My Beta 2 Feedback (Repost from Reddit)

  • My biggest issue with Swords of Legends Online (and why you should still try it)

    Heyo everyone, I am bored after the ending of Closed Beta 2 and wanted to give my thoughts as someone who greatly enjoyed SOLO but whose friends largely didn't. I feel like I keep seeing all these hype posts or shit posts that just rehash the same old stats and overview mechanics of the game, but I wanted to hit on the issue that I think is most strongly holding it back.

    Swords of Legends Online is constantly referred to as an average game, but it's mechanics and features are often compared in the same sentence to being clones of WoW, FFXIV, BDO, Archeage, etc. All games that were essentially top class MMORPG's. It mixes many of these features and doesn't do much substantially innovative, but it polishes them and provides a new medium to experience them in that doesn't suffer from the aging and bitter pitfalls of these other MMOs. There is no pay to win (And after 3 years in China it still never got implemented) and the holy trinity is well preserved and social aspects still vibrant. This isn't an average game just because the mechanics have been seen before, its actually a great game with an amazing end-game the likes of many MMORPG fans have been yearning for. And the no P2W is just icing on the cake.

    So why did none of my friends like it?

    Level 1 to 15 kinda sucks hard. And not in that it is a slog or anything. Just that it babies you FAR too much, and the setting starts with the weirdest aspects of its story.

    Issue 1

    The game is highly inspired by Chinese mythology, and is technically a part of a genre called Xianxia, which is like their equivalent of high fantasy. That may sound cool on the surface, but most normal people don't understand much about Xianxia or or how Chinese mythology is displayed in modern Chinese culture (like Cdramas and such). Xianxia is weird. You are thrown into the world of immortals and deeply chinese ideas and characteristics, but this isn't like a JRPG where everything feels exotic and familiar, everything just feels exotic, strange, and weird if you are already not a huge fan of Chinese culture.

    You start out in a world inhabited almost entirely by immortals and their weird personalities and stories, you get introduced to a lot of characters in the typical chinese fashion that you won't remember or realize are important for another 30 levels or so, and it is overwhelming and strange. But after level 15 you start to spend more time in the human world and start encountering more normal stories. And it eases you into the more fantastical elements of Chinese culture more gradually. But by then most of my friends have already decided to stop playing.

    Editors note (not from the reddit post): I don't think Issue 1 is a problem for GameForge or the developers to fix, I think it is just the community needs to help promote the game and over time Chinese cultural content will become more familiar and normalized to other people kind of like how Japanese gaming content has become normalized and familiar. I already know many people previously unaware and uninterested in Chinese things looking into them more after playing SOLO, and after getting further in the game I think people can even appreciate the story at the start more after they become more comfortable with the setting.

    Issue 2

    You are a one man army at level 1, and will remain that way all the way until around level 15. Nothing you fight will be challenging, you can stand in all the orange/red squares and circles and not take hardly any damage, you can aggro every single mob in the entire zone and barely drop below 90% health, and then you button mash two buttons and kill everything. The zones feel super instanced and thin and snakey, you get no sense of a wide open world and it feels like you can ignore all mechanics and story and you are playing some mindless dungeon crawler where nothing challenges you.

    It sucks, and the first dungeon at level 13 is also a faceroll. Me and some friends pulled almost the entire dungeons worth of mobs and didn't drop below half health even once. So when this is the first impression people have of the game after 2 hours or so of playing. Yeah it feels awfully dang generic and sucky.

    Editors Note 2: I think increasing the difficulty of the first 15 levels (Well, everything before Zhongnan) to be more on par with the difficulty set in Zhongnan is one solution, but I also understand it would be slowing down leveling during a time when the unfamiliar story just feels like a slog for most players and class complexity isn't very interesting yet. My alternative solution is to raise the difficulty of the first dungeon (Done around level 13ish) to make it more challenging. I know the devs wanted people to be able to solo these dungeons. But it gives an entirely wrong impression as to the difficulty of the game, and made many of my friends think you could just ignore mechanics so the game wasn't worth playing. Don't give players the 2 helpers that spawn in if they are going in with a premade group either.

    I couldn't solo Dungeon 2 as a zerker, but I heard other people could with more kitey classes. It may not hurt to raise the difficulty of that one as well. I will also say that if at any point you can fight a mob with an ability that creates an orange circle/rectangle, and you can stand in that danger zone and take less than 25% of your health in damage, its too easy. The danger markers are pointless if there is no real danger. There was multiple times where I just ate the orange because it did virtually no damage anyway.

    Why you should keep playing

    After level 15, you start to enter a zone called Zhongnan Foothills, it is a significantly more expansive zone that I already felt like was a massive improvement on the others. And later returned to it at a higher level as the main questline brings you back only to realize it was even bigger and grander than I initially expected. Here you will start to see the difficulty scale up and you can't just one man army mobs anymore, and some bosses start to do enough damage to make you pay attention. The story grounds itself back to earth and you are interacting far more with normal people than the weird heavenly realm of the immortals, and I started actually reading story text again and getting immersed in the world.

    And that is just the beginning. The difficult scales up significantly with each new zone and dungeons start to feel actually challenging, I could not solo the second dungeon, and the third dungeon was significantly harder. Classes start to have a lot of abilities and mechanics you need to remember, and if you don't do them correctly then the fight will take a long time, which is actually quite meaningful because you tend to get stacked debuffs that do exponentially more damage the longer the fight goes on. So while you might 4 shot someone if you know your rotation, if you don't learn it properly you might start to see the boss hitting you for a third of your health each shot because you took too long to end the fight.

    By level 30 I was feeling immensely satisfied, and I have heard almost universally that the end game is very good, but as I said, most of my friends only got to level 15 before they stopped and never came back. Which is a huge shame.

    This game seems to be very self aware that most MMO's have their best content in the end game, and the end game is at level 37. There is absolutely no reason that players can't get to level 15 and beyond to endgame because SOLO has one of the fastest leveling experiences out of ANY MMO I have played short of pay to win level boosting ones. You can reach max level in like 15-20 hours if you are going at a moderate speed. You will get to level 15 in an hour if you speed run it.

    I even found that after reaching the end game I enjoyed the story of the beginning 15 levels more the second and third time through on the alts with my friends. Despite them being confused and weirded out lol. The story isn't spectacular, but its surprisingly not that bad for a game that rushes you to endgame this fast.

    The Closed Beta 2 is over now, and release will be at some undetermined time in a few weeks to a month supposedly. But I highly recommend that people give SOLO a second try if they only played the first 15 levels then dropped, or if they saw reviews that the game was average and unimpressive. It really is an incredibly well done after level 15.


    The only other issues I can think of (But this gets brought up a lot) is the game isn't amazing optimized and the translations were funky. But the latter issue should get fixed by launch, and the former issue is getting fixed later in the year or so as the Chinese version of the game is getting a large engine update (from Havoc to UE). I think these are very minor issues and shouldn't detract you from trying the game on launch if you have a decent PC. My friends ran it fine on their laptop potato's on low settings.