Order and Chaos Online: One Year Later
This week marked the one-year anniversary of Order and Chaos Online, widely known as OnC, the World of Warcraft inspired MMORPG from Gameloft that has become the signature MMO on iOS. A year ago I reviewed the first twenty levels of game play, and at the time said that I would follow-up with a fuller review.
This is that follow-up, though it’s not a formal review so much as a reflection on what’s happened since that review. It’s been an eventful year for OnC. And further, it stands to be a big year to come … provided Gameloft does it right.
The game that we OnC players have today is very different from the game that launched a year ago. Looking back at that review, many of the things I noted as flaws have been addressed. Dungeons? Now present; four of them, with a fifth to come. The cost of teleport and death? Both reduced to much more reasonable levels. Getting around? Much better now that teleporters can send you to any other portal, AND they put one in Greenmont. Order and Chaos is in many ways a much better game today.
One place where OnC has really grown in the last year is end-game content. When the game debuted in April 2011, there was nothing to do once a character hit the level 60 cap. Literally nothing — it was so devoid of content that the community began to organize ad hoc PvP tournaments on their own. A lot of folks would reach level 60, farm a bit for blue weapons, and then start leveling a character again. Or just as often, they’d stop playing.
Today, there’s something to do when you reach level cap. Each of the game’s four dungeons has a Legendary Mode, playable only at level 60. Those Legendary dungeons feature some of the best gear in the game, as well as drops like crafting recipes and soul stones (a form of in-game currency).It is practically a leveling system itself, as you progress through harder and harder dungeon zones and earn more powerful gear.
Order and Chaos is, today, the most solid open-world-style MMORPG you can play on iOS. I’ve tried many others, but none match it. Having said that, I’ll also point out that the game is at something of a crossroads; and if Gameloft does not take the right path from here, we may not be talking about OnC so highly a year from now. For OnC to continue to thrive, two things need to happen.
First, the game needs to grow out. It’s current path of expansion — Legendary dungeons and chasing powerful gear — has played itself out. There’s little more to be gained by putting in yet another Legendary dungeon with yet more high-level gear. Players who complete the dungeon cycle are already so powerful that they’re practically 5 levels above their newly-arrived-at-level-60 counterparts. Adding more to this dimension of the game will just stagnate things.
Instead, the game needs to begin to add new variables. For one thing, the game needs a true PvP system. Unlike WoW, there’s no natural division of players into factions; there is also no PvP arena, nor an instanced battleground area. Instead, OnC offers certain open PvP areas in four of its six zones. Entering the area automatically flags a player for PvP and there’s no level control within the zones; yes, this means that it’s all too common for level 20 players in the level 20 PvP zone to get harassed by level 60s with nothing better to do.
The second thing that OnC desperately needs is better customer service. Gameloft is a monolith of a company, and their customer service can be found severaly lacking. In fact, the last year has been a comedy of errors in terms of customer service for OnC, and the game has shed more than a few active players because of it. People have quit playing the game over poor response to glitches, hacked accounts, and other things, some of which could have — and should have — been taken care of faster and more completely than they were. As such, Gameloft is fairly criticized within the community for being deaf to complaints and slow to issue fixes to known issues. Things have improved, especially since the new year, , but they still need to learn a few things about managing an MMORPG community.
So here’s to hoping that Order and Chaos continues to grow and thrive in the next year, and that Gameloft continues to improve the way they tend to this passionate player community. In the meantime, there’s no better time to try the game out, if you haven’t before. If you’re looking for an assist, you can even find me online; my main toon is Alimac, a Mage on the Whispering Islands (U.S.) server.
For more about Order and Chaos and other pocket-sized MMORPGs, check out the Massively Portable podcast.