A Look (Back) at Wizard101 – Gaming as a Family
It’s Throwback Thursday, so today we’re throwing back to one of the first articles ever printed about Wizard101 in the Beckett Massive Online Gamer magazine. Originally printed in the May/June issue in 2009, this article gives an early look into the Wizard101 world you know and love!
If you’re looking for a family style MMO that has a unique method of combat, you’ll want to sink your teeth into Wizard101. Released in the summer of 2008 by KingsIsle Entertainment, this game is friendly towards all ages and provides some great content and entertainment no matter the player. Not to mention you can try a large helping of the beginning content for free before deciding if you want to upgrade your account and access other areas through subscription (or you can also purchase Crowns and use those as currency to unlock zones one at a time).
The basic combat system is a turn-based card game. Each player has a deck of cards to use against various opponents that you come across. Walking on the sidewalks is considered safe, while in the middle of the street, vicious mobs roam around intent on sweeping you into combat with them. AS you enter combat, a playing field will show up on the ground with positions on one side for mobs and the other side for players. Each time it’s your turn you automatically draw a selection of cards from your deck, and then gain the ability to play it against the creatures you’re facing or use buffs on yourself to protect you from future attacks. More players can be drawn into the combat field along with you, and this allows for other creatures to also join in on the fights. Traditional grouping is not used in Wizard101, and it’s refreshing to see something as innovative as open groups.
Don’t let the bright colors and cartoon0like graphics fool you. This game may be aimed at families and children, but a large percentage of the players are adults who are drawn into the Wizard story. Character creation is fairly straightforward: you pick your hair and facial features along with the color of your clothes. Because this game is safe for families, you choose your name by means of a scrolling wheel with pre-approved names. There are parental controls for everything; children cannot even talk to others in-game without first turning them off. The public (and private) chat channels work much the same way. Any word that has not already been pre-approved will be blocked out. While some may find this frustrating (especially if you’re an adult trying to communicate with a group of your friends), it’s a great feature to keep this game safe for all users and it doesn’t take much time to get used to it.
You start off as a young Wizard in Wizard City; there are 15 sub-zones within the one world. 11 of the 15 zones are free, allowing you to spend some time leveling up and getting a grasp of the game before deciding on whether or not you’d like to subscribe or purchase Crowns to unlock future zones. Once you’ve completed the quests for Wizard City, you’ll move on to Krokotopia, which is home to 20 smaller areas. These areas will either need Crowns or a Membership to unlock. The worlds following are Marleybone, MooShu, and the newly released Dragonspyre.
Each world has a unique feel to it, along with some great graphics. The spell effects from the cards you use in your decks are also quite impressive, and if you’re looking for a game that has low time and computer requirements but looks amazing, Wizard101 is certainly the one for you. Speaking with resident Wizard Tara Mythcrafter, I asked what drew her to the game and she had this to say:
“The card battle system, casual feel, and low computer requirements make it perfect. Plus I love dressing up and collecting pets, do other things or just relax while playing; most other games demand constant and continued attention.”
There’s constant work being done on Wizard101, and some of the new changes that have been introduced to the game are the new player versus player arenas. There’s a special arena for PvP located in Unicorn Way, right by Diego. You can join matches, create matches, and even watch ongoing battles. You’ll earn arena tickets for partaking in PvP, which can be spent at Diego for rare clothing (something everyone loves: looking unique). There are tournament seasons that last for 3-4 months and once they’re over, a new season will begin. All pervious ranks will be erased and the items that you can purchase will also change, so it’s best to take advantage of it while you can! I spoke with Tara and her friend Thomas Lionblood to see if either of them had gotten a chance to play with the new PvP aspects. Thomas said:
“I have a few times, but I want to get to fifth tea first.” (Note: remember, there is a chat protection in place which restricts the use of numbers, so fifth tea is fifty.)
There was a line up around Diego when I happened to wander by, so it’s obviously going to be a very popular aspect to the game. It also helps things branch out a little – if you’re tired of running around completing quests and vanquishing foes, you can take a time out and do something different. Having more avenues open to players is never a bad thing.
When I asked about the chat filter and whether or not it was an issue in-game, Thomas was very honest with his answer:
“I like it because I know that everyone’s safety is a top priority in the game. You don’t find that kind of consideration in other MMOs for the most part.”
PvP is not the only new aspect implemented in Wizard101; they also recently released their newest world: Dragonspyre!
As the story goes, Dragonspyre is where Malistaire has been spotted, in an ancient haunted world that used to house an academy that rivaled the Ravenwood School. The people had a special interest in fire magic, and somehow the world was destroyed when the great Dragon Titan was summoned. Now the world is covered with lava, fire, and ghosts just waiting for young Wizards to explore and conquer!
Each real world holiday also brings around special events held in Wizard101, proof that the world is always evolving and changing in order to keep players interested. The forums are a flurry of activity with feedback and special notices; Wizard101 is certainly one of those games you’ll want to try at least once. Before you know it, you may just be hooked!
This article originally appeared in Beckett Massive Online Gamer Issue 18 on May/June 2009 and has been reprinted with permission from Engaged Enthusiast Media by Beckett.