If you ever reached a significant level in Allods Online, you've spewed profanities at your monitor due to the notorious "Fear of Death" debuff. Well, you don't have to fear death any longer! New details for the upcoming major patch "Revelations of Gipat", scheduled to go live July 7th, outline a radically different, much improved death system. Huzzah!
Currently, the Fear of Death debuff is applied every time your character dies, reduces his/her stats by 25% for 40-50 minutes for max-level characters and requires a vendor or cash shop item to remove it early. That was a terrible system, but the good news is that the developers know it! Talking with Tara Einis, Gala-Net's Associate Market Manager at E3, I really got a feel for how excited they are about changing the death system. They don't like the way the system worked out any more than the players did, and are ready to kick it out the door and replace it with a much improved, more player-friendly system.
The new system scraps the idea of a death debuff entirely. Instead players will have "a very small chance" upon dying that "a curse" will land on one of their item slots. If that curse lands on an item slot that houses an Uncommon or Common item, nothing happens to the player's gear. Only if the curse lands on an item of higher quality, will that item become cursed and have its stats inverted (i.e., +20 strength becomes -20 strength).
Scrolls of Purification--new, tradeable items sold in the cash shop--will be able to remove curses from any item. Alternatively, players can take a preemptive strike at curses with Holy Charms, another tradeable cash shop item that will be remarkably cheap individually, can be stacked to 1,000 in players' bags, and will be consumed one-at-a-time on death to ensure that curses do not land on the player's items. Cursed items will also begin to drop off of bosses in dungeons and raids (in addition to their current loot), to provide players another in-game route to acquire top-quality loot.
You might be tempted to suddenly be outraged that players can "buy loot" off of bosses now, but keep in mind that the player still needs to kill the boss in order to loot the cursed item, and--this is the key--all of these cash shop items will be available for in-game currency as well. We all know that the companies running these free-to-play MMOs need to cover their expenses, so they have to charge for something at some point, but this new cursed item system does a great job of making everything accessible through in-game means. So if you would rather spend in-game currency on the new scrolls and charms, more power to you, but there's also the option for those who would rather spend their cash instead of their time to acquire them.
Talking with Einis at E3 about these upcoming changes, I really got a feel for the team's motivations: they wanted to keep the penalty separate from the character. As MMO gamers, we tend to identify with our characters on some level (that's why we want the quests to make us feel heroic and NPCs to flatter us), and a death debuff that makes your character worthless certainly does nothing to make you, the player, feel good. This new cursed item system keeps the punishments on the gear, which can be tossed on or off and gets upgraded over time. Your character is never crippled because of a death.
It may seem like a minor psychological change, but it really does make a difference and, more importantly, it shows that Gala-Net isn't just revamping their death system for financial reasons (in fact, this change will almost definitely lose them money on player deaths). It shows that Gala-Net is motivated to make the best game possible, because they want players to keep playing. That's the beauty of the free-to-play business model: the more fun Allods Online is, the more people will play it and the more the money will take care of itself.