Order & Chaos Online: First Impressions

WoW. That simple exclamation took on a new meaning with the advent of World of Warcraft, the single most popular MMORPG in history. With Order & Chaos Online, Gameloft may have ripped off every element from that titan of a game, but they did it on iOS. And it works. For that reason alone, we are already walking away with one word escaping our lips: wow.

Gameloft gets no points for originality. From the character races to the environments and art style; from the endless quest grind to the level progression system: this is a World of Warcraft clone. And that’s nothing new. For well over half a decade, almost every MMORPG to hit the market has tried to copy WoW’s formula for success, but no one has done this at the mobile level. Some have tried (such as the admirable Pocket Legends), but nothing has felt quite as deep and intuitive as the games proliferating on PCs.

Now, as Order & Chaos Online was just released, and there are untold hours of gameplay packed into the game world, we have just begun to scratch the surface. However, if you’ve played WoW or any of its many imitators, you know what to expect. We’ll give you a more in-depth run down of the game next week in our full review, but from our first several level grinds, we can tell you this is one of Gameloft’s most impressive feats to date.

The look and feel of World of Warcraft is uncanny.

Much like World of Warcraft, this is not the best looking game on the platform. Nevertheless, you likely won’t care simply because the network code appears to be beautifully written: you’ll witness over a dozen characters on the screen at once with nary a visual hiccup. In our play time so far, there have been two noticeable instances of lag, but nothing drastic or game-breaking.

Game textures are fairly low resolution, but the game still comes through crisp and clear on a retina display. Playing the game on an original iPad (it’s a universal binary) also looks great, although obviously not as gorgeous. Some of the menu artwork looks fuzzier on the iPad, but the game runs at about the same speed, so we aren’t complaining. Given the iPad’s extra screen space, however, you’ll probably enjoy it more than on your iPhone.

Granted, having a game like this to play anywhere is part of the draw, so you might find yourself wanting to finish a few quick quests on your lunch break. Be aware, though, that the game currently requires a Wi-Fi connection. That’s right, the game does not support 3G (even though unconfirmed tests on jailbroken devices say it runs just fine over a cellular network).

We can’t help but feel that if you loved WoW, you’ll really get into this.

Even with this (hopefully temporary) drawback, if you’ve come for WoW-style gaming, you’ve come to the right place. Familiar landscapes abound, and you go from NPC to NPC collecting quests (which are surprisingly well written), battling hordes of animals, creatures, and evildoers. The game comes with four races (elves and humans are the good guys, orcs and the undead are the bad guys), several classes (standard fare stuff), and loads of loot, weapons, and armors to collect, wear, or sell. Spells are unlocked (with multiple paths) once you hit predetermined levels, and experience is gained by completing quests and offing enemies.

The game currently has no player-versus-player combat, although you can initiate duels for fun, if you wish.

The control scheme, as usual for Gameloft, works. We’re not saying your camera is never going to get caught on walls, or that you won’t try to run and instead swipe the screen to the camera: these things will happen. But except in tight spots like inside buildings, you shouldn’t have a problem maneuvering around the environment. Chatting is easy enough, although you shouldn’t expect to be able to multitask (battling while typing) as easily as you can on a PC or Mac.

Again, we’ve just begun our epic quest (as an elf monk), and there could be plenty down the road to disappoint. With just 500 quests in the game right now, how long will it last? Are the classes balanced? Is there a decent end game? Will guilds and the player community match the quality found in World of Warcraft? We can’t wait to find out, and you’ll be the first to know.

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