I remarked to a friend on Skype, while I was trudging through yet another quest hub, that I felt a little bit guilty that I just wasn’t enjoying RaiderZ. During the past 2 years, I’ve played about 35 different MMORPGs, from blockbusters (Guild Wars 2) to Indie (Continent of the Ninth Seal), crafted by developers across Asia, Europe and the Americas. It takes a lot to make an impact, especially when you have such stand out contenders alongside a saturated market of free entertainment, with literally hundreds of titles to choose from. What I’m looking for now is to be blown away.
So why did I feel guilty? Because there is nothing particularly special about RaiderZ, regardless of how it attempts to market itself as an MMO Monster Hunter. It, like most F2P properties nowadays, borrows heavily from its predecessors, wrapping a loose skin over their bones to create Frankenstein’s monster. In this case, you’ve got a loose (albeit slow and choppier) interpretation of TERA Online’s combat system with large “elite” beasts roaming the lands alongside a simplified crafting system and talent tree ala World of Warcraft.
It doesn’t take long at all for the stitches holding this unholy beast together to start seeping either - there’s no feeling of impact from your weapons, especially when many of your attacks will misfire thanks to floating hitboxes on your enemies. Crafting weapons and equipment is purely by the numbers - buy the recipe, farm the mats, rinse and repeat. There is no randomisation here, no creativity or skill required. Everything is spelled out in awful detail, through a string of linear quests that drag on for hours.
But the most eerie part of RaiderZ was easily based on how starkly alone I felt during my entire play test. General chat was filled with gold farmer and generic bot spam all of the time, with zero ability to report and only a manual system to block individual users. Not that it would have made much of a difference; I counted about 40 separate accounts at any given time participating in the awful circle jerk of garbage, which was a form of supply I found almost comical due to the staggeringly low player base and probable demand.
Occasionally I would see a few people wandering around, a few of them even helped me take down the odd mini boss, but there wasn’t a feeling of camaraderie or shared enthusiasm. Everyone would just silently criss-cross the zone to fill their quota of dead moss creatures or leather scraps in order to move onto the next area. It almost seems that this was by design - none of the game’s quests encouraged socialisation and almost every enemy was easily soloable, including some of the larger boss creatures.
But I did notice quite a few bots and macro players - in one area a particular player was simply waiting for the same unit to respawn so he could continually kill it. I also saw 10’s of AFK players in starter gear littered around the game world. This didn’t really bother me all that much, every MMO has them and while they can have an adverse impact on the economy, most developers can detect and shunt them off the server pretty easily. But from a presentation standpoint, it’s not a good look.
It might seem like I’m being overly harsh on RaiderZ, especially since many aspects of the game aren’t that bad. The graphics are reasonably crisp and attack animation is fluid, which is especially useful when you’re watching for enemy cues to dodge incoming strong attacks or taking note of how long it takes for your avatar to swing his enormous broadsword over his shoulders. Armour and weapon sets are unique enough to be interesting, although this is yet another Korean title that feels the need to glorify the female form with ridiculous boob and thigh armour.
But like TERA, the initial blip of excitement that always pops up thanks to a real-time combat system is almost immediately ruined by what is by all standards a completely average MMORPG. There is little there that hasn’t been done already, and better, nor is there anything special or unique that would appeal to a player looking for a new time sink. RaiderZ feels unpolished and unfinished, plagued with a stagnant, passionless player base and a stack of now obsolete design tropes around questing, story, player progression and crafting.