Wakfu Raiders Review
Wakfu Raiders is a free-to-play, 2D social RPG developed by and published by gumi Inc., the same creators of the highly popular mobile RPGs, Brave Frontier and Chain Chronicle. Wakfu Raiders is based on the tactical, PC MMORPG, WAKFU, which was originally pay-to-play but went free-to-play in mid-2014 with mild success. Wakfu Raiders takes place in the world of WAKFU and features similar characters, maps, and lore; however, the gameplay is very different. Wakfu Raiders, like Grand Chase M, takes the form of a side-scrolling, hero-collecting RPG with automated combat very similar to Heroes Charge. The gameplay is meant to be casual and while I personally think the original WAKFU game itself would work great on mobile devices considering there are a good number of turn-based, tactical games on mobile, the current Wakfu Raiders design will appeal to more casual players. While largely uninspiring, Wakfu Raiders does have appealing artwork and polish that makes it a worthy addition to the WAKFU universe.
The World of Wakfu Raiders
Wakfu Raiders is divided into multiple, instanced stages represented by floating islands. Players progress through these stages one at a time and every now and then there is a boss battle. Each stage consists of 3 waves of enemies and players must defeat all 3 waves in order to finish the level. After each wave of monsters, there is a running sequence in which the Heroes run and jump along the map which is kind of neat to watch. Each level is fairly short and lasts about 1-5 minutes, and gives gold, experience, equipment, and upgrade materials. After completing a stage, players unlock the option of “Auto” and “2x speed” for that stage which makes farming a little easier, but players must unlock this option one stage at a time. Wakfu Raiders currently has fewer social aspects compared to other hero-collecting RPGs in that there is no global chat, friend system, or the ability to have another person’s character in your party like in most social RPGs, making it feel more like a single-player game. The only online aspect is the Arena which will be discussed later.
Wakfu Raiders has the same original and stylish artwork from its MMORPG counterpart. The artwork has a mixture of Eastern and Western influences with a slightly cartoony look. The Eastern feel comes from Japanese and Asian themes involving pink flowers and Zen gardens, as well as some character designs and outfits. There is also a Western feel in some of the environments and character models, and the overall artwork looks more Western rather than Eastern (not really anime-inspired). The characters and environments are 2d, but the way the characters stand makes the game appear 2.5d. The world is colorful and has detailed backgrounds featuring beautiful landscapes and many objects of various themes. The animations are good but could use a few more frames of animation for more smooth and realistic movements and attacks. Overall, the game has unique, artistic 2D graphics and polished UI that looks nice and is pleasant on the eyes.
Fighting Through the Stages
Wakfu Raiders has over 100 stages with diverse environments and enemies. Players can assemble a party of Heroes (up to 5), and their formation plays a role in battle. Heroes in the front have more attack power, Heroes in the middle have more defense, and Heroes in the back have more defense and recovery (healing power). Once in a stage, Heroes will automatically attack enemies in a turn-based manner in which the Heroes and monsters take turns attacking each other. While players cannot control most of the battle, they can choose when to use skills for each Hero after their mana bar is full, and there are unique elemental combos to execute. Each Hero has an element and tapping on 3 Heroes in a specific elemental pattern will give a temporary stat bonus (i.e. an increase in DEX, DEF, or REC) and launch an AOE attack at enemies. This adds more interaction to the battles since players will have to activate one of these elemental patterns every so often (after a short cooldown) and manually use skills. Each stage has three waves of enemies, with a boss battle at the third wave sometimes, and the levels are very short ranging from 1-5 minutes. Players can acquire gold, experience, equipment, and upgrade materials from stages.
Wakfu Raiders has many Heroes to collect, and players who have played the PC MMORPG, WAKFU, will recognize most of these Heroes as the game’s various classes, as well as NPCs. Each Hero has a different element (Fire, Water, Earth, Air, Light, and Dark) and unique stats, abilities, and appearances. Certain elements do more damage to other elements and different elemental combos have varying effects which makes Hero elements an important aspect of the game. Heroes gain experience in battle and can be evolved/upgraded with a recipe of materials that can be farmed from certain stages. Heroes can also be equipped with various gear and their skills can be upgraded with gold. Unlike most other hero-collecting RPGs in which random monsters can be collected and added into the party, players can only obtain Heroes via the Summon system in the Portal menu or unlock them with enough Hero Soul Shards (hero parts). The Portal is basically the Cash Shop where players can spend Gems to summon random Heroes, Hero Soul Shards, equipment, and upgrade material. Hero Soul Shards, equipment, upgrade material, and Gems (premium currency) can also be obtained from quests, stages, and achievements.
The Arena and Crypt
In addition to the main single-player, stage-based campaign, Wakfu Raider has two additional modes called Arena and Crypt. The Arena is the game’s PVP mode in which players can assemble their party to face off against other players’ parties from around the world. Unfortunately, the PVP is completely automated so players simply sit back and watch the two sides go at it with no real control of the battle. The elemental combos are disabled in the PVP and there are no strategic ways of using Hero skills other than as soon as the mana bar is full. The PVP is unintuitive and quite slow-paced but there is a ranking system and it is interesting to climb the leaderboards. Players can also earn Arena points, which they can use to purchase Hero Soul Shards, equipment, items, and more. At the moment, the Arena is very unbalanced and players will constantly be matched up against much higher level players.
There is also a mode called Crypt. Crypt is a special dungeon mode containing 8 separate dungeons (with 3 difficulties each) to play through. These dungeons include: Kama (gold), XP, Fire, Water, Earth, Air, Light, and Dark. The Kama dungeon drops a lot of gold, the XP dungeon drops a lot of experience items for Heroes, and the elemental dungeons drop a lot of elemental stones used in upgrading Heroes. These are basically loot dungeons and play like normal dungeons except the elemental dungeons contain only monsters of that element. These dungeons don’t give any experience (except the experience items in the XP dungeon) so they are mainly for farming purposes but are a neat addition to the game. Each of these 8 dungeons can be played up to 3 times daily.
Cash Shop/In-App Purchases (IAP)
The in-app purchases in Wakfu Raiders are very standard to those of other hero-collecting RPGs. The Portal, where players can summon Heroes and equipment, is the main attraction and where potential payers will spend most of their money. There are two types of Summons: Honor and Heroic. Honor Summons can be purchased with in-game gold and gives out Hero Soul Shards (which can be used to unlock Heroes), equipment, and upgrade material. Heroic Summons can only be purchased with Gems and can give out Heroes (not just Hero Soul Shards), equipment, and upgrade material. Players get one free spin a day for both Honor and Heroic summons which is fairly generous, and players can get some Gems from achievements, quests, and login rewards. Like most hero-collecting games, Wakfu Raiders gives out a good amount of Gems for free. Players can also use Gems to purchase energy (used for playing stages) and in-game gold (for upgrading Hero skills). There is also a VIP membership that offers bonuses that players can obtain from purchasing Gems. Overall, Wakfu Raiders has traditional and reasonable in-app purchases mainly through a gambling Gacha system, and doesn’t really have any paywalls as long as players are willing to farm (mainly for upgrade materials) and grind stages.
Wakfu Raiders is a decent, but largely uninspired, hero-collecting, mobile RPG based on a popular PC MMORPG, WAKFU. The game has nice artwork, lots of Heroes to collect, and a good amount of content, but the largely automated combat and repetitive gameplay will likely appeal to more casual players and die-hard WAKFU fans.