This time, I choose to skip the introductions and all the nods to Order and Chaos and Gameloft because we have a lot to talk about in terms of discussing the Order and Chaos 2: Redemption. So, without further ado, let us get our hands dirty.
I’ve spent my time dedicated to the due diligence and research because I felt my own gameplay experience was taking an abrupt turn from downright wow to a bewildered ouch. Unfortunately, the more user feedback I read, the more it confirmed my suspicions. So, here is the breakdown of my pros and cons.
- Spectacular graphics
- Immense, persistent world
- Lots of questing, interesting and so-so
- RPG character leveling and crafting system
- Intuitive controls
- Did I mention awesome graphics?
- Repetitive gameplay as such
- Daunting performance issues on mobile
- Servers aren’t cross-platform
- Everything in this game is bound (loot), so you can’t transfer the gear between characters or sell it to other players
- No offline mode
- Character appearance is poorly customizable
- Heavy grinding for f2p players
- Paying does not guarantee satisfaction
The first thing that struck me upon entering the OC2 world is the dazzling looks. In a way, it reminds me of watching ball dancing. When the samba show begins with a spectacular twist of hips clad in multicolored feathers and Swarowski stones. All you can look at from that moment on and until the show ends is the feathers. And you are certain the performance was stellar because the feathers triggered the endorphin centers in your brain, which are responsible for the pleasure.
Order and Chaos 2 does pretty much the same. It blinds you with its visual grandeur. It enslaves you with the persistence of its world. It hypnotizes you with the sheer mass of the things to do and in the beginning, I felt like a 6-year old kid in Disneyland.
From the first moment you tread into these waters, Order and Chaos 2 shows you a brief intro on the mechanics and controls, ending with a spectacular ass-kicking of a huge monster and the end of the world scene. Right up next, you jump to the character creation panel, and for many a gamer, this is where the game ends. I’ve been struggling with this issue on an Android tablet for about five days, re-installing and whatnot, until I tried it on another tablet running Win 8.1 (thank you, cousin Stan). Once I was in, the character creation options did not impress me that much.
You do have the choice between five races – Human, Orc, Elf, Kratan and Mendel, male and female. Funny, but the female characters behave like exotic dancers when you swipe to see the male and female options. Jokes aside, the next step is to choose the class from again five options – Warrior, Mage, Monk, Blood Knight and Ranger. Next, you choose between two locations as a starting point in your adventure, and set out on your first quest.
What happens then is a dream-like experience because immediately you are showered in the guts of the unworthy monsters. You collect loot, talk to characters, complete quests, add more skills to your character, and travel to other spectacular locations to complete more quests.
Order and Chaos 2 unlocks its content at a slow pace, and to some extent I understand it is made so as to let the new comers learn the mechanics and the leveling up system step by step. However, until you will have leveled up some, you won’t know what to do with the garbage in your bag, which is getting suspiciously full. There is no point describing the multitude of the RPG elements here, because there are probably hundreds of items, and to a beginner the Menu will feel a little intimidating at first. Mostly because it’s not obvious what you need to do with the majority of the things that are just there, occupying space. Most of that broken and torn stuff you will be selling to merchants when you find them. The rest, you will be keeping till better times when you unlock the crafting. Also, you will be carrying a lot of gear you can’t use because it’s class-bound. And you can’t trade or transfer it to another character, or to another player. You will just have to sell it for meager coins. At a later point, this little detail cripples the gameplay.
Order and Chaos 2 features more than a thousand quests, so at first you feel like they will never run dry on you. Multiply that by multiplayer partying to clear a dungeon, guilds, well-done chat system and a huge map that would take months to cover, and OC2 becomes a candidate for the game of the year contest. But not just yet.
With the story quests and instant missions, Order and Chaos 2 stands out thanks to its multiplayer options. You can befriend anyone passing by and do the dungeon runs together as a party. You can challenge passers by and duel to see how well you can do. You can chat, ask questions and forge strong alliances with like-minded people into a Guild and ascend the leaderboards.
And then, the gameplay part also includes the loot and crafting system, the skills, active, passive and something called inscriptions, as well as the merchants and trading. More on that later, bear with me.
The controls are quite simple and intuitive, and in the majority of cases felt fairly polished, but glitches persist. At times, the character would stumble upon a 2 cm rock or pavement and refuse to step up. The rock would finally give in after a couple of minutes struggle. Other times, it would face a rock and stubbornly refuse to turn around and face some ghoul munching on his neck. Once I even fell off a wide bridge and had to swim around and climb a rock because I don’t know why. Guess my guy was sweating under all that heavy ammo and decided to take a refreshing plunge.
Following the red and blue dots seldom brings me in comfortable positions, so I have learned to walk the traditional paths, even though it means taking more time to get to a destination.
You swipe around to pan the camera and watch in different directions; you either tap on a place to go or use the drag button to your left. The combat buttons are to the right and include the main weapon button, the three special skills buttons and a pouch menu with potions and stuff you can toggle on or off, depending on whether you have something in there.
Questing aside, the battles are fun and pure button smashers, with the skills regenerating over time. You get to fight a variety of monsters, animals, bandits, and other players when they challenge you for a duel. I found the latter to be a lot more fun if compared to the quest battling when you have to take out infinitely respawning bears, wolves, predator flowers, bandits, evil spirits and zombies. Yes! There is a village where miners turn into zombies – an unavoidable tribute to the pop-culture.
Now that we touched on the performance part, both iOS and Android users report a wide array of bugs, starting with frame rate drop issues to the massive battery drain and progress getting messed up. I imagine it’s understandable for a game that is two weeks into its release, and an audience of an Olympics finale. Sometimes, when there are too many people on a server, it does lag. Sometimes, it would not drop a heritage weapon to the new characters, which it should. Still, if the game runs on your device, chances are you can tolerate these inconveniences knowing there must be an update to fix them sometime soon.
I think everyone agrees that the looks are the major draw here, and everything in Order and Chaos 2 looks polished, detailed and a complete marvel, except for the male faces. There is only one good-looking face, so every human I meet wears it. In the long run, it becomes difficult to tell the difference between the characters and quests because the faces are the same.
Whining aside, the game looks fabulous, and I really enjoyed that swim when I saw the white sand beneath the heavenly clear waters. There is a great variety in the areas, and each area has its spectacular places of interest. I wish one day we can see a sci-fi themed MMORPG with the looks of such quality, because I am more of a space and tech guy than elves and orcs fan. Overall, this game is an all around visual treat.
Practice Makes Perfect, but Not In This Case
The major drawback that hinders the gameplay is how the developer limits the players. First, you run out of vigor just when you think you are enjoying yourself. You can of course take a plunge in a dream or a dungeon, but it’s not the same. You can pay in gems, and real money, or you can try and grind for XP, but here is the catch – grinding without vigor gives you so little XP it’s basically pointless.
Sometime past level 8-15, depending on your analytic skills, you might begin to wonder where exactly you have gone wrong, and why you still can’t craft a stronger weapon, or why you keep dying in seemingly simple quests and get kicked out of dungeons. Relax, it’s not you. It’s the Canadian devil (that is what they call the freemium model in the South Park).
IAPs come in a great variety, and as you would anticipate, somewhere past level X you might bump into a paywall, but this is not the worst that can happen. The worst case scenario is when you do invest some $10-40 in the game and still need to keep investing to play. Nick’s Investment Fund pack costs $4.99, the same as the Fledgling Adventurer pack. Why, you can buy whatever pack you want but you still run out of Vigor within an hour and a half into the gameplay.
The way how Order and Chaos 2 is geared towards the infinite in-app purchases may not be evident, and as you know, beauty is in the eyes of beholder. So, thousands of people will be enjoying it for free without paying and praising Gameloft for the stellar game. But then, there are players who like to win games. I don’t mean the casual users who seldom finish a game, but the hardcore crowd. The ones with the nerves of steel and the persistence to actually level up significantly and compete in the leaderboards. The ones who want the high-tier gear and are ready to pay for it.
The looting and gear crafting elements are often central to the RPG, and Order and Chaos 2 falls short here. Take a look inside your bag and tell me the majority of items there aren’t trash. I refuse to praise the IAP system of any game that has your character thoughtlessly collecting animal guts, broken gear and torn cloth that is not that clean. And that garbage is everywhere, filling up the bag until you can’t collect no more loot. You literally have to walk and find the merchant to sell that trash for meager coins and free some space for more trash.
The gear you actually use occupies a very small fraction of your bag, and you won’t be switching many weapons. The one you got at level 5 and started upgrading will most likely be your weapon for life. The crafting related items are dead weight until you unlock crafting (which is heavy grinding) or until you start paying real money.
The character’s ammo is divided into tiny pieces, and the majority of them you are most likely buying from vendors – not looting from the slain monsters or bandits. You get some as you start, and if by level 15 you are still wearing and upgrading the same stuff, don’t get surprised. The way I see it, leveling up your character by grinding for loot is not an option here.
What I did notice from my own experience and from the feedback I read both on play stores and Order and Chaos 2 forums was the difference in impressions between the casual players, MMORPG new comers and the seasoned veterans of the genre who have spent months playing OC1. The items you get are bound, which means you can’t trade or auction them, nor transfer to another character of yours. I seriously don’t know when the serious crafting becomes possible – maybe someone will enlighten me. This thread in the Order and Chaos 2 forums has the breakdown of the looting, auctioning and crafting system quite well described from the point of view of a level 29 player, and it sums up my suspicions. If you are determined to get anywhere past level 8 in this game, I suggest you give it a thorough read.
As of now, if you don’t pay, you will be kicked out of dungeons, dying endlessly because decent gear comes at a price, and it’s not in golden nuggets. This is what the developers have to say about the Heritage weapons: “there are two types of Heritage weapons that is available to each class, and they have different stats (which increases with Weapon Fusion) which differentiate them from being effective in PvP or PvE. One set of Heritage weapons can be obtained by normal questing (you can obtain one at around Level 5), while the second set can only currently be obtained from Lottery.”
The troubling part is the level 15 non-paying users continue with the gear they got at level 5, and with the crafting so inaccessible I think I will be dropping out in another week or two.
Even if you pay, and get some cool stuff that is not for your character class from the premium chests, you still end up with the only option of selling it to the vendors because it’s class-bound and you can’t transfer it to another character of yours even if you paid for it. In my humble opinion, this is obnoxious.
Order & Chaos 2: Redemption
Genre: Role Playing
Offers in-app purchases
Download from Google Play
Download from iTunes
Download from Windows Phone Store
Order and Chaos 2: Redemption is a stellar mobile MMORPG that best suits casual players because they usually only scratch the surface of the progression curve. If you don’t plan to take it seriously, and only want to enjoy an hour or two during your weekends, it’s a delight (because you won’t be playing it offline while commuting). The visuals, the variety of quests and areas, the superb multiplayer make it a go-to MMORPG this year. However, deep under the perfect skin, there is a troubling chillness that smells like rotten tomatoes. It is always up to you to decide whether you want to invest, or not. I am all in when it comes to paying for a premium game, but I prefer paying once and playing all I want. Order and Chaos 2 does not respect that. It’s a beautiful, yet crippled game, but I still recommend it. After all, if you are not an addictive personality, you can enjoy its free virtues and simply ignore its freemium vice.