Preview: Age of Wushu transported me back to a wonderful world of Martial Arts
In preparation for my guided playthrough with Age of Wushu, I decided to watch Jet Li's Fearless. That movie in particular tied into what I imagined Age of Wushu would be like. After watching that masterpiece, I felt ready to dive into a world where Martial Arts and honor prevailed.
Normally, I'd get absorbed with creating the perfect avatar to represent me in an online world, however for the sake of time, I was provided with a higher level character in order to experience some of the more advanced tasks.
The game forgoes levels and traditional classes. You essentially begin with choosing one of eight different schools. Each has their own specialization as well as particular move sets. What's awesome about Wushu's open class design is that you can eventually infiltrate another school, and learn their move sets as well, expanding your ever growing skill list. What's more, there are also six completely unique storylines which put you at the forefront, much like The Old Republic did.
Since me and my guide first appeared next to a clan settlement that we could take over, I suggested that should be our first task at hand. This wasn't a public task however, and it did require us to talk to an NPC in order to enter an instanced version of the settlement and start defeating enemies.
Combat in Age of Wushu doesn't break new ground when it comes to the genre's now standard hotkey battle system. Even so, the battles are often fast paced and a spectacle to look at. Depending on your fighting style and weapon equipped, you'll be treated to a ton of impressive moves. Of course, what's Martial Arts without a little aerial flair. Much like real Martial Arts though, certain moves can also be countered, which makes paying attention during combat important.
After we failed to take over the settlement (it was designed for more people after all) I was taken to one of the nearby towns to pick up a side profession and hone my skills. Being musically inclined, I chose the musician profession. Once learned, I was able to sit in the town's square and bust out my instrument and play a song. Even this part was interactive, as it played out like an easier version of Guitar Hero. I definitely liked the interaction and it gave more of a meaning to a profession that would be otherwise quite mundane.
Secondly, I was introduced to a tandem training method, that allowed me to pick an area and have other people join me in training. Once everyone got in formation (which again was only me and my guide), we started practicing various moves in unison. Doing this helps you raise your combat effectiveness, but beyond that, it just looks damn awesome. Seeing everyone pull off cool moves in unison was great. There was also a mini-game mechanic here which requires players to do specific button inputs when its their turn in between each move.
The game also has a very extensive relationship tracker, based on your interactions with various factions, clans and individual NPCs. These social links can grow or deteriorate depending on what factions you align yourself with, and what types of quests you pick up. Of course, gaining favor for a particular set of NPCs will unlock further progression in the form of new tasks and quests.
Quite possibly one of the most intriguing parts of Age of Wushu don't take place during the game at all, or rather, happen whenever I'm logged out. If you have the VIP membership, you'll be able to continue your craft even after you hit the Log Out button. Essentially, you can choose from various Life Skills that range from being simple beggars, to stable masters.
After you leave the game and select your Life Skill, your character becomes an NPC. Depending on what profession you chose, you can make extra money or even hone your various Martial Arts skills. I found this to be quite an amazing and helpful system that ensures your character never has any real downtime.
One big thing I forgot to mention earlier, is that Jet Li himself is the official spokesperson for Age of Wushu. This means he'll be appearing in commercials and attending various events for the game, though it is highly unlikely we'll get any of that here in the States. Special Jet Li coins can also be found in the game that can then be exchanged for powerful and rare items.
For a game that's absolutely Free-to-Play, it's jam packed with content that has something for everyone. From those looking for a simple PVE experience to those that want to dominate their enemies with brute force, it's all here, and so much more.
Age of Wushu is currently in Closed Beta, however you can still get into the game early. If you purchase the Deluxe Edition for $19.99, you'll get instant access to the game, along with 60 days of VIP access, $15 worth of virtual items and upgrades, and access to special events and sweepstakes.