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Lineage 2 Revolution preview – Hands-on with a new mobile MMORPG contender

Netmarble is positioning Lineage 2 Revolution as a full-fat MMORPG experience for mobile. No mean feat, that.

Lineage 2 originally launched on PC back in 2003. Lineage 2 Revolution is a mobile reworking and semi-sequel to that game.

Having launched in South Korea in December 2016, Lineage 2 Revolution is ready to go worldwide November 15. I’ve been playing through the early hours of a pre-release build to get a flavour of what to expect.

Family resemblance

That flavour, as it turns out, tastes a little bit like vanilla. If you’ve played an MMORPG at any point over the past 10 to 15 years, you’ll be well prepared for Lineage 2 Revolution.

After watching the cutscene opener (imagine Lord of the Rings as retold by Square Enix), you’ll need to pick your avatar from four classes.

Humans are all-rounders, elves are nimble, dark elves do destructive magic, and dwarves bash things good and proper.

You then set out on a familiar trail of NPCs offering up simple fetch quests – usually involving the beating up of some wild animals of malevolent orcs. One early line of dialogue goes: “Maybe you can find clues if you kill some monsters,” which says it all really.

Smooth moves

There’s no denying that Lineage 2 Revolution is a slick effort, though. It’s powered by Unreal Engine 4, and the 3D models look and move fluidly through an attractive (if generic) fantasy world.

It all ran flawlessly with all the visual settings (including frame rate) cranked right up. But then I played on a OnePlus 5, which is just about as capable an Android phone as you can get right now.

There’s the common visual problem with fully featured MMORPGs on mobile here – too much information on screen. The OnePlus 5 isn’t a small phone, yet the screen often felt cramped and claustrophobic, with a large set of virtual controls, a chunky chat box, and reams of numbers and stats filling up the screen.

Add in a detailed art style, and large-scale scraps can be impossible to follow. Fortunately, Lineage 2 Revolution goes big on automation.

Hands-free

It’s a fairly common critical device to say that a game plays itself, but Lineage 2 Revolution really does – if you let it.

Tap on the quest text to the left for the screen, and your avatar will sprint off to complete the next task on the list. If that entails talking to an NPC, they’ll do that. If it means going and bashing a bunch of antelopes for said NPC, you’ll run off and do that too.

On the one hand it’s quite disconcerting. On the other, it takes much of the monotony out of the kind of repetitive grind-heavy tasks that you’ll be presented with. Need to bash a bunch of bats to level up your character? Just tap the auto-quest button and check your email while it plays out.

You have to go hands-on for the wave-attack dungeon rounds, though, which are designed to test your combat chops.

Where is everybody?

Of course, the meat of any MMORPG is the player-to-player interaction, and even a couple of hours in I’ve yet to really encounter another player.

It’s all been preparatory single-player stuff, though I’ve managed to join a clan and fought some other hero characters in asynchronous combat.

As a recent announcement revealed, there’s the promise of epic 30 vs. 30 Fortress Siege fights to come. Doubtless those regular quests will become a lot more fun once you have yourself a party, too.

For now, the core of the game seems on solid – if somewhat uninspired – ground. If you’re itching for some traditional MMORPG action on your mobile, Lineage 2 Revolution seems as good a bet as any.