Order & Chaos: Mobile MMO
by Matthew F. Hibben
Release Date: April 27, 2011
Platforms: iPad, iPhone, Android
The use of mobile devices in the general consumer world has been on the sharp rise. For gamers of course, mobile devices have literally been around for decades with some of the earliest examples being that of the classic Nintendo Gameboy. Now it seems that game culture is taking the latest generation of mobile computing by storm. With the ability to distribute games digitally and inexpensively, the market is moving forward, and by forward I mean into the arena of MMMO (Mobile Massive Multiplayer Online). Devices like the iPad, with the merger of both a strong visual platform coupled with internet connectivity, bring gamers the next logical step in gaming, the MMMO's. Today's GameTech Article reviews the first solid example of this with Gameloft's Order & Chaos.
Order & Chaos: First Impressions
Purchasing and installing Order & Chaos was a breeze, and I also want to mention that in the weeks of playing the game I did not DC (disconnect) once. As far as the visual first impression goes this game is very similar to World of Warcraft (WOW).
For those familiar with WOW, think Elwynn Forest/Goldshire and that pretty much sums up the what Order & Chaos styles itself after, at least for the early levels I played. Here are some side by side comparisons with WOW, and I'll let you guys be the judge.
Now I certainly don't want to come down too hard on Gameloft for modeling their title after Blizzard's, certainly there are far worse things to emulate than the most lucrative MMO franchise to date. The player first goes through a standard character creation, where race, sex, and character class are selected. In Order and Chaos the player can choose from the races Human, Elf, Orc, and Undead. The playable classes the player can select are Warrior, Mage, Monk, and Ranger. I also want to point out that the race selections are not tied to the class selections, so a player can select any race and class combination they want.
Gameplay in Order and Chaos takes a little bit of getting used to. For those not familiar with playing a touch surface UI based game like myself, the learning curve was a matter of hours, which actually wasn't that bad.
My only problem with the touch UI was that the movement icon is not locked in place like the combat UI is, so it was and still is easy to lose track of it by having it shift to the edge of the screen. Combat via the touch UI is a breeze. First off, the player auto locks onto targets that become aggressive to the player (a very nice targeting feature). Also, selecting targets by touching their position on the screen is very precise. Once engaged in combat the player has a simple action bar that is very intuitive. The action bar shows 3 abilities at any given time but can be swiped to select others.
As far as leveling up in Order and Chaos, it's achieved through questing. Questing in the game is very straight forward, with quest mechanics taken from other MMO's in terms of kill x targets, or gather x items. The UI shows a direction arrow that guides the player to quest locations, when players select to track a specified quest from the journal. Some quests as early as level 5 or so recommend group play, although simply waiting a level or two worked for me in terms of soloing them.
In addition to questing and combat there is a system of crafting in O&C. Crafting is comprised of Blacksmithing, Leatherworking, and Tailoring. The player is able to undergo a quest at the second quest hub Village of Silence (the player will reach this location after only an hour or so of gameplay). It is important to note that the player can only select one crafting skill so I would recommend picking one that compliments your character class.
O&C Strongest Points
The single biggest strength is the cost, for the price of an average lunch you can own this game ($6.99), coupled with no monthly fee, this becomes a no brainer for someone looking to play a quality game on their touch device. The game truly is quite fun albeit heavily borrowed from past titles as mentioned earlier. O&C is easy to pick up on and a nice way to pass the time. I found the game servers had descent populations taking into account how new O&C is, and walking around the starting zone I ran into dozens of other players.
I think the real limit currently on MMMO's is the physical limitations of the display surface more than anything, creating a barrier at least for me, as to how immersive the game can be. Eventually this will change, as the method of display technology changes. Of course I'm thinking in terms of Next-Gen wearable displays. The technology is there, LED displays and gyro accelerometer technologies to facilitate head turning based screen panning. Once these two technologies are synergized and practical in terms of size, the touch based screen of mobile devices can become dedicated to what it seems to be the most enjoyable for, player controls.
I definitely recommend players looking for a MMO experience on their mobile device, to give O&C a shot. The cost coupled with the quality of the gameplay seems to be completely without downside.
Order and Chaos Video Review