Date: June 7, 2011
Over the past few days, I’ve downloaded Frogster Interactive’s Rune of Magic and have found time to spend a few hours finding out exactly what makes this one of the best Free-to-Play MMO’s out these days.
I’ve played till level 10, and I think I’m now starting to see what those 4 million players are seeing, in this little beauty.
Before we get into the game itself, one thing worthy of note is that during the otherwise pretty standard account creation process, you are required to set up two log-ins for access into game. I’m not entirely sure on it’s exact purpose, as any Trojans you may have on your system would likely pick up both of your passwords anyway, but it’s still a nice attempt at extra security whether its effective or not.
Once my account was created, I was ready to dive in and see what all the fuss was about…
So, starting from the beginning, lets look first at Character Creation.
Firstly, there are only two races you can play; Humans and Elves. Elves are slightly taller, pointy ears etc and Humans look… well human. Class-wise both races have a pretty similar set of choices; Plate Armour-clad warriors, mystical spell-slinging mages, nimble scouts and archers, nothing which would come as any great surprise for those that have played any rpg game of the past 20-30 years. In most cases both Humans and Elves can play the same classes, with the exception of Druids and Wardens (which only Elves can play) and Priests and Knights (which only Humans can play). I chose a Human Warrior, it seemed a pretty easy choice nothing like wading through seas of enemies with a large two-handed sword. (Nothing Freudian about that, I’m sure).
There are a number of options which enable you to personalise your characters looks a little more. Despite the lack of race options they more than made up for it by the amount of aesthetic options. Different faces, hairstyles, skin colours, as well as a whole bunch of slider bars that allow you to change the size of various parts of your character. (Yes for those female ‘toons’ there is also a slider bar for breast-size.)
So after jiggling with a few slider bars, my manga-esque male warrior with a purple Mohawk was ready to go.
Upon entering, I was given the option of playing through the Tutorial first. Something, I always feel compelled to do on any game, even ones I may have played many time. In this case, it being a new game and all, I figured it was probably a bit more relevant than normal. I learned how to move, and how to attack which weirdly enough relied on a series of buttons stationed on an action bar.
Graphically, everything looked well presented. The graphics aren’t going to blow you away, but they do get the job done. Everything has a familiar cartoon look about it, not too dissimilar from another certain MMO you may have heard of.
My first steps took me to a town where I picked up a few quests from people with yellow exclamation marks above their head, which turned to yellow question marks when completed, blue for daily quests (anything sound familiar?) These quests involving killing so many of something or looting enemies for a number of objects. I also managed to get myself some new gear, which is colour co-ordinated white for common items, green for uncommon, blue for rare etc. Through a series of quests, I was introduced to the gathering professions; Mining, Woodcutting and Herbalism, which pretty much explain themselves.
At this point, I wasn’t exactly chomping at the bit for more. In fact, apart from the severely reduced class and race options I could have been playing World of Warcraft albeit with slightly less intuitive controls and not quite as good graphics.
Although, by the time I reached level 10, I had started to experience just what’s so darn playable about Runes of Magic and what pushes it beyond the boundaries of ‘just another Fantasy MMO’.
My questing took me to a larger town where I started to work on my Armoursmithing, Blacksmithing, and disenchanting skills. I had been given my own house with a treasure chest in it and I grew a little plant all of my very own. There was also a whole host of new floating exclamation marks to investigate.
“Take two characters into an MMO? not me I just Dual-Class and play.”
The biggest change at level 10, is that you have the option of taking on a secondary class. I say option but only a fool wouldn’t take a secondary class. In essence, you are able to use this second class to further diversify your class. If you want your warrior to have healing capabilities set, have a priest as a secondary spec, your mage to have more skill in combat, mix them with a knight. You do not have access to all of the skills of your primary class, but with the ability to switch between primary, and secondary at will this isn’t really an issue in the bigger sense.
I have only just got to this point in the game so apologies if my description is a little vague, but I found a brilliant article fully explaining the dual-class system here on Mystic Worlds, which you should read. Some things may have changed since it was written but the fundaments are still there.
(I know Rift does a similar class-merging idea, but Runes of Magic was there first, all the way back in 2009.)
So, apart from your now quite bog-standard questing, crafting, guilds, dungeons etc. there’s more still out there waiting for me to fully get to grips with. Stuff such as
- Plants and Planting
- Personal housing
- Collectible card games (as in inside the game, you don’t have to actually purchase any actual cards)
- Treasure hunts
- Musical Instruments
And that doesn’t even touch the stuff I haven’t even found yet.
So, with my adventures only just beginning what did I actually think of the game so far?
Honestly, at first I was dubious about Runes of Magic. Anyone playing through the Tutorial and a few of the first levels would probably find themselves looking at a fairly bog-standard World of Warcraft clone with nothing to really to distinguish it, and probably making the £8 per month subscription fee for WoW seem like a better alternative, but you have to stick with it at least until level 10 and by then the bug is likely to have bitten.
By level 10, you would have begun to see everything that makes this game a contender for even some of the big-names pay-to-play games.
If you’re bored of Warcraft, or more importantly you don’t like paying for computer games. Runes of Magic is worth a try. I’ve only got to level 10 myself, but rest assured this is a game I can see many more of my free-hours disappearing on.
If you fancy a go yourself, you can download it for free from here…
- Runes of Magic Review (lisaakari.wordpress.com)