Thursday, February 29, 2024

Other Games Are Available

Not that I'm much of a one for making plans but any vague idea I might have had for keeping to some kind of gaming or blogging schedule this year have been wrecked by the arrival of two survival games, one of which I was eagerly anticipating, the other which I'd barely heard of before it appeared. 

Palworld, now claiming twenty-five million players worldwide, claimed more than forty hours of my time over four weeks, making it a very worthwhile purchase, but still left plenty of time for doing other things. Nightingale, with thirty-three hours played-time in just over a week, hasn't been so accomodating. It's left little time for any other games, including Palworld, which I haven't touched since last Tuesday.

Rather than muse yet again on just why Nightingale should be so compulsive, I thought I'd make a short list of the games I had been thinking of playing and writing about, in the hope that naming them in public might somehow nudge me into playing one or two. It's a long shot but it might be worth a try.

Allods Online

I'll begin with the one (And only.) game I have actually logged into since I downloaded Nightingale. And what a weird choice it is, too. Why would I want to go back to this all but forgotten artifact of the WoW Clone era? The game that promised so much and then broke Keen's heart? (Remember him? What's he up to now, I wonder?)

It all started with something I read a few weeks back. Syp wrote a very brief piece for MassivelyOP, answering the question absolutely no-one was asking: "Whatever happened to Allods Online?" In the third and final paragraph he mentioned how a recent patch had "added the Gibberlings’ homeland of Isa". That caught my attention.

The Gibberlings are one of MMOdom's more unusual playable races. They're sharp-toothed, woodlandish animals, which is nothing unusual for the genre, but they come in packs of three, which certainly is. In the game, you run across single NPC gibberlings occasionally but the PC character is an eternal tryptych; three siblings who do everything together, always.

It's very strange and hard to forget once you've played one. Mrs Bhagpuss, who only ever played Allods Online during the beta, well over a decade ago, still mentions the Gibberlings quite often. I've played the game several times since then, in a few of its many iterations; on US and EU accounts, through MY.Games and GPotato, on PC and on tablet, where it was one of the few full MMORPGs than ran flawlessly for me.

I started out playing a Gibberling character but later I played an Orc and one of the catlike race, the Priden. That last was a mistake. The cats have their own starting island and although I tried to level up far enough to get my invite to the mainland I never quite managed it. 

It pretty much put a stop to my interest in the game. Although the storyline was interesting and the quest dialog well-written and fun to read, the mechanics were even more pedestrian than the rest of the game I'd seen - and Allods is not a particularly thrilling title when it comes to moment-to-moment gameplay at the best of times.

That, though, was my only real complaint. In almost every other respect, AO seems to me to be something of an undiscovered - or at least wilfully ignored - gem. I would love to get further and see more than I have so far. Ironically, the furthest I ever got was in beta, when Mrs Bhagpuss and I played together and got as far as the first of the non-consensual PvP zones, which came in somewhere around Level 30, if I remember right.

I would very much like to see the ancestral homeland of the Gibberlings, long thought lost but recently re-discovered. When I played one (Er... three...) they started off in the Bavarianesque starting area where one of the human races begin. Well, after the dramatic in media res beginning on an exploding space rock, followed by an enforced hiatus on an abandoned Allod, that is. 

Impressed I can remember all that? Well, don't be. I did it all again about an hour ago. It all started after I finished playing Nightingale (Three hours, right after breakfast. What the hell is wrong with me?), when I was thinking about what I could blog about, other than survival games. 

As I mentioned a while ago, I've gotten into the habit of bookmarking things I've seen or read that might make blog posts. I had a flip through those this morning and noticed there were several MMORPGs I'd been thinking, for various reasons, of trying - or trying again. Almost without thinking about it, I googled "Allods Online", just to see who was publishing it now and what I'd have to do to start playing and to my great surprise I found it's available on Steam, where it has a surprising and well-deserved Mostly Positive review rating.

It's entirely possible I haven't played Allods since I started using Steam. It's also entirely possible I've played it on Steam already. I have a terrible memory. Luckily, I also have a blog...

There are eighteen posts here with the Allods Online tag. The first goes all the way back to October 2011, almost the beginning of the blog, when I'd just re-installed the game. My most recent was only a couple of years ago in November 2021, when I was complaining about that damn Priden starting zone and swearing I'd get free of it. I never did.  

In both those posts I said many of the things I've said in this one, which I'm betting won't matter because no-one is going to remember any of it. I can at least confirm that the information about the game being available through Steam is new (Well, new to me...) Back then I was playing on MY.Games own platform.

And I probably still am, behind the curtain. I installed the game via Steam this morning but when you hit Play it takes you to an external launcher. The important part though is having the first button on Steam. I'm increasingly coming to see why people like that. It's just so convenient. No wonder all the publishers want to be represented there.

I wasn't planning on playing Allods today, just setting it up so I could play some other time, but I had to test the login ptocess to make sure it worked and then wouldn't you know I ended up doing the basic Tutorial and some starter quests. When I logged out I was Level 5.

As I said in that post a couple of years back "Allods is fun. Always was. I might keep playing." I probably will - sporadically - but if history is any guide I won't get any further than I ever have. My Priden is still on that damn island and lord only knows where the Orc is now. 

To my considerable surprise and delight, though, the quest relating to the Gibberling homeland that was added in a patch last July begins in a low-level zone and has no level restrictions. I was sure it would be some endgame content I'd never see. 

Surely, between marathon Nightingale sessions, I can at least make it far enough in Allods this time to get the quest, even if I never finish it! Place your bets now.

And speaking of Nightingale, I'm afraid the temptation is too strong. All those other games I was going to talk about, the ones I'd like to be playing and posting about if I wasn't in the grips of this unealthy obsession? They're going to have to wait some more even for a mention. 

Also, it gives me something else to post about another time. Never waste valuable resources. That's all that survival game training paying off, right there!


  1. I played beta very actively, it's a beautiful world, with factions uniquely inspired by Soviet/Stalinist USSR and pre-westernized Russia (given the country of game origin). Made it to level 40 or so. What made me eventually quit was unavoidable world PvP and a rip off monetization they threw in.

    Today it's a bit outdated, WoW classic it is, as I tried it again a year ago.

    I love the original Allods game series from the 90s - Allods I and Allods II, insanely addictive and immaculately designed by gameplay real-time/tactical titles with amazing story and characters (known as Rage of Mages abroad Russia). These are RPGs in a sort of RTS shell. You drive a group of characters from hub town to mission maps of choice, side ones and story ones. The games encourage creative tactical thinking and every encounter with an enemy group often hangs by a thread depending on your choices.

    Unlike MMO, it's a classic high fantasy setting (knights, trolls, orcs, mages, dragons etc.), but allod/shattered world concept was first introduced there.

    1. Allods had a big head of steam behind it in beta. A lot of people thought it was going to be very successful. And then they did the thing with the monetization and there was a huge pushback and the whole thing seemed to acquire a bad reputation almost overnight. I did start playing when it went Live but I'd done that thing of doing too much in beta. It was re-doing the same content I'd just done that spoiled it for me, not the monetization issues, although the death penalty was certainly off-putting. I've been wary of making that mistake ever since.

      Rage of Mages looks interesting. It's available from GoG for next-to-nothing and I thought I might try it but realistically I'm never going to devote the necessary time to form a fair impression. If it had come out in the mid-90s I would have been all over it but it launched right when I started playing EverQuest and that was the end of my interest in offline RPGs for a good while.

    2. I replay Rage of Mages from time to time. The art is still beautiful, and gameplay is a sheer thrill, especially on later levels. Ah, those pulls when a random orc sneaks from flank and kills your mage/healer, and you have to carefully tune your party positioning, kiting an ogre or a troll across the map - or conjuring a stone wall and making it burn behind it (praying your mana doesn't end), the inventive and ALL useful spell kit, the gauntlets - it's anything but boring. Like chess - still valid without DLC and patches :)


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