Utilizing a humorous comic book approach, the developers put a unique spin on free to play MMOs. This free-to-play has been called “charmingly hardcore.” Take on the role of an immortal hero and battle other players and tame pets all while exploring a colorful fairytale world.
Developed by Pixel Soft and published by ChangYou, Zentia was released in open beta on October 13th, 2010. ChangYou.com is the developer behind several Chinese MMORPGs. They’re also the developer behind the US released FTPMMOs Dragon Oath and Blade Wars. While ChangYou’s titles all follow a fantasy theme, they took an unprecedented approach to the development of Zentia.
The Three Lords
Zentia revolves around a pretty in-depth storyline. The back-story is based on a legend involving three primordial lords. The three lords were:
- Demonor – Lord of the Demon Plane
- Mortalor – Lord of the Mortal Plane
- Supremor – Lord of the Immortal Plane and Supreme Lord over everything.
Demonor and his minions rebelled against Supremor and broke the 81 seals which divided the Mortal Plane from the Demon Plane, thus allowing them the opportunity to destroy the mortal world. This began the battle between Demonor and Supremor—and Mortalor who jumped in to side with Supremor. The battle ended with Supremor and Mortalor removing Demonors soul and placing it into a pet hamster.
Our story picks up when Supremor discovered the Mortal Plane was still in ruins and Mortalor was MIA. Supremor revoked the immortal rights of Mortalor’s 22 chosen until he was satisfied with the cleanup and reconstruction of the Mortal Plane. The chosen 22 are now responsible for saving mankind.
You Are the Chosen
When creating your character, you’ll first choose between two camps, Ba Gua or Tai Chi—now I want some tea. Both camps have access to the same 20 characters and 8 classes. Zentia offers no initial character customization. However, as gameplay progresses, you’ll have the opportunity to purchase costumes and such. Character selection is a very random collection of shapes and sizes from more normal looking people to strange options such as a monkey. All characters may be played as any of the 8 classes.
The 8 classes include:
- Vajira Guardians – This class is tough and packs a punch with their melee skills. Vajira Guardians can take a beating and serve as tanks. Their difficulty level is basic.
- Blade Warden – Blade Wardens are well known for their swordsmanship. Their talents lie in both melee and sword throwing. This class really deals out damage, but can serve as a tank as well. Their difficulty level is basic.
- Fire Mage – Fire Mages possess the greatest single-target damage skills. A Fire Mage may dish out destruction, but they can’t handle much damage. Their difficulty is medium.
- Divine Enchanter – This class may attack, however their greatest asset is the ability to strengthen their allies. Divine Enchanters can heal, raise, and revive their allies. Their difficulty is medium.
- Raksha Warriors – These warriors are less durable but are capable of inflicting significant damage. Raksha Warriors serve as hybrid tanks while utilizing their magic skills. Their difficulty level is basic.
- Master Summoner – A very versatile class, Master Summoners can summon allies which are capable of significant destruction. This class is also powerful from a distance where they utilize ranged attacks and heal their allies. The Master Summoner is a very balanced class. Their difficulty level is complex.
- Stormlord – Stormloards may deal out less damage but they have the power to manipulate lightning which is capable of striking multiple targets at in one shot. Their difficulty is complex.
- Dark Revenant – Dark Revenants enhance and heal their allies but their strength is the ability to discretely attack their enemies. They deal mostly in support. Their difficulty is complex.
Once you’ve created your character, you’re then shown a cinematic video which prepares you for the interesting fantasy, fairy-tale world that awaits you. Quite frankly, the video made no sense to me whatsoever. But, it is entertaining and you get to enjoy the fun use of color and amazing graphics.
New players are taken to a small island where several NPCs will offer basic quests which serve as a tutorial. Not quite the kind of tutorial that I like, but each to his own… and they do serve their purpose by getting you grounded in Zentia’s gameplay. From there you are taken—by way of a stork—to Mulberry Village.
As a newbie, you are given a gift box containing various items including healing items and useful equipment. Your gift box is accessible only at levels 1, 3, 5, 7, 10, and 13. After level 13 your gift box ceases to exist. I love the gift box concept. It’s a nice welcome gift and assists new players while they are getting settled in.
Zentia is very easy to understand and the UI is nice and clean. You are given the choice between two control options: point-and-click or the W, A, S, and D keys. Players are also given the chance to have full camera control which allows you to zoom in and out as well as pan. Zentia also sports an auto-walk feature which is a common MMORPG trait. Everything about Zentia’s UI, including the mini map, will be very familiar to Zentia Vets; not much has changed.
Pets, Mounts, and Monsters… Oh My!
Pets in Zentia are introduced to players fairly early on—around level 3. Things get interesting pretty fast because most of the monsters you meet can be tamed and trained as a pet. Pets are very useful as they provide their owners with both buffs and stat boosts. They are also capable of guiding you though a quest using the guidance of the mini map.
Shortly after meeting your first pet, you’ll be introduced to your first mount—in and around level 9 or 10. Your first mount is a donkey. As gameplay progresses, you’ll soon discover that mounts come in an interesting variety of packages. And similar to games like Battle of the Immortals, Zentia allows mounted combat! Some mounts, called multi-player mounts, allow several players to ride simultaneously.
Gameplay: Questing and Crafting
In Zentia, game progression moves at a very comfortable clip. Just fast enough to keep you intrigued, but slow enough that you won’t feel overwhelmed. This isn’t work, after all—it’s playtime! Quests are not only great for obtaining XP, but you can be rewarded with costumes and new equipment as well. Costumes may be put over your equipment and may be removed at any time. Another Zentia perk worth mentioning is the quest tracking system. The snazzy quest tracking system along with the user friendly quest log prove to be invaluable assets throughout gameplay.
Those MMO gamers who are also crafting addicts will more than likely have to face withdrawal when playing Zentia. As it stands, the materials needed for crafting must be obtained through the cash shop. Not cool. Sure, put the cool costumes and upgrades in the cash shop. But for Pete’s sake, don’t hold our crafting materials hostage! This is a free-to-play MMO, last time I checked. I can say, under good authority, that many gamers won’t even try Zentia because they resent being forced to pay for what is essentially a core part of the game and traditionally free. Hopefully the developers will address this issue sooner rather than later.
The Final Word
Zentia plays great! The quests are fun, action packed, and in abundance. I love the graphics and animation, which really put color to use and make this game pop. Pets in Zentia are a blast and the system itself is very in-depth which adds significantly to the gameplay. Gameplay progression is spot-on and keeps you coming back for more. Zentia even offers a full feature PvP system. Oh, and I absolutely love the random, playful banter between pets and monsters as they fight! That is definitely one of the highlights of this game.
Having already sung Zentia’s praises, it’s still my job to make you aware of the bad aspects of a game as well. Zentia does have its share of negative aspects. First and foremost on my lists of complaints is the fact that players cannot experience the PvP system until level 20. In my opinion, this is completely unnecessary. Another point worth making is the lack of competition provided when fighting off monsters. I don’t know about you, but I enjoy a good challenge. Simply sneezing on my opponent to obtain victory doesn’t satisfy me in the least.
Zentia is the most unique MMORPG I’ve seen yet. And really, it’s not that the developers have created never seen before game elements. What Pixel Soft did was put a completely novel spin on the classic MMORPG elements. The multi-player mounts that can fight with up to 10 players mounted are just one example of a fun, unique twist to a standard RPG element.