Twin Saga Beta Review
Pros: Looks fantastic, multiple classes that you can switch between, in-depth story
Cons: Boring linear quest line, very linear character progression, nothing new…
We were able to get our hands on the closed beta access of Twin Saga, a new anime MMORPG from developers X-Legend (Eden Eternal, Grand Fantasia, Aura Kingdom) and publishers Aeria Games, the game has already seen a release in Asia under the title Astral Realm. The game follows a similar style and gameplay as seen in some of the developers/publishers other anime games and focuses on a traditional themepark title where players level up a character unlocking new content as they progress. We played the game for a good few hours finally getting up to level 21, so a good portion of the early-mid content played; so what did we think?
From the list of three starting classes; Gunslinger, Mage and Swordmaster we decided to go for the Mage, though there is an as of yet unreleased fourth starter class called the Dragon Knight that we would have been equally as interested to check out. From the class selection the game also shows us what unlockable classes are available; Cleric, Paladin, Hunter, Rogue, Berserker and Occultist, all of which have their own individual class quest that you gain access to at different levels. Unlocking a new class is kind of a big deal as early into the game you are able to switch between any of the ones you have unlocked, providing you aren’t in combat, giving you full access to their abilities. If level locked classes and switching sound familiar then this is because it was also a feature in Eden Eternal, which was also developed by X-Legend.
Combat with the Mage was relatively easy, starting with two ranged abilities we could run around with WASD and keep out of range of melee opponents whilst building up our Ultimate bar by using skills, once filled up then we could unleash a huge combo on an enemy with it. Each class has five primary skills, but only as you level up and unlock them (at level 21 we still only had four of them), which we thought was pretty weak and meant combat was the same cycling of a handful of skills with little in the way of tactics. Unfortunately we soon realised that even our dodging about wasn’t really necessary and we could just sit and take the hits and fire off our spells without taking too much damage (and with the amount of heal potions we were constantly given we expect this is how they expect most people to play). The only time we nearly died was when we ran through a dungeon to the end boss, killing nothing on the way, getting to the boss and after a long cinematic realising that everything had followed us and arrived whilst the cinematic played; once it finished we were surrounded by a good 30 enemies including a sub-boss and the main boss. Yeh we died pretty quickly.
You do get stronger as you level up, with various gear equips, summonable companions that can be upgraded, and the Specialization points each time you level up your class (class levels being separate to character levels) that you can spend in one of the classes two trees. The trees didn’t seem to offer that much variation or deviate the class too much, and early into the tree there were talents that required you to spend a huge amount of points in a single tree, so there wasn’t that much customization unfortunately.
One of the things we will say with the game is how exceptional the environments are, whilst the graphics are a little rough around the edges in places, the world design is fantastic, the colour palette vivid and the attention to detail truly brilliant. Whilst roaming around the world it was great to see a lack of open empty spaces and overused assets, instead we got a true fantasy feeling and more than a few times were impressed with what we saw. The same too, to some extent, was the level of detail put into the NPC quest dialogue, so used to the quick one sentence quests from Asian developed MMORPGs, there were literally pages of dialogue when talking to characters, help bulking out the main storyline and the world lore itself. If you’re not a player that enjoys reading then you’re going to be doing a hell of a lot of clicking skipping through quests as unfortunately the dialogue isn’t optional where you can ask NPCs more questions if you want details and instead is just a continuous stream of text, even for us as avid RPG fans it was a bit much.
Whilst from the list of features and the pretty impressive graphics the game looks like it has potential it does, unfortunately, have two major issues. Firstly is that everything is so linear; from when you unlock new classes, when you unlock new features, even the questing is a case of pick up a new quest, complete it, pick up the next quest from the same NPC, in one tediously long chain with rarely a second quest being picked up. The quests fall into three main categories: Kill X number of mobs, pick up X number of harvestable items, go speak to <Named Character>, it’s an excruciatingly dull questing experience repeated for hours and hours that even has this heroic saviour of the world doing ridiculous tasks like picking pumpkins from a pumpkin patch or killing wolves. It’s an old outdated quest concept and X-Legend seems to be clinging to it, as we’ve seen in their other games, which is the second issue. Nothing about Twin Saga feels new, regardless of it following an outdated style of gameplay, it’s following near identical mechanics and features they have already used in their previous titles and the more you play the game the more you see these similarities and outright copy/pastes; there’s just zero replay factor with the game, and that’s unfortunate as it looks amazing. If it’s your first ever MMORPG then it’s not a bad introduction, if you’ve played anything with in-depth questing or action-combat then the game is going to be a fairly awful experience, if you’ve enjoyed the other X-Legend games.. well.. chances are you will like Twin Saga even if the experience is going to be quite similar.