Yesterday marked the beginning of the open beta test for Wind Slayer -- the fifth addition to Outspark’s free-to-play gaming portal. Many of you may be familiar with Outspark’s 3D MMOs Fiesta and Secret of the Solstice, but Wind Slayer brings some new gameplay options to the table that lets it stand out from the company’s other titles. Specifically, Wind Slayer is a 2D side-scrolling RPG with a heavy focus on PvP and ease of play.
I had the opportunity to jump into the continent of Beuritania and interact with Ryan Olsen, the Events/Promotion Marketing Manager, and Community Leader Travis Trekell. Both said Wind Slayer was designed to be one of Outspark's simplest games to date to make it accessible to a wide audience, and yet “impossible to master” for more advanced gamers. The target audience definitely seems to be casual and younger players, but the PvP aspect could certainly draw in the advanced crowd.
Upon entering the world of Wind Slayer I found the controls were highly intuitive, adding to the ease of play the community team had emphasized from the beginning. I was able to perform double jumps and dashes as I explored Popola Village, which made traveling a breeze. My weak and strong attacks were already assigned to the S and D buttons and I dragged my Priest’s spells and abilities to my quick slot bar so they’d be ready at the push of a button. Aside from clicking menu options, you’ll be using the keyboard for the majority of your actions.
The first thing I noticed about Wind Slayer was the graphics. The colors are incredibly vibrant and the backgrounds are detailed, giving it a cutesy, cartoony feel. Of course, the graphics could be considered a bit simplistic when compared to 3D games, but that’s the point. Huge 3D worlds may seem overbearing to newer or younger players, but this 2D world can be a little more inviting. At the same time, there’s still a ton to explore.
As I mentioned, my assigned role was a Priest. As one would expect, I had access to both healing and damaging spells. Players who first enter Beuritania, however, will start their journey as a novice. Once you hit level 10 you’ll be able to choose from the six classes: Warrior, Archer, Mage, Rogue, Monk and Priest. Again, these common fantasy archetypes embody the simplicity of the game for new players. But to add to the complexity, you’ll get the opportunity to pick a sub-class at 30. For example, Priests can become Bishops or Dark Priests to focus more on heal ing or damage, respectively. The level cap in the open beta will be 25, but it will be raised in the future.
From the second you log in you’ll be immediately able to fight monsters and complete quests to gain experience and levels, similar to other MMOs. Most of the content is soloable, but some tougher boss battles will require teamwork. Also, dungeons for small parties of four to six players will be released in the future. You can even begin working with the robust crafting system, which will allow you to create full sets of armor for both PvE and PvP content.
While players will certainly be utilizing the PvE content to level and customize their characters, Wind Slayer’s major focus is on PvP, which takes place in instanced arenas. The best comparison to Wind Slayer’s PvP battles is Nintendo’s “Super Smash Bros.” series. If you’re a Smash Bros. fan, you’ll probably enjoy this fighting style. You can enter a battle from anywhere in the game; there’s no need to find a battle master if you want to fight. You then select a room to enter and choose a team to join. You may have to wait for the current battle to end, but you’ll be able to watch its progress as a spectator. The teams will automatically even out the number of players if there’s a discrepancy, so there’s no need to worry about jumping into a 10 vs. 2 match.
Each battle can hold up to 20 players, so the arenas are quite large. Since it’s a 2D game, the maps are comprised of numerous levels, which is why double jumping and dashing are necessities in these fast-paced competitions. The Outspark team also emphasized that PvP in Wind Slayer is meant to be based entirely around skill. In fact, players are all set to the same level in the arenas so everybody has a fair shot at victory. There will also be unique rank names that give access to special rewards. Ranks are updated on a daily basis so you'll need to fight hard to keep your spot if you're near the top.
Personally I enjoyed the PvP battles, but some of the attacks were a little quirky. For example, the weak attack was just that: weak. It was like throwing a snowball against a brick wall and seemed to serve no purpose. Also, some attacks would stop just short of your target if you weren’t exactly within range, which can be somewhat frustrating in a 2D environment. Of course, the team said it’s all about skill, so maybe I just need more practice. Either way, these minor issues didn’t detract much from the experience. It’s also important to remember the game’s still in the beta process.
In addition to PvP, a strong sense of community also seems to be a major focus of Outspark’s newest game. Game Masters will always be on hand to interact with players, host parties and create random in-game events, such as monster attacks. A suite of social features, including guilds, will be added to the game soon, and players can use the Outspark portal to create a free profile and chat with their friends regardless of which game they’re playing.
Also, contests will always be a big part of Beuritania. There’s all sorts of events in effect this month for free in-game items, and the first 4 vs. 4 PvP “Slayer Tournament” will be held on Feb. 13. You can also expect to see a steady stream of content updates added to the game at a rate of approximately two per month, although that number could easily change.
Speaking of in-game items, you’ll be able to buy them using SparkCash through the Outspark store. SparkCash is purchased using real money, with $5 getting you 3,500 pieces of the virtual currency. The game itself will be free-to-play, but the gaming portal generates revenue through the sale of items. If you’ve ever purchased items for any other Outspark games, the process will be the same.
According to the Wind Slayer community team, the game comes from a Korean developer. The team has been localizing the game for the past few months and working on balance tweaks. The purpose of this open beta will be to focus on stabilization, so don’t be surprised if Wind Slayer doesn’t run flawlessly during this test period. It is a test, after all. But through my experience with the game, Outspark delivers on its promise: a simple game that’s difficult to master and has a ton of frantic PvP. While the game is certainly targeted toward casual and younger players, advanced gamers may enjoy the battles and customization options.
So if you’re interested in trying out the open beta, head over to www.playwindslayer.com and give it a try.
Darryl "Togikagi" Gangloff