Zenith: The Last City Review

Zenith: The Last City Review
Image via Ramen VR

As someone who has spent a regrettable amount of time in MMORPGs, I am a bit of an authority in the space. Farming mobs for rare drops, EXP farming, saving up for the first set of armor. I've done this countless times across countless games, and Zenith checked all the boxes you'd expect.

It Checked the Boxes

Image via Ramen VR

With that said, it only checked all the boxes that make an MMO an MMO by genre, but not by character. It did what it needed to, and not much else. WoW was incredibly complex, Guild Wars had something for everyone, Guild Wars 2 had something for everyone + jumping, Maple Story took 2D to the limit, ToonTown had pies, Flyff had...flying, Runescape had complexity under the veil of simplicity, Elder Scrolls Online had disappointment. Each game did something the others didn't, and then Zenith just sort of popped up as a not quite finished clone.

If Zenith had been made in 2010, I would have still felt it lacked any compelling reason to keep playing, and it is 2022. The game also looks like it came out 10 years ago. The graphics are lackluster, but the fact that it runs on the Quest 2 forgives that point.

With that said, I'm not missing the point: this is a VR MMO! Since 2017 when I was setting up towers in a room, ensuring I'd never have a significant other, I dreamed of an MMO in VR, even if a ~pretty good~ one. And Zenith is just that.

In VR, everything is fun. Socializing takes hanging out virtually to the next level, whether it be with friends or strangers–observing mannerisms, dancing at people, hi-fiving, etc.–it's cool, and porting that to an MMO is cooler. Combat, and movement in general, is also more engaging when compared to the typical MMO, as its more engaging than spamming hotkeys, although it is also more tiring.

Zenith takes advantage of VR in all the ways you would hope, but it's also an MMO, and a cross-platform one at that.

A Bad Pizza Analogy

As far as MMOs go, all the mechanics are sort of half baked, but not in a gooey delicious way like cookies. This is more like pizza that is doughy in the middle: it's good until you get into it, and then you're questioning whether you keep going because it's conceptually awesome, or you stop because it's just not what it could be.

It's still pizza, right?

You swing a melee weapon, you cast a spell. It's what you'd expect, but it does none of this in a way that's especially novel; again, a sort of rehash of tired implementations that have existed in VR for 5+ years now. If you've swung a sword in VR, or "cast a spell", you have played this game.

Now it's not all bad, I mean that stuff wasn't even bad, the game just isn't quite done yet. As with everything these days, we all get excited, the game comes out 80% done, half of us are grateful and wait for that last 20%, and half of us denounce the whole thing as a malicious cash grab. If you're of the first camp of people, you should consider buying this game and playing as it expands, but if you fall into that second group, you should get your pejoratives ready.

There is plenty to do, but not in the expansive sense. Like every MMO, there is maybe 6 hours of gameplay spread across 40 hours of playing. If you're looking to be efficient with your entertainment, this is not the place, but if you want to escape reality and spend time in VR for the sake of spending time in VR, this is a great way to accomplish that.

The Quintessential...

Zenith is the quintessential embodiment of a lot of things. It's the quintessential MMO, the quintessential fantasy game, and the quintessential VR game. It's also the quintessential VR Fantasy MMO Game. Satisfying all of the requirements you'd expect, but never exceeding any of them. If this game adopted a free model, I wouldn't be surprised, but the price tag tells me they needed the money, and I'm hoping that's to build more.

If you love MMOs, this is the MMO you know. If you are a cross-genre VR gamer looking to get the most out of $30, this may be your game, but mostly because of how few games deliver value at that price tag in VR today. If you are looking for a Triple A, Double A, or even single A title, I would steer clear.

via Animation World Network

As a VR game in the current landscape, this is a 10/10, but as a game in the context of all games and MMOs especially, this is a 7/10. VR software has not caught up with the hardware, and Zenith is a textbook example. The amount of downloads and positive reviews is emblematic of the wider content drought that has plagued VR since its inception, and that's okay. I'm not going to punish an app for trying (and succeeding) at addressing that.

< pre>