Augh, oh God I just sneezed all over my computer monitor! This is the worst! Also, I am coming to terms with the fact that the more Faceplant articles I write in a row, the less sense they make. But meh, as the only surviving member of the Great Faceplant Massacre of 2012, it falls to me to once again present you with SOME kind of entertainment. Or something. I’m really not sure what it is I’m trying to accomplish here, honestly. Ehhh, Can’t over think this thing. Writing Faceplant is how I will deal with the deaths of Elrood and Enosh following this horrible… horror.
Anyway, back when he was still alive, there was a conversation I had with Elrood about MMOs. Elrood has long been appraised about my feelings for World of Warcraft: namely, that at any given point my love for the game could devolve into a deep rooted hatred that seethes below the surface of my sarcastic exterior. Around the same time I finally cancelled my account, I heard about Wakfu, a new MMO being created by Square Enix and Akama through a nerdy nerd magazine for nerds. While Wakfu didn’t sound like the kind of game I typically picked up, it sounded so different from every other MMO out there I had to admit I was intrigued.
… Having separation anxiety from World of Warcraft may have played into that, as well.
Wakfu (high five if you just said the words “bless you” in your head just now) is the sequel to Dofus, a game that had many of the same areas and character classes as the next game. When I first tried to pick up Wakfu, I discovered it was still in closed beta (the beta opened up on Jan. 4, for what that’s worth) so I picked up Dofus in an attempt to determine if Wakfu was something I might actually enjoy.
Turns out? This was a mistake. Dofus felt clunky. Running from map to map was increasingly irritating, and finding the one NPC I was supposed to talk to in a massive map, with no help from the game, mind you, quickly got on my nerves. Combat was about the same in both games, though, it’s a lot more polished now than it ever was before.
Enough of that, though. What’s Wakfu?
My conversation with Elrood was along the lines of this: Has World of Warcraft hit the sweet spot in MMO development? Due to the vast number of games that don’t seem to inclined to buck the heals/tank/dps formula, I was starting to agree with him that it had. But then I found out about Wakfu, a turn based MMO where you deal out pain or heals while positioning yourself around a grid. But combat wasn’t the only draw. It turns out nothing exists in Wakfu without the player base.
Every coin that comes through your possession is minted by either yourself or another player. Food isn’t bought from vendors, it’s either created or purchased from your fellow adventurers. Early on in Wakfu, you’re given a Haven Bag, which acts as an impromptu storage device, home and shop all in one. By putting up items for sale and plopping down in a populated area (if you log out in your haven bag, you will be alerted to any purchases while you were gone next time you come online) you can sit back and wait for the coins to come rolling in. Being a productive member of society has as much weight as level grinding (though honestly who doesn’t love some sweet sweet levels?) Everything can be harvested and turned into armor, tasty dishes, potions, and even furniture for your haven bag, and then sold at a premium.
After a short introduction level, you’re dropped (quite literally) into the center of Astrub, which is a hub between four nations that are at odds with each other. You’ll eventually have to pick one or the other (there are no quests here, per say. There is a list of challenges and requests you can complete if you feel so inclined, and many of them drop rewards for your troubles) and then dedicate yourself to being the best citizen in your nation. You can even run for office and lord over your nation as governor or a member of village council for two weeks, setting laws and taxes, go to war with another nation, and all sorts of good things.
I’m not really sure what the game looks like later on. I’m not even level 10, because there is a lot of grinding to be done in the mean time. Every spell can be leveled up to enormous heights simply by using them over and over, and new spells will be unlocked as you use the old ones. Every level gives you points to put toward your stats, so it helps to know what element you want to focus on. Plus, my equipment is pretty terrible. I think I’m using the remains of a bird head for a hat at the moment. Oh yeah, Wakfu has a weird sense of humor.
The adorable Japanese visuals have a tendency to hide an essential truth about Wakfu. It is really friggin’ complicated. I’m still not sure I have crafting figured out, much less politics.
When I said the world is created by the player base, I wasn’t kidding. Certain areas have a delicate ecosystem of plants, trees and animals, and none of them will grow back on their own. Special NPCs will tell you the preferred levels of plants and animals to maintain, and you’ll actually get a stat bonus if you keep it within that area. Before killing those sheep and harvesting that grain, you’ll have to consider picking some seeds off of them (yeah, sheep seeds. Trust me, planting sheep is preferable to watching them have sex. No. Seriously. Don’t question the seeds) or harvest them without killing them to keep the population up.
Maybe more quests are on the way as Square Enix and Akama continue to develop the game (its free to play, at least at the moment. Also, why am I don’t so many parentheses in this article?) but I am really enjoying the feeling of being my own boss in Wakfu. Am I going to level grind our my spells or begin my great quest to become the richest citizen of them all? Maybe I’ll even run for mayor. Who knows?
I don’t know if Wakfu will have any staying power in my game playing arsenal, but I am glad to see an MMO do something different from World of Warcraft. Politics and businesses are a nice change DPS rotations and end game raid content.