Astellia launched at the end of last month on September 27th to minimal fanfare. Astellia’s publisher, Barunson E&A, is responsible for bringing one of the newest fantasy MMOs on the block to the West. The Astellia website claims that the goal of the company was to “create a classical MMORPG that would return the genre to its roots”, with “innovation and promise.” Since Astellia is such a massive game, we felt it only right to give it a fair chance and break up this review into a few parts before concluding with a final review. If you’ve been on the fence about purchasing Astellia, keep on reading. This is our review in progress of Astellia.
Welcome to Astellia
If you are familiar at all with Korean game publishers, you probably weren’t very shocked with the announcement of Astellia being ported over to the West. Korean MMOs making a quick cash grab with flashy graphics and inspiring trailers isn’t a new trend in the gaming world. Still, their PR team is handling the transition fairly well and is doing a fantastic job with their marketing. The video below shows a quick glance at the world’s graphics and some of the major features.
I don’t know about you, but the graphics were a big draw for me. The world looked so lively and like a lot of care went into making it feel immersive and full. Graphics aren’t a make or break part of a game for me, but when so much love and care are put into the world it certainly goes a long way into making my gaming experience more enjoyable.
Logging into Astellia was much easier than I anticipated. Though Astellia isn’t experiencing the same amount of hype as other MMOs at the moment, I still expected there to be some lag or server issues but everything ran pretty smoothly-even with only one server in operation at the moment. I’m not sure if that is a good or a bad sign, but I was thankful for the momentary respite that the login server offered. After a month riddled with server crashes and troubleshooting problems from other game launches, it was a welcome change. Side note: If you experience a black screen after encountering quest dialogue-update your video card drivers!
Though most of the classes are gender locked for the time being in Astellia with the current exception of Warrior and Assassin, the character creation exceeded my expectations in so many ways. There are sliders for just about everything, including the body, which is great for folks that are tired of the standard adventurer body. There are also sliders for the hair which allow you to create other shades of the pre-existing colors you can choose from, keeping the color choices at least a little grounded. At least, as grounded as a game with small anime girls and magical hamsters can be.
One of the things in particular that caught my eye after officially logging into my character were the cutscenes. The cutscenes are surprising well executed with a few hiccups. The words coming out of the characters’ mouths and the text displayed at the bottom, unfortunately, didn’t line up completely. They were always just a little bit off, which can make the experience feel slightly jarring if you’re used to following along with captions. It’s just enough to break you out of your immersion to try and re-establish what’s going on amidst the cringey voice-acting.
The cringe voice-acting continued on into the quests that would soon follow. While it is a little off, I actually enjoyed hearing a few lines of voice-acted dialogue. Not many games put that much effort into voice-acting quests so it was a nice change of pace. So while it could have been much better, I do appreciate the effort.
Rampant Gold Sellers
The gold sellers were next. Above all else, I really can’t stand gold sellers. If it was one every few minutes or so, it might not be so bad. But when you can’t converse with anyone in the area chat because it is so congested with gold sell spam every second it becomes an issue. The chat is there to connect players of the game together. It is a prime function of an MMO. When you have to open up a whole other chat tab dedicated to just whispers and ‘/say’ chat you know there has to be a deeper problem.
Intro to Astels
Fortunately, your attention is directed back to your quests and you receive a mount to speed along your adventures almost immediately (pretty sweet!), and along with it, your first Astel named Rota. Rota is only one of many Astels that you can collect within the game, though I’ve yet to get a feel of how useful they can be in combat. Rota seems to be a special Astel, constantly referencing the “wheel” and how she traveled across the stars to find this specific Astellian. Of course, that would be you. With it having been established early on that Astellians are pretty rare, it does feel strange to see so many of them running around and questing alongside you.
Reflecting on the Core Game
There are many times throughout my early game experience where I felt like Astellia might have been better just as a single-player RPG. Early on, the dungeons don’t seem too difficult and can be completed in a solo mode. Coupled with instanced PvP, the game just feels to be lacking in something. I can’t quite put my finger on it yet, but the dungeons and PvP modes feel like they were just stuck in the game to give it an excuse to be called an MMORPG. With the lackluster combat system, I find it hard to feel inspired to engage in PvP but I’ll give it a shot. Wish me luck.
This next week I’m going to be focusing on mid to end game content and the general themes and features of the game. What makes Astellia different from all of the other Korean MMOs that we’ve been seeing saturate the market lately? Is the game shop in its current straight pay to play? Stay tuned!