Age of Wushu is a free-to-play martial arts MMORPG, where you start your journey by choosing a sophisticated fighting style and make your way through a versatile and beautiful PVP Open World of Ancient China. If you love movies such as Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon or Hero, then you will see a close resemblance to the combat genre when your character leaps from building’s rooftops and display gravity-defying features. In Age of Wushu, you can perform all these sensational and powerful skills by becoming a legendary Wushu master!
The Art Behind the Game
Age of Wushu comes packed with tons of configurable options and small tweaks that make the game look outstanding. Though it does look overwhelming at first, it has video layout presets that set up the most optimal settings for your PC performance. The depth of the options menu goes as far as being able to save your play-through events with the in-game record video feature. Visually the environment and characters look very well done and together with elegant soundtracks it creates an atmosphere deemed of ancient China.
Unfortunately there are some character animation snaps and camera movement issues here and there, but overall this become less notable as you dig deeper into the combat styles and other game mechanics. The UI is rigid and crowded at times, but most of the options can be managed from the game’s menu.
You first step is to empathize with one of the 5 character stories (Phoenix Pledge, The Nameless Sword, A Scholar’s Legend, The Tale of Tianshan Swords and Tempest of Strife), which give a personal touch to your backstory and reasons when approaching a new character life. Depending on the selected story, you will have a specified starting town, martial arts school restriction and gender restriction that will allow you to join certain faction depending on your choice.
The character creation tool has few features to work with, but Snail USA Studios made some interesting options that you don’t find in most MMOs. Even though you have presets for face features and hair styles, you can render them in detail with the face-matrix grids in order to tweak all those little details. Another innovating idea is represented by the possibility to choose your starting costume, out of 9 possible options. Last but not least, you can save your face presets on your PC and load them for other characters when you start a new in-game story. Aside from this, you have the usual cosmetic previews for costumes and weapons if you like to see how they fit your character when you become the ultimate Wushu fighter.
Age of Wushu does a great job at keeping track of all your character stat before you even select it to enter the game. This makes browsing through your character sets very easy and informative. You also have the possibility to choose the keyboard configured layout before you start playing which is a nice way of adapting to your play style.
Combat can be complex at times and have various sophisticated combos, but in the end it’s just composed of a rock-paper-scissors type of action. Age of Wushu is very PVP focused and it has all the right reasons to be, since most AI don’t pose much of a challenge to you. The game-play is very counter intuitive, as you have to time your combos for the right moment to strike your opponent, while keeping in mind the cool down effect of your other used skills. This can become quite challenging when two professional players start battling, while getting some very interesting outcomes depending on the techniques they would use. If your character is badly hurt, there are also special spots on the ground where you can meditate to heal faster.
There isn’t much of a story line and voice acting is absent from NPC dialogs, but quests are very simple and take very little of your time, giving you the possibility to focus on more important things in the game.
As you finish the novice guide (tutorial) at the beginning of your game, you will be assigned a coachman who will guide you to select a martial arts school that fits your desires. You have eight schools to select from, such as Shaolin, Wudang, Emei, Beggar’s Sect, Scholars, Tangmen, Royal Guards and Wanderer’s Valley. Schools are defined as being part of a Good, Neutral or Evil faction that impacts your notoriety, but most importantly schools help you train skill sets that are very efficient in combat. As you finish your training in your school you will be sent back to your home town to start your own adventures.
Your character is not level based, but you will “cultivate” experience points that will be used to unlock many of the available martial arts moves. Cultivation can be acquired through multiple tasks, such as PVE, Exploring forbidden areas, PVP, practicing martial arts solo or with a group and even when you are just idling away from your PC. Titles play an important role because they define your strength level and unlock new quests.
Experience can be obtained by doing background quests and with new experience level you will gain a different conversion speed for cultivation points. Potential is another useful method where players can motivate cultivated points through the use of gold coins.
Throughout the Age of Wushu you will encounter events where you can spy or patrol for a school, but you must also be free of Novice protection. Each time you complete one of these events you will be rewarded with school honor certificates and experience. There are also random encounters events that trigger through gossip or random item drops, which can spawn a special NPC to give you a rare reward.
Reputation is very important in Age of Wushu since it’s the decisive factor of how you are seen in public. Reputation can only be gained through quests, NPC interaction and various challenges throughout the world. You can lose reputation by doing things your school’s laws don’t approve, or if you take unwise decisions with certain NPCs.
Like in the old Chinese society, all players must earn their coins through their hard work. There are two main ways to do this. One is to kidnap another player (when he is idle) and ask for a ransom within a time limit. People can do this multiple times, but your Reputation could get severely punished if you overdo this activity.
The second and more challenging method is to learn life skills to gather, craft and sell various items, talents and gear at your own shop. There are 17 life skills which include Gathering (Woodcutter, Fisherman, Hunter, Miner, Farmer), Manufacturing (Tailor, Blacksmith, Herbalist, Craftsman, Poison Maker, Chef), Arts (Painter, Musician, Weiqi Player, Calligrapher) and Market (Diviner and Beggar) options. Keep in mind that Gathering category will require you to learn all of its life skills, while the other categories will allow you to train only one specified skill. These skills can be mastered over time and they exhaust your character while you are training them throughout the day, but they are very rewarding and bring much wealth and power to their devoted.
Age of Wushu brings new life among the free-to-play MMORPG community, with traditional martial arts styles and schools specific to ancient China period. The game graphics and soundtracks make up for a very beautiful décor environment, where visual quality and performance is automatically balanced to fit your PC requirements. The rock-paper-scissors type of combat turn PVP events into interesting challenges and makes use of your many learned fighting skills. Schools and reputation system play an important role in the game’s public life and punish you accordingly if you break any of your faction rules. Overall Age of Wushu is a must play for all fans of martial arts that place you in a player-driven world, where you can become the ultimate Wushu master of ancient China.