I really enjoyed SOLO in CBT1 when I was leveling up and played a few normal mode dungeons towards the end. I like the fact that this game is not pay-to-win, I like the combat system and game aesthetics, and I enjoyed the random leisure aspects of the game. I thought I could stick with the game. However, CBT2 turned out to be a complete flip-over for me as I entered the end game.
Main reason that really ruined my experience is that I found the PVE endgame community being ridiculously toxic, and this toxicity, in my opinion, is directly related to the game design, which I will talk about later. In my hard mode dungeon experience, usually we had a party with 70-80% new players with the rest being veteran players. In most cases we were able to clear the regular bosses in the HM dungeons without any wipe and got to the hidden boss, where we started having a bit trouble to clear due to dps check. There is always a learning curve for new stuff, and most of us were trying to learn and improve. However, in almost every hard mode party I had, ppl ended up getting extremely impatient even after just one wipe, and started throwing rages over others randomly. Don’t get me wrong. I am a semi-hardcore player coming from another active combat mmo game, and I know toxic ppl exist in any game. However, I don’t think it is normal to get raging people in almost every party I joined everyday in this particular game (and to be fair the fact that a mostly newbie party could clear HM dungeons smoothly on their first try already proved that we weren’t THAT bad, sure we did have maybe 2 veteran players from lfg but we weren’t carried as our tank + healers are new players), and it is ridiculous as how much toxicity ppl have thrown in this literally-just-two-week-old game in its western market. Part of the toxicity definitely was introduced by the “veteran” players who had experience in this game in mainland China and Taiwan servers, who want speedruns and rank runs from the very beginning, and probably think they are superior. But most of the rages among players, in my honest opinion, are just accumulated from little things, mostly from design flaws.
Dungeons in SOLO are traditional mmo style, so they are relatively long and would take you a long time by default (at least 20 min per dungeon). I am not complaining the dungeon being long here (I personally actually enjoy longer dungeon since it feels more content and diverse), but keep it in mind, this is already a big factor to make people who are used to “fast game” being impatient if anything goes un-smooth there. The boss or mob mechanics in hard mode dungeons imo isn’t even hard at all, however, there are a few design features or flaws that add “artificial difficulties”, ends up being super annoying.
One thing this game differs from other mmos is that it has very low tolerance for mistakes, simply due to its very retard res mechanics. You get 1 or 2 "sword heart" in every boss fight, and it can be used for either dps boost or res. So in boss fight, for the entire party, you can only use res twice (for 10 man, only once for 5 man). So basically it means, if someone dies, it is most likely just ended up being a wipe, especially if the person died is tank or healer. This res mechanics makes the game very unfriendly to new players. People learn from their mistakes, nobody is born to be perfect from the very beginning. This swordheart mechanics might be a special feature of SOLO, but what it does is just simply pushing people to be elitists.
Another major design flaw is in the boss model. Most bosses are in the same size with the player, making it very difficult to even see the animations. Sure we have the option to hide teammates and decrease the player skill effect, however even that certain class skills are not hideable, so it still can be a mess. Not mention, hiding everyone is not even an option for healer and tank, you just simply SHOULDN'T do so as a support player. Many carpet mechanics are with colors very similar to the floor itself, which makes it very hard to even recognize. One example be, there are a few elite mobs in Yemo city and Chou prison dungeons that would drop poison puddles, which are purple in color, while the background is blue (ice +water) or dark, and it's a mob fight which means you usually group 10 ish trash mobs together, so almost impossible to see anything on the ground. On top of that, if you also have reapers in your party whose skills consist of tons of purple auras which are unhidable, it is just such a mess. ppl wonder why their hp drop like crazy during these phases, and I know a lot ppl didn’t even notice there were carpet mechanics after their first few runs.
Another thing that is very annoying is that this game lacks direct teleports to the dungeon entrance. The developers probably did this on purpose since in Mainland China and Taiwan servers you need to pay for the online time in order to play the game, so the lack of direct dungeon teleport is probably a (very bad imho) commercial strategy to force players to stay online longer. However, this feature has been making tons of trouble. If you make a party, you either have to go through ims (then it is forced to be 10 man) to save the trouble of running across maps to get to the entrance, or you have to wait endlessly for ppl to manually go to the entrance. From my past experience, if we wanted ppl to go to the entrance manually, what happened was we had to wait at least 10 min for everyone to get there, and in most cases there would be one or two party members who either didn't read the party chat and assumed we were going through ims, or just simply had no idea where to go to. So in the end it sometimes took us over 30 min to even get ppl in the dungeon. And if we did ims, it ended up being impossible to swap the players if anyone leaves the party (or exits the dungeon for whatever reason).
Some dungeon locations (as well as quest locations) are very poorly described, and auto-pilot either takes the most sub-optimal path (takes you ages to get there), or just simply doesn’t even lead you to the correct spot. One example here is the Frostbitten path dungeon. From the dungeon codex it says it’s in Weichuan Plain, but when you open your map with “M” or using the maps from Cloudrise/your class home, Weichuan Plain is nowhere to find. Only “fast“ way to find it is using your 1-hour CD world teleport skill, and it’s shown there. Otherwise you will have to go through half the map in Chang’an to its eastern end to get to Weichuan Plain, and bear in mind, ONLY IF you know Weichuan Plain is east of Chang’an, which, for a new player, this information is nowhere to find except from the one of the main story quests, which, people forget about it easily. This poor dungeon location description is literally just like telling a person to go to the 1st avenue, but not telling him which city this 1st avenue is.
And here is the gear durability thing, which is probably one of the most stupid features in the game. The durability decreases as you fight and die, and once the durability drops to 0 you do little damage or heal. And the only way to repair it INSIDE of a dungeon is either you run all the way back to the entrance (which is not even an option in certain dungeon), or if you have a spear master class in the party, ask him to drop a merchant, which has 30min CD....And your gear will be broken after 4 -5 wipe, so yeah, if you have only 0-1 spearmaster in party and you wipe a few times the dungeon is basically unclearable. Or you can get out of the dungeon to find a merchant, however as I mentioned before, if you entered the dungeon with IMS before, once you leave the dungeon you can't even go back.
To be fair, I don’t mind the pve dungeons having ACTUAL difficult boss mechanics, but the way that SOLO now is doing is just making easy 2-4 mechanics per boss, yet putting a lot disturbances such as extremely limited res chances, super small boss models, almost invisible mechanics indicators due to unhidable skill effects, the gear durability paradox (no spearmaster in party? Better just disband huh?), and aids accessibility to dungeons is very frustrating. It makes it unnecessarily harder for new players to learn, and the annoyance coming from these “little things” just accumulate to make people be more and more impatient if there is anything going south in the dungeon.
In the end I just want to say, I still kinda like the core idea of the game (the story, the aesthetics non pay-to-win aspect, relatively easy to gear, active combat, lots of different types of daily/weekly activities etc.), however, the developers really fail in details to make the game more “user friendly”, and as I found out, it is just very unfriendly to new players. At least in the PVE part of the game, the way how they design the dungeons + certain game-specific-features have a trend to push people towards elitism, hence rising toxicity among players. The way-too-complex systems in the game doesn’t help it either as ppl get lost easily. This is not going to lead to a healthy community and player experience in a long run.