The greatest thing about massively multiplayer online games like World of Warcraft is that they never end. Disregarding the fact that developers often continue to add new content over the months and years, expanding level caps and introducing new races and classes to try, the fact that they are online– and thus communal– means you can continue to have new experiences until they shut off the servers. Before Order & Chaos Online, though, you had to be chained to a computer to play. Say goodbye to the rest of your life.
Order & Chaos Online is not a perfect game. It’s very much a copycat of World of Warcraft, innovating only in the realm of UI and control scheme, but that’s okay. Gameloft, the game’s developer, is notorious for this sort of imitation, and they do it very well. They’ve copied Halo, Call of Duty, StarCraft, Final Fantasy, Uncharted, and many more, and while these “imposters” are never near as good as the real deal, they bring reasonable facsimiles to the mobile gaming sphere of franchises that wouldn’t otherwise be ported over. For this they should be praised.
Clone or not, Order & Chaos is just a joy to play, assuming you get into the whole MMORPG scene. You pick a server, race, and class, and immediately you commence the questing. The quest variety is completely standard, featuring fetch quests (“Go get this item and bring it to Person X”), kill quests (“Assassinate Evildoer Y or 10 wolves”), or courier quests (“Deliver this message or talk to this person”). That’s pretty much it. But Order & Chaos is at least written well enough to make the quests interesting.
Round one’¦ fight!
In fact, the game’s script is probably its most surprising aspect. While Order & Chaos’s world is generic, the characters you interact with are plenty interesting, with stories to tell that are worth pursuing to their end. You can still skip all this dialogue and move straight into the level grinding if you wish, but for those who like to be absorbed into the mythology, it’s here in spades.
The graphics are equally impressive, at least for an iOS game. Taking another cue from World of Warcraft, the character models look nearly identical to the designs employed by that game, only with a lower polygon count. Still, animations are fluid and, even with a much smaller number of classes available (there are only four right now to choose from), the game feels diverse enough. Draw distance is severely limited, even on higher end devices, so buildings and mountains often magically appear before your eyes, but thanks to the game’s navigation system, you aren’t likely to get lost.
In fact, getting from point to point is pretty straightforward. Pick up a quest, make it active from the menu, and you’ll see an arrow at your character’s feet telling you which way to go. It can be frustrating at times, especially when it sends you straight to an impassable mountain, but it’s not the end of the world. The overall play area is much smaller than something like WoW’s Azeroth (although we’re sure it will grow over time), but the areas are diversified enough to give them a unique feel and give you a sense of progression through the game.
The usual suspects.
The overworld map is useful, but the lack of ability to set waypoints is an annoyance. In general, the map needs an upgrade, but it suffices for casual play as is. The rest of the UI is pretty ingenious. Rather than filling up your limited screen space with rows upon rows housing your spells and actions, you’re given a scroll wheel in the bottom right of the screen, allowing you to quickly locate and select a spell. In general, there are fewer spells and abilities than in WoW, so you don’t need all those rows, anyway.
Upgrading your skills and talents begins at level 5. With each level, you get a talent point that upgrades your existing abilities, and every couple of levels you can pay to upgrade a spell or ability via a class trainer. You’ll also find that you’ll spend less time buying items from merchants, as the best weapons and armors will be collected from quests or drop items. As in WoW, you can further specialize in areas like making clothes and armor, and the mostly (and oddly) deserted cities have auction houses, but the game economy feels less important than in other major MMOs.
The camera system is competent and for the most part transparent. It’ll get stuck at times when you’re indoors, but outdoors it’s a non-issue. Moving it around is easy, although you have to pinch and zoom from the center of the screen, lest you risk accidentally activating the virtual analog stick on the left side. We wish it would zoom out further than it does, but it’s plenty capable, as is.
Is it hack and then slash, or the other way around?
There’s several of minor visual hiccups– getting stuck in walls or floating, characters briefly disappearing, and lag– but nothing so serious as to jolt you out of your state of leveling zen. The game actually runs smoothly, even with tons of other players on the screen.
The game, thus far, has been pretty popular on our server, which is a double-edged sword. On one hand, it makes picking up a group for a quest outing incredibly easy. You’ll never want for a buddy (long-or short- term), and there are already tons of guilds to join, should you want to make those temporary alliances more permanent. On the other hand, though, there are many quests that feature an enemy or item that disappears upon death or use, meaning you have to wait for a respawn. As was the case with us, you may find a dozen or more players hanging around waiting for the respawn, which makes it a game of “who can click the character or item the fastest.” It’s incredibly annoying, and given the smaller scale of this game when compared to WoW, a definite design flaw.
Should you encounter this, though, there are likely plenty of other quests that you can complete while you wait for the crowds to disperse, and most can be done solo (assuming you are at a sufficient level to handle it).
And that pretty much sums up the game. MMORPGs are rarely that complex, once you learn the mechanics. Pick up quests, complete them, level up, repeat. Order & Chaos features around 500 right now, with more surely on the way, so it’ll keep you busy for a long while. If you’re not spending all of your free time already addicted to WoW, you’ll definitely want to give this a shot. It’s not as good, of course, but it’s by far the best mobile offering in the genre. It looks good, plays well, and is fun. Oh, and it’s cheap. What more needs to be said?