Saturday, October 22, 2011

Five Year Plan: Allods

Sadly not the wonderful band of the same name, who we put on gigs with a couple of times back in the day.

Imperial Square, Nezebgrad

Nezebgrad is a heck of a city. Huge. Imposing. Overwhelming. Grand. This is the way we thought the future would look before we ended up living there.
Allods has an idiosyncratic take on cyberpunk. Victoriana gives way to an elegant, sweetly ironic ostalgie. The Empire capital is a city built by Stalinist planners, lovingly rendered, lambently lit, peopled by irreverent, bureaucratic, meticulously dressed nutcases.

Moscow State University

Almost everyone you meet in Nezebgrad is at least a little unhinged. From Ilona, who thinks there's sewage in her kebab to Pavel who thinks his wife is turning into an elf, everyone has their own conspiracy theory. There's a secret policeman on every corner. Any beggar could be a spy. Even the bugs are bugged.

I think I ate there once.
Everyone has something for me to do and they all have forever to chat. I don't think I've ever seen such verbose quest-givers. Every quest window comes with a scroll bar. Sometimes you have to use it more than once. Is that a problem? Hardly! The quests are as lovingly crafted, as witty and knowing as the art direction. They're extremely well-translated into clear, idiomatic English yet they retain just enough of the flavor of the original syntax to give that slightly otherworldly feel that I love.

Elf porn. Just say No.
The actual combat is much easier and faster than I remember from beta, when Allods really harked back to the pace of Everquest or Dark Age Of Camelot. A couple of zaps from my lightning bolt and a charge from my trusty goblin and most things are down before they even reach me. My shaman is level 9 now and has yet to die. So why is it taking me an age to level up?

Well, apart from the lengthy conversations, the city is so spectacular I spend half my time gawping like a tourist, taking screenshot after screenshot, trying to get the best angle to capture the wonderful quality of of the light, the flare of the sun behind another statue, the majestic backdrop of mountain and cloud. And with no mount it takes a long, long time to cross these vast squares and boulevards as I run hither with my hyena ears and thither with my rat tails. 

The Adventurer's Journey: Painting pipes in the Sewage Plant

So far I'm having a great time in Allods. It's just as I remember it, only better. I've hardly stepped out of the city if you don't count the Sewage Plant and the Sewers. I think I have another three or four levels to go before I move out onto the plains and at the rate I'm going that could take another week. Or two. And that's fine. When the journey is this much fun, why hurry?


  1. I never really looked much into Allods, but a couple of things you mention about the atmosphere sound pretty interesting. Guess a download won't hurt.

    The real reason I'm writing though is that I'm simultaneously tipping my hat and gasping in surprise at your knowledge of the word Ostalgie. I would've thought that one is so specifically local, nobody else would've ever heard of it.

  2. Heh! I did think it was sufficiently obscure to merit a link to wikipedia. It got quite a lot of traction in the U.K. a while back when a couple of films came out, notably "Goodbye Lenin".

    Allods is definitely worth a download. Up to level 25 or so it's a straight quest-driven MMO, done well in an interesting setting. After that it turns into an open PvP game which is a bit of a switch. I'm only planning on doing the lower levels.

    So far I have seen no sign of the infamous pay-to-play cash shop tricks that pretty much wrecked its press reviews at launch. Bag space is tight, but that's nothing unusual.

  3. Oh right, Goodbye Lenin actually was popular internationally, totally had forgotten about that.

    From your description, I think I'll follow your path. I've never had much interest in PvP, but I'll check out the lower levels. 50% to go.

    Hmm... I could go and finish crushing the spaniards as Ekaterina in the meantime... and civ will not even hog bandwidth.


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