Day 2 and I’m still enjoying the game. I think I’m becoming slightly accustomed to the clunky animations and movement, as it’s not bothering me nearly as much as it did the first day.
With the jank bothering me less and having got the basics out of the way, I’ve been able to dig a little deeper in the game systems and I like what I see. I played around with Free Attack mode on Day 1, but for Day 2 I dived into deck building, which I’ve been enjoying.
So here’s how it works, and how they mix up the standard push-a-button-on-a-hotbar MMO combat. By default, you certainly can play in the typical MMO manner. You drag skills onto your hotbar and they start out Locked (more on that in a second). What that means is that you use your ability, and it goes on cooldown. Some abilities it seems like you can use again immediately, but if you do so the Focus (read: Mana) cost increases. This is the standard MMO gameplay and what the game starts you off with by default.
Once you locate a skill trainer in a city, you can unlock Deck building, and I think this is a much more interesting approach. You can still choose to Lock abilities to specific hotbar slots (like putting your heal on the 5 key, for instance). That way the ability is always available and follows all the rules above.
Consider each ability a card in a deck. As your character progresses, your deck can hold more cards. As you get more skilled in a particular ability, you can assign more cards for that ability to your deck. For instance, if I just barely know Stone Fist, I might be able to add one card of it to my deck. If I’m much more skilled in Fire Arrow, I might be able to add 4 cards of it to my deck. Consumables also work in this way, with healing potions, explosives, etc also being cards you add to your Deck.
Now that your deck is built, you enter combat. Any Locked hotbar slots are already available but there’s a catch: Locked abilities cost double the Focus to use and are restricted by cooldowns. Meanwhile, any empty “Unlocked” slots you have on your hotbar draws cards from your Deck. These cards are available for a period of time, but eventually decay and are replaced with other cards. So if you have multiple Fire Arrow cards, you might fire one off and immediately draw another one from your deck which allows you to cast it again immediately (ignoring cooldown) and for significantly less Focus.
There are other skills you can learn to interact with Decks as well. One skill allows you to completely discard your hand, drawing a fresh one. This costs you 10% of your maximum focus, so it’s not something you can spam. It’s saved my butt on a few occasions, though, when my hand wasn’t suited for what I needed (i.e. I desperately needed access to my Heal spell or a healing potion, and my current hand didn’t have any).
Another ability allows you to swap your Deck with another one (sorry, I forgot to mention that you can create multiple decks). This can be useful for a number of reasons, but one major one is that not only do you assign skills and consumables to a deck, you assign equipment to a deck. This means that I might be playing an archer with light armor and a lot of ranged abilities, but if I get cornered I might swap to a more close-range oriented deck with a sword and shield. In theory, anyway, I haven’t tried Deck swapping yet, but that’s what the description reads. :)
Anyway, I’m quite liking this deck mechanic thus far. I have no idea why the developers have worked so hard to hide and obfuscate all of the interesting aspects of the game. Until you find all this stuff, the game just seems like a really janky generic MMO in the worst way. It’s baffling to me, because if I wasn’t a masochist I would have never pushed through all the garbage to get to the good stuff underneath.