We're taking a first look at the (no longer) Asian MMORPG Astellia, that just came out on Steam for EU & NA players.
Astellia has finally launched on Steam, in January 30, 2020. The game was officially released by Nexon in December 13, 2018 in South Korea, and actually closed down its servers in January 16, 2020. Nexon is known to shut down their games faster than they put out new ones, so hopefully they are not related with the EU / NA version of Astellia, which officially opened its doors in September 27, 2019 for North American & European users, after a short Closed Beta Testing between June 25, 2019 – July 1, 2019.
Astellia is a tab-target MMORPG, that tries to differentiate itself from the pack. The main takeaway, is that apart from your main character, you can collect & control many different “pets” known as Astels, each with their own abilities & mechanics. It seems that the rising popularity of gacha games, is starting to affect even MMOs!
Without further ado, let’s hop in Astellia, and see what all the buzz is about, and whether it’s worth your hard-earned money!
Note: For some reason most sites refer to Astellia as “Astellia Online”, even though neither the Korean or the European version refer to the game using the “Online” suffix.
Even though the clunky UI, and the presets you’ll encounter at first will make you feel that the character creator is going to suck, hopefully the “Details” tab is actually very detailed! Your eyes will bleed by the naming of most sliders, but it’s going to be worth it, since I’ve never personally seen such a flexible charcater creation tool in an MMO so far!
Even Black Desert Online that has arguably the best graphics in an MMO, is quite harder to tame, with results that feel way less customizable than Astellia’s. You can sculpt your face, eyes, nose, lips & ears to a huge extent, and you definitely won’t get dissapointed at the wealth of options for each body part, since all of them are covered!
I feel it’s even easier to create a celebrity copycat in Astellia, than it is even in The Sims 4. What’s more, coloring your hair, eyes, lips etc. is quite flexible as well, and you can nail your favourite color tone without being restricted in just a few like most MMOs.
One “negative” is that each class acts as a “race” at the same time, so each one will have its own characteristics that shape the overall result. The biggest example is the “loli” class, Mages. However, it’s worth noting that unlike Black Desert, you can even make lolis look.. human by shaping their height, chest size etc. to normal levels.
We are used to terrible storytelling, voiceovers and cinematics in South Korean MMOs, but it’s apparent that Astellia did try harder on that part. It’s far from professional of course – even though South Korea produces amazing movies, it seems that their game storytelling skills are abysmal – but it’s not “cringe” at least.
There’s an actual story taking place, without being too extravagant, or too confusing. Even though subtitling is still terrible (many words are different that what’s spoken, and it’s even out of sync at times), the voice acting is quite fair. Don’t expect the craftsmanship of The Elder Scrolls Online of course, but it’s definitely not as bad as TERA or BDO.
I don’t know yet if it’ll keep up this way till endgame, but it’s surprising to see that they localized everything for the Western release. Let’s hope it’s one of the good signs about how the developers are going to treat Astellia moving forward.
It’s indeed impressive that Astellia has achieved such a high quality visual result, by using Unreal Engine 3 and DirectX 9 (!!). It feels like they’ve used ReShade in their own game – there’s a ton of post-processing taking place, and it does arrive with a hit in FPS.
But whatever they did, it just works! The environments are extremely vibrant, alive and inviting, while the characters encompass more than enough detail for you to fall in love with! 😁
For some reason, especially South Korean MMOs, place very little value to their environments, which most of the times look like 240p textures, and any building, tree or pavement looks like a jpeg wallpaper from Windows 98. This isn’t the case with Astellia, the textures in everything around you are polished, and feel alive!
Astellia’s graphics are far better than TERA, Blade & Soul, or ArcheAge and even stand toe to toe with FFXIV – some things are better some things are worse.
Nowadays any MMO that doesn’t use an Action Combat style, is deemed old and outdated. At the same time, we’ve all experienced how “convenient” tab-targeting is, and how much it contributes to an overally casual gameplay experience.
Sure, there’s nothing more satisfying than BDO’s combat, and all MMOs should head that way if we want to have better games in the future. But that doesn’t mean tab-target combat can’t be good (I still think WildStar had the best tab-target feel!).
Astellia chose wisely on that aspect, and its tab-target combat feels extremely responsive and fast-paced. You don’t have to wait an eternity for cooldowns, and the animations are very satisfying!
It’s a bit buggy sadly with “move locking”, meaning that you can’t cast or start casting your abilities while moving. I still can’t be too sure about this, as I need to progress further in the game, and do some PvP content.
As mentioned, the main “marketing weapon” of Astellia, is that you can collect a lot of different “Astel” (pets), which can also aid you in battle, each with their own mechanics and abilities.
Anything that’s “collectable” is welcome in an MMO, and especially things that you can actually use in your gameplay, like these pets! There are many different classes and types, and of course you can upgrade their stats and potential even more!
There’s nothing that makes me more sad, than games who don’t support 4K screens. By support, I mean offer proper scaling in the UI elements, and most importantly FONTS, so that we don’t have to destroy our eyes trying to discern the tiny letters.
It’s not as bad as The Lord of The Rings Online, but it can definitely improve upon its UX & UI, which is of course one of the MOST important elements in an MMO – at least for me.
It’s a buy to play MMO, which doesn’t look like it’s going the P2W way (yet). The base edition of the game goes for 30$, and there’s also a couple more upgraded editions that contain a few more goodies.
If you’re dying for a new MMO, then I think you will hardly get dissapointed with what Astellia has to offer.
Oh, and make sure to add me if you’re playing on EU_Canceria, name’s Babalon. 😁