I had pretty much given up on Square-Enix until I played Wakfu. I mean, Final Fantasy XIV was nearly impossible to get into, Final Fantasy XIII was a horrifyingly undeveloped straight line and we’re not even going to talk about MindJack… But Wakfu is none of these things. I don’t even like MMOs and I’m madly in love with what I’ve played so far. Square seems to be fully on board with this Ankama (The makers of Dofus) MMO and are looking to bring it to North America in all the right ways.
You see, Wakfu is absolutely adorable, but it’s also absolutely bad ass. It’s a perfect mixture of a gore thread and a herd of Jigglypuffs.
When I first started playing Wakfu, it reminded me of a newer version of Final Fantasy Tactics. Mostly because it’s a tactical MMO with a cartoony art style. All combat is turn based and the entire game world takes place upon a giant grid. So far, so good.
There is no formal tutorial, instead there are several mini-tutorials along the way, allowing you to learn and practice each technique before another is shoved down your throat. The spacing between the lessons is adequate, although not ideal, and it allows you to practice whatever you learn in a somewhat safe environment. Whether you charge through or run around practicing your harvesting skills, you’re at least provided with the information you need to complete the tasks before you depart. Also, most of this information will be provided in adorable and/or funny ways.
The controls are more fluid than a more traditional grid-based game would be. Intuitive mouse clicks and layout of the buttons on-screen place Wakfu well ahead of any other MMORPG I’ve played recently. While it’s difficult enough to make you work for your levels, grinding is fun, so it’s not like you begrudgingly trudge back to the computer… It’s more of a scamper. Every creature in the world is a potential enemy to fight, even the birds and the bees, and definitely the cats and rabbits.
The game also features a ton of customization, so you can make your character look as wacky or as laid back as you want. It’s almost impossible NOT to make them cute however. Almost every piece of equipment you pick up will show on your character as well, even dead bunny heads that can be used as low level helmets…
Playing Wakfu is more fun when playing with other people, like most MMOs are. While it’s still fun alone, it can get slightly boring after a few hours of grinding and questing, which makes me doubtful about playing for a more extended period of time. Perhaps I should do something like run for governor and raise the prices on all the local goods? (You can actually do things like this) Nah!
While the level design is slightly childish — possibly turning hardcore gamers off — it can be appealing to those who appreciate it, and the animations are truly marvelous, especially in combat. Colors in each level are also surprisingly vibrant, and while everything is simplified into tiles, there’s enough diversity to make the levels appealing. Enemies are similar — they’re evil yet cute looking at the same time. They also remind me of haggis.
There are obviously some good things about Wakfu; however, I’m not sure it will be worth paying a monthly fee for. I would definitely buy into it if it were a free-to-play game, but honestly, I don’t feel like there are enough activities available to warrant paying for it. Dofus (Ankama’s last MMO) is currently a F2P/P2P hybrid, but the F2P elements are limited and if that model were applied to Wakfu, I’m not sure how long players would stick around.
My enjoyment so far has been more of an excitement due to all the things I’ve been learning to do, but considering there can only be so many tasks to do on any given day, I think I would get bored within the first month or two, especially without rapidly released new content. While Wakfu is definitely aesthetically appealing and beautifully crafted, it lacks the visceral stimulation that I would expect from a game that I’m paying $10-$15 a month for. With all of the big budget MMO’s coming out this year that are P2P, (TERA, Guild Wars 2, The Old Republic, RIFT) how could an MMO like Wakfu distinguish itself in the P2P arena? Well, it couldn’t… it’s just too damn cute and cuddly. It may distract players from games like WoW and RIFT for a while due it’s unique nature, but those players are sure to go back to what they’ve become accustomed to eventually. This is commonly referred to as “Aion” syndrome.
Depending on what Square-Enix does with the development of Wakfu and monthly fees, it could or could not be worth picking up. It’s definitely fun, but more in a brainless-cute-gory way, not in a way that makes you want to go back to continue on an arduous journey full of strife and accomplishments. Mostly because there aren’t many accomplishments, and there’s not much strife. Sure, there’s plenty of in-game achievements, but I’m not all that interested in achieveing them by myself. Maybe I just need to make more friends… the open beta does start soon, maybe I’ll come back? I think I’ll come back…
I mean, It is fun to wear dead bunny heads around, we’ll just have to wait and see where it goes from here.
For more on Wakfu, check out the official website as well as this gameplay trailer and screens below: