Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been taking part in the second beta test for the upcoming fantasy MMORPG Tarisland from LocoJoy Games and Level Infinite. So far, I’ve battled a dragon, delved into a dungeon to take on a terrifying spider queen, and explored a castle in the sky. That’s all in the first few hours of gameplay, so I’ve already got high hopes for what’s to come.
Yes, before you ask, like many fantasy MMORPGs, Tarisland has some real World of Warcraft vibes. It’s quite clear that Blizzard’s iconic game is the primary source of inspiration for this game, from the questing to the dungeon exploration to even the designs of the characters and classes. It’s not the most original of experiences, but fantasy games rarely are, with over thirty years of games from the genre to contend with and even more from the realms of film, TV, and literature.
Before entering the world of Tarisland, you have to pick a class. I’m not the most experienced with MMORPGs of this nature, but I’m impressed with the variety you choose between, from the stealthy Shadow Swordsman to the whimsical Bard. Each class has a specialty, whether it be a tank, a damage dealer, a healer, or so on. I like to be in the thick of the action, so I went with the hulking lion-faced Barbarian Fighter, but there’s enough here to suit all playstyles.
The meat of Tarisland is in the battles, as you might expect. For me, it can get a little overwhelming a little too quickly. In both the main story and dungeon battles, you’re usually questing as a team, whether with AI or human party members. With all of you crowding around a single enemy or a couple of them close together, it can be easy to get lost in all the action, just aimlessly hitting attacks. It’s still fun, but it sometimes feels a bit mindless.
The chaotic nature of Tarisland’s battles isn’t the only issue, though. They’re also a bit too easy. I’ve played a good few hours and never had any problems plowing through with my Barbarian Fighter during the story quests. No battle has required any sort of tactical nuance, either. I just mash the attack options in the bottom right-hand corner of the screen, wait for cooldown, and smash them again. It works every time. There was one hairy moment against a dungeon boss, but only as I’d charged ahead of the party’s healer. As soon as the health buffing unit arrived, it was just a case of smashing buttons again until the big boss hit the deck.
Of course, no MMORPG is worth its salt without dungeons. In Tarisland, you team up with others to form a party of five to venture into these gauntlets, with intelligent matchmaking compiling a group of you based on your classes. This way, there’s a balance to the team, and as I mentioned in the last paragraph, you almost always have a healer on hand to keep your health in the green as you plod through. The dungeon experience is more streamlined than the main quest, offering 15-20 minute-long combat escapades that are more challenging than the story, providing you’re not too over-leveled.
If you’re looking for friends to go questing with, and raiding once you unlock it via the main story, you can sign up to a guild. After all, what’s an MMORPG without guilds? These groups have up to 100 members, and it’s easy to apply to join one of them. Once you’re in, you can chat with your guildmates, trade items, and even enjoy some guild perks. It’s not a super advanced guild system, but it’s got all you need to engage in multiplayer activities.
Onto the core narrative, and it’s a bit of a wishy-washy one for me. It’s fantasy cookie-cutter stuff with a mysterious magical item at the core, plenty of races with their own thing going on, and the odd betrayal thrown in for good measure. It’s not necessarily awful. It’s just a bit rehashed, though some localization issues don’t help. If I’m getting into the nitty-gritty of the writing, I’d say there’s an overreliance on ellipses, with one or two in almost every quest description. The exposition is also not subtle, and new characters often rattle off their life story on first meeting them. Again, it’s not terrible, but it could do with some nuance.
I get it, you’re thinking, “Does this guy have nothing good to say?” Well, I do, actually. I’m a big fan of the visuals in Tarisland, from the character designs to the varied locations. Sure, most of these locations are pretty standard for a fantasy title, from rolling hills to kingdoms floating in the clouds, but they’re all picturesque and offer some engaging exploration. Each class isn’t just distinct in playstyle, but they all have a clear design ethos, and I’m particularly fond of Barbarian Fighter with the lion’s mane, plus the classic-with-a-twist looks of the Priest and Mage. It certainly beats seeing another fantasy game troll.
While not an innovative game, Tarisland does try a couple of different things to mix up the gameplay, but to mixed results. In terms of the good, there’s a section during the main quest where the point of view shifts from your character to a member of the protagonist’s party, offering you the chance to explore a different character’s battling abilities and take on a slew of enemies. It’s a novel idea, offering a surprising change of pace and something of an actual challenge for the first time as you take on a legion of baddies alone.
However, it’s not all great. While it’s a bit nitpicky, I played a section where you find a bow and arrow and have to take out a few enemies from a distance and found it seriously drab. You don’t have to aim for headshots. You just shoot, and they go down like a sack of spuds. It doesn’t add anything and feels weirdly shoehorned in. Still, the beta test is where the developers figure out what works and what doesn’t, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see this strange little gimmicky section sidelined for the final release.
Lastly, we have to talk about in-game transactions. This game is pricey. That’s the simple way of putting it. I quite fancied the idea of putting my frightening barbarian in a swanky gothic costume, but to do that, you’re looking at about $25 worth of crystal. While there’s a saving grace in that it doesn’t seem to be pay-to-win, this is still pretty extortionate in my book, with even a weapon skin costing upwards of $10. It’s for you to decide how you spend your money, but I’d recommend the more reasonably priced CBT Benefits Cards, the closest thing this game has to a season pass, if anything.
All-in-all, Tarisland isn’t breaking the mold in terms of a fantasy MMORPG, but it does offer some fun boss battles, rewarding exploration, and an easy-to-use guild system. There are still improvements to be made, though, with issues relating to translations, chaotic combat, and some gimmicky in-game mechanics. However, if you’re a fan of magical worlds and questing through dangerous dungeons, I think there’s something to look forward to in Tarisland.
There you have it, our Tarisland preview based on our experience during the second beta test. While we don’t have an official Tarisland release date just yet, we’re keeping an eye on all the socials for the latest. If you need other upcoming games to look forward to, check out our Cookie Run: Tower of Adventures preview and Tavern Talk preview.