Shroud of the Avatar: Forsaken Virtues is an MMORPG that was released on PC back on 27 March 2018, and is still a relatively new title in regards to its competition. Designed to be a more classic and old-school MMORPG, Shroud of the Avatar decides to use many ideas from previous MMO’s that were popular and prominent in games of the genre back in the early 2000s. Whether that stacks up in 2018 remains to be seen, however.
Character creations is a surprisingly light aspect of the game that doesn’t have much creativity or depth placed into it, which is a shame. While it’s understandable that they’re trying to go with the classic style of MMO’s, where there wasn’t that much to choose from when it came to character creation originally; that appears to be the case with Shroud of the Avatar also. When choosing your character, you can choose from a small selection of hair and facial hair options, the color of said hair, and the color of their eyes as well. In terms of facial modeling, you can actually change around a lot of their facial features using a number of different sliders, but ultimately, most characters end up looking the same. Even though there is also a slider for character height, that’s about all there is to the character creation.
Instead of having you pick a class or race – of which there are only humans – you must go through a small personality test before entering the main game. This personality test will ask you three questions and wishes that you answer honestly to give you a starting zone and skill set that’s most appropriate for you. This test will determine what the game thinks you should start off as you can simply tell the NPC a different option and that’ll be that. Depending on which of the 3 paths you have been assigned or chosen for yourself, you’ll have different skills and attacks in comparison to the other paths.
Shroud of the Avatar takes the idea of the classic hot-bar MMO, along with the more modern action-MMO, all the while keeping many of the same ideas that were common with more old-school MMORPG’s. The way the combat works in this game is by having your weapon sheathed or unsheathed. When it is sheathed you can perform attacks, respond to ones that are against you, and activate spells or skills on your hot-bar. Being in this mode, however, won’t allow you to heal until you unsheathe your weapon. Failing to unsheathe your weapon after combat will mean that you can’t heal health automatically until you do and can be somewhat of an annoyance to remember when you’re just starting.
Easily one of the best parts about the game is the return of leveling skills, something that is prominent in RuneScape and to some degree, classic World of Warcraft. Everything that you do in the game in terms of actions will improve one of your skills. Every time you cast a spell it will increase the spells’ experience bar and whenever it levels up it will become stronger and be more useful against stronger opponents. What this does mean is that you can get away with spamming the same ability over and over again to increase its strength, but quickly becomes a tedious task. Even skills like skinning will need to be improved and even on failed attempts still improves the skill to some degree, so mastering your wide array of abilities is an important part of the entire game.
Since the game doesn’t actually have a class system of any kind, your character can ultimately be built in any way you so choose. When you unlock a new skill, you can place it onto your hot-bar outside of combat and start to improve it as much as you like. Usually, there are very little restrictions on your character to allow you to build them in whatever direction you see fit as you play along.
Outside of combat, exploration and typical MMORPG tropes continue. To continue on with a quest, you need to find a quest giver, do their task, and then return to them for a reward. The world around you has plenty of areas for you to explore, but in the early game you will end up being defeated a number of times if you’ve failed to acquire some decent gear to equip and upgraded your skills to a degree where they are useful. Resource gathering is an important part of the game as well and whenever you’re not questing and fighting, you’re bound to be doing some resource gathering instead.
As has been made evidently clear, the game is designed to be a classic or old-school MMORPG for fans of the genre before it became a little more accessible. Despite this design philosophy, the game does some aspects rather well and others not so well. First of all, the walking animation is stunted, clunky and does not come off as refined in the slightest and considering it’s something you could be seeing for hours on end, it will quickly come to be an annoyance. The surrounding environment in terms of design is well done and is that of an epic fantasy and wouldn’t look out of place in something like Lord of the Rings, a setting that the developers have stated that they were going for in the first place. In terms of graphics, though, the game does not look good. It doesn’t look bad, that’s for sure, but it’s a very dated visual style and considering the game was released in 2018, there’s no real excuse for that. Just because it has a desire to be an MMO for the old-school fan, it doesn’t have to visually look as if it’s stuck in that time period.
Where the game does make up for that, though is in the animations for skills and abilities. When auto-attacking someone and activating your skills, they tend to traverse from one to the other without the character model getting weird. The visual finesse for some spells could do with some work and refinement, but for the most part, when it comes to the animations for the combat skills and abilities there isn’t too much to complain about.
Overall, Shroud of the Avatar: Forsaken Virtues attempts to be a new take on the old-school formula of MMORPG’s and while it succeeds in some areas, it doesn’t exactly impress when it comes to its graphical fidelity for a game that came out in 2018. By any chance you can look past these woes, though, you’ll find a fun and enjoyable MMORPG that brings back the classic style of MMORPG’s, without messing around too much with the original formula.