill for a sidequest, it doesn’t respawn. In theory, players can very well hunt all the mobs in the world to extinction, though I’m sure there are preventive measures put in place by the Ankama team.
In order to keep populations up, players have to plant seeds harvested from creatures they need more of. The harvest can be done even while the mob is still living. As incentive, the maintenance of a certain level of mobs (and plants and crops) in an area activates an area-wide buff for all players.
Unfortunately you rarely see this buff in Wakfu Asia, as the community here doesn’t seem to have grasped the concept of being environmentally friendly and picking up after itself. Hopefully you can give back after reading this review by planting seeds and repopulating areas. I know I always do!
The actual game
There’s a lot to do in the game once you fight off all these distractions. You could actually start questing rather than plant Bow Meow seeds. The user interface (UI) in Wakfu is not the friendliest, but is reminiscent of most MMORPGs, and an experienced player will be able to get through the game with ease.
Wakfu does offer a skippable tutorial for the very new players. It takes place before you select your class, and introduces you to the gameplay, movement, and most common features of the game. Because of the moderately advanced UI and the occasional lack of mouse-over tooltips, new players who skip the tutorial might experience a bit of difficulty understanding the game’s combat, so I don’t recommend doing so. Fortunately it takes up just the better part of an hour and is a nice introduction to a very big game.
The Asian, English-language version of the game does have a few bugs in it that may or may not be intentional. Quest trackers disappear sometimes, and localization does not look all that finished, with French phrases popping up here and there. The game as a whole lacks a certain finish in its interfaces and questlines, but its content more than makes up for the lack of polish.
Yes, there is combat
If you were wondering, this eco-friendly game does feature combat. Engaging mobs is a two-click process which transports the player into an instanced battle. Other players can spectate from the sidelines or observe from within the instance, but cannot interfere. A player character will start off with six Wakfu points and three movement points.
Wakfu points are consumed when spells are cast, and movement points naturally restrict movement to just three squares. These allowances increase as you level up, but that won’t happen anytime soon. At the start of each battle, there is a placement stage that allows you to choose where you want to stand your ground (or hide). This is followed by the player’s turn, which must end before the mob can attack.
Personally, I found battles in Wakfu to be a little imbalanced for weaker players. I died a lot, mostly because the mobs hit really hard for low level ones, and are tough to engage one by one. Most of them spawn in large groups, and it takes a while for them to disperse into smaller, more manageable pairs. Even quest mobs are unforgiving, and I’ve had to redo some quests several times over because I died. Fortunately this game isn’t harsh; even though you get a debuff when you die, it runs out pretty quickly.
The cash store and premium service
Ahh, the cash store. Bane of every free-to-play MMORPG player’s existence. Do you buy that cute little hat or not, especially when it disappears after three days? Ankama Asia recently revised the prices of the Ogrines virtual currency and did away with rental items in the cash store, making it an easy decision for weak-willed individuals like myself. I am definitely buying that hat.
But banter aside, the virtual currency in Wakfu Asia is very affordable, as is its premium service which unlocks the Politics feature and presents players with a buff towards their levelling. This leveling buff helps to speed up the game’s pacing and makes it easier to level up, which is important when you keep dying like I do. I think purchases like this are important, but of course Wakfu can be played without ever having to spend a cent.
International vs Asia server differences
The international Wakfu server is open to all players, but there is one key difference between that and the Asian server. Wakfu Asia offers a different game service, in that nearly everything in the World of Twelve is accessible to non-paying players. In the international Wakfu server, only certain features and the starting area are unlocked for non-paying players; access to everything else requires a subscription.
Of course, another deciding factor would be that the server for Wakfu Asia is located in Singapore, resulting in much lower pings for Asian players.
Wakfu Asia is a great, immersive, and well thought out game. It lacks the polish and the intuitive questlines perfected by other, bigger MMORPGs, but is still a great game. It’s got a huge, expansive, and possibly unending world, and its slow paced combat and focus on fun and interaction is a nice change from all the bloodshed so common in today’s games. It does have minor flaws and a sometimes unfriendly UI, but these are overshadowed by the care and love that has gone into its content.
Wakfu Asia might not be a game that Asian gamers are used to, but it certainly is one that we should give a good, long try. Who knows – you might even find yourself getting hooked! You can download it for free here.