Looking around the internet at the various MMO offerings brought me to an article about Age Of Wushu, a Chinese game being produced by Snail Games and marketed as free to play. I read a little about it and took some time to peruse their well-built website and I can say 2 things struck me, right off the bat:
1) It’s pretty…very pretty.
2) I don’t get it.
What I don’t get is the game running with a concept of no levels or character classes. Yeah, that’s right…no levels and no character classes. Apparently you have the ability to learn one of 8 schools of martial art (classes?) And can then, if you’d like, raid other schools for their skills and improve your character (levels?)
Unfortunately, I think all of this is going to lead to some very generic, egg-shell-white gameplay. What we can easily assume is that every player in the game (both of them) will immediately run out and raid all of the schools in order to advance their skillsets which will leave us with an entire base of players who do exactly the same stuff.
This negates any chance for replayability and will leave the developers scrambling for ways to make the game fun and exciting for players…and how do you do that? Well, you try to introduce new content and hope you get it online before everyone quits.
The problem with this is that the new content will, as a given, have to be as generic as the player base since no classes means no tanks, no healers and no dps. Since no dedicated classes exist, it is nigh impossible to devise strategies for boss fights and that means the bosses have to be generic giant crabs with soft bellies.
Massive damage, lolz.
This will leave the developers scrambling again and will most likely force them down the path of creating a super long or super difficult quest chain which will, at the end, award players with the skill and stamina to complete it with some form of unique skill or ability which will set them apart from others.
Now a new problem arises wherein the players who have neither the time nor the skill to complete said quest chain will have a hissy fit because they aren’t on equal footing which will, if history repeats, result in the devs folding and just giving everyone the special skill, and now we’re back to square one.
Compound this with the fact that the game is free to play, which means the developer isn’t making money from the time they spend and now you’re looking at long periods of time between updates and patches as this project gets back-burnered to make way for profit centers. Now you have a veritable electronic ghost town with pretty graphics and a few people dancing in a fountain.
I could be way off base here because I’ve obviously not played the game (it is still in development) but I can’t see how a free to play mmo with no differentiating traits between characters has any hope of survival in a market where it has to compete with the likes of WoW, SWTOR, Rift and sleeping.