Pagan Online Early Access Preview

ACTION-RPG | MULTIPLE GAME MODES | LOOT GALORE | EARLY ACCESS

“If you are a fan of Diablo-style aRPGs with a mix of elements from Warframe and Victor Vran, I highly recommend playing Pagan Online.”

Pagan Online is a fast-paced hack-and-slash action-RPG by Mad Head Studios and published by Wargaming.net. It was first released to the overseas market on April 18, 2019 and then SEA/ANZ were given access on June 12, 2019. I was spewing when it was first only limited to overseas countries as the gameplay looked very cool. A fresh take on the Diablo-style games but with some good differences. I particularly liked the look of some of the class abilities and spell effects.

I recently entered a competition on Twitter where Stevivor was giving away early access keys to the game, and I bloody won one! I never win things like this! I got right into it and it’s a heck of a lot of fun. Being early access, there are many gameplay elements that are not implemented yet, and a big one is co-op play in story mode. You can play co-op in some of the other modes but there’s a lot still in development. In saying that, there is a tonne of content to have a play with and I believe there’s enough content already to warrant a purchase.

There are eight playable heroes in the game, all with varying abilities representing a mixture of the regular archetypes of melee, ranged and magic. When starting the game, you are limited to a choice between Kingewitch, Anya and Istok. It was a hard choice as Anya reminded me a bit of the main character from Darksiders 3 and Istok reminded me a Thor with the lightning abilities. I went with Kingewitch as I like melee characters that have the whirlwind ability. The introductory story is as follows:

“There has always been darkness. Endless darkness. And in the darkness there was always light. The eternal balance. Gods are the guardians of this harmony. Without the gods, there would be no balance. Without the balance … there would be no life.”

You move the character with the WSAD keys and then use a combination of mouse buttons and keys to fire off your abilities. The camera is fixed behind you and you’re unable to adjust this. This isn’t an issue as the camera pans well around the varying terrain types. There were only a couple of instances where the environment walls blocked view of my character temporarily, but I just moved beyond it. The game runs very smooth, allowing you to get straight into the action with the various spell effects from your abilities exploding around the screen.

Each character has a defensive skill in their arsenal and Kingewitch has a Dash ability, allowing you to quickly dash away from an explosion, or dash beyond a group of monsters, leaving a flaming line behind you that burns enemies. This made the character’s movement very fluid and I felt I was able to escape fights and choose a better angle. Once you start a fight, there are glowing walls at the edges of that area, so you can’t just run through an entire map with a train of monsters behind you. You must deal with those monsters first, then move on.

Once all monsters are defeated in that area, a large arrow points you to your next objective. Whilst this is very helpful, if you purely focus on it you will miss a lot of additional content in each zone. Like in other aRPGs, it’s worth exploring off the beaten track in Pagan Online as you are often rewarded with chests and more monsters to kill for loot. Eventually you will get to the ‘final wave’ of monsters which then introduces a boss fight. Once you finish this first boss fight, you are presented with a choice.

If you like the class you’ve chosen, you can stick with it which means you have to unlock access to the other heroes through gameplay. Alternatively, it’s at this point you can go, “well this one is ok, but I want to try Anya or Istok.” If you choose a new character, you’re taken back to the login screen and must play through that introductory mission again. I think this is an awesome way to start the game, giving you the ability to be 100% confident in the primary class you want to play the rest of the game. Well played Mad Head Games!

A short time later you come across a demonic monster called Usud who ***SPOILER ALERT*** kills you. You awaken in a new area called the Pantheon where an Old Man explains this is the place is powerful enough to bring you back from the dead. Five gods watch over the world from their eternal thrones; however, the gods are gone which is why the demons are invading. We must solve the mystery of their disappearance for the sake of humanity. We can travel through a Battlegate to the land of the living, but we cannot stay in that realm too long and must return to Pantheon regularly.

As you travel through each zone and progress the story of Pagan Online, you will be given challenges which range from not using a heal potion for a particular fight, killing x number of monsters in a time frame, not using a particular ability in a fight, and so on. This reminded me of the map challenges from another aRPG called Victor Vran. It gives you mini-goals to complete and these are great to take your mind off the grind if you’re trying to farm for gold/loot at later levels. You can also change the difficulty of each zone for additional challenges and better chances of loot, blueprints, crafting items and hero shards. This reminds me of finding blueprints/crafting mats in Warframe.

Speaking of loot, there is so bloody much of it which is awesome! I love seeing the loot shower as you take down a final boss. You can see my reaction to the first loot spray below.

In addition to the story campaign missions, other missions you can unlock through gameplay are Patrols, Expedtitions, Assassinations, Survivals and Defenses.
⦁ In Patrol Missions, the player goes from point to point killing monsters until fighting an Elite monster at the end.
⦁ Expedition Missions are similar to Patrols except the player can exit early or defeat all points to fight an Elite monster at the last point cleared.
⦁ Assassinations are very important side missions, allowing a player to get good loot and large amounts of specific hero Shards.
⦁ Survival Missions involve killing multiple rounds of waves of monsters (on a timer) until exiting the mission or completing all waves and fighting an Elite monster at the end.
⦁ In Defense Missions, the player must defend a structure with a set amount of life, while killing waves of monsters until fighting an Elite monster at the end.

Assassination missions are ones to do regularly because you get a higher yield of hero Shards, allowing you to work towards unlocking your next favoured hero. In the Hero screen you can keep track of how many shards you have for each hero and also browse the cosmetics and emotes that you can unlock. I believe it takes 50 shards to unlock a hero and looking through the list, some of the cosmetic skins cost another 150 shards which sounds like quite a grind, but worth it for some of the amazing skins.

In terms of character and gear progression, you level up and can spend potency points to upgrade your hero’s abilities. There are two paths to specialise your abilities which require purple epic resources, though the benefits don’t really blow me away. I’d rather spend these rare resources crafting epic/legendary gear. Crafting is a simple interface where you find a blueprint from loot and then using resources and a normal rarity item, you can craft rare, epic and legendary items.

Once you craft an item, if you’re not happy with the stats that were rolled, you have the ability to reforge that item up to 5 times. Each reforge costs resources and gold, but you can preview up to 5 reforges that are random, and then choose the best stat rolls. I really like this system as you’re not 100% relying on RNG and you have options to choose from.

So far I’ve played around 8 hours of the game, levelled Kingewitch to level 17 and am into Act 3 of the story. The game boasts up to 50 hours and five acts of story content and I’m looking forward to seeing more features unlocked as the game develops, in particular co-op with mates. If you are a fan of Diablo-style aRPGs with a mix of elements from Warframe and Victor Vran, I highly recommend playing Pagan Online which is available on Steam. If you want to have a look at the gameplay, head over to my Twitch Channel where I play Pagan Online a couple of nights the past week.

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