This culturization sees AxE morph into a more accessible and recognizable game for the West. Character models have been adjusted from the Korean-Japanese version, the UI has shifted to a more player friendly version, in-game menus are more interactive, and dialog/character interactions have been tuned to fit a different audience.
There's a fully original storyline made specifically for the global launch, complete with lore and dialog.
Another big shift is how the two game's factions are introduced and showcased. Faction motivations seem to be deeper and more pronounced so players can actually get a feel for both the Galanos Alliance, a group of freedom fighters resisting the reign of order, and the Holy Darkhaan Empire, a stoic clandestine force intent on using control to bring peace to the world. How these two factions actually clash culturally and belief-wise is important to Nexon Red, and it's something we actually see in the character classes.
"We focus on human differences. It's human vs human, not race vs race," said Nexon Red CEO Daehwon Kim. Kim went on to show how the Galanos Alliance was inspired by vikings and fantasy elves, whereas the Holy Darkhaan Empire has ties to Medieval Europe.
Speaking of classes, both the Alliance and the Empire have three different archetypes to choose from that culminate in your basic rogue, mage and tank style classes. They include:
Holy Darkhaan Empire
But make no mistake, each class is actually pretty dynamic and has unique roles to play depending on the skillset. There's a distinct level of customization in this regard, reminding me of the different skill rotations and designations found in Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn. Finding the right combination of skills to use with your team at the right time is important and can often be the difference between life and death.
Insofar as main tenants, the game itself is built on three main foundations--action, conflict and competition, and the world itself.
AxE: Alliance vs Empire is an action game at heart, with MMO-level multiplayer and layered RPG mechanics thrown in. But at its core the game is all about hack-and-slash chaos, spamming abilities, leveling up and grabbing new loot. The combat keeps players engaged over time and feeds into the cyclic nature of monetized live gaming with a steady, instantaneous flow of flashy visuals and satisfying attacks.
"The action aspect is one of the big pillars of the game," Nexon Red CEO Daehwon Kim said at the event.
Each character has its own action-oriented magical attacks that are satisfying, if not strategic. But there's also an auto-play function that may throw off Western gamers who generally like to engage with their experiences. It's more of a convenience measure and a way to keep users in the ecosystem and logging in to grind EXP, missions, and loot.
Conflict and competition is another main feature of AxE. The game features a variety of PVP modes including a 4v4 Arena gametype that nets you unique rewards, as well as the grand-scale 75v75 havoc of clashing Invasions.
The worlds in AxE are absolutely massive and fold neatly into conflict and competition. Designed to be a mix of PVP and PVE, there are 7 different areas in the world that are all at least 1 square mile each.
"We're going to be including 7 different worlds into this game. The size of the maps are around 1-2 square miles each," Kim continued.
"Each map will have both the Alliance and Empire starting areas. The paths were designed so that each faction camp would naturally merge to this kind of conflict zone, so that we're able to organically bring that element of PVP to the world itself."
"Since the maps are so large, we're planning to include lots of content within each area such as world bosses, side quests, and main quests. So we wanted to bring both co-op play with your fellow faction members and eventually push players more into the PVP content."
What's interesting is that PVE doesn't turn off even during huge 75v75 battles. It's kind of like Halo 5's Warzone mode where players battle other players as well as enemy AI, all set in a big battleground. In this way there's always this kind of threat when traversing certain areas, bringing a thrill and a sense of fun when scouting around with your party.
As we mentioned before, the game's storyline is entirely original and is actually quite beefy. The main and side quests take around 90 hours to complete and Nexon will add more objectives and content over time, along with new classes, enemies and seasonal events.
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