Review: Needs more eyepatch.
Fury was released worldwide on October 16th to generally fair or negative reviews, largely due to poor optimization and balancing. In the weeks since Auran, the development company behind the PvPMMO, has hit the news a few different times. Most recently the company came out and announced it has closed the doors to most of their staff. The move was initially seen as a death blow for the then month old Fury but Auran staffers set the record straight, stating that Auran "had to go down to give the Trainz and Fury games a future." The poster, known as Bossman, elaborated that by laying off almost all of the company's 70 employees, Auran managed to get to almost neutral ground financially. This move has allowed the company to continue refining and patching Fury and their other title Trainz with a skeleton crew.
On December 14th Auran released a large content patch for Fury and opened the game up as a free-to-play, free-to-download title with premium subscriptions available. Players around the world who had been anticipating the title for some time finally began seeing some progress as they looked over the patch notes, seeing numerous changes to the title and its many original flaws. Promised changes included a vastly improved tutorial, a reduction in the amount of NPCs and their placement, a rebalanced equipment system and performance improvements. The Australian-based developer also promised two new game modes. 'Carnage' and 1v1 Elimination, with new arenas for both. Today, we will break the patch down to see if Auran lived up to their promises, and if it makes Fury worth the investment of time, and possibly even money.
Right off the bat players should see major improvements in performance, albeit their patcher could still use some work. Being a very technical person I was happy to see that the small development team remaining at Auran had not only a firm grasp on the code itself, but also an understanding of what was needed above anything else: performance. Pre-patch the title ran poorly on even the most up to date machines when compared with similar titles- and there are many since Fury is based on the Unreal 3 Engine. No longer will players have to scale back their settings so the game looks like it is from 1999. Of course this was only one of the technological issues that were supposed to be addressed.
Server lag was also a big issue originally, but this has been smoothed out almost completely. The moments of completely unplayable lag are gone, but during peak hours some minor lag spikes still appear. It is unfortunate, since in a game based on clobbering other player characters, lag is NOT something we should have to worry about, ever. Hopefully as the code continues to be optimized those infrequent yet pesky spikes will become a thing of the past.
Technical updates are all well and good, and in this case they were desperately needed, but after the game is running smoothly the only thing that truly matters is solid gameplay. Fury has been designed from the ground up to be a skill-based PvP game, meaning that gear would play a more secondary role. Auran believes that gear should matter, but just because someone can manage to play three hours to your one shouldn't mean that you can't stand your ground. Part of their patch was supposed to be a reworked equipment system and honestly, it doesn't seem like there was any kind of dramatic change, just tweaking.
For those unaware. Fury uses an equipment-based points system that assigns certain values to both abilities and armor/weapons. Users can mix and match any combination of gear and abilities until they meet their equipment point threshold. Pre- and post-patch players had to simply weigh abilities versus gear. The developers claim the system was re-worked but instead it was simply re-balanced, assigning new values, mainly to high level gear, making the player's choice more difficult. Semantics aside, the re-balancing of the assigned values seems to have had the desired effect, as you can no longer run around in full Tier 10 gear with more than a few high level abilities at your disposal. As the saying goes, the choice is yours.
Auran has been very open about how disappointed they were in Fury's launch, almost to a point of full disclosure. Just a week before the Age of the Chosen content patch was released the team announced that most of its 70 employees had been laid off, the game had gone free-to-play, and that the layoffs enabled the company to almost reach a cash-flow neutral state. The three drastic changes the company took have shown just how dedicated it is to keeping their pride and joy up and running, but they really need to address the notion of capturing new players to move into the black permanently.
Numerous players who came into the game early had prior experience in the MMO scene, and yet almost all of them complained about the terrible tutorial because it teaches almost nothing useful about the title's gameplay aspects. Prospective players are pointed to the game's forums and online manual for anything beyond the tutorial's description of the equipment system and charge manipulation, their answer to Mana/Magic pools. A misstep for sure and something that was supposed to be corrected in AotC but wasn't. Upon creating a new character the tutorial seemed different, slightly more informative than the last time, but did I learn anything substantial comparatively? No, not at all. For the title to reel in new players, be they casual or hardcore, it's necessary to do a bit of hand-holding at the beginning. The lack of skill/knowledge in the player base does NOTHING to help the game.
As an example, upon running through the tutorial I brought my new character into the PvP battlefields, because frankly that's all you can do. After playing with my spells and abilities for about 20 minutes after a few matches, and still wearing 6 pieces of grey (starter) gear, I managed to win and in some cases DOMINATE the Blood Bath battles. People where running around with more than twice my health and yet I still tore them to pieces. In one match I died a total of once. The only explanations I can come up with for how I dominated in just over 3400 base HP is that A) the player base is highly unskilled due to lack of experience, knowledge of the game or both, B) I created an incredibly unbalanced skillset or C) I am a PvP god (which I am most definitely not).
While we are on the topic of PvP, Auran did add some straight up new content with the patch and this actually brought more of a challenge. The Carnage PvP mode pits teams of four against each other, but the object is to collect blood (kills) from the bot players and turn them in at your base. Killing other players offers no positive gain, although it does cause them to lose their stored blood tokens if they have any. Sadly, the community's inability to find the turn in spots cause many a heartache in Carnage arenas, again this one is chalked up to the lack of a good tutorial. The other new PvP mode is 1v1 elimination which offered the most trouble and proved that my character was not decked out with some uberbuild. This mode is a pretty straight forward deathmatch which draws most of the experienced crowd and, simply put, I had my ass handed to me a few times, showing that gear does in fact matter when skills are the same.