After surveying the show floor at PAX East, Nick and I came to the same conclusion: 2012 looks like it's going to be a strong year for free-to-play (F2P) games, MMOs, and yes, F2P MMOs. Case in point was my first PAX East appointment: publisher Perfect World Entertainment. PWE's specialization is quality F2P MMOs and they were showcasing two such titles for the convention: Raiderz and Neverwinter. This post will be covering Raiderz.
Raiderz wasn't an MMO that was initially on my map, but it looks like it's shaping up to be a solid title. Simply put, it's a monster-hunting MMO, so for those of you that love games like Monster Hunter and its associated titles, this may be right up your alley. It's an action-oriented game with no tab-targeting, which means all your skills and spells must be aimed. Monsters will also do their best to kill you too, and have devious tricks up their sleeves, like charging you, knocking you on your butt, and smacking you in the face. Different monsters and bosses also have their own special moves, which will require players to mix up their strategy accordingly. As a result, the game certainly achieves the actual sensation of hunting, and not effortless massacring.
One of the features of Raiderz I found very appealing was the “classless” system. Though you start off a character with one of the basic four roles (Defender, Berserker, Sorcerer, or Cleric), upon level 10 all of these jobs' associated skill trees open up to the player. So maybe you started as a Defender, but you want to splash some cleric skills into the mix and make your own homemade paladin; you can do this. Raiderz does not want to pigeon-hole their players. If a party needs someone with heals, they don't just have to spam chat looking for a Cleric. Maybe a Berserker with some healing abilities learned from the Cleric tree can serve instead.
Raiderz had some other noteworthy features as well that make the game feel more like a monster-hunting game than your standard MMO. The monsters you fight can also drop temporary weapons. These weapons seem quite powerful, but they only last a very limited time (the huge mace I picked up lasted about 20 seconds). The mounts that you can summon also have a few combat skills, so your trusty steed can help you vanquish tricky foes.
All in all, Raiderz is a very pretty game with a unique concept for an MMO. As I said, it will be F2P, but I was assured that no content would be blocked off to players who didn't want to spend a cent. There will be a cash shop upon release, but they haven't set any of that up yet. The game has just left alpha stages and is moving towards beta.