Zenith: The Last City, a VR MMORPG, is due out today, and the team at RamenVR has done an excellent job with the game in a relatively short development cycle. I first started tracking the game in early 2021 and have since watched it rapidly evolve in two alpha events and two beta events. While my full review is still underway, I wanted to share why the original game was so enjoyable, some of the issues I noticed, and some concerns.
Zenith available to play on most VR platforms for $29.99 US with plans to launch an optional cosmetic store Future. I played it on Quest 2 and Steam. Quest and PCVR versions have simple textures with lively environments. The graphics work for me and some areas are simply relaxing to walk through, but they are stylized and won’t be appealing for some areas. The environment is beautiful when you shoot them at a distance and the different enemy designs look great in VR. The music in the game is pleasant and matches the atmosphere, but I noticed that sometimes the battle music doesn’t play at the start of the fight.
Character creation is very simple. Players choose from two classes, Blade Master or Essence Mage, and then customize their appearance. The customization options are limited, with minimal differences between facial features and hairstyles. Color options for eyes, skin and hair are more diverse. But when clicking on a certain color, I noticed it doesn’t always match the color that appears on the character model. Finally, players choose their initial specialization of Tank, DPS, or Heal. While the character creation is streamlined and convenient, I don’t feel like I’m creating a personalized avatar for myself and I expect to see a lot of very similar characters running around upon release. .
New player experience and original discovery in Zenith are all well done. The player has a small AI companion that pops up to explain the basic mechanics before heading into the first adventure zone. Once you get used to climbing and surfing, it’s a unique experience as you can explore every nook and cranny of the map compared to most other MMORPGs. By Zenith The environment looks great in VR and the development team did a great job of creating interesting landmarks in the distance to grab my attention.
I had some minor issues using Mission 2 and I noticed a bit of motion sickness after playing for about an hour. I have tried changing some comfort settings, but it persists. If you’re sensitive to motion sickness in VR, that’s something to keep in mind for the Quest 2 platform right now. On PCVR I had no problems, the game feels more pleasant, has slightly more detailed graphics and smoother gameplay. There are several pop-ups with NPCs and terrain on both platforms. But I would expect that to be the case with Quest 2’s hardware limitations.
Some elements of the user interface feel unfinished. It conveys all the necessary information and provides a good description of the different abilities unlocked through leveling up. But while playing on Quest 2, I noticed that some of the text expands outside the UI tiles. Most of the UI issues are minor polish bugs that are quickly fixed in the update.
Fight in Zenith it was fun and in my first week with the release app I played both the Blade Master tank and the Essence Mage tank. I love activating abilities by swinging in different directions with Blade Master and using gesture-based casts with Essence Mage. Both methods of using special abilities are well suited to classes and create two very different experiences. Being able to throw your sword at enemies as a Blade Master is also a great addition compared to Alpha. It allows me to tag enemies in battle or as they run past. I also like that you can’t comfortably go through with combat, a tactic known as noodle arm combat in VR. For a Blade Master attack to work to its full potential, it needs time to charge between swings.
One change that I don’t like is holding down the trigger on the Blade Master to block attacks. In alpha, you can place your weapon in the proper position, blocking the enemy’s attack if you have enough stamina. It could just be that I need to get used to the change. But for now, using the key trigger doesn’t feel intuitive or enjoyable.
Thankfully, the developers have added tank expertise to Essence Mage and I’ve really enjoyed playing the game so far. Casting spells to trap, stun, drag, and shield in mid-game is fun. Unlocking the ability to rotate the wrist towards me and block is the highlight of the class. It feels intuitive to me, and I just wish I could activate it with just one hand rather than using both.
Inquiry in Zenith is simple. Players progress along with the main storyline and can also complete hunts, dailies, and adventure content along the way. Public events are also located around each map that can be done alone but designed for multiplayer. Most quests are standard fare with kill X, get/collect item X, or explore X. That’s it.
One of the standout quests for me so far is the adventure quest in the Amarite Forest, where players need to use updates to get to three different floating prisons. By clinging to one side and climbing, the player activates two switches and presses a button to open them. I’m still not quite successful, but it really got me practicing how to use the slide and climb mechanics.
Crafting is available in the form of cooking which I am still experimenting with. But so far, it’s fun to complete the minigame as it doesn’t burn your food and is necessary for the modifiers the food gives. I’m not sure about where the feed groove is in the UI during combat/exploration. Most of the time, the food slot interferes with harvesting or accessing the items.
After the first week of playing, I had two main concerns. First, players can swap between their specializations every 60 seconds when not in combat, which is great, but each spec needs to be upgraded separately. I’m not sure if there’s enough content to support leveling up a character three times without the game becoming a big hit. Second, a couple of times during play/fight I’ve been disconnected from the servers “due to inactivity” and I’m wondering how the servers are going to keep the player count this week.
I’m having a lot of fun with Zenith, and I look forward to seeing how much the world comes to life when the doors are open to everyone. Much of the game is standard fare for a traditional MMORPG. But what makes it feel new is that it’s in VR and makes good use of the VR mechanics to enhance the experience.
https://www.mmorpg.com/editorials/zenith-the-last-city-vr-mmorpg-review-in-progress-2000124203 In progress Zenith: The Last City VR MMORPG