Beta Perspective: Triad Wars

Disclosure: I haven’t played Sleeping Dogs, to which Triad Wars is set in the same universe, so this series is new to me. MMO Fallout should be taking part in a beta key giveaway at some point in the near future.

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(Correction: Triad Wars is set in the same world as Sleeping Dogs, it is not a sequel)

Let’s get something out of the way right off the bat: Triad Wars is an asynchronous single player game where the only interaction you have with other players is via AI recreations of them. At some point, the devs intend on adding in cooperative play, but that’s it. If you came in expecting Grand Theft Auto Online in the Sleeping Dogs universe, you’ll be sorely disappointed.

I try to reserve the “Beta Perspective” column for games that fit the traditional sense of a beta, that being a game that is definitively a work in progress rather than a mostly completed product that is in the bug testing phase. The game isn’t being wiped, but that doesn’t change the fact that many of the systems are still very much incomplete.

The main goal of Triad Wars is to build up your criminal empire while simultaneously knocking down those of your rivals (Ie: every other criminal), in modern day China. You’ll do this by operating a turf and raiding the homes of others to steal their stuff and embarrass them in front of their mothers.

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Thus we get to the current meat of the game: Raiding. Raids are something of an endurance run, tasking you with taking down each of the player’s resource pools (counterfeiting, cock fighting, etc) guarded by various NPC mobs before ultimately taking on the big guy himself. All you really need to complete a raid is to take out one building, but you get more rewards if you bring down the whole shebang.

You are limited by time and health, and the game recommends that if you don’t think you can do it, it’s best to cut your losses and run. You can always hightail it and make off with what you’ve got, lest you die/run out of time and lose everything. Your timer can be extended by performing a number of intel operations prior to assaulting the base, these involving breaking up deals, stealing merchandise, and beating up thugs.

Ultimately you end up with a lot more time than you’d probably ever need, an additional four minutes presently (giving ten total). It’s amazing how much an extra few minutes can dramatically reduce the tension and thus the mistakes a player makes while trying to beat the clock, and the whole process of collecting intel gives the game a bit more to do.

There’s also a bit of strategy in the whole symmetry between melee and ranged weaponry. The game is balanced in the sense that you can’t just walk in with a pistol (which you get very early on) and wipe everything out. Aiming is a pain and your avatar has all the accuracy of a drunkard, so in most cases you’re really better off saving your bullets for the guys who also have guns.

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As you level up, you gain points that can be put into improving your character and your gang, improving health, mitigating damage, boosting power, etc. The other big part of the game comes in the form of favors, cards that you unlock through gameplay and buy through the cash shop that offer different bonuses. Some cards offer temporary guns, others permanent, some give you boosts to production and others protection on certain areas of your turf. You can buy packs of random cards through the cash shop, however the game supplies them in pretty good quantities via daily cards and acquiring through missions.

The two most glaring problems with Triad Wars are, I’m told, completely unfinished and the dev team is aware of their shortcomings: Controls and AI. The quality of controls in Triad Wars seems to go up and down as you play, where sometimes you’ll be pulling off amazing fighting stunts (melee combat is very similar to the Arkham series) and parkour moves, and other times you’ll be gunned down because your character simply refused to respond to key presses. I’m keeping count how many times I’ve been killed because no matter how many times I’ve pressed the button, my guy won’t draw his pistol. Right now it’s five. Five times.

Maneuvering while in sprint mode is also a massive pain, with my character making sudden and random movements while seeming sprinting everywhere except where I wanted him to go most of the time. I had a particularly frustrating time with the simple process of getting him in front of a shop counter to buy a health drink, because he kept automatically jumping over the counter.

The AI also makes it really easy to go through raids where your enemy doesn’t have a gun but you do. The AI’s method of dealing with an armed intruder is to take cover, wait until he gets close enough, and then bum-rush and tackle. A nice idea, but you can usually get close enough to fire off a headshot before they take their chance. It’s fun when you’re on the offensive, but then you realize that these guys are defending your base too.

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I’ll end this with a suggestion that really popped out at me while playing:

You need to change the description on the cash shop. A fair amount of items sold for gold (cs currency) are rotated out and therefore only available for a limited time. The game isn’t clear that this is what the timers on the shop pages are for, and given the habit of cash shops to sell temporary cosmetics, I assumed that the devs were selling clothing and vehicles that lasted only a day or two, and immediately wrote the shop off since they cost in the realm of $10. It wasn’t until I actually bought something with the gold the game gives you that I realized my mistake. This needs to be communicated better, otherwise you might be putting players off.

Otherwise I’m having a lot of fun in Triad Wars. It’s definitely in need of a lot of work, and there isn’t an incredibly diverse range of content in the game, but you should check it out if you get the opportunity, and you will get the opportunity because MMO Fallout will be running a beta key giveaway at some point in the future.

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