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Sword of the New World: The Best Free MMORPG?

11 September, 2008

As I’ve made clear in the past, I’ve tried an awful lot of MMORPGs, both free and subscriber only (Perfect World, Rappelz, Tales of Pirates, Rohan, Dofus, World of Warcraft, Cabal and probably some others I can’t remember). In most cases though, the free to play ones don’t stay on my computer very long, sometimes even for less time than it took me to download the installer. So, it was with a degree of trepidation that I spent somewhere in the region of twelve hours downloading, installing and patching an MMO called Sword of the New World.

I have to admit though, despite the long wait, I’m pleasantly surprised. SotNW definitely stands up with the best of free to play MMOs and perhaps even some of the pay to play ones too. Here’s a more detailed look at what I thought of the game.

  1. System specs: My laptop is two years old now and wasn’t top of the range when it was new, so whether games will actually run is a big issue for me. To my surprise though, Sword of the New World runs beautifully and not even on the lowest graphics settings. So far it’s been smooth and lag free, which is definitely a bonus.
  2. The look of the game: I’ll be the first to admit that I have a real fixation with pretty things. To this end, I love games that look good. SotNW really stands up here. It looks gorgeous, from the detailed landscapes and textures to the brilliantly OTT character costumes. Despite the fictitious world, the game as a whole has a ‘baroque’, historical feel to it, rather than the fantasy setting of many online games.
  3. Playability: This is one area where Sword of the New World is slightly let down. On the plus side, it has the interesting feature of being able to play up to three characters at once. Unfortunately, managing these three characters in areas so heavy with monsters that you can quickly became swamped is not always easy. There are also so many keyboard shortcuts that it’s almost easier not to bother learning them at all. Add to that the ‘not entirely obvious how it works’ systems of stances and skills and the game can be a bit overwhelming for the new player. I’m still not convinced I’ve got the hang of everything yet, but I’m getting there. Overall, it’s a complicated but likely rewarding system, particularly at higher levels.
  4. Other observations: One thing the game does have going for it is the more-or-less perfect English in character dialogue boxes. There are a few typos (particularly in NPC names) but overall the dialogue is readable and gives a sense that the game might actually have a bit of a story to it (this is a far cry from a lot of free MMOs I’ve played, in which the text has been translated into English, often from Korean, but very poorly).

So, overall impressions: Sword of the New World is an interesting and very good-looking MMORPG, offering a different set of attractions from many of its competitors, particularly in the ability to play more than one character at once. I’ve yet to see much of the social side of the game, as the starting areas seem to be fairly quiet. However, I’m likely to keep playing and try to get to some of the busier areas, as the game runs beautifully, looks fantastic and has so far proved to be pretty enjoyable.

Does Sword of the New World have the potential to be an alternative to other MMORPGs, even ones which require a subscription? Probably not, as the playing style it offers is somewhat different to traditional games of this type. However, if you’re fed up of badly-translated, bland-looking and boring to play MMOs, Sword of the New World might be one to try.

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