Character advancement is done primarily through the selection of skills. As characters level up, they gain an increase in vigor (useful for special attacks and spells) and health (useful for not getting dead). In addition, they gain skill points and experience points for advancing along the various skill trees. Each race has a melee, missile, and magic skill tree, with specializations in each. One can pick and choose from each tree, but many of the skills have prerequisites that make specialization in one area a more efficient use of the skill points. One very nice feature in AC2 is the ability to “untrain” skills. If you find that a particular skill or branch of skills just isn’t working out, you can choose to untrain it, eventually getting back all the experience and skill points spent. This is especially great for those (like me) that like to experiment with a character before finding just the right style of play. We can try something else without resorting to starting over with a completely new character.
Item acquisition is also quite interesting in AC2. There are no NPC merchants, no stores to visit. If you want something, you have a few other choices. You can try to randomly find what you’re looking for on the corpses of your fallen enemies, you can trade with other players, or you can make it yourself. Each item you find in the world of Dereth has certain ratings in various resources. For example, a shield found in the pockets of a giant wasp might be made of iron and wood. Each character has the ability to make new items from resources gleaned from this pilfered booty. If you want a good sword, start looking for loot that has the appropriate resources, and make it yourself. Of course, as you craft more items, you get better at the task. At first, each character can only make rudimentary items, but as mastery of a particular type of crafting is gained, new recipes open up for the making of even more powerful items. The Crafting aspect is quite a bit of fun, and is admittedly how I spent much of my time.
Adventuring can be done solo, but that’s really not the point of a multiplayer game. AC2 has several options for tackling the Big Evils with friends. For a simple daily outing, players can form a fellowship to share experience points and to be able to talk to each other behind everyone else’s back. For those with a little more time on their hands, and a more steady gaming schedule, allegiances can be formed, with less-powerful characters swearing fealty to those more experienced. In addition to forming partnerships with other players directly, characters can choose to join a one of the kingdoms of Dereth, opening up another suite of options (and a series of skills). Choice of kingdom shouldn’t be taken lightly, as kingdoms don’t necessarily get along with each other all that well. While you instantly gain several compatriots when joining a kingdom, you also gain several potential enemies.
For those tired of roaming bands of Player Killers, AC2 has a decent solution. Each area in the world is rated either a peace area, in which there is no Player vs. Player fighting allowed, a kingdom area, where players from different kingdoms are free to attack each other, or a free-for-all area, where players are free to attack anyone they choose. This division of area types hopefully will appease all players, from those who just want to wander around, adventuring and exploring, to those who wish to show everyone just how big their sword really is.
Asheron’s Call 2 is the best MMORPG I’ve come across. It looks great, it plays well, and it is very stable. The plot looks to be an interesting one, and with the continuation of monthly events promises to remain fresh for new and more experienced characters alike. Veteran MMORPGers are sure to find something they like here, along with those wanting to try out the genre for the first time.
A very good MMORPG. It looks great, itâ€™s quite stable, and itâ€™s quite a bit of fun to boot. Now if someone would just explain to me why a giant wasp needs a magical drum...
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