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Astellia Online Review

Critic Score: 4 out of 5
User Rating: (28 votes, average: 3.46 out of 5)

It’s a hard lot for MMOs these days, and Astellia Online is no exception. Barunson E&A announced not only were they going to bring Astellia to the West, but they planned on altering some features for the Western audience. The changes include removing the P2W enhancement items from the shop and changing the gender-locked classes. This is only available to two of the classes as of this writing, with the others coming soon. On a personal level, gender-locking doesn’t bother me, but if they want those players who might be on the fence? It could be a sound idea.

First Steps:

The last buy-to-play MMO was Bless Online, and it did leave a lot of players burned and disappointed. A ton of promises were made, but not a single one was kept. To Astellia Online’s credit, they have kept their word so far. The closest the in-game shop has to pay-to-win is the Beeswax Token. This is an item you can buy with Zender (loyalty currency; acquired by logging in for a length of time). This item un-soulbinds an item, so you can put it up for auction. The only good thing to come out of this is that it’s a great way to make money, but does not make you better at the game, so this is something I can overlook. These don’t have stat buffs on them, so it’s not an issue. It’s important to note that you can also get Zender through participating in Avalon and the Arena (PVP).

So what exactly is Astellia Online? Astellia Online is a buy-to-play MMO with a one-time fee and optional subscription. In it, you pick a gender and class combination, with some minor restrictions (as of this writing). The Class Evolution system has also been recently added, which adds three alternate classes to evolve into at level 50. This will further alter how you play in Astellia‘s already robust skill system. The Beginner’s experience is solid. The tutorial takes you step-by-step through each new feature as it becomes available. You always have plenty to do, including Main Quests, Side Quests, Important Quests, and Blue Quests. These Blue Quests serve as Exploration Quests and are the only thing that wasn’t explained in-game as far as I saw.

The game gives you one of these Blue Quests early on and makes it pretty easy for you to find the book you’re after. These Blue Quests have you seeking out lore items (books) in the world. The quest does not guide you to what you’re after, and you’re meant to explore and figure it out on your own. Alternatively, you can Google it. These lead to an achievement, and from what I have come to understand, a 5-Star Astel. I have heard that these can only be done within 10 levels of the quest’s level. This is convoluted, hard to figure out, and frustrating. It’s one of the few things in the game I don’t understand.

Knowing Me, Knowing You:

Combat is standard action MMO fare. You use auto-attacks and a series of abilities that you unlock as you level up, then pop special attacks and roll out of the way of huge AOE abilities. These can be enhanced with skill points, and each skill has its own facets you can improve. This is simple enough to get into. Each class has its own strengths and weaknesses, but luckily you do not have to fight alone.

Astellia Online Review Screenshot

They might look adorable, but those Astels are fierce.

You start with one Astel, a magical doll that aids you in combat. They have their own roles, strengths, and weaknesses. As you unlock more of them, they’ll fill up a bar on your screen called your “Astel Deck”.  Astels are where the combat system shines. Players have three meters: Health, Mana, and AP. Astels cost AP, though you can have one Astel out without worry. You can summon up to three, with each one draining your meter faster. There is a potion you can pick up to regenerate this meter, which can let you have three out longer.

Astels are interesting, but their menu has a lot to take in. Each Astel Card has a Style, a Role, Physical/Magical classification, and a Damage Type. This last one deals bonus damage to enemies that are weak to Passion, Wittiness, Cold-heartedness, etc – this makes no sense. As long as my Astels are doing extra damage, I suppose that’s fine. Most of the Astels are classified as “Servant”, which means they only need a menial amount of AP to keep going. They also have their own style of Auto Attack, which they’ll use when in range. That’s not all though. They also have special attacks.

Astellia Online Review Screenshot

As an Archer, I loved having Astels that can taunt and tank for me.

The Astels have a “Special Skill” which is activated by pressing the corresponding button on your Astel Deck (F1-F8). This can be a stun, heal, taunt, or anything between. You can see this skill by hovering over your Astel on the bar. Here’s where things get interesting though; some Astels also have “Co-Op” skills. You will need certain skill ranks, but you can see what you lack to activate these. When you activate the correct skill, your Astel will work in tandem with you. The final part of this screen worth mentioning is the “Deck Effect” tab. Here you can see a variety of passive skills, with a set of points by them. By equipping the appropriate Astels in the same deck, you can pick up very useful passive buffs. Each Astel will add points to a meter, and when you hit certain thresholds, you’ll start to pick up these buffs. You likely will not start seeing these until later in the game. It’s still a very cool system that promotes tactical use of putting together certain Astels. By keeping the right ones together, you can wield great power.

What To Do?

As Astellia is a Korean MMO, it is laden with game systems. You have a Rune System to equip your character with minor passive buffs. You can equip Star Jewels to your Astels, and you can attach another style of gem to your weapons and armor! This is all convoluted, but it’s a standard feature in most Korean MMOs. At least, unlike some other games, you can unequip these and hold onto them. Dungeons tend to give tons of these various gems. It won’t be hard to come up with enough of them to merge these Runes and Star Jewels. Gear can be fused with items and enhanced with Enhancement Shards. These are a dime a dozen; break down gear you don’t need. You’ll get tons of it without a doubt. I tend to have thousands of these shards, but the rarer and better the gear, the more it costs.

Astellia Online Review Screenshot

Gems! Jewels! Shards! So many enhancement systems!

If you’re a PVP fan, Duels and Avalon await. Avalon is a week-long battle. Players who join one of three factions and their contributions will earn them rewards at the end. There is never a shortage of content in Astellia Online.

Crafting and Gathering are quite beastly too. This system is far more complex than it needs to be, but I’ll say one thing: It’s different. You can use any of the crafting skills whenever you like, but you can only learn one gathering skill at a time. When you swap gathering skills, your skill resets to the beginning level, so only do it when you need to. To craft weapons and armor in Astellia Online, you need to make every part of the weapon or armor. That means to make a Bow (since I play an Archer), I need to first craft the Frame, Arrow Shafts, Bowstring, and have some Resin. hese are made with Carpentry, except the Bowstring. That requires me to go to Tailoring Crafting Skill, and have some Linen on hand, and turn it into a Cotton Skein. The hard part was finding the Linen. The game doesn’t make it clear where you can find it. For me, it was on Orcs in any area. So I spent the better part of a day depopulating Orc camps to get ready for furthering my craft skills. Once I had all of these, I could make my new bow. You have a chance to make a rarer item when crafting, which I appreciate.

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Dungeons in Astellia Online are not long, but they are intense and challenging.

As you progress through the Main Story, you’ll go through instanced areas alone and complete a series of pretty simple quests. This is your lead into the dungeon system. Each dungeon has a level requirement and a recommended CP (Power Rating). You have the option to tackle a Solo, Party, or Legendary version of these. There are two options for party matching: Matching (finds people also in matching) and the Adventure Tab. You can look through parties looking for members. This also includes Field Parties, Colosseum Parties, and Avalon. Matching felt faster to me, but your mileage may vary. You receive a pile of rewards for defeating the final boss of a dungeon, from gear to more Astel cards.

This is the most valuable reward. Each Astel starts with a certain star rating, and you can’t open lootboxes (or anything similar) to get more of them. If you receive an Astel card that you already have, it gains experience, and when the bar fills, it will go up a grade (star). This means that grinding dungeons is key. You only have 24 dungeon tickets a day, but you can spend some to increase your reward output with a Dungeon Buff. These reset daily and can be purchased with Zender. You can grind dungeons alone if that’s what you want. I enjoy doing them with a party more, but if no one’s around or the wait is too long I’ll do a solo run or two. When you hover over the dungeon in the menu, you can see what the potential rewards are. Then you can farm the appropriate dungeon for a shot at the cards you need. Downside: I tend to get far more gear that I can’t use. Still, you can break excess gear down to enhance other gear, or use Beeswax Tokens to sell rare or better gear.

Visual Appeal with a Downside:

Astellia Online Review Screenshot

This is such a pretty world. Shame it slows to a crawl if you hit 'Go Live'.

Astellia Online is gorgeous. It has a serious fantasy style, with music that fits the atmosphere of each area. This stuff is all top-notch. You can tell that attention to detail was given to every monster, character, and biome. The NPCs tend to be a little stock, but the voice acting is pretty good all-around, even if Pisces annoys me a little bit.

I do have a problem here though. For some reason or another, this game refuses to work on a livestream. I have tried every setting I could, but from what I’ve come to understand, the game funnels through one core on your CPU. Astellia Online lags no matter what I do. For context, I have an NVidia 1080, an i7, and 11-15mbps upload. Streaming is not an issue for any other game. There is something wrong in the graphical optimization, or somewhere else along the line, to ruin this part of the game. It’s a buzzkill because to get the word out for how fun this game is, live streaming helps. This is one of the best ways to get eyes on a game nowadays. I’m not the only person that has had this issue, and it needs addressing.

Me and my Creepy Doll Army: 4/5 (Great)

Even with the negatives, I’ve had a ton of fun with Astellia Online. The community has been very helpful, and the Cash Shop isn’t laden with P2W items. At best, there are a few minor convenience items and an optional subscription. Subscribing grants a minor (but useful) buff. It’s gorgeous, the character classes are fun, and I’ve had no problems soloing much of the content. It has variety in its two PVP modes, an absolute slew of dungeons, and plenty of content that I did not cover here. I wanted to highlight the most important parts of the game. I understand people being wary of another B2P MMO, especially after how Bless went.

In Bless Online, I loved the game until it went live. I went into Astellia with apprehension, but have found myself enjoying my time in the game. It’s not a perfect MMO, but it’s fun. It has a unique system with the Astels and has yet to show a single way to spend real money to power these up. They all have personality and fit into this strange, but beautiful, fantasy world. I recommend this for someone looking to play a Korean-style MMO without the P2W features. There are Deluxe versions of the game that come with more cosmetics and temporary buffs, but this does not offer players a pay-to-win advantage. Thirty dollars is not a bad price for how much the game offers.

Note: A code was provided for review purposes.

Astellia Online Screenshots

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