Introduction: Sorry, I'm not conceited I needed an attention grabbing title! :> Hi, I'm Glenn and I've played MMOs/video games for about 30 years. Played Diablo(all), Ultima Online, The Realm, WoW, League of Legends, TERA(short time), Elder Scrolls Online, Skyrim and the list goes on... Interesting note, I found SotA via a google search "games like ultima online" because a friend and myself were MMO shopping and I wondered how I had never taken a look at this game yet. I read the forums and noted that advertising was indeed a sore point for some reason, I don't know what. User Interface: 5/10 First impressions, it isn't awful, its functional and I haven't noticed any bugs with it, or items just randomly disappearing save crashing during recall/teleport and it consuming the scroll. Drag+Drop style, and lack of shortcut keys(at least displayed at a first glance) do show themselves when traversing shops/vendors. One key note I'll add is that WoWs basic interface is worse than this game for sure, and it stayed the same way since basically the game was created because players created far better versions and they were kind of able to just let that happen. Travel: 6/10 Seems alright, the fast travel lunar rifts are confusing as all get out, but the availability of teleport scrolls circumvents this just fine. Looks like I joined at just the right time (maybe a little over a week ago?) to reap the benefits of the new TP to zone scroll, so I did enjoy seeing that implemented (what seemed to me) right away. The over-world map is functional, but the mini-map is damn near awful most points taken for the mini-map to be honest. I have to keep it small, and zoomed in which nearly defeats the purpose of a mini-map. When using it in a town or a dungeon the mini-map itself looks great, but the functionality reminds me of a Dodge Viper, the ownership experience just sucks. The icons are small, there are no quest markers, and its difficult to use if I can't find quest markers/locations. Quests: 4/10 I typically don't play a MMO for the depth of the quests, I will take note however that some quests I've played in games I consistently go back and play. Some of the quests in this game have you traveling from one place to another, talking to an individual, then traveling all the way back just to get a confirmation of what you seemed to already know. Additionally, there are some quests where mini-map markers would've saved me potentially hours which lead to frustration when I realized the NPC I was supposed to talk to was just a few steps over, not the other side of town which brings me to the next point...some quests never mark as completed, leaving blue icons on my compass and before I learned to mouse over and make sure I was heading to the right quest giver I repeated this mistake a couple of times. Quest rewards need to be tuned up, I'm talking specifically about EXP/items. So far I have done the courage and truth quest lines and I must say, the actual quests were really cool but nothing really pointed me to them, like this quest is really important/pay attention! It wasn't until I got to Artifice that I realized I was at the climax of the quest, I liked that entire area but then I realized I had no idea who I talked to or what it was about up until getting there. My point being, it wasn't that memorable. Gaining EXP: 6/10 I personally love skill based games. It is what made me love UO, it is a large contributing factor as to why I love The Elder Scrolls series, and it is also why I care enough to write such detailed feedback on Shroud of the Avatar. That being said, gaining EXP in this game is basically Upper Tears as I've found so far. There is no reason to do anything else if you're looking to boost your characters power. Questing in my opinion should be a primary way of gaining initial strength, and the rest should revolve around group activities if online is the goal. I want to be the tank in my group and lead other players in dungeons. I love that. I just find myself relegated to UT runs because it far, far exceeds anything else you can do that I've found in terms of exp/hour. If I can get 1 mil exp/hr (capped, mind you), why would I spend and hour questing to get 90k? Doesn't make sense. One of the major reasons I played WoW for so long was the dungeons, raids, and PVP. Basically the entire end game. I know I would play this game for years if I can find a satisfying dungeon delving/raiding/pvp experience. I'll take one of those three, but I'll ask for them all! Character Progression: 8/10 I like skill/stat based characters. I never cared about STR on WoW other than it gave me +30 dps over a 10 minute boss fight, but I find myself looking for ways to get STR because it makes you tanky, as well as deal damage. As mentioned above however, progression is limited to gaining a large exp pool then going out and exploring the world/adventuring so I can level up my skills as intended (as I use them). I do see/feel/experience small bumps in character power as my str/dex/int/skills increase and it does feel very progressive. All that said, I typically adventure with a large EXP pool so that it constantly feels that way. I understand you don't want to reach "max level" too fast, but there has to be some give. Daily/weekly dungeon rewards, pvp rewards could all help in achieving group character progression. I never liked hardcore raiding in WoW, but there is something there when you're putting in a little time with a group of players each week to tackle challenges that the devs throw at you, and it feels good to, as a group overcome those challenges and seek more. Crafting: 7/10 I genuinely enjoy the crafting system in this game. Creating components, building everything is a nice way to have a robust and expansive crafting system. My gripes with it are typical of someone joining a game so late -- buying the thousands of mats that are already out there is far out of my reach, so I won't be leveling my crafting skills very quickly anytime soon. That's fine. That being said, collection times could stand to go quicker, as well as crafting times. As it stands now setting out to craft a lot of XX type of item is usually bathroom break/smoke if ya got em. Which means its less engaging than it at first seems. Why does crafting 20 wood pulp have to take 5 minutes of real time? Could 1 minute, 2 minutes be a compromise? After all that, I like the options in crafted gear that I have, I like the idea of being able to customize armor to my own wants and needs a lot. It is one of the things that I look forward to being able to do. One day, when I catch up to all the people who have been playing forever. Skills/Abilities: 8/10 So far I've dabbled up to about 400-850 in basically everything. The skill trees are small and relatively functional, and that feels fine because I can mix and match all I want and I really like that. I get to create my own character from a kit. Combat: 2/10 Combat itself feels sluggish and clunky at times, I press an ability called break armor and it doesn't feel like it has impact. The dodge rolling is delayed, and slow during execution. Elder Scrolls Online dodge rolling feels fluid and fun. My main gripe about the combat system is the charging of all abilities. It really, really interrupts the flow of combat and makes it feel more turn based, rather than fast paced. WoW, ESO, TERA, PoE, and LoL all felt very fluid on the same computer, internet connection, etc. How combat is executed is not as important to me as how it feels, and the actual ACT of combat in SotA doesn't have a personality. Personally if I had to choose a game from the above mentioned list, I love ESOs combat. You can charge your auto attack and follow up with a hard smashing ability and it feels like you out played/setup an opponent and killed them. I haven't PvP'd in SotA yet, but I don't know that it will have that feeling. I would love to see in the future releases some dearly needed attention to make combat feel like my shield wearing, mace wielding, 200+ strength warrior's charge has an impact on a leather wearer. It doesn't have to one shot him, but it needs to feel like I engaged him. Warriors in WoW gave me that feeling. Economy: ???/10 I can't really weigh in as you need time to get a grip on a market. First impressions tell me that I can't make anything worth selling and won't be able to for a long time, and that's kind of typical for a new player I think. I don't think I will participate too much in the economy of this game to be honest because of gold/$$ conversion. I'll stick to downing the games hardest bosses. That said, some type of centralized vendor search/average market price for items would greatly, greatly reduce grief incurred by a player playing for a month, saving up and getting a full set of armor/house/whatever and finding out they overpaid by a large margin. I know, that's the market right, but price gouging is illegal in the real world, and players can essentially buy gold in this game. So that could lead to some very hurt feelings. Items/Found Loot: 1/10 Really needs work, I haven't found one single thing that I felt was an upgrade at all. If I had to think of one thing that kept me playing games like PoE, Diablo, ESO, WoW etc etc etc it was that loot lottery. I hate to admit it, but its true. Going through that dungeon and farming that boss and getting that boss drop after two weeks feels awful, but a few days isn't so bad(YMMV). Some attention to the drops, not calling for it to shower legendaries a la "please play me Diablo 3 pre Reaper of Souls release". WoW's auction house I rarely used for buying items because the items I wanted existed in dungeons...perhaps if you could augment your items purchased from other players with items/mats that come from dungeons, where the mats/reagents replace the actual item itself...just spit balling here. Conclusion: 6/10 I know this seems like I am attacking the game, but I haven't ever actually written a feedback report on a game, so I will say this. Sometimes you "just like" a game. I like this game, I could see myself spending many hours playing it, in fact a couple days ago I subbed and joined a guild so I've decided to stay here for a while, and that is for two reasons, the first being that I like the game, the second being that it seems you, the devs actually listen to feedback. It looks like actual developers read the forums, and address issues. So that led me to actually writing about my new player experience in SotA. I wanted to give the most honest feedback I could. The Ultima Online experience was one that was very punishing, especially when servers were named "Atlantic", before Feluccia and all of the other townie shards, but people didn't have other options back then, I used to kill people right outside Britain and Trinsic all the time. The amount of hate I received was just ridiculous. But remember why Ultima Online could be so damn punishing? The best item you could get was basically just a master crafted item. You didn't really care if you lost a full set of platemail and your war axe/shield because it could be replaced fairly easily. Tons of people tend to forget that when they mention "old UO" and "you should be able to loot people". Nowadays players pour months into their characters gear, back then I had several sets ready to go and the real drawback to dying was someone had your head. The SotA experience really has brought me back to older times when I played UO until 4 am working my resist magic, tactics, etc etc...and I look forward to playing for a while to come. Thanks for reading!