In between trying to make my own game this weekend (so far all I’ve accomplished is a lot of design work) I’ve given Runes Of Magic a spin and found it to be pretty darn good.
On first blush, you’d assume that Runes of Magic is just a bargain World of Warcraft: only one race, 6 classes (soon to be 8), better-but-not-as-stylized graphics, smaller world, and a free to play with micropayments payment model.
However, as I read up a bit about the game (the above video and a wiki) I discovered that Runes of Magic actually does quite a few things better than the Blizzard-made marvel.
Foremost among these features is the ability to dual class. You can specify one class as a primary skill and another class as a secondary skill. In addition to “class-specific” skills (which make up the bulk of each classes abilities) each class has a set of “general” skills which are usable while they are set to be the secondary class. Further, there are a “elite” skills which only are available to each specific primary/secondary combination.
Overall, the dual class system is robust enough that the 6-class system functions well enough as a 30 class system. However, unlike Final Fantasy XI’s job system (which allows you to level up as many jobs per character as you want) you can only pick two total classes per character and switch between which is acting as primary or secondary. To an extent, Runes of Magic makes up for this by providing better compatibility to any combination of classes (there are many job combinations in FFXI that just don’t work).
Other cool features Runes of Magic has includes:
- Crafting and housing are in and well supported. Many kinds of crafting, about on par with World of Warcraft in sophistication. Housing includes the ability to purchase furniture.
- The titular runes of magic, which can be applied to slots on gear to grant various skill boosts.
- When you put your cursor over a mob, you can see which (if any) active quests you need it for. (They also show up as an icon on the mini-map.)
- You can get a mount immediately rather than waiting for several levels to earn one. (First mount’s free for a day… after that, it’s a P2P item.)
Overall, a pretty solid offering for a free to play game that doesn’t just seek to beat World of Warcraft at its own game, but also inherits seamlessly some excellent features found in other games.
How the game stays afloat
You never really have to purchase anything to play this game but, if you decide to do so, the “diamonds” go along the range of 100 diamonds for $5 to 3000 diamonds for $100.
A permanent mount runs about 395 diamonds while a 7-day-rental can be accommodated for 30 diamonds. Other things available in the item shop are color customization (body, clothing, mount) consumables (potions, transport runes, equipment enhancement) furniture (for houses) and so on.
Fairly standard micropayment stuff, but surprisingly you can actually purchase some of these things by questing (albeit it takes a lot of questing to earn the good stuff).
Good… but perhaps not good enough for a burnout
To an extent, I’ve put MMORPGs behind me. I just can’t seem to enjoy them anymore – my rampant alt-a-holicism crops up because I no longer see the point to virtual accumlation. However, if I still did like these sort of games, and I was in the mood for a game like World of Warcraft, I think it’s a fair bet that Runes of Magic would be my choice. Outside of that (very specific) definition, I think I would prefer a more challenging game like Cabal Online or Dragonica.
One thing that would make me happy would be discovering that Champions Online or Fallen Earth were F2P. Part of the reason for this is purely selfish: I’m flat broke. Work has never been easy to find for the student fresh out of college, but this recession is making things even worse than usual. However, I really suspect that with such fine F2P games on the market, the whole “$50 box + 15/mo subscription” model may be sorely outmoded. With games like Free Realms and Dungeons and Dragons Online making the switch, perhaps it’s only a matter of time until we see all MMORPGs go this route.