Dofus review: because Ankama wont send me my Wakfu beta key already…

A few weeks ago I had the joy of attending PAX 2011 and I got the chance of playing a lovely game called Wakfu. I fell in love with the art and characters in the game decided to give it a go  (and make the 2 hour line).

Wakfu was very cool and the folks at the booth said we’d get beta keys after PAX. Being the impatient person I am, I decided to start playing another game by the same company: a game called Dofus.   The art in Dofus is a charming as Wakfu, but the game looks a little bit older (because it is). The game takes place in the same world as Wakfu and the character classes are nearly the same.

Genius little trashcans store discarded items

Dofus is huge in Europe apparently…and I know b/c I ended up on the Italian server by mistake. Speaking spanish has been a huge advantage because I can usually tell when someone is just selling/buying versus when someone is flat-out cursing at me.

I decided to start out with an Osamodas who are natural summoners and basically train animals to do all their fighting. Below you can see my character ignoring the obvious fight and letting her sheep (or gobball if you will) do all the fighting.

Summoned sheep doing all the fighting

 Things I like:

– Character art  (again, I am partial to Anime-ish anything)…but I think the art in this game is always a joy to look at. There’s also so many easter eggs hidden in the scenery that they are hard to count.

Art around the butcher shop...not my sheep.

 -Creative names for classes:  My characters class is osamodas (sado maso backwards) and with good reason since she carries a whip. Wikipedia has a good explanation of all the other names.

Easter egg...or dead goose... at the lake

-Creative NPC names…I nearly fell off my chair when I saw an NPC named “Raymon Santho“.

Charming as always...

– Interesting creatures…Instead of starter monsters like  “Deceased mangy wolf rat”  Dofus has an adorable canary (or Tofus) as the first beast you can kill. It really makes things more fun when you’re not killing an already dying animal.

-Elegant solution to spam bots : Like many MMO games, Dofus is riddled with spam bots of all kinds. Having nearly 30 characters on the screen becomes performance intensive and one thing that Dofus does really well is work around that. Whenever there are too many (above X number of) characters on the screen, all characters switch to mini me mode, which simply identify which class each character is. It was a bit confusing at first, but it works…so hey.

Merchant mode : There’s some parts of the market that I really don’t like and you can find those below, but merchant mode is pure genius. One of the benefits of being a subscriber is you can set up shop and place your character at a key spot so players walking by can buy items from you. Games that have an elaborate server wide market don’t really need this. However, Dofus is lacking a big marketplace (or auction house) where I can search for everything so I think the Merchant mode is a really elegant solution.

Standing next to a character in merchant mode

Things I don’t like :

– Not enough content for un-subscribed players : Un-subscribed Dofus players are limited to two cities, one of which is basically “Tutorial Island”. Dont get me wrong, there’s a lot of content there…but I found that I ran into “subscribers only” territory too quickly. Limitations on classes are fine in my opinion, but when F2P players get less than 1/10 of the map it gets pretty annoying.

-Confusing and still rudimentary quest system:  Half the time I’m on a quest I have difficulty telling what my actual goal is. Example, one quest has a goal of getting “whatever Meow Meow needs to impress a lady cat”.  Sometimes this is fun, since it forces you to think about the different characters and places, but I think there’s much room for improvement. Some of the hints aren’t really helpful and I just end up looking for the answer online.  

My biggest problem with the quest system is that it isn’t always consistent. Progress isn’t updated the same way for all quests and some quest goals aren’t even written correctly.

Example:
Quest:  Defeat 2 boar!
Laura: *kills 2 boar*……nothing…..*kills 2 more boar*….hm, nothing….*kills 5 more boar*….NOTHING?! what the hell! <wiki>
Wiki: Defeat 2 boar….IN ONE FIGHT! </wiki>
 

-Confusing marketplace: Somewhere between the three different kinds of markets the Dofus guys lost me. There are NPCs, which always sell items at the same price. There’s NPCs which (I think) sell player items at player prices and different quantities. And then there are characters in merchant (away) mode.  Merchant (Away) mode I actually like so no complaints there. But in the beginning I was baffled by NPCs selling items at horribly different prices every now and then. Turns out that those were player submitted prices….and that’s how I ended up paying 20 kamas (currency) for a bucket of water….when I could have bought it for 1 kamas across the street (or drawn it from the well, I know…)

Conclusion:

Dofus is charming game with fantastic art and some genius solutions to common MMORPG problems.  Quests, dialogue, characters and scenery prove that they had a ridiculously creative team behind the project, and I think that makes this game a winner. Some key issues remain, but if you like the story and the art enough these wont be significant obstacles. I honestly can’t wait to see more of Wakfu and other projects the Ankama team comes up with.

Osamodas in the middle of her attack

-Laura C.

 

All images are cropped in-game screenshots from Dofus and are used for review purposes.

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