Runes of Magic Review: Most Solid Among MMORPGs
By Joshua Temblett (Dontkillmydreams), OnRPG Journalist
As a gamer, familiarity is something that you’ll either love or horribly despise; this particularly applies to MMORPGs. How you feel about the genre and its lack of evolution throughout the years will deeply impact your perception of Runes of Magic (RoM), and whether or not the entertainment it provides is something you’ll actively seek or run away from. Finding out if this MMO game is for you, unfortunately, will require you to go through a lot of hoops. Is it worth it?
Getting Into The Game
The registration process on the official Runes of Magic website is quick and easy, but the downloading process can be a long one. If you have an internet speed which is as quick as an Olympic runner this won’t apply so much, but if you lack a fast connection then just be warned that it will take a long time to actually be able to play the game. It took nearly all day for me to download the client and to then install the patches. Of course patience is the key, however just be aware that it may be a while before you can jump into the world of Taborea and experience its riches.
After you’ve logged into the game and begin to create your own character, you’ll be welcomed by a huge array of customisation options. You’ll be able to adjust a lot of features whilst creating your character, most remarkably you’ll be able to change the size of your character’s breasts. Hopefully I don’t have to elaborate any further about how great the character creator is.
Before we dive into the gameplay, let’s take just a moment to talk about the visual approach the developers (Runewalker) have taken to Runes of Magic (obviously they like runes a lot). The game has been somewhat criticised for looking a lot like World of Warcraft. Whilst the look may put some off, the developers have really done a great job by making the world look beautifully appealing.
Although shadows are pixelated and character animations are horrible and un-synced, the game pulls off a cartoony visual style that really suits the world the developers are trying to create and portray. The game’s architecture looks particularly stunning as it takes on an medieval/renaissance/fantasy look, which is very visually appealing. The visuals certainly make up for many of Runes of Magic’s technical flaws. The landscapes you’ll explore will look barren and generic for a fantasy game; however the truly beautiful cities are something to be admired.
You’ve Got A Friend In Me
Runes of Magic is surrounded by controversy, much to do with the running of the game by the admins and because it looks like World of Warcraft. Despite these issues more than two million people have created an account and played this game. This shows in the forums and in game as you will see plenty of people running around, leveling up and chatting to each other. A strong community builds a solid foundation for any MMO.
As with any online game as it can be hard to become accepted within the community and truly enjoy the experience. Runes of Magic doesn’t break this formula, but once you take the plunge, you’ll never regret it.
How Does It Play?
Once you get into the game you’ll encounter a load of similarities with many other MMORPGs, which gives it a high level of familiarity and ease to get into. Everything is where you would expect it to be. Whether or not this is a good thing is completely dependent on your tastes, for you see as soon as you enter Runes of Magic you’ll either cringe in disgust or happily clap your hands.
Allow me to explain. If you’ve played a modern MMORPG then you’ve played Runes of Magic. Perhaps I’m not giving the game enough merit and just classifying it as an unoriginal, uninspiring piece of interactive entertainment, when really that’s not the case. You see, what the developers have done is taken ideas and features from other MMORPGs, most of them Pay to Play, and have skilfully implemented them into Runes of Magic. This means you’ve got a game that can easily outdo other games in the Free to Play market, whilst at the same time being slightly better than some of the P2P titles available.
Runes of Magic Class Change Options
Features such as houses and class changes (to your secondary class) make an appearance in Runes of Magic, all of which work very well and are all designed to accommodate your hopefully long stay in the game’s universe. Of course, you can put a whole bounty of features in a MMORPG, however if the gameplay is somewhat lacking then surely that eradicates the purpose of such things. Unfortunately, this is where Runes of Magic slightly slips up.
Before I go any further into the matter, I just want to say that if you’re looking for a solid MMORPG experience, then Runes of Magic will suit your taste. The WASD controls work perfectly and the battle system is substantial (if not generic) and enables you to quickly and efficiently deal with any monster that you come across. You promptly gain new skills, although some of them do feel slightly worthless or similar to others, which will always give you an incentive to level up. The skill bar is adeptly positioned, at the bottom of the screen, to suit your array of spells and the HUD is nice and clean.
The problem is that whilst the gameplay is concrete, the design simply doesn’t support it and emphasises its lack of evolution as you progress through the game. What this essentially amounts to is a long grind that may completely discourage you from the game after the first few levels. In fact after roughly the seventh or eighth level you’ll suddenly encounter a lack of experience points from quests and monsters that may completely put you off. Again, this fits in the general MMORPG class, but I was hoping for more.
To put it simply, leveling in Runes of Magic is a routine. You’ll pick up the quests from a town, or a camp or wherever else there’s congregation of NPCs, go out into the map, kill monsters, talk to another NPC or fetch some sort of item. You’ll then return to said town, trade in your quests and gain a minimal amount of experience points. What really doesn’t help is that even though you’ll only spend about an hour or so completing the quests, it’ll feel like you’ve been doing the same monotonous chore for hours.
That’s what the quests are: they’re chores, and the lack of variety in them doesn’t really help. So whilst you’ve got a solid game that plays well, it’s designed in such a way to only offer you a time sink. For people looking to also kill some time in a good looking environment, that could work. You’ll spend ten levels in one map, doing the same old quests and fighting the same old monsters, then after you’ve hit the appropriate level, you’ll move on to another map and so forth. Runes of Magic’s cash shop items don’t really do anything to alleviate the grind. Whilst the offerings in the cash shop are quite cool, you can buy mounts, pets, items for your house, whether you’ll find yourself truly invested in the game to want to buy them is another question entirely. So they haven’t allowed the cash shop items to unbalance the game, but some questing or leveling options might have been nice.
I personally could not deal with this constant cycle as the motivation Runes of Magic provided wasn’t enough for me to continue struggling through the flawed game design. However, it may well be a completely different experience for you. Next to that, the higher levels offer new content as well. If you and your friends are looking for a solid game to play, then really you couldn’t go wrong with this one as having some companions along will definitely increase the fun factor.
Fun is in the challenges you face together
To summarise, if you’re looking for something unique then Runes of Magic won’t appeal to you. If you’re looking for an appealing, generic MMORPG, then you need not look any further. It completely depends on what you’re looking for in your online fix. If you’re wondering about trying it, in my honest opinion, you should download it (unless you deeply hate the familiar) as you’ll quickly find out whether or not it’s your cup of tea.
– Solid gameplay
– Beautiful cities
– Large community.
– Technically inferior graphics
– Game Design.