Sphere III is an action MMORPG set in a fantasy world with a heavy focus on PVP and skill based combat. The game follows a classic style setup which gives it a lot of nostalgia for players of the first Sphere game. From the story to various amazing sights as well as massive castle sieges full of multiple siege engines capable of bringing down gates and walls, you can find quite a bit of enjoyment when journeying through your personal goals. While the game is meant to look and feel like the classics which inspired its design, it feels a bit outdated and it leads some to not enjoy the game. But, if you’re curious about what all Sphere III has to offer and what I’ve experienced myself when playing the game, then lets dive into it!
The character creation process is extremely simple, with some limitations (much like the original Sphere game). This was a bit of a let down for myself, since I really enjoy being whoever I want to be in a game with tons of customization options. Regardless, you start by choosing your race. There are 4 options for races, but only two by default. After selecting your race, either human or demon, you’ll be able to decide which class you’d like to play as. This is where many will immediately stop playing. Each class is gender locked for each race. There are 9 total classes however, and the genders swap depending on the race you choose. I’m not a fan of being forced to be a Demon if I want to be a male warrior or a female ranger, so I stuck with playing as a female warrior which worked in the end. If you can bear with that, you move on to some body sliders to customize your character slightly to give it some variation compared to other players. The sliders make little impact, but it’s enough to see a difference comparing to someone who didn’t change them from the defaults. Next are the more detailed changes. The options are basic, and have little differences, but you get plenty of options to choose from. After you have set up your character the best you can, you move into the game world to begin your adventure!
The game world is a massive one, full of potential PVP encounters and monsters that plague the lands too! While questing, you could run into a battle at any moment throughout most of the game world. The fantasy world is rich with detail and amazing landscapes that hold true to the original Sphere’s style. Vibrant colors make up the trees, buildings, and even the monsters making it have a feeling much like World of Warcraft, and other older almost cartoon style MMO’s.
Thankfully, with the game world being so large, it’s instanced off into sections full of teleport platforms that you’ll be able to quick travel between as you discover their locations. This requires actually interacting with them, something I wasn’t aware of when I first entered the game, leading me to have to backtrack to get all of the teleports activated. Regardless, you will see detailed landscapes pretty much everywhere you go which was enough to draw me in further to see what the storyline and quests had me following.
The combat in Sphere III is very old school. This means there are problems with the way it works. First off, there is no targeting since it is an action based MMO, which is fine, and I much prefer that style myself. You have to manually target each enemy with every skill in order to hit them. The major problem with this however, is that the collisions are very small, so you could miss entirely even while aiming directly at the enemy. Being a melee class, this was extremely difficult to target the correct areas in order to deal damage, all while the enemies were hitting me. Aside from the hit boxes not being mesh based, the skill animations appear quite slow, causing many of them to fire off much later than when you pressed the button. I recommend avoiding melee combat myself.
The combat system has flaws for melee classes, but it also works well with ranged classes, giving them a great advantage in battle. As a ranged character, you can simply target where the enemy is and be fully capable of doing damage. This worked well, so I continued as a ranged class and found myself battling against other players and hordes of enemies which required skillful positioning and movements to avoid much of the damage. Enemies have skills that have their own area of influence as well, giving you the opportunity to dodge out of it. Bosses are a challenge since they take full advantage of you knowing what to do. If you haven’t got the idea down, you’ll probably have to deal with taking a lot of damage when your team is facing off against them.
The game features a story driven adventure, full of twists and turns and plenty to discover along the way. With over 1000 quests making up the story, it’s a lot to take in, and keeps you wanting more. You start as a mercenary of sorts, and work your way up as you complete each quest and level up. Each area is full of quests and there are plenty of side quests to help drive the story forward. This felt like a classic RPG adventure, with a bunch of personal growth being involved in the process. From escorts to battles and dungeon adventuring, the story is sure to keep you intrigued as you begin to uncover the mystery before you.
Skills and Upgrading
In Sphere III, each skill can be upgraded to increase its damage and effects. This reminds me of several of the classic style MMO’s, a system that is often lacking from more modern ones. With the option of upgrading skills many times, you can customize your skills to the way you prefer them. There are a good variety of skills from buffs to aoe’s and support skills for your team, so building them how you play is important if you’re to be able to hold off against epic boss battles or other players.
You can also upgrade armor and your weapons by refining them, similar to most other MMORPG’s, but with a twist. Having higher refinements doesn’t only increase damage, but the effects of equipment as well. Refining is important as you continue your journey since the challenge curve is pretty harsh the further you go into the game. The early game is more friendly, except when you’re escorting NPCs who seem to want to stand still in the center of 15 monsters just waiting to be killed. Having the upgraded equipment means you can save that suicidal NPC’s life and complete your escort quest!
This seems to become the primary focus of late game in Sphere III. A clan can take over and micromanage a castle, from armed defenses to better structures to assist with protection against sieges. Since the game has low system requirements, it can support massive scale battles with hundreds of players involved. As the defender, it can be rather easy although a headache, to set everything up for the defenses of your castle. The attacking side must complete several goals in order to build siege engines capable of getting them into the castle’s inner walls. This can be challenging and exciting once you complete them.
Ranging from capturing key locations via a “capture the flag point” style system, to wiping out defenders and breaching the gates, the attacking side is where the fun is for me! With a rush of other players all going toward the same goal, you get the feeling of real siege combat, which was a huge plus for me since it’s always enjoyable being a part of something as massive as that. Some of the best items in the game come from owning a castle, and once you have one, you have to be able to hold it, making every moment exciting since a siege can happen whenever you least expect it.
Despite the game having many issues that irritated me, and overall feeling very outdated with wacky animations and collisions being too small, I did enjoy the game’s overall idea. The various regions of the game world have a lot of differences so you feel like you actually changed biomes and went somewhere else. The player base is pretty massive, although most of them are Russian, so as an English player it may be difficult to understand them sometimes. I was still able to complete everything that needed a group to do with little effort, so it wasn’t a problem for me. The castle sieges was the highlight for me. I’ve always been a sucker for that idea ever since I played Perfect World and was in a guild that owned all the territories at once. Being on alert at all times keeps you expecting an attack and that’s where the real fun is. Getting to that point however is a long and tedious process since there are so many escort quests and the overall progression just feels slow in comparison to modern MMO’s, which I guess should be expected from one that is meant to be like the classics. Overall the game is enjoyable, if you can forgive the clunky combat for melee classes, and you’ll find yourself enjoying a deep storyline full of various activities that push your character forward. If you enjoy the classics and want a good game to get the nostalgia back, then give Sphere III a go and see if you too enjoy it!