A Brief Look At HeroWarz
A.Storm’s online action RPG HeroWarz is the latest title to be localized by publisher KOG Games. HeroWarz is a character-based game that follows the stories of several characters as they attempt to find a girl whose dreams become reality and stop her from destroying the world. I was recently given the chance to sit down with GM Moshup of KOG Games and take a tour of this crazy upcoming title.
One of the first things I noticed about HeroWarz is that it is easy to pick up with a great sense of familiarity for anyone who’s ever played an action RPG like the Diablo series. When playing the game’s PvE mode you have a set of abilities that are comfortably mapped to the mouse buttons, space, the number keys, and—oddly enough—T. Unlike similar titles the game makes use of scrolling the mouse wheel up and down to trigger abilities, as well as holding both mouse buttons at the same time. You can play with keyboard controls but the mouse controls will be easy to use right off the bat.
The flow of gameplay is quite a bit different than the average action RPG. HeroWarz’s progression is designed to allow players to move from zone to zone quickly. Instances and missions are closely linked and, generally, completing a mission means completing the entire instance. There is a hub—and you can even auto-fish there—but the intention is that players will complete a mission, hand it in, pick up the next one, and automatically move to the next instance.
As you move through the game’s missions you will be automatically matched with other players who are attempting that mission. During the matchmaking process the game drops you into an empty version of the instance you are about to play and waits for everyone to ready up. You have the option to set your instance to private and not take part in public matchmaking, but it will default you to that setting. When I asked about it, Moshup responded that “in most action MMOs a lot of people miss out on the fact that it’s an MMO or you miss out on the fact that it’s a fun game when you play with others. [...] It kind of promotes the group environment or group play.”
HeroWarz has a fairly unconventional manner of forming parties. One player summons a mount. When others jump onto the mount they become a part of the player’s party. To make matters more interesting there are some fairly outlandish mounts. An example I was given is a mount that runs around on bamboo stilts and wears a basket on its back. When multiple characters jump on it one character gets on each stilt, one rests on its back, and one sits on its head. There’s also a Dempsey dumpster mount with a boom box strapped to the front of it that is pushed around by a rat.
The global version of HeroWarz is vastly different from the Korean version of HeroWarz. Moshup stated that when A.Storm originally came to them with the idea to change the game significantly there were “at least 32 pages” of changes presented. The overall level of difficulty has been rebalanced, requiring players to do more than “faceroll on the mouse and keyboard” to complete levels. I was told that some bosses past level 100 can even one shot you. The PvE mode now forces you though the storyline. “For those who are familiar with Diablo, you follow the storyline whether you want to or not. You’re kind of along for the ride. That’s something that’s very similar to what we’ve done with HeroWarz,” Moshup said.
As one of the things that A.Storm enjoyed most about working on HeroWarz character development was significantly improved in the global version. Each of the game’s characters is less of a hero and more of an antihero. They all have a messy past and the global version will delve into each of their stories quite a bit more. As I had played as B during the tour Moshup used him as an example. “He has a crazy storyline. Absolutely nuts in regards to the grand scheme of things and A.Storm wanted to make sure that players experience that or at least they get to witness some key points in his storyline that get you attached to him or make you want to hate him.”
From what I had seen during the tour, the amount of detail put into each character’s personality and backstory is immediately evident, which is quite astounding. For example, during character creation Nagne’s nickname is said to be ASDF. When he was first contacted by the Historic Service he kept asking for food and wouldn’t give them his name. In turn, the representative contacting him just put down whatever she wanted: ASDF. Furthermore, Nagne is lazy so whereas other characters can jump onto each others’ backs Nagne will grab onto other characters’ ankles and ragdoll along behind them.
The game’s PvP mode will see major changes, but there are not many details that could be shared as of yet. Here is a list of what Moshup was able to tell me. All other details are still being kept under wraps.
- Other than the characters it will be completely different from the Korean release’s PvP mode. Even the appearance will be different.
- Nothing from the PvE mode will be usable in the PvP mode. Not even costumes. It will be a completely separate entity. However, there may be various achievements in one mode that unlock items in the other. They also might make it so that unlocking various characters in PvP can only be done by progressing through the PvE storyline.
- Each character will have four abilities during PvP. These will be their “signature” abilities that define their set of abilities and are most instantly recognizable as being theirs and make sense for the mode.
- You will be able to play as both the characters you play as in the PvE mode and various boss characters that you fight during the PvE mode.
These changes are being made because A.Storm “knew they had something.” According to Moshup, “they wanted to focus on everything that was appealing. They had this great concept for PvP, but, believe it or not, the Korean players and some of the other global players have a completely different idea of how to approach games of this nature than the North American audience does.” The global release will be taking the “MOBA-like experience” of HeroWarz’s PvP mode and expand on it. The goal is to make it “more viable” and “more competitive.”
“It’s not going to be so much so focused on your greater environment, but it’s going to be focused on fast attacks,” Moshup said, “What would last about 20-30 minutes in League would probably last about 5-10 minutes in what we’re going to call ATV.”
Moshup could “neither confirm nor deny” whether these changes would make it back to the Korean version eventually, but did state that “A.Storm loves how things are turning out on the global version.”
A few other details were mentioned briefly. There will be crafting. Players will be able to use their skill points after level 70 or so. The current level cap is 200. Interestingly enough, some players made it past level 111 within the first two days of Closed Beta.
Looking to the future, Moshup stated that “character releases, as of right now, are going to be pretty quick,” but also that “we’re still trying to figure out exactly how we’re going to do it.” The game’s PvP mode, “with relative confidence,” will be ready “towards the end of summer.” On the possibility of another Closed Beta, Moshup said “if you were to ask me what is my dream outcome as of how things are going right now, I’d say the next beta test is going to be Open Beta. I don’t want to see another Closed Beta.” If the game does move to Open Beta next, it “will not be restricted to North America.” More regions will be allowed access to the game.
“Time vs money is going to be a big focus” of the cash shop, “but their costumes are also a big deal.” In the Korean version, the costume shop is set up like a “cat walk” or “the front of Elle magazine.”
I also made sure to ask about the Google Chrome extension. “That was the only way we could get full support from Chrome and get the game to run with as few issues as possible,” Moshup said. Recent security changes made to Chrome have made it difficult to launch the game from the browser. Edge and FireFox support are also on the way.
I have high hopes for HeroWarz. It has a unique premise, a stunning amount of detail, and one of the most immediately interesting stories in the realm of MMOs. The developers sound as if they are going a significant ways out of their way to make the game the best they can for the global release. It's easy to pick up and play, with controls that are instantly familiar to anyone who has played an action RPG. The tour I was given sold me on the game’s PvE mode and I am quite eager to see how the PvP turns out.