‘Triad Wars’ Preview | Sleeping Potential

Let’s all be honest for a moment: when you had first seen Triad Wars, you had thought it’s simply the missing multiplayer component of Sleeping Dogs; a way to cash-in on Square Enix’s decision to save the True Crime franchise (although the publisher didn’t purchase the actual intellectual property, opting instead to create a new one; hence, Sleeping Dogs), instead of working on a sequel. By the way, developer United Front Games and Square: people are still waiting for that tantalizing “Sleeping Dogs 2.” While I’ve only experienced a few hours of the game’s closed beta (there’s not much to do, at the moment), I’m pleased to tell you Triad Wars has a lot of potential.

First and foremost: Triad Wars doesn’t feature a drama story about an undercover cop who gets back to Hong Kong to take down its notorious criminal gangs. In fact, being focused entirely on the multiplayer aspect, it barely has any kind of narrative. The whole idea behind Triad Wars is for players to align themselves with one of Hong Kong’s three factions, and work their way up the proverbial criminal ladder, up until they reach the status of kingpin. Sure, there are a few conversations here and there, in the beginning, but those are mostly to get you up-to-speed on all of the gameplay elements.

The first major change going from Sleeping Dogs to Triad Wars is the fact that, in this multiplayer-only title, each player is now in charge of their own compound. This base of sorts is composed of several rackets, which are basically criminal businesses meant to constantly shower you with money. There are three types of rackets: extortion, counterfeiting, and gambling. Just like in a traditional massive multiplayer online title, each racket features a cool-down, after which a specific amount of money can be collected. It’s important to note that forgetting to collect said cash means it’ll be distributed into your warehouse, with the possibility of other players to steal it. Of course, the warehouse can also be upgraded, once the big piles of cash start coming in. You can also get new members for your clan. These thugs protect your turf and speed up the production.

In the current state of the closed beta, there’s really only one type of mission: raiding other players’ rackets. Sure, you can earn more time for raiding one such base by hitting operational sites (i.e. doing side-missions like beating up or catching other thugs). More time equals more money and more items (which you can even trade for more money). Still, I find these secondary objectives kind of useless, since the default time for each racket is more than enough for anyone to successfully tear it apart. Of course, after raiding a base, a cool-down takes over said location, preventing you from being able to raid someone else. That is if you wouldn’t prefer to spend some real-life cash for all cool-downs to disappear. Sneaky, sneaky, United Front. Thankfully, the current map features about half a dozen such bases, and I’m sure the full one will include way more types of missions, so you won’t really have to pay for raiding someone.

Successfully raiding someone’s turf offers you reputation points, which are basically the game’s way of tracking your criminal progress. The more reputation points you get, the closer you are to being the most bad-ass criminal in Hong Kong. Naturally, failing to raid one such base, either by getting killed or by getting arrested by the cops, lowers your reputation points.

Triad Wars also includes the much-appreciated daily quests, which keep things relatively fresh. What’s special about them is the fact that their completion brings-in another type of cash (gold, to be more precise), with which players can purchase guns, clothing, vehicles, favors, and even totally new faces. The customizing options are robust enough to not feel like an afterthought. As I had mentioned above, there aren’t exactly a lot of things to do, so these daily quests mostly include raiding others, purchasing clothes, or doing some mere side-quests.

Now, let’s talk about those favor cards, which are supposed to be the “bread and butter” of Triad Wars‘ micro-transactions. Favor cards reward you with different bonuses, these including cars, melee weapons, and even guns. On the other hand, it seems like most favors are limited in time. Some offer you an increased by 25% health for 30 minutes, while others include dealing more damage, also for a limited time. You can, of course, activate these limited cards whenever you want. Additionally, there are different kinds of packs of cards. One of them upgrades your character’s defense, another his/her offense, while another is all about production and counterfeiting, which includes bonuses to your turf, such as offering a 30% discount on your next upgrade. You can even trade favors for cash. Of course, rarer favors are worth more.

What’s an MMO without upgrading your character, right? Defeating other thugs or completing objectives rewards you with the usual experience points, which can be used to upgrade everything from your health to dealing more damage or unlocking new skills like tackling others. It’s important to note that one can also invest said points into their crew, so raiding players will have a harder time stealing from you. It’s a welcomed balance. Of course, while weapons come-in almost from the get-go (something quite different from Sleeping Dogs), the main gameplay element still resides in the brutal combat we’ve come to expect from Sleeping Dogs‘ developer. Drilling heads or smashing them through TV’s never gets old.

Triad Wars is built on Sleeping Dogs‘ engine, although it doesn’t look quite as good. This is probably so more players can join the fun. Think Assassin’s Creed Rogue and Black Flag, and you’d get the perfect comparison. Additionally, the driving mechanics are still annoying. I didn’t like them in Sleeping Dogs, and I sure don’t like them here. They feel way to loose.

While it’s not “Sleeping Dogs 2,” Triad Wars has pleasantly surprised me. The combat is satisfying, and the potential of upgrading and customizing your turf into a full-blown empire while raiding others is certainly there. As it stands, Triad Wars is lacking in content, but, after all, it’s still a closed beta. A few tweaks to the driving mechanics would also help the overall enjoyment.