Over twenty years ago, Blizzard came up with the formula for an almost perfect action-RPG – an arcade battle, a minimum of pumping, a drop of plot and a homeopathic dose of role-playing game – and they accidentally invented a new genre. It turned out so cool that it’s interesting to play the first Diablo today – everyone can make sure right in the browser . And, of course, the success of the “diabolical” franchise paved the way for all kinds of imitators. In Titan Quest was a rare antique setting, at the Torchlight – light atmosphere and unreported almost absolute comfort, in the Path of Exile – online and “free to play without prescription …”
The first thing that surprised me in the release version of Pagan Online was the fantastic amount of bugs. Login problems, oddly implemented gamepad support, Russian text interspersed with English, control failures … But it’s all the little things compared to the constant friezes for a few seconds. Moreover, the game sticks anywhere: at least during the battle, at least in the trading menu. For a dynamic hack-n-slash with the word Online in the name, this is death on take-off. While I was writing this text, many holes had already been patched, and when you read it, they will probably darn even more. But now Pagan Online still remains so raw that it is already dripping from the monitor, and it’s damn hard to see the delights of the game itself against this buggy background.
However, she doesn’t really try to please anyone. An indistinct story leaves no traces in either the head or the heart. The local analogue of Deckard Cain pathetically broadcasts about the Fourth War of the Mist, the Gate of the Battle, the Ancient Mount Igman and other Important Pieces with Capital Letters in the names – in a word, reproduces the standard set of stamps. Perhaps the creators of the game hoped that Perun, Veles and other familiar deities would make the plot more interesting for the Russian-speaking audience, but Pagan Online has never been a Slavic fantasy. A little bit of everything is mixed up here: the setting seems to be based on the views of the average Korean about all of European mythology as a whole, although Mad Head Games is kind of based in Serbia. Probably only a fan of Asian MMOs will be able to perceive the plot mess seriously.
But in the end, what difference does it make: it’s not for the plot that we came here! As the Blizzard experience shows, any shoals of the script can be forgiven for truly addictive gameplay. I was hoping to find him.
On the part of the gameplay, Pagan Online is not so bad: the locations are pretty, the characters are diverse, everything rumbles, whistles and explodes, there are different game modes, three difficulty levels, crafting, leveling with alternative character development options and multiplayer. But almost none of these components in a small Belgrade studio could not be brought to mind.
For example, management. It seems like a good idea: cross the traditional waving cursor with the mechanics of console shooter twin-stick. Running with the WASD keys, aiming with the mouse, is really convenient: it adds gameplay to arcade dynamics and, in combination with rolls, expands tactical options. Now I know for sure that most Diablo clones all this time lacked the ability to shoot and chop right on the go. But, alas, Pagan Online is not a very responsive control system: abilities do not always work from the first click, and it’s difficult to control the hero’s jumps on the battlefield – he always strives to ride somewhere in the wrong direction.
Or here are the heroes (more precisely, “Heroes”, do not forget about the Capital Letters). There are a dozen of them here. They look, for my taste, even too eclectic, but you can find a character for every taste and, in theory, for any style of play. The Berserker King-Witcher with a two-handed ax is a poured barbarian from Diablo II . Defender Source is in full swing tank and so cool that it does not even use the jerk, but simply closes with a shield of lightning. The mage with the modest name of Anya, like some Selina Kyle, waves a whip around and restores health due to someone else’s blood worse than Raine from Bloodrayne . The ice warrior Elden creates his own weapons and freezes his enemies. My favorite inventor, Hector, knocks down enemies with a shotgun, fries from a flamethrower and puts trained rats into turrets.
Even in a fantasy world, a good word and a shotgun can achieve much more than just a good word
The most difficult thing here is to choose only one, because you will have to spend a lot of time with it until you open the next evil fighter. It is collecting heroes that is the main feature of the game, because you can’t do anything else interesting. At the same time, the difference between them is mostly cosmetic: visually the characters may be different, but in terms of gameplay, some gypsy Masha is almost no different from Damir, who looks like a druid from yourself — guess what game.
The appearance of the characters – skins, coloring, pets – generally paid a lot of attention, but pumping came out very primitive. The parameters of the hero grow on their own or due to clothes, abilities are not enough, there are almost no alternative development options, and the concept of “build” is of little relevance here.
Review of Pagan Online. From authors with a deficit of ideas – to players with a deficit of attention
Pagan Online cannot boast of a more complete world, like, say, the same Grim Dawn. But there are no automatically generated dungeons, as in Diablo; instead, tiny, scattered levels await you. At the same time, they are additionally divided into “arenas”: from time to time you are locked in translucent walls on a modest patch of earth and overwhelmed with hordes of meat, represented by enemies of two or three types. They killed several waves of monsters, collected trash, watched a script video on the engine a la Warcraft III – and went on. The level takes from a few minutes to a quarter of an hour, not more. And at the end of the hero, an imminent return to the Pantheon awaits, where you can sell trophies, forge something according to found recipes, redistribute skill points, change your pet and chat with other players. Session gameplay and a red button “To battle!” Cause quite specific associations: yes this is World of Tanks Blitz
The game differs from most Wargaming projects in its approach to monetization. By today’s standards, Pagan Online can be said to be free: bought once – and play as much as you like. No premium stores, loot boxes and any other injections of real currency are provided. Apparently, the announcement of the ill-fated Diablo Immortal developers taught something. True, there was talk that in the future, developers will introduce pets that can be bought for real money, but there was nothing like that in the review version, for which Mad Head Games thanks a lot.
However, microtransactions are not the only classic element of online games that Pagan Online does not have. There is no more “Online” here than in any other modern project, where multiplayer can be added for show. Here you have a general lobby with a chat, here are the table of records after each mission, and the cat wept for other network activities. Go through scattered battles with strangers? Thank you, very exciting. After the brilliant online multiplayer of Path of Exile and the “split-screen” console Diablo III, their Serbian counterpart just wants to give up.