Until recently we hadn’t heard of Panzar and there’s a good chance you haven’t either. Developed by Moscow-based developers Panzar Studio the game first appeared back in April 2012 when it went into open beta. The game has had a very successful first year as it has attracted over a million players. Panzar Studios are now hoping to build on that success by bringing the game to Europe.
Panzar is a free-to-play fantasy MMO with a focus on action and team-based play. Your characters can earn XP and level up to obtain new skills but there is none of the usual story or quests you would find in games such as World of Warcraft (WoW). Instead the action is all set in arena battles where two teams fight against each other across a variety of modes.
To get started you simply need to sign-up for an account at http://www.panzar.com and then download the free game client. It’s over 4Gb in size once installed on your PC so it’s quite a lengthy download if you don’t have a blazing fast internet connection.
Once in game you must create your first character before you can begin. Unusually there is no kind of character customisation to begin with apart from choosing your class and name. There are eight different classes to play and you are allowed eight slots allowing you to have one of each class. There’s a nice variety of classes on offer that cover the standard classes you probably know from other games.
The Berserker and Tank classes are both orcs with one acting as a damage-dealer and the other as a defensive class able to protect your team and objectives. The Paladin is a healing support class and Inquisitor is a high damage-dealer that plays like WoW’s rogue class. The Sapper support class is capable of creating teleportation devices, mortars and a Steam Hammer to soak up magic attacks. The defensive Gunner class can build cannons, gravity mines and area-of-effect tesla poles. The final two classes are the Frost Witch and Sister of Fire which act as defensive and damage-dealing ranged classes similar to Mages in other games.
If you’re a fan of other MMO games you probably already know which class you would prefer to play. Before you jump into battle you can visit the Fitting Room to customise the look of your character if you wish. Here you can dye armour, change facial hair and pick emotes but these require you to spent gems.
Gems are the in-game currency that you buy with real cash. A single dye costs 5 gems and emotes or facial hair changes cost 10 gems. Buying 50 gems will set you back €1.67 going up to €200 for 6,000 gems and you can also choose custom amounts of gems to buy. In addition to the free-to-play model you can also opt for a premium subscription which starts at 15 gems for a single day up to 600 gems for 90 days. With a premium account you earn XP, resources and gold faster while playing.
Graphically the game looks absolutely stunning thanks to the power of CryEngine 3 which the game is built upon. When you first start a character there is a short tutorial level introducing you to the game and the controls. Controlling a character feels familiar if you are used to other MMO games. The WASD keys move you, space jumps and shift is for sprinting. To add a little more skill to combat the left mouse button does a normal attack, right mouse does a power attack and the Ctrl key is used to block. Timing your attacks and blocks really help you take down an enemy faster and stay alive longer.
When you enter the game it automatically handles all the matchmaking for you. You are put into a team of 10 players in one of four game modes. The modes are Domination, Siege, King of the Hill and Blitz. The game features over 10 different locations in which to do battle and before a game starts you are given a little time to run around the map which is useful for new players. Once a game starts the combat is frenzied but incredibly fun and satisfying. We also found that the majority of the matches we’ve played have been relatively lag-free.
No matter what mode you play it’s essential to work with your team mates in order to win. Failing to work together almost guarantees that you will lose if the other team is more organised. Similarly if your team is more organised then you are in for an easy time. The game is at its most fun though when the teams are evenly matched and battles become tense as you try to get the upper hand on each other. As many players look similar, except for their red or blue team colouring, the game adds a banner to the backs of each enemy player. These banners really make it easy to pick out the enemy among the chaos.
At the end of the round players are awarded XP based on their contribution and you also get a certain amount of gold and resources. After a round you can use your resources to craft new items and gear. New recipes can be bought with gold or you can buy items and resources with gems. If you’re lacking in gold you can also convert your gems into gold.
When you earn enough XP you can level up your character or impatient players can trade in gems to level up faster. Levelling up grants you another skill point that you can spend on new skills to enhance your character. The game is a constant cycle of battle then craft gear and repeat. Players who are prepared to spend real cash are in for an easier time but it’s perfectly possible to enjoy the game without buying gems if you have the time to sink into it.
Despite knowing nothing about the game before playing it we’ve been really impressed with Panzar. The game is great fun in short bursts and an absolute riot with a group of friends. If you only play MMO’s for the Player-vs-Player battles then you’ll absolutely love Panzar. Best of all it won’t cost you a penny to get started so if it sounds like your kind of game then be sure to give it a try.