Checking out Land of Chaos Online

We decided to check out burda:ic's Land of Chaos Online to see if this free-to-play action RPG inspired by Defense of the Ancients is as unique as they say it is.

If you ever asked us here at ZAM what three ingredients make for a solid game, our requirements would be surprisingly straightforward: make it fun, make it interesting and (if possible), give it a cool acronym. You'd be surprised, then, to realize that there just aren't a whole lot of games in the market that can claim to follow this model. If you think about it, an MMORPG can be as polished and bug-free as you want it to be, but if it's not fun to play, why would anyone want to check it out? Similarly, a different MMO might have a ton of activities and a huge amount of depth, but if nobody is interested in doing anything, you might have an even bigger problem here. And, of course, if you don't have a cool acronym for your game, then talking about it in general conversations will be that much harder. Luckily, burda:ic already knew about our foolproof gaming criteria when they invited us to check out Land of Chaos Online (LOCO), a new action RPG that really does inject a great deal of fun into such an interesting mix of gaming genres. Did we also mention the game's acronym is LOCO? How cool is that?

In reality, burda:ic's Land of Chaos Online actually seems to be at the front of a new free-to-play gaming renaissance. Over the past few years, the introduction of new MMORPGs into the market has been fairly light, with not too many solid free-to-play additions. What LOCO represents, then, is a new trend of F2P games with more solid development budgets and an aim to bring more quality into an industry notorious for skimping on production values. And does LOCO succeed in its ambitious aims? That's what ZAM went to find out!

To begin, LOCO does have one problem out the gate, and that's the great difficulty involved with naming the genre it falls under. You see, LOCO doesn't adhere to the normal persistent world that typifies most MMORPGs; games in LOCO are first organized in small lobbies and played out on maps intended for 3v3, 5v5, 8v8 or even 10v10 combat. Currently speaking, there are four maps available in LOCO: two League of Legends-esque maps, where two teams try to destroy each other's base, all while killing enemy monsters and towers along the way, and two maps intended for giant, team-based death match goodness. In both game types, players begin as level 1 champions (you choose which champion you will spawn as, and the game allows multiple copies of the same champion), and by killing enemy champions and enemy structures, you will earn levels and skill points to learn better skills, as well as gaining money to be able to purchase items for that specific game. If you've ever played lobby-type games like League of Legends, Warcraft III's Defense of the Ancients (DotA), Heroes or Newerth, or anything of the sort, LOCO's system will be immediately recognizable.

What separates LOCO from its DotA-like counterparts, however, is that LOCO does have some great persistent features. As your champion levels up in each game from level 1, for example, you also automatically gain access to more powerful weaponry and armor at specific level tiers (1, 5, 9, 13 and 17). The weaponry and armor that you 'upgrade' into, however, can be customized before a game, so much of LOCO's persistency comes from collecting equipment with different bonuses to use at specific level tiers. By example, players who want to have a solid early-game advantage might try to collect level 1 and level 5 equipment to gain an advantage. Ultimately, all players will want to collect five full equipment sets for levels 1, 5, 9, 13 and 17, so this gives LOCO a unique MMORPG-ish persistent flavor.

During a single game of LOCO, players will gain access to a large variety of skills (some of which need to be unlocked in the cash shop before you can access the skill in-game), depending on their champion, and players can 'build' their champion differently, in terms of skills and items, on a game-by-game basis, because in each game you can only pick four skills out of a possible eight and one 'ultimate' skill out of a possible two. Thus, LOCO gets some great depth from the massive amount of possible item / skill combinations; no two champions will ever play alike!

LOCO also features the unique ability for players to 'switch out' their champions as they deem fit. While you can only bring a maximum of three champions (one champion that you start with, and two champions that you can switch to after any death) to each game, this opens the door to some interesting champion-switching tactics, where players will begin with powerful early-game champions, and then make the transition to a strong champion in the later period.

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