A3: Still Alive Preview – MMORPG meets Battle Royale

A3: Still Alive Preview

A3: Still Alive is Netmarble’s upcoming dark fantasy MMORPG for Android and iOS. While you won’t hear the sound of new ground breaking, it is shaping up to be a worthy open world game that is more than capable of rubbing shoulders with the best of the genre. The big twist here is that you get two games for the price of one… well, “price” in the broad sense of the word, because A3: Still Alive is a free-to-play game.

There’s a deep and involving open world waiting for you in A3: Still Alive, but a few minutes in you unlock a new mode that may turn out to be the main attraction of this game: a battle royale game type. Rewards earned in this mode can be used to enhance your character and progress in the MMORPG side, but there’s a rooted progress system for battle royale as well, encouraging you to learn the ropes and become the last man standing… or last team standing.

The one thing that jumps right at you when you start the game is the high production value. A3: Still Alive is a great-looking game, definitely one of the best for mobile and capable of standing proudly amongst the greats, or in other words, Black Desert Mobile. The fantasy theme is as generic as can be and you may find it difficult to tell this game from Pearl Abyss’ hit, but there’s no denying that it looks wonderful. From the superb class introduction right up to the environments, not forgetting the smooth movement and attack animations, there’s a lot to like about the graphics. For once, the deluge of visual effects feels like a natural part of the battles, not just some rushed blinding lights meant to hide the appalling graphical quality, like it happens in other games.

Character creation is decent but somewhat limited, with a few sliders to tweak face details, but the biggest disappointment is the lack of body customization. The five starting classes fit the traditional roles in an MMORPG. You have the ax-wielding Berserker, the Templar is your tank, the Wizard excels in long range combat and critical hits, the Assassin uses his daggers to strike and has high evasion skills, an finally the Archer accurately attacks from a safe distance. Standard stuff and sadly gender-locked, but it’s not like anyone enters an MMO expecting a revolutionary class offer.

The first few hours will not pose much of a threat to your progression. They work as an introduction to the world and mechanics, although anyone familiar with mobile MMORPGs should be able to find its footing in a heartbeat. The always controversial inclusion of auto-combat will help you devour the initial levels, as you unlock new features and become acquainted with the way that combat works, and what Soul Linkers are.

Soul Linkers can be described as your companions in A3: Still Alive, or your personal Pokémon if you prefer a more pop culture comparison. There are over two hundred to discover and summon, with different rarities and the ability to level up, skills included. Divided into three types, attack, defense, and support, you must choose the adequate one according to the boss that you are facing.

A3: Still Alive Preview Wizard class

As for battle royale, you can play solo or in trios up to a total of 30 players per match. Everyone is on a level playing field in this mode, which means that your character rating has absolutely no effect when you step into the battlefield. Thankfully with no auto-play in sight, the difference between the winner and the losers solely relies upon skill and weapon choice. No matter which class you are going with, you can choose any of the available weapons, such as a spear, hammer, harp, cannon, and a few more. Some of the weapons need to be unlocked, so keep an eye out for the specific requirements.

The battle royale experience is fun and fast-paced, the lack of character power interference means that there should be no pay-to-win accusations, and while there is a battle pass, it is pretty much limited to cosmetics and loot for exclusive use in the MMORPG portion of the game. This is a very interesting way to support one part of the game by means of the other one, and since the mode is actually clever in its own right, I can see it becoming very popular among the A3: Still Alive community.

Who would have thought that we would be thrilled to see one more battle royale mode? First impressions do matter, as this preview shows, and our time with A3: Still Alive tells us that it could be more than the sum of its parts. Soon we'll see if it will grow to become one of the most popular mobile MMORPGs in recent years.

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