We may earn a commission when you buy through links in our articles. Learn more.

Throne and Liberty makes boring MMO systems fun, but it’s not enough

As Amazon Games continues to expand its roster of MMORPGs, Throne and Liberty may be its best yet, but it’s lacking a little something.

A black woman wearing a golden circlet, with golden armor, a green cape, and a quiver on her back looks into the camera

It’s no secret that I’ve played far too many MMORPGs. From World of Warcraft to Final Fantasy 14, Lost Ark to Guild Wars 2 – if there’s a high fantasy world boasting boundless exploration and PvE combat, I’m there. As my Summer Game Fest schedule began to fill up, Amazon Games and Ncsoft’s Throne and Liberty was the game that rounded out an exhausting second day in the LA sun, thankfully slowing things down after high-octane shooters like Marvel Rivals. It was one I’d been looking forward to, and while it didn’t entirely disappoint, it didn’t quite win me over, either. 

For those who haven’t followed Throne and Liberty, the upcoming MMO has had a rather turbulent run. Having been sent back to the drawing board a few times, it was picked up by Amazon in February, 2023, and released in November in Korea. We’ve seen a couple of Western beta tests since then, but I’ve never quite been able to allocate the time to try it out for myself. Enter Summer Game Fest, and my first experience of the fantastical world of Solisium.

YouTube Thumbnail

I’m thrust into the guise of a ranged DPS spellcaster wearing a Merlin-esque blue robe. One of the developers shows me the ropes, highlighting the game’s unique grapple technique, which he warns will come in handy later down the line. I yeet my hook at a wall and use the momentum to project myself up into the air, giving me an excellent view of my sprawling surroundings. Thankfully, you don’t just fall to the earth and faceplant post-grapple; you transform into a bird and glide gracefully to the ground.

Throne and Liberty is getting rid of the conventional mount system, you see. To borrow globalization design manager Daniel Lafuente’s words from our Summer Game Fest interview, “you transform into the animal;” you are, in fact, the mount. I give it a go on the ground and morph into a blue, spectral tiger-like creature, zipping around the starting zone and feeling pretty damn cool.

But this feature isn’t just aesthetic. When we enter the demo’s dungeon (the aptly named ‘Temple of Roar’) to take on the mighty King Chimaerus, several areas are flooded. In order to cross them, you make use of your grapple hook and bird form, adding an extra layer to your exploration. It’s a unique new system that makes Throne and Liberty stand out from its competitors – after all, you oftentimes can’t even mount in MMORPG instances, never mind use your companion for exploration. Morphing is seamless, flashy, and actually useful, and it was easily my favorite part of the demo.

Throne and Liberty makes boring MMO systems fun, but it's not enough: Three birds, one blue, one black and red, and one white, fly over a forested mountain chasm

Throne and Liberty’s wider dungeon experience was just as impressive as the morphing. Before we take on Chimaerus, one of Temple of Roar’s many mini-bosses can set you on fire during your encounter. You can, however, douse the flames using the pool of water that you flew over before, which is a fun little way of dealing with what could be a really pesky, overdone DoT mechanic. Plus, you turn into a turtle – what’s not to love?

Chimaerus himself also has his fair share of tricks. In order to defeat him, you have to simultaneously drop several gallons of mysterious liquid on his head at the right moment. The catch, however, is that four players have to do this simultaneously using the grapple hook, all while he attempts to rip you limb from limb. My merry band of misfits wiped during our first encounter because, while we all managed to drop our watery deluge on him, we forgot that you need to glide after grappling or you’ll take massive fall damage. It’s a lot to remember, and a lot of coordination, but a good MMORPG boss fight should make you think.

Throne and Liberty makes boring MMO systems fun, but it's not enough: A huge lion monster rushes towards an armored player shooting a crossbow in a huge metal arena

And yet, I emerged from my demo feeling a little underwhelmed. While Throne and Liberty is mechanically sound and, in many ways, quite innovative, I felt like it lacked a little bit of soul. Where Azeroth is unmistakably Azeroth with its feuding factions, and Eorzea is unmistakably Eorzea with Square Enix’s gorgeous JRPG stylings, Solisium feels like it’s just another fantasy game.

I will say that the demo was fairly railroaded, and there wasn’t a lot of time for exploration, so perhaps if I’d ventured beyond the boundaries of our starting city I’d be singing a different tune. Additionally, given it was just our dungeon crew and the devs, the ‘massive’ part of ‘MMORPG’ was certainly missing, but that’s obviously not going to be the case at launch.

If you’re excited by what you’ve heard so far, though, Throne and Liberty’s next beta will run from Thursday, July 18 to Tuesday, July 23, and is open to all players. The Throne and Liberty release date is also set for Tuesday, September 17, so make sure you give the beta a go before you dive in.

Throne and Liberty makes boring MMO systems fun, but it's not enough: A woman with long brown hair in a braid wearing a magician's blue coat casts a spell with a wand as a huge stone golem rushes towards her

All in all, Throne and Liberty feels like a slightly different take on MMORPGs, breathing a bit of life into some of the genre’s most frustrating and overused mechanics. As someone who has plowed countless hours into Lost Ark and New World, I’m always excited to see what Amazon’s cooking up, even if I’m not totally convinced by this one just yet.

With the WoW The War Within release date looming and FF14 Dawntrail on the horizon, Throne and Liberty has some stiff competition, but I remain hopeful that it may have just enough of a spark to rise to the occasion.