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E3 2012 Hands-on Preview
"You can look forward to hunting monsters with your friends. With guitars."

Perfect World is no stranger to MMORPGs, though action MMORPGs have only taken off somewhat recently. RaiderZ is an action MMORPG with a focus on hunting overly large monsters. While there are still normal-sized enemies to contend with, it's the oversized dragons and beasts that will occupy the bulk of players' battle time. Across the world of Rendel there are, of course, quests to complete and reputation to be gained with various factions as well.

Character classes and abilities are built around your equipped weapons. Each class uses a certain selection of weapons, and your available skills depend on what you have equipped. With combat being action-based, there's no targeting or auto-attack, requiring players to actually face their enemy to land blows and block attacks. Most enemies have a chance to drop a weapon or other object when defeated. In our demo, we fought several waves of skeletons who would drop either a bow and arrow or their skull. The bow was much more powerful than our regular weapons, but could only be used for a couple minutes before vanishing. Conversely, the skull acted like a tossed grenade and was a single-use weapon. There will be other drops with usage limitations, as well as some that will bestow buffs on players.

Unlike most online games, monsters won't drop complete pieces of gear, but only materials. All weapons and equipment is then crafted by NPCs. Since the game is free to play, the items you can purchase with your real world money are potions or cosmetic in nature. Perfect World hopes that this, combined with the fact that neither gear itself nor their materials can be purchased, will keep the game from becoming unbalanced, as players must still battle to upgrade equipment.

With the game's focus on battling giant monsters, encounters are designed primarily for party play. Each party can have up to eight players working together to devise a strategy for each battle. Boss weak points are more literal in RaiderZ than most MMOs, requiring players to actually focus their attacks on a certain point on a monster's body, rather than simply casting an elemental spell.

RaiderZ will include different ways to enhance your parties to prepare for more challenging encounters. First is an MMO mainstay: cooking. Like the game as a whole, cooking is designed for parties, so rather than setting up a cauldron to cook a single fish, you'll concoct feasts that feed and benefit the entire party with buffs and sometimes even XP. The other, more offbeat system lets each party member equip one of several guitars and create a spontaneous jam session. Doing so changes your available actions to different guitar notes, so you can play whatever you please. It remains to be seen if other instruments may be added. Besides being a fun diversion to promote camaraderie, rocking out may also grant temporary buffs.

RaiderZ doesn't yet have a release date, but is expected to enter a closed - and then open - beta phase later this year. Until then, you can look forward to hunting monsters with your friends. With guitars.

© 2012 Perfect World Entertainment, MAIET Entertainment. All rights reserved.

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