Swords of Legends Online is an MMORPG, and that alone should be a clue about the audience it caters to. It offers an enormous world full of people to meet—counting both NPC and other human players—and things to do in your journey as a soon-to-be hero, but you better dedicate the game tons of hours per week if you really want to feel like you're making progress. Although this may also sound obvious, SOLO is a Chinese game, and every aspect of it, from the aesthetics to several gameplay mechanics, reflects that. If you only enjoy Western elements in your games, then this is not a game for you.
What to Expect
This will sound harsh, but it's an honest word of advice: expect a lot of performance issues, horrible cutscene animations, bad localization, poorly explained mechanics, and other stuff like that. Although Swords of Legends Online is now on its gold version, some things still look like it was a beta test, so it's better to lower your expectations—just like with every MMORPG release, really. That being said, SOLO has everything you would expect from an MMORPG—the good ones and the bad ones—like a guild system, PvP combat, housing, crafting, lots of grind, etc. Still, this is not a game that relies on RNG for gearing and, so far, it's not P2W.
Swords of Legends Online is not the best MMORPG in terms of graphics, but compared to most of its competitors, it looks amazing. The character design is fabulous, and the magnificent scenery (take Cloudrise, for example) is almost begging you to take screenshots using the built-in Camera Mode. That being said, there are several issues keeping Swords of Legends Online from being a visually enjoyable experience, and you'll probably need some time to get used to the messy UI.
While most NPC look good on screenshots, it's hard to ignore how bad the cutscene animations are—and trust us when we say there are LOTS of cutscenes in this game. Since it's a Chinese game, we weren't expecting mouth animations to be perfect. Still, we definitely expected better than characters not even moving their mouths when talking or moving it when they're not the ones speaking. On top of that, some animations are awkwardly cut early to fit the voiceover or vice versa, which brings us to the next point...
Localization is pretty bad, and even now, there are still several voice lines that have not been translated to English, so expect some Chinese dialogue here and there, as well as Chinese subtitles and item names. Sadly, missing tracks are not only affecting the dialogues but also the soundtrack, which is a shame because it totally kills your mood when doing a dungeon or exploring a new area.
In time, everything will be fixed, or at least we hope so, but these are not even exceptional cases, so they could have done a much better job, especially because Swords of Legends Online is a narrative-heavy game and not following the story is reason enough to drop it.
Swords of Legends Online follows the trusty "good versus evil" formula, represented by pure qi and dark qi. Both the pure qi and the dark qi are the result of the creator of heaven and earth's death. Our ultimate goal as a student is to be able to reawaken the swords of the heroes who lost their lives fighting the evil spirits, but there's a lot to do before reaching that point!
There are currently 6 available classes in SOLO. These are Spellsword, Berserker, Bard, Reaper, Spearmaster, and Summoner, all of them based on the trinity system (tank, melee, support). As you start your adventure, probably after spending quite some time creating your character, the very first thing you learn is that there are two game modes: RPG mode and Action mode. The first one uses mouse clicks to move your character around, whereas the latter is better for combat and uses your clicks to attack any nearby opponent. After that, you'll see many more tutorials, but these are poorly written and hardly useful since they will probably confuse you more.
While the chat could be a nice tool when in need of answers, only those who get to level 15 can use the global channel. Sounds like an anti-bot measure, but you'll find plenty of money-selling bots nonetheless.
Fully reviewing an MMORPG would be almost impossible, so let's talk about the basics. The questing system is nothing new and it heavily relies on fetch quests that take you from point A to point B to meet a new NPC or bring some random item before moving forward. However, questing is your best option if you want to level up. There are 36 beginner levels, and then you get to Student level 1, which is the highest level you can get at this point—and let us say that getting to the "endgame" is a must.
Once we hit the max level, we started enjoying Swords of Legends Online in its full glory. The grind is now focused on improving our gear to enjoy the hardest raids and the PVP arena, but we could also spend hours upon hours exploring the robust housing system, gathering resources for crafting, start a treasure hunt with some friends, hunt evil spirits in an alternate dimension, or simply fly around in our mount and take even more pictures.
Although it starts slow, endgame content in SOLO feels rewarding and fun to do, and while not being able to get specific dungeon loot more than once a day may sound too restrictive, it helps lower the grind and, most importantly, the RNG factor.
In the Visuals segment we talked about how bad some cutscene animations are, and how some characters look like ventriloquist dummies. Fortunately, that doesn't apply to the combat animations! Fighting and just jumping around feels really smooth, and that's a plus for those who play MMORPGs just for the thrill of a good combat.
Honey's Gameplay Consensus:
It doesn't make sense to spend 20+ hours before finally being able to decide if you like it or not. In addition, forcing players to rush the content to avoid all these wonky cutscenes and dull quests/enemies and finally get to the meaty part sounds like bad game design. Still, Swords of Legends Online gets a lot of things right, and we're sure many of you will enjoy your adventure in this magical Chinese-inspired world!
Too many things to do once you hit the "endgame."
Cutscenes are awkwardly animated and voiceover/localization is still unfinished.
Messy UI and awful tutorials that are not only abundant but ironically confusing.
Honey's Final Verdict:
If you can bear with all the bugged quests, ping and FPS issues, and poor localization, Sword of Legends Online's endgame may be worth it. The devs are working on some fixes, and we all know all MMORPGs only get better with time.
If you want to give SOLO a try, you can find it on Steam, Epic Games, and the game's official website. Arm yourself with patience!
Author: Rod Locksley
Hey! I'm Rod, and when I'm not watching anime or playing video games I'm probably writing about them, but I'm also a graphic and web designer, and I even published a comic book and worked like 4 years for a well-known MMORPG. Curiously, my favorite series are quite different from each other, so I'm still trying to understand what I really like in an anime...