By Gabriele Giorgi, Onrpg writer
Taborea, a realm filled with magic, is looking for heroes. Although this world has a long history, adventurers have begun to appear only a couple of months ago when Frogster opened his servers for the Open Beta of Runes of Magic. The game is due to be released in March, and all the players taking part in the Beta will retain their character at launch, giving them a considerable head start. But lets have a look at the features (some of them quite innovative) of this new Free to Play MMORPG.
One character, two classes
Probably the most important feature introduced by RoM is the dual-class system. This is not something completely new for MMORPGs (think about Guild Wars), but here its quite peculiar.
Every character starts with one of the six available classes (knight, warrior, scout, rogue, priest, wizard all pretty standard and self-explanatory) and, as soon as he reaches level 10, you can choose another one. From that moment on, you will be able to set one of them as primary and the other as secondary but this is not something to be taken lightly. The primary class determines what armour you can wear and what weapons you can wield, and some skills can only be used if a class is set to primary. Last but not least, the level of the secondary class cannot exceed the level of the primary. As a result, when youve just acquired your new class and you switch, for example, from a knight 10/wizard 1 clad in full plate mail, you will find you are now a meagre wizard1/knight1, with just a few hit points and practically naked, since your new primary class cannot wear that kind of armour and, on the character screen, it will be highlighted in red.
Of course the developers thought about this little problem and, as soon as youve obtained your second class, you will be given a convenient teleport skill allowing you to go back to the low-level areas in but a click. There a whole new set of quests will appear, helping you to level up your character once again, in order to put him up to date with the previous class.
Leveling to 10/10 takes around four hours of gameplay. If you are not satisfied with your combination, you have to start anew with and try a different character. Indeed the drawback of this system is that you cannot change a class once youve chosen it. On the other hand, youve got 36 possible combinations (including solo characters and the fact that, for example, a warrior/rogue is not the same as a rogue/warrior).
Take me home
If you feel ready to explore Taborea, just speak with the various NPCs in the starting area and beyond. The first quests will explain all the major features of the game, like the dual-class system, crafting, housing, PvP and so on. The real missions will involve killing mobs, gathering certain items, exploring sites and finding people. Some particularly dangerous tasks and mobs will require, of course, to team up with other players. On the other hand there are some quests where all you have to do is literally just cross the road. Anyway in the quest log all the important information are highlighted andthere you will also find the option to set a way-point or auto-move toward a certain NPC, much like it happens with the map.
In fact, the world map will be a very useful tool. Not only it shows you all the available quest givers in the region, but you can also click on the marker of one of them (or any other spot, for that matter), select the option move to and your character will go there on his own. Of course you need to watch out if you are crossing dangerous areas, and the scrolling might not be very smooth when the character changes direction, but all in all you will not bother to keep an eye on the screen all the time while you are just delivering a quest. The radar map in the game interface also helps you track the mobs needed for your current quests.
Speaking of the environment, the maps are nicely drawn, but the graphics in the game are quite big and made of polygons, with a style somewhere in between WoW and manga. Visually the game resembles a sort of fairytale, at a cost of looking a bit naïve as well.
Its a kind of magic
Runes of Magic would not be true to its name without some mechanics involving this kind of magic. From enchanter NPCs you can acquire power stones, and mobs will drop different runestones. One of the game feature, the arcane transmutor, will help you make the most out of them. You can convert power stones in mana stones and, once you are satisfied with them, you can merge them with your items. You can also combine runes to create different kinds or more powerful ones: many items have one or more slot where you can place the runes, bestowing them even more powers. Much like the Horadrim cube of good old Diablo 2, this is a feature left to the player to peruse and investigate. The only problem is that the transmutor has limited charges, and you will need to replenish them with diamonds or tokens (see below).
Combined with a sound crafting system, this gives you plenty of opportunities to customise all of your gear, armour, weapons and trinkets alike.
Another interesting magic system is the transporter: you will use ink to write down a location in your book to teleport there with a recall rune at a later time. Since there are 49 available slots, this gives plenty of possibilities for quick traveling.
Diamonds are a players best friends
We mentioned that RoM is a Free to Play MMORPG and you can play it with no restrictions whatsoever. On the other hand, of course, many optional features will require diamonds, a currency you can buy on the Runes of Magic official website for real money.
For instance, the inventory space is quite limited, but you can rent additional slots with diamonds. In game terms this means you will be able to carry more items and loot when you are out adventuring, and you wont need to go back to town so frequently to empty your pack. But this is just an example: the item shop is full of objects that will help you level up, advance your crafting skills, recharge your transmutor, move faster (mounts) even look better, since you will need to spend a small amount of diamonds to change the colour of your outfit.
The item shop accepts also another form of currency called Bierdine tokens: this money can be acquired through daily quests (maximum 10 per day for a total of 100 tokens). Only some of the items in the item shop can be bought with Bierdine tokens, but they involve some of the key elements of the game like arcane transmutor charges or the marking ink and runes to use the transporter.
So its important to notice that the game is entirely playable without any real money. If and how much to spend it will be completely up to you.
Runes of Magic is going to provide a fun game with the usual features of most MMORPGs plus some nice innovative additions. It will be a Free to Play game, and you can choose whether to spend or not any money to take advantage of the various additional features. Since it is now in Open Beta and the characters created during this phase will remain after the official launch, this is a perfect time to try it out and even get a head start.
- Dual class system allows a great deal of customisation and replayability
- Crafting and runes will help you create your own special equipment
- Useful map with auto-movement and trackers
- Once chosen, none of your two classes can be changed
- Graphics noticeably made with polygons and a bit childish
- Some of the delivery quests are really menial