I’ve been feeling a bit of wanderlust in my gaming recently. The rush of gathering badges in heroics in WoW has passed since I’ve picked up my 8.5 chest and helm for both of my priest’s gear sets. Her only other major upgrades come from raids, so there’s not much “work” for me to do. I do have some alts tootling about, though they’re mostly out of rested xp. And, if I’m being honest, I think I’ve just spent too much time in game recently. Little things about my guildmates (who I adore!) have been getting under my skin. I think it’s just time for a breather. During my time in WoW, I have messed with a few other games, though never too seriously. That’s the plan for now, too. I’m going to try some new games and not worry so much about researching the character classes or working to setting up shop (socially or otherwise) and just have fun exploring.
My wanderings are also inspired in part by Van Hemlock‘s Operation Cheap Seats (spending time in free trials and free-to-play games) and the good folks over at MMO Voices. When I joined the site there, Runes of Magic was the current “Game of the Site” (that several folks are going to be trying at ones), so I decided to start with that one. (Looks like they’ve moved on to a different game now though.)
So, Runes of Magic. I’d heard a bit about this game from various blogs and podcasts, mostly mentioning that it was disturbingly similar to WoW. The better reviews said that questing was much the same, the interface was nearly identical, and that it was a pretty good free-to-play option for those that didn’t want to shell out the subscription fee for WoW. (Runes of Magic instead has RMT options for in-game items and bonuses of various kinds, though it’s optional.) The less positive reviews condemned the game for being too much like WoW or a poor imitation of it. WoW is the only MMO that I’ve played at any great length, so I knew I’d be making comparisons, as well. I promised myself I’d keep an open mind and not condemn it for its similarities to my main game.
I got the game downloaded, installed, and patched (a fairly lengthy process) and then was finally set to log in. To my surprise, the login screen offered an on-screen keyboard to type in your password. Woo! Extra security! That’s a pretty cool feature for those that put a lot of time and money into the game. When the WoW hackings were more common, I remember someone mentioning that as a possible solution, but Blizz went with authenticators instead. (I do have one, too.) Still, kind of cool to see that feature on a free game.
Character creation! My favorite! I flipped through all the faces and hairstyles for both the male and female characters. The only available race was human, which was sort of a bummer, but there was a decent variety of looks to choose from. The art style has an Asian influence, for sure, though there was a good range of cartoony-anime to more realistic looks. Most of the male faces looked really goofy to me (as they do in WoW, as well), but I usually go with female toons anyway. I made my first character a warrior. Here she is, getting ready to begin the tutorial:
And there you can see the UI, as well. I run about 100 addons in WoW to make my UI not look like this, so I was a little frustrated. I wanted to move the portraits, the action bars, the map, everything. It was better after I put the video on the proper resolution for my monitor size and scaled the UI to 70% of its natural size. (Turns out you can move the action bars, too — I figured this out later.)
I completed the tutorial, which essentially teaches you how to move around, jump, interact with NPC’s, and kill stuff. Afterward, I was given a bag of goodies to help get me started in the game which included some gear, as well as a horse that lasts for 24 hours (live time).
I rode around the Pioneers Colony (sic), the quest hub for the starting area, and picked up quests. They were all pretty standard. Kill ten of this, collect ten of that, go talk to so-and-so. Nothing new there. There was a nice surprise with crafting, however — seems you can learn as many professions as you like! You can only train some of them up to max level, but for someone with no aspirations of hitting any sort of level cap, this is the perfect thing.
Then, I ventured out to kill stuff. Although the names of the attacks were different, the warrior in RoM has the same rage mechanic as in WoW, it seems. I clobbered stuff and did quests until she hit level 4 or so. I really don’t enjoy melee all that much (just like in WoW), but I did get a good feel for how all the UI features worked as I dealt with my inventory, turned in the quests, and upgraded my gear. Turns out the default UI in RoM has incorporated some things that have only very recently been added in WoW or that we still rely on addons for. For example:
- Coordinates are available on the mini-map (not that I plan to look up quest locations, but it’s nice for those that want to).
- Built in gear management options that allow you to examine all items in your inventory slot-by-slot (hover over slot to see them) and the ability to save outfits (recently added by WoW, though I still use an addon).
- Notes that appear on mob mouseovers that let you know what quest they’re part of (WoW recently added this,).
- All mobs are tracked on the mini-map, and mousing over them on the mini-map will also give the quest info.
All of this makes it pretty easy; it’s intuitive if you’ve ever played an MMO. One feature that surprised me was if you click on the name of an NPC in the quest text, your toon walks (or rides) right to them. Wooooow. On the one hand, that makes it all seem a little too easy. On the other hand, it means not running around in circles for twenty minutes because the Argent squire you’re supposed to talk with is only two feet tall and wearing camouflage that causes him to blend in with the bench he’s standing on. It’s also a nice thing if you’re feeling lazy. This feature actually made the game feel a little bit more like FreeRealms, which lights up a little path exactly where you’re supposed to walk to do or turn in a quest. Sometimes I used this feature, sometimes I didn’t.
You can also train right on the spot after leveling. A little book appears on your screen and you spend points to upgrade your skills — pretty straightforward. You can also apparently level up more than one class on a single toon.
After the warrior, I decided to try a priest. I spent a little more time customizing her than I did my warrior.
Didn't realize I made her this busty until I cropped the shot just now.
The tutorial is worth redoing with each toon because it gives you a magical bag of stuff (including the 24h horse) and really, it only takes a couple minutes. I had turned off click-to-move, however, and that’s one of the first things it asks you to do. Bah. So, for every tutorial, I had to turn that back on briefly.
The priest was more fun for me than the warrior. It was kind of nifty to see the different casting animations:
The priest had both damage and healing spells, though healing myself seemed to be a bit of a pain since my portrait was all the way at the top of the screen. As someone spoiled by grid + clique, this wasn’t going to fly. I leveled her to four or five before deciding to check out the mage class.
I immediately liked the mage. She felt powerful, had cool casting animations, and had pretty hair! 😉 Here she is checking out the “creative” name of someone else in the starting zone:
I didn't ask if he had any tales to share.
Not that the NPC names were always better:
I got the mage to level 6 before I tore myself away to go back to one of the remaining melee classes, the rogue. Apparently, apprentice rogues don’t wear pants, but I’ll leave it to you to click on that link at your discretion. Again, melee. Nothing special, just faster stabbing than the warrior. She eventually found a tunic that covered her buns and was grateful to do so before crossing paths with the headmaster himself:
I then briefly played the scout class, which seemed to have both range and melee abilities. I mostly used my range abilities and kited the mobs around, but felt like a WoW hunter without a pet. It’s odd, too, how deeply I’ve been conditioned to think that hunter-y types should never ever melee (thanks, BRK), so I actually felt like I was playing badly if the mob caught up to me and I had to stab it. I recognize that a scout is not a hunter, but still… I decided to skip the knight class and do a little more exploring with the mage instead.
She finished up most of the quests in the starting area, including the daily gathering quests, which seem to be endlessly repeatable, as far as I could tell. She then wandered to Logar, the larger town in the center of the map, to see what was going on there. There were tons of player characters bustling among the NPC’s. I explored the whole town, picking up quests as I found them. And look what was at the edge of town:
Hurray! Outla... Oops, nevermind.
In town, I found all the usual vendor types, an auctioneer, and a few more crafting trainers to learn from. I also found someone looking to sell me a house! Ok, this is moderately exciting because I’ve never played a game with player housing. This isn’t something I’ve particularly cared much about, but I know that some folks love it, so I was eager to check it out. I shelled out the gold and went inside my empty house. Hm, not very exciting. So, I went back outside and bought a chair. It seemed like the thing to do.
Oh, and that’s my “housekeeper” to the left. Heh…I can’t even sit in the chair, so I suppose she’ll have to dust it to keep it clean.
I still haven’t figured out all the house settings and stuff… something about energy? I have no idea. But, like I said, I’m just messing around here. I’ve decided I’m not going to research it, I’m just going to follow my nose.
Surprisingly fun. My gameplay in WoW has become so goal-oriented that to just run around in circles and click on things actually felt like a vacation. While this game may not offer the humor and cleverness of WoW (at least not in the starting area), the gameplay was pretty smooth and not far from the standard WoW old world fare. I haven’t played with the crafting much, but I liked that I don’t have to lock myself into one or two choices. I’m intrigued by the dual class thing, too.
I didn’t mind the art style as much as I thought I might. The world feels very enclosed to me, however. In the starting area, I felt like I was on a sound stage instead of in a world — I can’t explain why. Everything looked too still, perhaps? I’ll pay more attention next time I log in. There is day and night (on a different schedule than our 24 hour one, it seems), but no weather that I noticed. I don’t remember seeing any small creatures running about or leaves blowing around. Details like that can breathe life into a zone.
One of the major hurdles I’ve had with other games (or even Alliance toons) in the past is that if my toon looks silly when they run, I can’t play for long. If their arms swing in a stupid way or their legs kick too much, forget it. After all, most of the time, that’s what we’re looking out — the back of our toons as they run. When I first saw my RoM warrior running toward the town, I thought, “Oh, great.” I scoffed. I rolled my eyes. But, it actually didn’t take me that long to get used to. This gives me hope that I can enjoy something other than watching my Horde toons running around.
Will I Keep Playing?
I’ll certainly keep looking in on this one from time to time. I still want to play around with the crafting stuff and give one of their dungeons a try to see how it compares. I’m curious about about the quality of the community, too, so I might try grouping up with folks after I get to a higher level. I’m not ready to delete this game quite yet. 🙂
The next MMO Voices game pick is Ikariam, so I’ll certainly check that out. I also downloaded The Chronicles of Spellborn after watching Beau’s video here. Nifty.
(And, if you were ever wondering what Ess stood for, now you know. 🙂 )