Review by Vision_of_Man

"A Silkroad Online Review"

Introduction: Silkroad Online is a MMORPG created by Joymax based on the Silk Road, a trading route between China and European countries that were interested in buying China's high quality silk. The Silk Road was started after the Chinese discovered the most efficient method of creating silk, which is a material used in clothing. Before I begin reviewing the game I would like to note that a "casual gamer" is someone who plays less than four hours a day.

Game Play: The overall game play in Silkroad Online is decent, however, most of the systems are highly unorganized and/or plain, which is found to be unappealing to many casual gamers. To better explain the game play I'm going to evaluate each system utilized in Silkroad Online separately, and then comment on how they relate to each other. First I shall begin by discussing the training system and its many parts.

Training System: Silkroad Online utilizes a commonly used system in most RPGs, the level system. Players start off on level 1, and must gain experience by either completing quests or eliminating monsters in combat, both of these will be explained and reviewed later on. After reaching a preset amount of experience the player will level. His/her experience will go back to zero, while the amount of experience needed to level will increase, also the player will become stronger in multiple ways. Silkroad then expands on this system by adding in skill points, which are used to buy skills from the various weapon and magic skills offered in Silkroad Online. Players also gain skill points by killing monsters and completing quests.

Quest System: Silkroad Online has three types of quest. The first type, which I refer to as "Grinding quests", require the player to kill multiple amounts of monsters. Grinding quests are the simplest type of quest, however, they are the most time consuming. Then there are drop quests and timed quests, all of which will be explained.

Grinding Quests: The first large grinding quest at around level sixteen requires players to kill two hundred bandit NPCs. The second one at level twenty requires players to kill six hundred NPCs. At the higher levels players will find them selves killing one thousand NPCs for quests that give minimum experience. Another issue is the number of available NPCs. Silkroad Online has multiple servers which allow approximately three thousand players online at once. It is not uncommon to find two to three players attempting to complete the same quest, only to find out the number of available NPCs is around five to ten due to their excessive grinding.

Drop Quests: Drop quests require players to kill a certain NPC until it drops a specified amount of an object. Usually the item will be a claw, toenail, beak, or any other body part/organ that the NPC would normally have on it. The first drop quests have a drop rate of approximately twenty to thirty percent. Then the drop rate begins to get lower and lower. Drop quest begin to ask for fifty of certain item, with a five percent drop rate. Once you hit level thirty drop quests have merged together with grinding quests (Metaphorically) to become highly time consuming and a huge burden on the casual gamer.

Timed Quests: The least used quest in Silkroad Online, timed quest require the player to go from one NPC to another NPC in a set amount of time. Usually the player has to go from one city to another city by walking/riding through a monster infested zone. Players can not use any form of teleportation during a timed quest. Timed quest take the least amount of time, or else that would contradict their purpose of pressuring the player with limited time.

Overall: The quest system on Silkroad Online has two major flaws. First, they require too much time, and therefor cause most players to either bot or lose interest. Second, the experience given is extremely low. After level twenty quests become a guideline for where players should grind, which goes back to the issue of time.

Skill System: In Silkroad Online players are given skill points so they can level up their skills. There are weapon skills, which allow players to use their mana to activate physical combos/techniques that utilize the abilities of their equipped weapon. Then there are magic skills that allow players to use large amounts of mana to use magical spells of the element skill they improve. Players must first buy levels for their skill, which can not exceed their current level, and then buy techniques from that skill, which also cost skill points. The amount of skill points required to buy/level a skill slowly, yet exponentially, which brings up the ever recurring flaw in Silkroad Online. Players must grind for skill points (200,000+ Skill Points) at level sixteen. This process takes ages and is the biggest turn off for any player. Skill point grinding doubles the amount of time needed to level a character, because in order to efficiently skill point grind, a player must minimize his/her experience gain in order to maximize their skill point gain. Joymax tries to make the training difficulties easier by giving players two experience boosters when they make any character. The problem is most players are uninformed on the extremely difficult training system and quickly use both of the three hour experience boosters. I can easily recall using my two experience boosters on the first two grind quests, and at the third grind quest I automatically regretted that. The recommended time to use the boosters is during your skill point farming, which takes place during the two optimal skill point grinding times. Those times are between level sixteen and twenty-four and level sixty to level seventy. (Note: Most people agree on early skill point grinding, however, not everyone agrees on grinding skill points during the higher near end game levels.)

Player versus Player Combat System: Silkroad Online uses two intelligent, yet simple systems to enforce player to player combat. The first system is the cape system where players can buy capes of certain colors, which indicates the team of the player, and fight players who are not wearing the same color cape. The only exception is the black cape which represents rogue players who can attack and be attacked by any other player. The second system, which was planned to also be a huge part of Silkroad Online's economy (But failed) is the merchant system. The merchant system is the main part of the player versus player combat system, the story, and a part of the economy. This is very useful for most players, because they can participate in a big part of the game through one system. I will explain the economics and storyline behind the merchant system later on.

Cape System: The cape system is very simple. At level five players go to a grocery NPC and buy a cape of any color. Once the player equips the cape all he/she has to do is exit the town he/she is in and then begin to fight the players who are wearing capes. Most of the participants of this combat system are level thirty and above so most of the lower level players have difficultly finding success in the cape system.

Merchant System: At level twenty players are allowed to choose a job of their choice. They may choose a trader, hunter, or thief. Then players interact with each other based off their occupation. Traders buy merchandise from towns and then travel to the next town in hopes of seller their merchandise for a profit. On the way thieves will try to assassinate them and then proceed to take the trader's merchandise and sell it on the black market. To help defend themselves, traders hire hunters who hunt down and kill thieves in order to insure the survival of the merchant. The average level for players to become a trade is level twenty. Thieves usually start at around level thirty-two, and hunters tend to start around level thirty-two as well.

Equipment System: Silkroad Online's equipment system gives all players with a bit of gold the opportunity to improve their weaponry/armor. There are certain items for improving the power of items and give them buffs to improve the players statistics. Then there are items that have improved statistics due to certain seals on them.

Seal System: There are three types of seals, which can not be given to an item, that an item can be "born" with. The weakest seal is the seal of star which gives an item a small boost in strength. Followed by the seal of moon that gives a moderate boost in strength, and the seal of sun which gives a tremendous boost in strength. These items are dropped by monsters. The down side to the seal system is that the "gifted" items have a practically nonexistent drop rate. This quickly caused a wave of inflation raising the prices of these items from between 300,000 Gold to 1,000,000,000 Gold. Players who are incapable of either finding one or buying one will find themselves incapable of competing in player versus player combat.

Improvement System: Silkroad Online has a somewhat cheaper method of giving players powerful weaponry. Certain items allow the player to improve their equips statistics and even give certain buffs to it. There is a low success rate though, and after a certain point failing to improve your equip will result in its destruction. Also sealed items may be improved to further improve their quality, while increasing their value.

Economy: One of Silkroad Online's greatest flaws is its economy, which is in ruins. Players need to have a huge amount of gold in order to obtain powerful items needed for competing with other players or faster training. The constantly rising prices of items is a form of insanity in itself. On my first character I found a pair of level one seal of star boots. Hoping to make a lot of gold I discovered that their value was a mere twenty-five thousand gold. One year later I found the same pair of boots with a few measly upgrades (+5, INT Boost, etc.) for 300,000 gold. While the situation has improved recently, the sheer amount of gold needed for the average player is tremendous. This greatly enforces trading between players though due to another issue with Silkroad. Monsters drop low amounts of gold compared to the prices you pay every eight or so levels for a new weapon. Imagine getting two hundred gold per monster, only to find out that you need to pay 15,000,000 gold in order to get a better weapon eight levels later. The economy quickly became centered around weaponry and armory. The equipment system controls a huge amount of the economy. Players find themselves buying gold and/or scamming each other in order to make a "living". While most players struggle, few succeed due to their knowledge on how to make gold. The items high in value are powerful equips, elixirs, elements, and tablets. The third being easily abused for a profit due to their massive numbers. The merchant system as mentioned earlier loses its ability to compete with the equips due to the stall aspect of the economy. Players can set up stalls with their items, and then leave their computer on for hours while other players get on and buy the items set up. No effort needed on the sellers end.

Story: Most people believe that Silkroad Online lacks a plot, however, that is not true. Silkroad has a plot, its just that you aren't apart of the story until you are level twenty. The quests system has no effect on the story at all. The quest system's input to the plot is that you must defeat certain enemies so the great cities on the silk road can take them on in battle. Or that you must help someone obtain certain items for a potion they must create. The merchant system is what allows players to experience the silk road, which is apparently the point of Silkroad Online. You are given three simple ways, which are not flexible, to have any input into the story. You can either sell goods, kill people for goods, or kill people who kill people for goods. Pretty basic... or better yet simple, but time consuming (Keep in mind whether Joymax wants this to be true or not Silkroad's slogan should be and probably is "Simple, but time consuming".). Also you may join a guild so you can go kill people in groups, which maximizes the fun of the merchant system.

Play Time/Repeatability: The amount of time required to play Silkroad Online is huge. In order to reach level eighty, which isn't even the level cap anymore, you must grind for six hours every day for two months. In other words... To get to level eight you must spend 360 hours/15 days on Silkroad. Even then, you wont be powerful because of the methods you would have to employ to quickly reach that level.

Final Recommendation: Personally I recommend Silkroad Online for gamers who do not mind mindless killing for several hours a day.

Reviewer's Rating:   3.0 - Fair

Originally Posted: 10/06/08

Game Release: Silkroad Online (AS, 12/31/04)

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