Legends of Aria is a modern classic game, developed by Citadel Studios, and if you love old school MMORPGs then you may want to check it out. Inspired by classic sandbox titles like Ultima Online and RuneScape, Legends of Aria is available on Steam and will be going free to play with the New Dawn update in November 2019. For new players thinking of checking it out when F2P arrives, here’s some thoughts on whether or not this sandbox MMORPG is worth a look.
Authentic Sandbox MMORPG Experience
Undoubtedly the first thing you’ll notice is the look and feel of the game that screams old school. Get used to that word. Legends of Aria is a top down MMORPG, and you’ll have to use your mouse to move. Plenty of systems also aren’t the conventional things you see today in modern MMORPGs. For example, the UI. The interface is simplistic and overall there is very little hand holding. Outside the tutorial, all you get is a magical orb that you can interact with to get hints about what to do and where to go, but that’s it. The game is open ended so players are free to begin exploring, killing or crafting.
Classless and Huge Amounts of Progression
Legends of Aria lets you pick starter archetypes at the character creation screen, but this isn’t permanent. It gives you starting stats for the type of class you envision to play, like Fighters and Wizards, but once in-game you can branch out and become whatever you want. For progression, it’s going to be the number one thing you’ll be grinding to progress. The game has close to 100 skills that you get better in the more you do it. There’s Blacksmithing to make better armor and weapons, Lumberjack to gather wood, Cooking for food, and more. Players will need the appropriate tools to begin harvesting and crafting, and progress made in these skills happen over time so it’s not a quick and easy process. While that’s for crafting, player skills and abilities work the same. Wearing Light Armor when you’re out killing wolves increases the Light Armor skill, making you more proficient. This happens for everything you have equipped.
Classic Combat, But Needs Work
Combat is paramount for MMORPGs today. It’s by far the thing that players will be doing the most. Unlike modern games where combat systems are flashier and fast, Legends of Aria is the complete opposite. If you come across Giant Rats, Skeletons or Bandits in the world, you can kill them for skill experience. But it’s not as simple as running up to them and pressing your attack skills. Firstly, you have to get into combat stance with the A key. Assuming you’re in range, then and only then can you fire off the skills on your hotbar, that changes depending on what weapon you have on. The pace is very slow early on as all your skill levels are only beginning to advance. The downside is the animations. While it is an old school inspired MMO, the combat being pedestrian does take away from the enjoyment somewhat, because the animations are very basic. We’d like to see this get some improvements in the Early Access, especially for melee weapon wielders.
The Community Is Great
There’s quite a following for Legends of Aria, formerly known as Shards Online. Since its announcement and development years ago, the game has garnered quite a loyal following and most of them have been in the open beta and now of course, in Early Access. Because of that nod to open-world sandbox MMOs, the community will need to step up and lend a helping hand to new players to the genre due to the game not doing any hand holding. And so far, the community has delivered. Folks on are helpful and chatty when approached, and we’ve managed to get a lot of information in-game without ever needing to alt-Tab because other players have been great and helpful. This is such a great change from modern theme-park MMOs where social interaction with other players have become optional.
Conclusion: Legends of Aria Has Potential
Sandbox MMORPGs like these rely on a few core components to succeed. Among them are community, economy and combat. So far, the game shines in the first department, while the other two definitely either need more exploring or improvements. Another key thing to note is that if this is your first time hearing about and open world sandbox game, don’t expect linear PvE. It doesn’t exist in Legends of Aria. There’s no main story, no main quests, and while there are basic kill missions to gain some coin, players will have to make their own fun. And that could be either from being able to be whoever they want to, from merchants to fisherman, or through the game’s open world PvP with full loot on death. We saw plenty of potential in the game, but it needs a lot of work with some of its core systems, including optimizing performance issues that’s stiff affecting many.