In addition to playing Wizard 101, I’ve also been playing Runes of Magic. Saylah’s been talking about it a lot over at Mystic Worlds, and I think I like it better than Perfect World, which I was playing a couple weeks ago.
It’s difficult to know why some MMO’s click more than others. “The graphics” might be too simplistic; it could be the overall art style, the avatars, the landscape, how your avatar moves in the environment, or combat animations. Maybe you don’t like the race choices, or the classe choices, or RMT, or PvP. Maybe you want crafting, but the crafting is absent, or too simple, or too complex. The community of people you encounter has an effect on your experience…not enough people can be as bad as too many people, and it only takes a few jerks to really ruin an experience no matter how many people are online. Maybe there’s gold spam, maybe there are bugs in the game, maybe it’s too easy to level, or too tough to level. Maybe the only good zones are the starting zones, and you can see the decline in contant quality as soon as you venture into the middle levels of the game.
In short, “Game A is better than Game B” is highly subjective, unless Game A is WoW and Game B is Dark and Light.
With that sort of preface/disclaimer, I’ll dive into Runes of Magic. Like most free-to-play MMO’s, there’s plenty to dislike if you’re looking for a polished, Western-style, triple-A MMO. If you’re bored with current Western MMO’s, though, and you’re a curious MMO player, here’s what you might find in Runes of Magic.
The first thing I thought was “Holy hell, I’ll never be able to stand these character models.” You can only have a human, and the hairstyles and colors are pretty horrific. Once I got into the game, though, I stopped noticing the character model pretty quickly.
The second thing I noticed was the horrific translation. There’s a note up about it, saying that they’re still in beta, and they’ll be improving the translations…and god, it needs it :) I’m usually willing to overlook that, though. I want a global games market; I want to see what gets created in other cultures, and I’m willing to live with poor translations in a beta, especially if they’re going to address it.
The tutorial is probably too basic for experienced MMO players, but it’s a good way to get some quick levels and some basic tradeskill training out of the way. The leveling is experience-based, but you allocate skill points to your character, and I’m enjoying that. It’s a Diablo-style skill tree, pretty simple in the early levels, but I’m looking forward to some of the multi-classing options I saw Saylah discussing on her site.
The tradeskills look interesting to me. I’m a tradeskill nut, so if you usually eschew crafting, I don’t think there’s anything here that will suck you in. If you do like crafting, though, you might enjoy clicking around and seeing what you can make. It’s fairly grindy, both gathering and creating, but I’m enjoying it so far. There’s more variety than what I found in WoW or WAR.
I’m finishing up the starter town (the town after the tutorial area), with a quest pointing me toward my class trainer in the second town. I can’t gather the second-tier wood, stone, and herbs yet, so I’m sticking around the starter town a little longer, until my tradeskills improve. I don’t want to fall off the tradeskill leveling curve.
Combat is simple, and I feel pretty overpowered initially. That’s OK with me, especially in the starter areas. There’s plenty of time for combat to get more complex.
I get a house and storage, and there will be RMT options to increase both my carried inventory and my house inventory. I’m not spending anything in a beta (I don’t even know if the shops are open yet), but for a reasonable price, I’d be tempted to spring for more space. It’s a good place to ask players for a couple bucks :)
I find myself coming back to Runes more than Perfect World, but we’ll see how it goes over a couple weeks. I lost the quest thread in PW, and I can’t find a level-appropriate place that still gives quests. I could look up where I should be leveling in PW, but I’m finding that I like Runes better at the moment. If Runes turns me off at some point, I’ll give Perfect World another look. That’s the nice feature of free-to-play MMO’s; my character will be waiting for me when I come back, without needing to re-subscribe.