My love affair with Rune-Midgard started more than a decade ago, when I first spotted Lee Myung-jin’s Ragnarok manhwa on the shelves of a corner bookstore. There were scant few high fantasy titles back then, and the instant I turned the pages, I was hooked.
Little wonder then, that when Gravity announced Ragnarok Online (RO) in 2003, I scrambled to roll a character on the International (iRO) server and later the free-to-play Anime Connection (ACRO) server.
The game remained one of my little indulgences, and on those cold, dreary nights when the World of Warcraft servers were under maintenance, I’d steal away from Azeroth to Rune-Midgard, to relive my adventures as Gale Vandal, a High Wizard with a penchant for lightning magic.
When I first got wind that Asiasoft‘s next big thing at Licence2Play was gonna be “Ragnarok Online 2: Legend of the Second“, I was elated. I’d been following the game’s progress since it’s Korean Beta in March, and there were many good things to be said about the gameplay, the look, feel and mechanics.
Of course, nothing beats getting a go at the real thing, and here’s our take!
RO2 takes place some years after the incidents of the manhwa (if you’ve read it, you’ll know what I mean), with the defeat of the goddess Freyja by Chaos, the mortal incarnation of the god Baldr. Predictably, the peace does not last, and you, as a novice adventurer, are sucked into a conspiracy of epic proportions involving Freyjan cultists, kooky monsters, and BBEGs that have only been hinted at in the opening vid.
Character creation was a breeze.
It was pretty much no frills, and unlike most other free-to-play Korean MMOs out there *coughcoughdragonnestcoughcough* with gender-locked classes, RO2 pretty much gives you free reign in your approach.
Putting together my latest online incarnation was as easy as hitting the gender, which defines your base model, selecting a class (called a job in RO), and a profession (part of the new Dual Life system, which I’ll talk about later). This was followed by some cosmetic tweaks like hair and facial styles, colors and the voice pack, and I was good to go.
RO2’s biggest draw has got to be it’s nostalgia value. It preserves much of the cutesy art direction of it’s predecessor, and the minute you zone into the starter quest hub, you’ll see some familiar faces.
I was secretly rubbing my hands in delight when I spotted my first poring, and laughing in glee as I laid waste to said poring with bolts of fire and ice and zap-happy lightning.
Those porings come in several varieties now, but just like in the original, they explode with a gooey and satisfying ‘pop’. Frips, Lunatics and Fabres also make an appearance early on, together with their higher tiered counterparts. What’s more, most monsters you meet can be scavenged for ‘parts’, which go a long way towards leveling up your Profession.
RO2’s Profession system lets you craft a variety of helpful goods and items with these ‘parts’, and whether you’re an alchemist, artisan, blacksmith or chef, you’ll discover that you’ve got a great many recipes for items that will help you along in your journey.
Later on, you’ll also discover that your profession lets you tap on a powerful ‘guardian’ buff and use several unique abilities by completing a quest and hitting ‘V’ button when your gauge is full.
RO2’s gameplay borrows heavily from other MMOs in the market, and bears a striking similarity to World of Warcraft, which wasn’t a bad thing for a hardcore WOW player like me. It actually made the game feel incredibly familiar (kinda like a cuter, anime-style version of WOW), and that made leveling and getting through the zones a whole lot easier.
Some things that are immediately apparent are the tab targeting system, the UI (which comes in three variations, if you didn’t know), and a queue system for dungeons and instances that teleports you instantly to the dungeon when your party’s full up, the loot system, and a taxi service (like flight paths) that take you from zone to zone.
Also, with questing and story development the focus now, leveling’s become a whole lot easier. Completing quests actually racked up more xp than grinding, which was an RO staple back in the day, and hitting Level 10 in under an hour was pretty doable, if you did it WOW style and utilized the quest tracker feature.
Mobs on the pull up map display are highlighted in red, while quest-givers and turn-ins are marked with ‘!’ and ‘?’ icons, and that’s incredibly convenient.
The quests are also less demanding now (no more killing 1,000 porings or gathering 2,000 soft furs), and that, coupled with an in-game Achievement system that rewards you with Titles that have tangible benefits, makes exploring the world, completing quests, and doing stuff fun. ‘course, there are also Daily Quests, found on Notice Boards around town, which will allow you to rack up that extra bit of gold and xp while you’re in a particular zone.
Personally, I’m digging the instance system and boss encounters.
While it doesn’t exactly reward you with a whole lot of xp (dungeon grinding isn’t as cool as it is in WOW), dungeon designs are fairly decent, and bosses have their own mechanics and strats that you have to work around.
Gone are the days of solo MVP hunting – it actually takes a dedicated party of tanks, heals and dps to live through the tough parts, and it’s not quite as simple as just putting up Ice Walls, Storm Gusts and spamming Lord of Vermillion anymore as a High Wizard, or just quaffing pots and hitting Grand Cross as a Paladin.
It’s a nice touch, I think, and I actually had a good time in CBT reminding people not to stand in the fire (yes, WOW raid discipline actually helps a ton).
And since the game’s RO, Job change’s one of the fun parts. Hitting 25 in your first job allows you to switch to a second class, which gives you a host of new spells and abilities.
The only issue here is that as far as I know, there are no respecs (i.e. you don’t get skill point resets) and that means you’ve got to plan the talents you want to put points in pretty early on. (I found a Skill Calculator for RO2 online, and you can access it here!)
I’m definitely looking forward to the OBT, which begins on 27 Dec 2012 (that’s like in under 2 weeks time). In the mean, be sure to stay tuned to Asiasoft’s official RO2 website (http://ro2.playpark.net/) and Facebook page for the latest updates and details.
Thanks to the good folks at Asiasoft, we’re also running a raffle! We’ve got some poring keychains to give away, and all you need to do is to follow some simple instructions on our Facebook page here!
Let’s meet up in the Open Beta~! :3