[Allods] Would you like to….divorce me?

So I picked Allods Online up again the other night because that’s what we do, me and Allods have this steamy on-and-off latenight relationship. The game has changed much since last I played it – there’s been the Game of Gods expansion this February 2012 and the look of the game has improved in every aspect. Allods has always had great characters and customization, but now there are more choices and oh my god the bard class! That’s right, you can now play a BARD in Allods! I haven’t had much time to level one yet but apparently the class mechanics are somewhat similar to the bard class in Rift.

Personally, it makes me happy to see that Allods is still alive and kicking and that Astrum Nival were able to launch a full expansion stuffed with shiny new content. The game has always been described as shameless WoW clone, mostly due to its similar cartoony graphics, and no matter for how long dedicated Allods players and fans have been working on dispelling that notion, the comparison stuck to this much younger Russian MMO like duct tape from hell.

Let’s look at this just briefly. Yes, Allods looks like WoW at first glance. Yes, it also pretty much adopted the questing system and the talent tree isn’t all that different. The zones are a little empty here and there despite looking nice. Combat works different from WoW in certain aspects, for example there are pre-charged attacks and no auto-attack. Experience gain used to be fairly slow but over the years the developers improved the system several times to make both combat and progression feel smoother. Also, Allods is a free-to-play which means RMT is part of the deal and a very stylish item shop is an integrated part of the game – which doesn’t mean you cannot enjoy this game without spending money. I do.

Other than that? Allods is awesome. The overall graphics are much sparklier than WoW’s. The polish, music and performance have always been top notch, especially for an FTP. Races like the Arisen or Gibberlings are legendary. There is quirkiness, humor and atmosphere in the world. There’s also the rather refreshing Russian flair which shows in some of the NPCs or cities. In short: Allods doesn’t feel one bit like WoW and from what I know about endgame, it is a different game entirely (there be lots of war ship PvP up in astral spheres!). If you’ve got any spare time to dabble at some free games, don’t skip Allods.

Amazing armor! …Wait what, divorce papers?

One thing I’ve not mentioned yet is Allods’ armor and how that too has taken a massive step up since I played it last. Now, if you’ve got any love for the eye candy, customization and gear in MMOs, you will love this game. If anyone’s going to emulate WoW’s graphics, they should at least do better than WoW in the armor department – and Astrum Nival have. You want wicked armor? Allods has it! I browsed tons of high-level gear and tier sets and was dazzled by a flamboyant carnival of colors, fabrics and quite possibly the greatest cloaks ever! If you’re going to pose in your shiny epics, it better look like this:

Too sexy for my shirt!

Like to see more? Fear not, I finally added an Allods gallery. I need to highlight my favorite piece here though because….whoa – this gotta be like the greatest, badass look ever:

He’s got a raven!

I named this guy the Scarecrow and if you’re still wondering what he’s got on his back, that’s a wooden box (I bet full of torture tools). And there’s a black raven perching on his shoulder! Amagad! *worship*

…….

Thus hunting down irritated high-level players for screenshots, I came across a chapel the other night and found this:

I’ve certainly heard about MMO marriage before, wedding bands and ceremonies and whatnot, but divorce papers? Now that’s new. I started digging a bit and it turns out Allods Online has possibly the most intricate and complex marriage and divorce system of them all. And unlike so many other games where the union of two players is merely symbolic, marrying in Allods comes with a list of special, spouse-related spells and abilities to give the relationship more meaning. Getting married isn’t quick and neither is getting rid of a spouse – so hedge therefore, who join forever!

For those of you who prefer a TL;DR version of the above link, I’m going to highlight the few most remarkable points about Allods’ marriage system:

  • You are eligible to marry a person of the same faction, minimum level 15. There is no restriction for enlisting same-sex relationships.
  • Every faction has dedicated wedding manager NPCs who will offer a quest to the person properly equipped with a wedding ring. Both players will have to take vows and actively consent to the union….and pay a tax.
  • Once legally declared married, you will receive special wedding gifts along with several “spousal spells”. These are unlocked for both characters and draw on a resource called heart affection.
  • The spousal abilities can be leveled while both players draw on the same pool of heart affection. Just to give one example of such an ability: “Enheartening: Your spouse’s health is increased by a certain percentage if you are within 50 yards from each other.” (aww)
  • In case of a divorce, players lose access to their spousal abilities. Both partners will have to be present for a particularly sad quest and have one minute each to consent to the divorce prompt.
  • Astrum Nival have announced an upcoming shop item, a bottle of champagne, that will be required in special cases of a forced divorce where one spouse has been offline for a very long time.

One must wonder what exactly that champagne bottle is for! I think we can agree they do take their weddings seriously in Allods (is there any MMO that comes close?). And a system that comes with bonuses like this may well appeal to a wider audience than just a roleplay corner. To me personally it’s a fascinating approach and illustrates the many depths of MMO dynamics that still haven’t been explored fully, by a wider range of titles.

13 comments

  1. A Tale in the Desert takes in-game marriage seriously: if two characters marry each other, the players can log is as each other, and access everything on the other character (except for some private stuff like billing info, etc.) They can also port to each other’s location.

    1. Interesting! I never played Tale in the Desert. that port seems especially handy. I will have to look into this a bit more and see how the entire process of establishing a marriage and also breaking it up is realized in that game then. cheers!

  2. Their talent system isn’t quite WoW-ish. It’s more like Final Fantasy X’s Sphere grid, Final Fantasy XII’s License Board or maybe Kingdom Hearts Re:Coded’s character advancement system. The change from a tree to a grid alters how skills connect to each other and how a player might go about unlocking their desired “build”. Maybe it’s a subtle thing, but I think it’s a richer system than talent trees.

    Incidentally, it’s interesting to see same-sex and inter*species* marriage approved, but still no polygamy. Funny how some taboos and Causes are more important than others. Though mechanically, limiting polygamy puts a natural choke on those spiffy spells, so it’s solid from a game design standpoint… I just find the interplay between design and sociology curious.

    1. Why stop at simple polygamy? I’ve got an image now of Robert Heinlein’s The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress MMORPG, with the book’s infinite variety of group marriages, plus the setting is a libertarian paradise bound to appeal to all those EVE players :)

    2. LOL! you guys are just looking to multiply the boosts of these spousal benefits, I see right through you! :D

      I guess if you want to argue from a sociocultural PoV, polygamy ist simply nowhere near as approved a concept as marriage. I’m already happy to find an MMO, and a russian one at that, implementing same-sex relationships per default. I wonder what the reception of this would’ve been in the US if Allods was more popular; thinking Bioware here.

      and is there actually an MMO that has a similar, in-built marriage system that does not allow inter-racial union? I can see why factions are a no-go in a PvP game or generally where races/factions cannot communicate by design, but other than that it would seem very odd if such was not possible.

      on the other hand there was also very little racial mixing in WoW’s lore, come to think of it…Garona comes to mind but there are very few half-breed characters I believe, which would be the natural side-effect of having interracial relationships. indeed after looking this topic up for WoW, you end up with stuff like guides on how to roleplay “taboo characters” – http://www.wowpedia.org/How_to_roleplay_normally_taboo_characters

  3. Half-breed characters are only a natural side-effect of interracial relationships if your races are actually fertile with respect to one another. If it weren’t for the single, solitary example of Garona I would say that Warcraft races AREN’T inter-fertile – there are no half-elves, half-dwarves or even any other half-orcs I can think of. Then again, Blizzard aren’t big on maintaining internal consistency if it gets in the way of their latest story idea.

    But there’s no reason that would be a bar to mixed-race marriages, as long as your definition of marriage goes beyond “a union of a man and a woman for the purpose of creating offspring” so if you allow same-gender unions then cross-raqce unions should be at least as valid.

    I do wonder if the lack of representation of mixed-race unions is partly an American cultural thing – in real life, the USA had to deal with these issues within living memory, and even now American films and TV very rarely show mixed couples whereas in UK television it is No Big Deal. The lack of human-orc couples in WoW may well be down to developers shying away, albeit subconsciously, from what is still a sensitive topic.

    1. The interracial lobby isn’t as strong as the gay lobby… though I suspect the former is actually more common in the populace. *shrug*

      Interspecies marriage, that’s something else. We don’t see much real world precedent for that. There’s no Human-Chimp Marriage social movement, for example. Then again, science fiction and fantasy writers don’t usually care much about how physiology works in interspecies relations. As long as Spock is cool, that’s all that matters. :P

    2. Hmmmwell, as far as I was able to find out Garona isn’t the only example in WoW though, rare as they may be – see in-game/lore half-breeds in this article.
      It never got clear to me personally how much of the lack of race mixing in WoW was due to social taboo and how much to biological “incompatibility”. there was also not an awful lot of inter-racial romance iirc.

    3. I know there are half-elves, though they tend to look rather human and identify as human because they’re shunned (or worse) in elf societies.

      There might also be a problem with mixed-race unions because the wars are often race-based. That means that mixed-race unions are going to be either consorting with the enemy or have other, worse, unfortunate implications. As we saw with Garona.

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