Runes of Magic, the free-2-play fantasy MMORPG from Frogster Interactive launched recently with 700,000 registered accounts and our very own Ryan Plas sat down to review the game.
The first time that you log into Frogster Interactive’s Runes of Magic, you’re probably going to scoff and say “Hey, I’ve seen this before!” You’re probably going to spend the first hour or two telling yourself how it’s just a rip off of the 8,000 pound gorilla. But do yourself a favor and keep on truckin’, because once you do, you are going to find one of the best Free2Play titles on the market today. And in my opinion, one of the better titles on the market today, period. I promise that if you give Runes of Magic a chance, that you will be not only pleasantly surprised, but genuinely hooked.
Runes of Magic has just about everything you could want in an MMO title. Housing, a dual class system, daily quests, instances and dungeons, you name it. And on top of that, the absolute best go to market strategy in their item shop than I have ever seen in a Free2Play titles. And I want to focus on that and get it out of the way, because one of the biggest barriers around to the Free2Play genre are their cash shops. And while yes, Runes of Magic does have the requisite cash shop, not shopping there isn’t going to put you at a huge disadvantage compared to those that do. The reason for that? Because even if you don’t spend a dime in real life cash on diamonds for the shop, you can still earn them in game. Runes of Magic Auction House system is set up so that you can still earn diamonds in game without spending your hard earned cash in this resecession-tastic time. You can put items up to sell that you find in game for either in game gold, or diamonds that you can use on cash shop items, as well as purchase in game items with said diamonds, right through the auction house. And they even instituted a way to add legal in game gold purchasing. Because on top of selling items for diamonds, you can straight up trade in game gold for diamonds, right through the auction house.
It is an ingenious way to monetize the title for the developers, while not creating a huge disadvantage for players not willing to shell out real life dollars. It’s the most down to earth and sensible way to run a cash shop I have ever seen, and I hope that other developers in the Free2Play genre take some ideas from it and implement it in their titles, so that we can see the Free2Play subgenre dig it self out of the black hole that accompanies the name “cash shop” and get some more recognition.
Now that that is out of the way, on to how it plays…
Runes of magic functions like just about every MMO out there. You do quests, beat up monsters and gain levels. At character creation, you chose from your basic appearance and pick your first class. One disappointing thing is that at this time, there is only one character race to chose from, and that is Humans. As you level up and reach level 10, you go to one of the main cities and earn the right to do another of one my favorite features of RoM, you get to chose your second class. And depending on what you chose can really change how the game will play for you. As you are leveling up, you earn both regular XP and TP. TP is what is used to increases your different skills effectiveness. All classes have both Primary and Secondary skills to chose from. Primary skills are only available to you when you are playing that class as a primary, your secondary skills are what are available when you are playing that class as your secondary class. For instance, at low levels priests get 3 basic healing spells, Urgent Heal, Heal and Regenerate. Urgent heal is a faster low HP spell, Regenerate heals you for a set amount of damage every 2 seconds and Heal is a longer cast, bigger HP return spell. But heal is only available with priest as a primary.
And with a limited amount of TP, you really have to pick and chose which skills you want to invest in to get the most out of your classes abilities. On top that, at levels 15/15, 20/20, 25/25, and 30/30, you can turn in some items to get an Elite skill that is going to differentiate with each class/class combination further adding to the customization and difference between secondary classes. I played a Priest/Warrior and for example at level 15/15, as priest warrior you get an elite skill that is a buff that adds attack and defense while reducing the amount of HP you get from heals while it is up, called Battle Monk Stance. But as a Warrior/Priest, you would get a party buff. I think it’s a great system that works very well with the play system.
As you level and defeat monsters, finish quests and run dungeons, you will of course get new gear. And there are a few ways to upgrade your gear once you have them. Monsters drop runes that you can add to socketed items, and you can always purchase items that will add +1 to your weapons and armor, possibly adding some cool particle effects.
You can also take items you get and create orbs that can them be combined and added to any item that will add increased stats. The system can be costly, and you can always spend RL cash for diamonds to help with it, but I found the system to be fairly complex for an F2P MMO, if not a little daunting and confusing at times.
Graphics are your run of the mill fantasy look, and the music is actually very good, when and if its playing. It seems that a lot of time, you just don’t hear it. One of my biggest gripes about most F2P titles is the lack of different item graphics.
Alot of times you just end up looking like the guy standing next to you, only with a +1 next to your armor in your inspect box. RoM though has a ton of different item graphics, and while I don’t think a lot of you will care all that much, it gets extra marks in my book.
All in all, I really enjoyed my time in RoM and have been recomending to anyone I know who is short on cash in this global economy. It might not totally replace World of Warcraft for you, but it certainly is a great title that is well worth the time downloading! You can check out the offical site here, but if you really want to DL the client, I would suggest using Fileplanet.
Review Score: 4/5