Traditional Fantasy MMORPG - A classical style MMORPG developed and published by Aeria Games in 2007. Faction versus faction PVP battles, and a Permadeath 'Ultimate Mode' are the highlights of Shaiya.

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Game overview

Shaiya holds a place in many people’s hearts as the first MMO they’ve ever played. And as such, people looking back on it today might be viewing it through those dark-tinted nostalgia glasses which may obscure their objectivity when talking about it.

Over 11 years since its’ release, does Shaiya hold up? In a way (Private servers), yes, but for the most part, Shaiya is as dead as an MMO can get. The way it works with old-school MMOs is they either need to have a large enough player base to keep them going, or they need to modernize with the times to draw in newer players.

Shaiya does neither. Few veterans of the game are left, and the changes that the developers have made to the game over the years have only pushed old-school players away even more. There’s nothing on offer here that the new generation of gamers won’t find somewhere else. Somewhere better. The uniqueness of Ultimate Mode, is little more than a novelty feature now, and the P2W aspects of the PVP just kill the game, despite its’ potential. Shaiya still has its’ high points, but the official game is long past its’ prime.

➔ Main points:

  • Downloadable F2P traditional MMORPG
  • Good versus Evil, Faction-based PVP battles
  • Permadeath Ultimate Mode Difficulty
  • Heavily P2W PVP
  • Very low player base on official servers, dead community
  • Fairly active community on private servers

Full review

Premise and Presentation: Classic and Dated

Developed and published by Aeria Games, Shaiya was first released back in 2007. It’s a traditional fantasy RPG with humans and elves and a classic good versus evil story.

Upon beginning the character creation process, players choose between either the Alliance of Light or the Union of Fury. Each faction has two playable races to choose from. Players who choose the Alliance can be either human or elven, and Union players can be the Vail, which look like Dark Elves from the Elder Scrolls and the Nordein who look like Orcs(Also known as the Deatheaters).

Each faction has six playable classes, with three classes per race, all of which are archetypal RPG stuff. Players of the Alliance of Light can choose to be Rangers, Archers, Fighters, Defenders, Mages or Priests and Union of Fury players are able to be Assassins, Hunters, Warriors, Guardians, Oracles or Pagans. Shaiya is as traditional as it gets, so old-school RPG fans will feel right at home with the character creation.

The armor and weapons hold up pretty well, but the character models are very low res.

Unfortunately, as endearing as the character creation is, the presentation leaves a lot to be desired. Even back when Shaiya was first released in 2007, the graphics looked dated and they certainly have not aged well. The armor and weapons still look pretty decent, but the character models are notably low res and contrast badly with the more detailed equipment. They could really use a facelift, pun not intended.

Gameplay: Basic grindfest or Ultimate Grindfest

One of the unique aspects of Shaiya upon release was its’ inclusion of an ‘Ultimate Mode’ in addition to the standard ‘Basic Mode’. In Ultimate Mode, you gain access to the use of Ultimate Mode items, gain more stat and skill points per level up, and can use exclusive Ultimate mode skills.

Not everything is gravy in Ultimate Mode though. Characters playing on Ultimate difficulty, need significantly more experience per level up compared to characters playing on Basic difficulty. EXP gains on Ultimate Mode are also significantly slower. The biggest drawing point of Ultimate Mode, however, is the prospect of “permanent death”.

Technically, this isn't the case. If you have an item known as a resurrection rune (Which can be purchased in the Item Mall on the Shaiya website for AP) then you can bring your character back to life. If you do not have this item or fail to use it within three minutes of your character’s demise, then your character is gone forever. This adds quite a bit of risk to playing in Ultimate Mode, and some players intentionally refrain from using a resurrection rune in order to always keep this risk attached.

So while deciding between basic and ultimate difficulty is something to keep in mind when playing Shaiya, there’s also another thing: How tolerable are you about grinding? Because this game is a serious grindfest. You grind PVE in order to play PVP.

Grinding and RPGs go hand in hand, but in Shaiya, especially on ultimate difficulty, the grinding can get a tad bit excessive. So keep that in mind. Even if you find the classic RPG style of Shaiya appealing, if you aren’t ready to grind and grind and then grind some more, you’re going to want to avoid this one.

PVP/PVW: Players Versus Wallets

The bread and butter of Shaiya is by far the PVP. Anyone who has played an MMO like Lineage of World of Warcraft will feel right at home. The PVP in Shaiya is great. It’s fast-paced and fun, beginning to end. Players can engage in non-lethal duels with members of their faction for experience and to develop strategies and counters for certain classes in preparation for the real thing. When you want to duke it out in death matches against members of the opposing faction, players head to the PVP Battlegrounds.

The Battlegrounds are divided into three sections: the Proelium Frontier, which is for players who are between levels 10-15, the Cantabilian for players between levels 20-30 and D-Water. D-Water is the endgame PVP area so to speak, as players between 31-80 can all enter and fight each other.

Defeating players in combat, nets you kill points, which can be used to rank up your character’s stats, so in order to be the best, you’re going to have to play PVP a lot. The amount of kill points you can obtain per day is capped at 2,000 and players cannot cheese grind kill points by killing very weak players. The game has a limit of kill points granted if you are 10 levels higher or lower than the opposing player. A level 80 player will not earn any kill points for killing level 50 players for example.

[imright=shaiyaprivateserver.jpg]The PVP of Shaiya is easily the highlight of the game.[/imgright]

Mechanically speaking, the PVP of Shaiya is great, however, the game mechanics are let down by Shaiya’s item mall. Simply put, players can purchase items in the shop which will grant them bonuses in battle. And that’s where the slippery slope begins because it’s quite easy for players to simply buy their way to the top. It makes the PVP very fickle because when pitted against players who spent a lot of money, you’re not going to have a chance. Groups of non-paying players can go up against a single whale, and the whale will win. It is extremely unbalanced and quite frankly, ruins the game.

Item Malls can have a place in MMOs, but Shaiya's Item Mall makes them economy unbalanced and the PVP heavily P2W.

Final Verdict: Dead History

Alongside classics like Everquest and Runescape, Shaiya was the first MMO for many people. However, unlike other old-school MMOs, Shaiya does not hold up at all. The main reason for this? The game is dead. Very, very dead.

Shaiya forums are like graveyards. Look up Shaiya on YouTube, and the videos that come up are all years old. There’s no community for the official game at all anymore. Several years ago, Aeria released Shaiya Phoenix, similar to Old School Runescape, and most players shifted to Phoenix. That is until Phoenix was shut down upon which most veterans of the game left entirely for private servers. For years now, the most activity for Shaiya is in private servers, not the official one.

Shaiya Desire is one of the most popular Shaiya private servers.

The official Shaiya just isn’t a very good game. Many changes were made to the game that most of the player base didn’t like, such as the introduction of pets. The item shop does have tolerable things such as cosmetic outfits, but all the buffs and items that give in-game advantages are flat out unfair and too P2W for most people’s cases. The game model Shiaya employs is akin to something you’d see in a mobile game, not an MMO.

P2W heavy game models are never a good thing. This is especially the case for an MMO that is also dead. Why would anyone spend a lot of money on a game that’s dead?

Shaiya is like a chapter in the back of your social studies textbook that your teacher never gets around to covering in the semester. It’s history, but it’s history that you don’t really need to know about. Is it worth playing still? Sure. But I can only recommend private servers such as Shaiya Exile or Shaiya Inferno. As it stands, the official Shaiya is no longer worth playing.

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Graphics: full 3D
PvP: guild or factions PvE PvP
Cash shop influence: average
Exp rate: fast

Shaiya's standout feature at the time of release has been its' inclusion of an 'Ultimate Mode', where if your characters die, they are "permanently deleted".

What We Liked..

Classic RPG Style

Great PVP fighting mechanics

Armor and weapons still look cool

.. and what we didn't

Dated graphics & low res character models

Heavily P2W PVP

Unbalanced economy

Very low player base

Fun factor
4.0 out of 5
2.5 out of 5
4.0 out of 5
For Real Fans

Review summary

  1. Premise and Presentation: Classic and Dated
  2. Gameplay: Basic grindfest or Ultimate Grindfest
  3. PVP/PVW: Players Versus Wallets
  4. Final Verdict: Dead History

What we liked..

Classic RPG Style
Great PVP fighting mechanics
Armor and weapons still look cool

.. and what we didn't

Dated graphics & low res character models
Heavily P2W PVP
Unbalanced economy
Very low player base
Graphics - 80 / 100
Fun factor - 80 / 100
Longevity - 60 / 100
Originality - 80 / 100
Community - 50 / 100

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