Nexon has released a new action MMORPG in the Play Store called AxE: Alliance vs Empire, and the company has pulled out all the stops to put out a truly next-gen mobile MMO that matches the experience of its PC and console counterparts. The game features incredibly well-optimized graphics that look amazing and run smooth as silk, a deep action combat system that rewards skilled play, and a wealth of things to do and people to do them with, thanks to server-side tech that helps bear the load more efficiently than most any other mobile MMORPG out there.
Starting with the basics, you have two groups and multiple races and classes to choose from. There are no custom skill trees here, so those who want to be a tanky archer or a spellsword are out of luck. Fortunately, the included classes cover most of the necessary bases. You have your mages, ranged classes, two different types of heavy barbarian classes with different attributes and specialties, and of course, your faster classes that wield one-handed swords. One of those two has a shield and can act as a tank or work either crowd control or DPS, and another is a fast-paced DPS monster than can dip in and out of the battlefield to control the pace of the fight.
The combat system all those classes are bound to is a fast-paced, action-based take on the usual mobile fare. You have a joystick, an attack button, and skill buttons, along with an evasion button. While that evasion button has a long cooldown, unlike in many other action MMOs on mobile, it’s actually useful. If you dodge out of an enemy attack’s hit zone, you won’t get hit, meaning skilled players can come out of a fight without a scratch. Attack and skills are handled loosely, with no lock on. You press the attack button, your character slings an arrow or swipes their blade in the direction the joystick is facing. No complications, no gimmicks. There is no sort of lock-on in this game, for you or for your enemies. If you dodge and an enemy attack whiffs, you suffer no damage. If you miss your swing or you’re too far away, the enemy suffers no damage.
While all of that is admirable, it’s been done before, and even in the mobile sphere. Look to the likes of Avabel Online, or the Monster Hunter-like Rangers of Oblivion for examples. What makes AxE unique is that it crosses a battle and class system like that with the sheer volume of content and refinement seen in games like Order & Chaos, Toram Online, and other PC MMO imitators. Much like in the Final Fantasy MMORPGs, the race and class you choose to start with will change your starting setting and quests, along with some details in the story further down the line.
One area where this game really shines, as mentioned above, is server and instance management. Not many mobile MMOs let up to 150 players go after a single raid target at once, or skirmish with each other for that matter, but this game can handle that with aplomb. If you don’t believe it, check out the video below. This is not a game you’ll want to play solo, and your starting choices will affect your circle and community.
Moving on to creature comforts, the UI is plenty serviceable. It’s not as intuitive as something like Ragnarok, but it’s also not the mess of menus seen in Old School Runescape. Messing with equipment, changing up skills, and more can all be done easily. The graphics, as mentioned above, are simply incredible for a mobile game, and it runs great. This writer’s 2017 Moto Z2 Force, for example, suffered no stuttering on the highest graphical settings while taking on the tutorial boss, a massive dragon that shines with a halo effect and lets off huge jets of flame that leave scorch marks and particles behind.
Every motion was fluid, textures seemed spot-on, and objects didn’t clip through each other in strange ways, as can happen in visually complex games. Make no mistake; this game is a technical marvel. As for sound, the sound effects are punchy and satisfying, many characters have real voice actors, and the game’s score was done by a live orchestra. That should tell you all you need to know.
The game hasn’t officially launched yet, so there’s no real way to tell just how well the servers will handle a mass influx of players. Since the game isn’t from a huge company or based on a popular property, of course, that’s somewhat unlikely. Possible server issues aside, this game is a technical, graphical, and audio feast, with a great combat system. It would take some serious mismanagement to screw things up in the long term, and if that doesn’t happen, we’re going to start seeing a lot more grand mobile MMOs that aspire to reach for their PC brethren.