Pros:

  • Unique Eastern theme
  • Exotic monster designs
  • Good field quests that encourages socialization and cooperation
  • World of Warcraft style play will be very familiar

Cons:

  • Game feels somewhat dated
  • Some dubious gameplay mechanics
  • Webzen is slow in updates and releasing the game
tl;dr – With a strong thematic component, this game is recommended to people who enjoy Eastern myths and legends or are looking for a fresh experience from the standard D&D inspired western MMOs.

ASTA Online is an MMORPG developed by Polygon Games. It was first released in Korea on 2013. Currently, the English version is being published by Webzen and entered open beta on March 2, 2016.

Gameplay

ASTA Online is an Eastern mythology fantasy MMO. The monsters, the classes, the environments are all inspired by Chinese, Korean and Japanese myths and legends.

The game is played in third person view using WASD movement with standard mouse movement camera rotation. It uses classic tab targeting and is one of the ways it is reminiscent of World of Warcraft. ASTA Online has 2 factions, the Asu faction- inhabitants of the overworld and the Ora faction- inhabitants of the underworld. Both factions have 3 races each. On the Asu side, we have the standard humans, the Tigerian- a race of bipedal Tigers, and the genderless dragon looking race- the Draconian. On the Ora side we also have the human, along with the red colored Ogre/Oni race, and the night elf looking Yayo race.

The game has 5 classes: the Warrior, Rouge, Archer, Mage and Healer. Unfortunately, only the human race has access to all 5 classes. Tigerian only has access to Rouge and Archer classes. Ogres can only be Warrior or Rouge. Yayo can only be Mage or Healers. Finally, Draconians can only be Warriors. While unfortunate, I can understand why the devs made it like that. After all, it doesn’t really make sense for an ogre to be a healer or a mage, nor for the slender looking Yayo to be warriors.

One thing unique about this game is the divine spirits system. Besides the normal equipment system, you have another equipment system which allows you to equip spirits to your character in order to increase your stats. Spirits are not dropped by mobs, instead they are created by spending Divine Spirit Points or Gold. This creation process can fail, in which case, you receive fragments can be used on the Divine Spirit shop to buy new spirits.

You have 12 equippable spirit slots and there are 21 spirit types but you can’t equip the same spirit type multiple times. For example, you can’t equip two rat spirits, but you can equip a rat spirit and an ox spirit the same time. Spirits can be upgraded by combining them with other spirits you have in your inventory. While there’s nothing revolutionary about this system, it adds greatly to the oriental atmosphere theme of the game.

The Good

One of the best things about this game is the Eastern/oriental theme. The monster all looks exotic and fresh. You’re not going to be facing goblins, zombies and other familiar monsters in this game. There’s a lot of customization options for your characters. I know the graphics might not be the best, but it works well with the interface and design.

One thing I especially like is the field quest mechanic, where all the players in one area works towards together completing the field quest. It’s divided into phases that anyone can join and culminates in a final phase with a mini boss battle. The field quest mechanic makes you feel part of the world and overall community instead of just someone soloing quests. It’s similar to public quests from Guild Wars 2 and Warhammer Online, but tends to work a little better for whatever reason.
The game tends to play a lot like World of Warcraft other than the unique features. You’ll accomplish a lot of quests and can handle most of them solo. There’s a group component that comes up occasionally as well to add some more socialization. It all flows pretty well and helps showcase the game’s theme over learning new and potentially convoluted mechanics.

The Bad

This game is actually old than its “new release” lets on, or at least the engine is. It was first released in Korea back in 2013. Also, the reception back in Asia is pretty lukewarm, but that’s probably because it uses Eastern themes that may not feel exotic to Asians. The main problem of this game is that some of the interface and game mechanics are pretty bad and could use some work. For example, the stat enhancement system is done by playing a roulette minigame. Not only does it not fit the games’ theme, it makes the game looks like one of those cheap mobile games.

Webzen is also taking a lot of time to release this game. At the rate they’re going we might not see an actual release of the game until next year. I fear that by the time Webzen actually releases the game, no one will care anymore, especially since we now have other Eastern themed MMOs like Blade and Soul localized.

Closing Thoughts

In the end, if you’re tired of MMOs with a western fantasy setting, this game is for you. The developers did the oriental theme pretty well. Everything looks exotic and fresh. It’s also fun to play and the way quests/pvp/instanced dungeons are implemented makes it easy to meet new people and socialize with them. As such, this game is a great place to make new friends.

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