Sword of the New World - hands on

Many MMOs let you build up a library of different characters. But you usually end up playing only one or two. This means you hardly have the time to explore all the classes and skills that the MMO offers. But SOTNW lets you have three characters in your party at a time (much like traditional console RPGs). You can also build your "family" of characters up.

Because you can store spare characters at your family home, there's a good chance that you'll actually end up playing with nearly every class. On top of that, you can collect a ton of unique player characters to join your family, giving the game an even larger cast of characters of Suikoden-like proportions.

This blend of traditional MMO/dungeon crawler gameplay of the West with a party system common in Japanese console RPGs of the East is yet another reason why we find ourselves drawn toward SOTNW.

Need a healer but don't like playing as one? Just add a scout to your party and let the game's surprisingly competent AI scripts keep your party's HP bars topped off. Don't like having a dedicated healbot? Each class has several stances that have unique skills and play styles. So when your scout isn't healing, you can switch its stance in mid-combat to transform him into a roguish damage dealing class with dual-wielding dagger skills.

Ever feel like starting a new character without grinding your way up from the noobie starter zones? Just take your freshly minted adventurer out with your stronger family members and ride the experience train for quicker level-ups.

In terms of the combat system, SOTNW is more of a Diablo-esque grind-a-thon than your average MMO. Instead of whacking away at one or two monsters at a time for a few minutes, you're constantly mowing through crowds of ten or twenty. Its simplicity and repetitiveness will likely turn off some, but level-up lovers will enjoy the piles of dropped loot and working their way toward the game's sky high 100 level cap.