Pocket Legends for iPad (3D MMO)


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One of the more intriguing iPad launch titles has been Pocket Legends, a 3D MMORPG that aims to become Apple’s World of Warcraft. Instead of a gigantic overworld, Pocket Legends takes place in a series of smaller “instances” and will allow for online play over Edge, 3G, and Wi-Fi. We spoke with Creative Director and Spacetime Studios VP Cinco Barnes about Pocket Legends, and what sets it apart from other games on the system.

What is the story of the world of Pocket Legends?

Cinco: Pocket Legends tells the story of the animal kingdom of Alterra: a fantasy realm where the mystical Elves, the bird-like Avian, and the Ursan bear-warriors forge an alliance to combat a mind-bending onslaught of evil. Well… it’s not really “mind-bending” evil (they’re all pretty cute). However, it is most definitely an “onslaught!”

A mysterious surge of dark-energy erupts in the forest. Nature is thrown out of balance. The Elf Queen’s magical defenses implode. Violent thunderstorms force the Avian nation to the ground. And terrifying earthquakes drive the Ursan warriors from their caves. Leaders of these noble species come together for survival, to find out what’s going on, and put a stop to it.

How many races/ character types are available? Do they have different abilities?

Cinco: You play as one of three race and class combinations. The Ursan Warrior is a hearty, resilient fighter (our “tank” class). The Avian Archer is a dexterous ranged-weapons expert (our “dps” class). And the Elf Enchantress is an intelligent spell-casting character who can heal and inflict massive elemental damage.

In the initial release, each character class has a unique set of ten (10) skills that can be ranked-up as characters advance. The Avian Archer has a deadly mix of direct damage, self-buff and crowd-control abilities. The Ursan Warrior employs a variety of magical strikes that can cripple or break armor, a terrifying “hell-scream,” plus a devastating stomp attack. The Enchantress can conjure lightning, fire-storms, ice-storms plus she can also heal and resurrect party-members.

Not only does each class have a wide variety of skills, but player skills can be combined in real-time for bonus effects. For example, when the Enchantress imprisons her targets in blocks of ice and then her Warrior teammate decides to stomp the enemies’ heads, the enemies take special shatter damage! It’s tons of fun and each class has skills that can set-up cool combos for their friends to activate.

What is an example of a more unique quest or raid?

Cinco: One of the more exciting challenges in the game can be found in the Dark Forest dungeon campaign. In a wide-open field the party faces a coordinated platoon of mercenaries complete with evil wizards (that heal and crowd-control) and a pair of giant trolls! But right now my personal favorite is the Frost King encounter in the Lost Expedition dungeon campaign. The area is filled with a throng of excitable ‘lil-yeti’ that throw snowballs at you and tie up your group so the Frost King can smash you!

What makes you think the iPhone/iPad is capable of handling a “real” MMO?

Cinco: The Spacetime team has always been impressed with the gaming capabilities of the iPhone. Last year we formed a research division (Clockrocket Games) to get intimate with the device. Over the course of developing and releasing several small games we discovered that the iPhone offered everything we needed to deliver a great real-time 3D mobile MMO experience. So it made sense for us to shape our PC MMO technology into a mobile MMO platform and build Pocket Legends.

How is developing for the iPad different from developing for the iPhone?

Cinco: Developing for the iPad gives us the advantage of a big, beautiful touch-screen. Game resolution is much higher on the iPad and we can let you zoom and pan the camera with more freedom. We also allow the main game display to be expanded (to show your full load-out of emotes or your entire spell-book) on the iPad, and we show more info on game menu screens.

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Pocket Legends Review

We’ve been waiting for that World of Warcraft-style MMORPG to storm onto the App Store for some time now. This hope has finally become a reality with Pocket Legends, a cross-platform cooperative dungeon crawler where you match up randomly with up to four other players and slash through lands invaded by evil knights, zombies, and other creatures.

Pocket Legends isn’t an MMO in the traditional open-world sense. You navigate from dungeon to dungeon by means of a menu system. This is a fair compromise, although you need to click a lot of buttons to find what you like. There isn’t a good way to quickly find a group at your level, as everything is compiled into one place. We’d like to see the menus streamlined in a future update.

However, we aren’t here for the menus. It’s all about working with other players, or by yourself if you choose, to smash through a variety of levels referred to as “instances” in MMO parlance. There are a lot to run through, with 14 available at first and 18 more difficult levels available via map packs for $1.99 a pop. The downside is that most of them feel pretty similar and have the same kinds of enemies, just tougher and more plentiful.

We’re startin’ up a posse.

Once you start, Pocket Legends is a lot of fun. There is something about charging enemies with your team of warriors controlled by real people that gives you a sense of excitement not found anywhere else in iPhone or iPad gaming.

Once you beat the initial levels and have some skills unlocked, there is a good amount of depth to the combat. A wide variety of moves can be deployed, like a ground stomp that sends your enemies falling onto their backs and ‘buffs’ to temporarily increase your stats. You can also talk with the other players through the chat box and view a map of the dungeon.

Besides stat managing, which is fairly simple, there isn’t a whole lot of customization. Each of the three classes is paired to a specific character which has one player model. As you level up, you can get new gear, but your progression is very straightforward.

Once you finish all the dungeons and have your character at a high level, there isn’t much more to do. The lack of end game content that gives a continuous challenge means the only thing left to do is mindlessly run through familiar halls or try out a new character. Buying slots for this extra character costs $0.99 each.

If you choose, you can also buy the best armor with real-world money. This takes away a lot of the reward associated with attaining such weapons, but it’s up to you if you want to take the shortcut.

Racking up the loot.

Despite these flaws, Pocket Legends is a lot of fun. For free, you’ll get a few hours of fresh content that works across both the iPhone and iPad. There is no discernible difference between the two versions of the game, either, except that on the iPad you can zoom the camera out further, and all of the menu items are neatly tucked away on the edges of the larger screen.

Since the apps are more like clients, the developer can release updates to your device any time. There is still a lot of work going into the game at the moment, as there seems to be new content every time we log in. Even if this isn’t usually your type of game, you should give Pocket Legends a try for free.