Asta Online: the Asian F2P WoW you should try next
Many times over the year while playing World of Warcraft, I have read laments from players asking if Blizzard would redo World of Warcraft (WoW) with a more modern engine or release a version that was all about classic WoW.
While on mmorpg.com, I saw an ad about a new MMO that had gone open beta. Developed by Polygon games, the game has been in development since 2010. In 2015, the original publisher for Asta online announced they were shutting the game down. That is when Webzen took it over and decided it could have new life and be reborn for Western Audiences. At the beginning of March, Asta Online has been in open beta. Currently, Polygon's plans are for a content patch to hit this April with the game eventually hitting full release this summer with expansion content as well.
As for the game itself, Asta Online was developed using Cryengine 3. The world is based on Buddhist and Asian mythologies. It’s a tale of two worlds split asunder by a major battle involving gods. Asu represents life and Ora represent the dead. The maximum level is currently set at level 50. Classes are setup as warrior 2hand dps/tank, healer/dps. You can only be a mage elemental caster and soul caster if you are on the Ora side. Interestingly enough, mage is the only class that has separate spells based on which faction you create the mage in. Archers are ranged specialists with stealth capability. Finally, the rogue class represents the classic stealth melee specialist.
Gameplay is most similar to WoW because it use tab targeting, but when it comes to character customization there is a significant difference. Players can customize attributes how they like, where as in WoW it's automatically done for them. Also, the game has special passives you summon that can greatly improve various aspects of your offensive and defensive capabilities. These passives are represented by the signs of the year such as Ox, Tiger, Dragon, etc.
There are main professions and sub-professions. You can have two main professions, such as weapon smith, tailoring, and armor smith. There are also sub professions like treasure hunting, fishing, and bounty hunting.
There are no rep dailies. Instead, there is a reward for achievements and questing you can accumulate called "fame." As your fame increases, you get various rewards and titles. Ultimately the last two ranks give you a powerful armor piece for your class and a unique weapon, though which weapon you receive is random. So, expect to get involved in trading with others to get what you need.
There are story quests and regular quests throughout the world. There are also repeatable and public Quests. Public quests reward the top players whose damage contributed 20% total to the quest completion. The reward is experience, a token currency called Tai tokens, and a chance at gear. Tai tokens are especially important at the end of the game. If a player is able to acquire enough Tai tokens, they can purchase end game gear that is very powerful in comparison to regular dungeon gear.
There are currently three raids. One is a repeatable event instanced raid that is accessible based on level brackets. This event rewards fame and enhance stones. Enhance stones are used to enhance your weapons' damage.
The other two raids are for level 50s. These raids drop raid gear and extremely rare weapons and set pieces.
Player versus Player Capabilities
When it comes to PVP there are several ways to do it:
- 1v1 arena between the same classes
- 5v5 team arena (not yet enabled)
- 10v10 Battleground
- A variation on soccer
- Capture and hold style battleground with 5 points and bosses that can be slain to gain more points
- World PVP is only available in the end game areas
- Massive guild vs guild war that can accommodate 40v40 (The guild War is held once a week and is determined by brackets and how active the guilds are during the week.)
The Good and the Bad
So far in my experience of playing Asta Online, I find it extremely addictive. I started with the archer class. The sense of power increases as I have gotten better gear and successfully enchant my weapons. Localization is definitely still a work in progress. One thing I can say, they have a lot of dungeons.
Some of the boss fights are extremely challenging. Currently, the game doesn’t' support add-ons, but considering how the warning system is setup in the game, I did not feel I was missing anything. A good portion of these dungeons have very-hard mode versions. These are basically five man hardcore dungeons. If you want a dungeon that will smack you down hard, this is for you!
However, there is an issue with the balance of some classes like mages and their ability to tank multiple mobs with one ability. Webzen has stated on the forums that this will be addressed in the future.
The guild system in this game is very interesting as well. The more active a guild is the more fame everyone gains. Once a week, everyone is rewarded bonus fame and gold and even more at the end of the month. Currently, I am running a guild and the rewards can be as high as nearly 800 a week.
From my experience, it’s been a refreshing experience to play something with that classic WoW feel but with far more customization than WoW currently has today. I believe every MMO fan should give Asta Online a try, especially if you are tired of waiting for any new content from your game. Asta Online may be a game you can sink your teeth into for a long time.