Silkroad Online Review
By Cody ‘Neramaar’ Hargreaves
In ancient times, more than a thousand years past, the trade route known as the Silk Road was used to transport not only silk, as its name would imply, but also food, gems, knowledge, and even disease between Asia and Europe. Many believe that the Silk Road was the sole reason as to why many civilizations, such as China, Egypt, Indian, Persia and Rome advanced as quickly as they did. It was the foundation for the modern world as we know it, and is also a magnificent foundation for an MMO.
ENOUGH WITH THE HISTORY LESSON, GRAMPS!
As you might have already guessed, Silkroad Online is a game based on exactly this story – although as one might expect, there is actually little story involved. You begin playing Silkroad Online by choosing to play as either Asian or European, but unlike many other games, you do not choose your class. Instead, you must choose both your preferred weapon and armor, such as swords and bows, or leather and mail. There is little in the way of actual character customization – a hugely disappointing aspect of Silkroad Online – meaning that many players will find doppelgangers roaming the world. The robust skill system however ensures that you will only be similar in appearance, as there are a lot of different class and weapon options.
A WEALTH OF OPPORTUNITY
At later levels in the game players are able to select a class mastery with a pre-designed set of skills determined by both their race and weapon choices. Players that choose the European path will have access to three different tiers. The melee tier allows players to choose the Warrior and Rogue Classes, the caster tier Warlock and Wizard, and the buffer tier Bard and Cleric. The Asian race choice is quite different, with on two tiers but several more calls options. Choosing Asian weapon mastery will give access to Bicheon Swordsmanship, Heuksal Spearmanship, and Pacheon Bowmanship, while force mastery allows choice between the Cold Force, Lightning Force, Fire Force, and Force Power classes.
Once you have finalized your character you will be faced with one of the most daunting experiences I have had in an MMO to date. You begin playing Silkroad Online by being placed at the back end of an enormous town, with the only form of tutorial being offered through a series of poorly translated quests. Miss the quest giver like I did, and you’ll most likely be spending the next hour trying to find your way out of town. Not only is the tutorial greatly lacking in every way, but beginning the game without any form of introduction felt both abrupt, and unwelcome.
GOING THE GRIND
Silkroad Online is a very heavily grind-based MMORPG, meaning that you will spend the vast majority of your time playing killing random NPC monsters to gain in level. Having played Shaiya, Last Chaos, and Lineage 2 in the past – I’ve come to the conclusion that this playstyle is most definitely not for me. But for those that prefer grind-style gaming, Silkroad Online should work out well. From what I could tell through the poorly translated text found in the quests – most of them simply asked you to grind some more, and offered little in the way of an appropriate reward.
Fortunately Silkroad Online includes several different systems that help to make grinding more interesting, the most noticeable being the different types of experience that can be gained, and the different ways they affect each other. Put simply, there are two different types of experience in Silkroad Online, Level Experience and Skill Points. Level Experience works much the same as in all other MMOs, whereby killing enemies provides an increase in level and abilities. Once a new level has been achieved players are free to distribute stat points as they see fit, with 3 new points available per level.
Skill Points are used to increase your ability in individual skills as weapon types, and must be accumulated separately. Interestingly, players that choose not to spend their skill points will find that they will begin to accumulate much faster than before, although standard Level Experience accumulation will decrease in doing so. Thus, players can technically level up their skills and weapons much faster than normal, but doing so will require a lot of grinding.
UNLEASH THE DEMON WITHIN
Dying in SRO will also cause you to lose experience, adding once again to the sever grind that players must endure, but the unique berserk system helps players re-acquire lost experience much faster than normal. While fighting enemies players will slowly notice their ‘berserk bar’ filling up and when full can quite literally unleash the demon within. Doing so will not only turn your character into a red demon from the very pits of hell, but provide enormous bonuses to your attributes for a short period of time.
IT’S A DANGEROUS ROAD
When it comes to grinding, there are only two things that truly annoy me, click-to-move navigation, and gigantic, bland environments. Unfortunately, Silkroad Online is comprised of both. The click-to-move navigation annoys me in SRO more than most mainly because of how inaccurate it is in find the best possible route to my destination – seeing me caught on a wall or rock on numerous different occasions. Luckily, due to the bland environments, this problem didn’t affect me as much as it could have. Most of the areas in SRO look and feel the same, empty. You’ll find the occasional tree or rock scattered throughout the endless plains, but nothing really immersive or interesting, which only adds to the repetitive grind-based nature of the game.
Luckily, Silkroad Online has one aspect that I greatly enjoyed, the PvP/Profession system in which the two are combined. Once you reach level 20 you are given the choice between one of three different professions, Merchant, Thief, or Hunter. Merchants travel the Silk Road carrying goods from one town to another to make a profit from the item mark-up. They pay Hunters to protect them from Thieves, who will try to kill them, steal their wares, and sell them. Hunters could of course choose to work with the Thieves helping to kill the merchants, and splitting the prize too. It’s a rock, paper, scissors PvP and Profession system, and one that I have come to enjoy quite a bit.
Final Verdict: Good (3/5)
Silkroad Online is a game that will please a very specific audience, one that takes particular interest in the unique PvP/Profession system. The majority of the game is bland, and the repetitive grind-based style of play won’t attract many newcomers to the scene, but for those that are a fan of the style and are looking for something new, SRO might just be the thing you’ve been waiting for.
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