The Average Gamer

Age of Wulin Preview

Growing up in Singapore, I’d pass by several small parks on my way to school every day. In those early hours of the morning, we’d see the same sight replicated across the country – clusters of 8 to 20 Chinese people practicing Tai Chi in the park. Snail Games’ Chinese-themed MMO Age of Wulin gives you a training bonus for doing exactly that with your friends.

Known as Age of Wushu in the US, Wulin is set in the late 14th century. Your warrior character can learn from eight schools of martial arts, covering the Shaolin, the Tang Clan, the Beggar’s Sect and more. They’ll teach you to run vertically up buildings, bounce from wall to wall and leap across rooftops, in finest wuxia tradition.

Each school has its own philosophy and behavioural codes. The Shaolin, for example, place great value on honour. Killing other players will be punished with demerit points or jail time. Other schools may encourage kidnapping, alongside more mundane rules like a school uniform requirement to show your allegiance.

Your character can also take on a profession – chefs will produce food, but you might also be a sweeper or a beggar. I suspect cooking will be a popular past-time, as the game also features a hunger system and player-produced food is more nutritious than the NPC stuff you can buy. When you’re offline, your character will revert back to their profession and wander back to a nearby population to do so. No spawn-site camping for you.

Even if you log off in a city, there’s always the chance that you’ll be somewhere else when you reconnect. While innocently preparing noodles in town, or whatever it is you do for a living, unscrupulous players can toss you in a bag and take you off to some faraway place. Fear not, as other players can prevent the kidnapping by beating up the perpetator while he’s still trying to stuff you into his sack. They can also pay the ransom on your behalf to net themselves a nice bonus with their school.

As well as the active skills training that you do through a series of QTE-like minigames with or without your friends, Age of Wulin includes passive advancement. Rather like EVE Online’s pilot skills training, your warrior will continue to train certain skills when you’re offline. Meditating is another way to advance and your location will provide benefits to certain skills. Forests and hidden rock pools are peaceful places that will bring clarity and focus to your thoughts. Or something.

Jianghu, the world of Wulin is beautiful. Snail Games have delved into history and myth to create impressive locations: the secretive Shaolin temple, forests of cherry blossom trees and ancient city ruins are all there to explore. You might also even find lost skill books to add to your repertoire.

Guilds will be present, of course. You can have up to 600 members and will be able to acquire lands and buildings in the main persistent world of Wulin. There will also be fortresses to capture and defend, using a schedule that has certain forts becoming vulnerable at certain times. I don’t know how they’ll handle the inevitably framerate issues that come with massive guild battles of up to 1300 players but, to be honest, I’ve always been more of a social MMO-er.

The game will be free-to-play, with the option to spend real money on non-essentials like the ability to fast travel, or cosmetic improvements.

Age of Wulin is accepting closed beta applications now.

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