wizardry Free to play Wizardry Online MMO launches

Heads up, old-school (or just plain old) gamers – Wizardry Online is now open and ready to play! Selling itself as “the most hardcore fantasy MMO ever created”, this one’s coming at you via Sony Online Entertainment, launching with 5 races, 4 classes and the promise to make your dungeon-crawling experience just… really painful and punishing. Really, that’s the main selling point that I’m seeing here, and given what I remember of Wizardry it sounds like they’re staying true to the spirit at least. I’ve got the key feature list and some commentary after the cut, but the fast summary would be that they’re making this sound like a menu-driven MMO with a heavy dose of Dark Souls – quite a combination.

I was hoping to give some fast impressions of the game, but Wizardry Online’s servers are getting hammered right now. In fact, I found myself staring at a screen that simply said “connect” for five or ten minutes before simply calling it quits. In the meantime, have a look at these key features:

  • The Hardest MMO Ever
    • No auto-regeneration, no auto-leveling, no safe zones. Enemies respawn faster than you can kill them – so keep moving! Are you up for the challenge?
  • Classic MMO Mechanics
    • There are countless dungeons to crawl, puzzles to solve and traps to disarm
  • Total Character Customization
    • Four character classes, three alignments and five races. Each class can be combined with the others to create hybrid classes. Each of the races has unique advantages, all the way down to different speeds of attacks with different weapon types.
  • Permadeath
    • If you fail to prepare properly, your character may be lost forever upon death.
  • Server-Wide PVP
    • It’s kill or be killed in the world of Wizardry Online. Team up early to discourage opportunistic players – or form your own roving gang of murderers and thieves!
  • Sophisticated Crime System
    • When you kill or steal from other players, you become a criminal. Watch out for the guards, or you may end up in prison!
  • Bounty Hunters
    • Only the best players can survive with a price on their heads. Will you live in infamy, hiding in the slums? Or will you bring people like that to justice?
  • Free to Play. Your Way
    • Our philosophy is simple. Free games. No commitment. And if you want to buy, it’s on your terms.

To me, that’s a promising feature list. PVP you can’t opt out of? Permadeath? Brutal spawn rates? If nothing else, it’s bold of them. My one worry is that this going to translate into a very obnoxious cash shop, where the game is crotch-punchingly difficult for free to play gamers, but something closer to playable if you just pony up cash on a regular basis. We’ll see. For now, those of you who have been craving a difficult MMO may want to check this out. It’s free, after all. Just be warned that the servers are, as of this writing, being hammered – and the interface is surprisingly minimal for a modern game.