Arcane Saga Online is a new MMORPG from Netmarble currently gearing up for open beta. The game is a revamp of the now defunct Prius Online, and developers at Netmarble promise that this new incarnation will be a next-level experience. With the release set for the first half of 2013, beta testers are being treated to a range of events and bonuses to help iron out the bugs before launch. I spent a few days playing the closed beta, which ended May 12th, and I found myself coming back for session after session.
The in-game visuals are impressive, but not mind-blowing compared to today’s triple-A MMORPGs. Where the game truly shines visually is in its beautiful art in transitions such as loading screens, and its breathtaking cinematic cutscenes reminiscent of modern iterations of Final Fantasy. An original symphonic score adds to the beautiful aesthetic and immersion.
This promising title does not veer too drastically from current MMORPG conventions, but it includes several unique features that make the game truly enjoyable to play. Based on these unique angles, here are five reasons to try Arcane Saga Online for yourself when open beta begins in June 2013:
Arcane Saga Online takes traditional hotbar/cooldown based combat to another level with a well-executed skill chaining system similar to some popular single-player turn-based RPG’s. Rather than spamming abilities at random, players can do bonus damage from chaining their skills in a distinct sequence, with cues displayed on screen similar to quick-time events (QTEs). MMO fans looking for a break in the standard ability spamming routine should find this twist fresh and interesting. There are also special QTE timing opportunities during which players can override ability cooldowns. Since these QTE’s are displayed right over enemies’ heads, players should find themselves looking at the action more often than the hotbars.
Unique Role Switching
This game is blatantly and unashamedly tied to the Big Three party role system, but the way that it integrates the traditional party roles is refreshing and unpretentious. Rather than accumulating a whole new set of gear or re-specializing an entire skill tree, players need only click a single button to switch their roles, which vary according to the different character classes. I played an Ayin character, which could switch between a tank or DPS role instantly. After switching roles, an entirely new set of combat abilities and passives becomes available, allowing for instantaneous switching between complex, role-specific builds. Information on the game’s website indicates that this same kind of instantaneous “job” switching can be done for PVP and Soloing builds, as well.
The concept of ability combos takes combat to another level of depth and uniqueness in Arcane Saga Online. Each combat ability can be paired with a wide range of passive buffs, which have a chance of being applied each time a player uses the corresponding ability. You may tie a health-regeneration buff to a healing skill for a chance at double healing, for example, or you might tie a strength-boost buff to your favorite opening attack for a chance to raise your strength at the beginning of battles. The possibilities are numerous, and adding the combo system to the skill chaining system ensures that players constantly have a variety of useful passives at work based on their own preferences.
Huge Beta XP Boost
If you play the game in beta, you can take advantage of a massive beta XP boost that can rocket you to level 25 in just under two hours. Level 25 is the first time players can enter a group dungeon, making it the perfect place to land beta players quickly to get a feel for higher-level PvE content. I was able to join in a group dungeon at the end of my first play session, while it may take a week of leveling to get to that point after launch. Now is the time for players to really dig in and see what this game has to offer.
Note: The game will feature open-world PvP on select servers, as well as arena and castle-siege PvP on all servers, but these features have not yet been fully implemented. There may be a sixth reason to try the game once PvP is fully functional.