Runes of Magic
- Release Date: 2009
- Publisher: Frogster
- Developer: Runewaker
- Genre: MMORPG, Action, Fantasy
Runes of Magic ( RoM for short, 神谕之战 in China) is a free fantasy MMORPG developed by Taiwan-based Runewaker and published by Frogster. Currently, the game has 4 major expansions or Chapters, “Chapter I: The Rise of the Demon Lord”, “Chapter II: The Elven Prophecy”, “Chapter III: The Elder Kingdoms” and “Chapter IV: The Lands of Despair”
It was launched in 2009 and after a year’s operation, Runes of Magic attracted over three million players, of whom about 500,000 were active. Till now, the number has grown considerably than expected. Moreover, Runes of Magic received several awards such as the Best Free MMORPG 2010, and Best New MMO in 2009.
The most striking difference from other MMORPGs lies in its multiple-class system (Chapter IV for 3 classes, 2 classes before that), which is different from Final Fantasy XI, Magic World Online, Eden Eternal and Atlantica Online.
However, the game is also criticized by a great number of players due to lack of customer supports, excessively imbalanced mechanism and etc. Even the community members and hackers declare war against Frogster.
Only a few months after the release of the mediocre game Chronicles of Spellborn, Frogster Interactive is ready to try its luck again with Runes of Magic, a free-to-play MMO by a Taiwan-based developer Runewaker Entertainment. And this time, Frogster decides to adopt a slightly different marketing strategy. When they imported the game from the Far East, they grabbed a captivatingly effective bargain — Runes of Magic would be free to play permanently.
As a high-quality modern F2P MMO, Runes of Magic has attracted about 700,000 players so far who delightfully immerse themselves in the brand-new online world. If the influx of new users keeps increasing rapidly in this way, the number is likely to soon exceed one million. Now, this long-cherished desire might come true much earlier than expected, thanks to the cooperation that will largely expand this MMO’s sphere of influence.
But a train of questions keep popping up one after the other: Will the publisher continue charging no monthly fees when there are so many customers who are obviously an unexploited yet lucrative treasure-trove? Can this title technically keep up with the fierce competition in the contemporary market? Will Frogster manage to provide enough arresting content to the community and win over their long-term loyalty to this new world? To get the answer to all these questions, we sneaked to the fantasy world of Taborea. Follow us closely and dispel your doubts!
Ups and Downs of History
First of all, let’s take a brief look at the background story. A long time ago, the God wrote a book in which he recorded the creation of the world as well as the origin of life. This book mentioned, according to the legend, a fantasy planet called Taborea which is exactly the setting of Runes of Magic. Enveloped in inexplicable mysteries, Taborea is world full of adventures and perils. In the game, you can set foot on the hazardous land and go through ages of battles and conflicts since time immemorial.
Upon arrival in the wonderland, you are asked to create your individual character. Currently, there are different playable races, but the inhabitants controlled by players are all human beings. However, it is not really disturbing. The available classes are limited to known patterns, including warriors, explorers, rogues, mages, priests and knights. As you can see, there is a lack of innovation, at least in the initial phase. But starting from level 10, you will get the chance to choose a second class as your alter ego. This revolutionary feature brings about as many as 30 very interesting combinations, each of which boasts certain unparalleled advantages and special abilities.
However, you are strongly advised to select your class with caution because not all abilities can be fully and easily learned, which may be noticed by some players until it is already too late. Don’t bet on the wrong talents! If you unfortunately pick the wrong class, the only thing you can do is get it switched. Since Runes of Magic is a massively multiplayer game, you can seek for counsel in the community forums where there are a total of 700,000 players. This is undoubtedly an impressive number, isn’t it? And the large number of accessible servers also means that you can easily log in the game, quickly find playmates and contentedly bask in social connections.
Is There Something for Nothing?
This is at least the first impression when we arrive in Taborea with our newly-minted characters. Can such a spectacular game be free? Everywhere is crowed with ambitious players who are yearning to build up their incomparable feats in this magnificent realm. Rarely was a virtual world so well-attended before. And while we want to yield to the user-friendly atmosphere and focus on performing quests, a group of new players will emerge out of nowhere, wishing to get a satisfying answer to the burning question.
We would like to hereby reveal the enormous advantages of the free gameplay of Runes of Magic for the first time. There is no financial threshold at all so that interested players will not be discouraged from a visit at the beginning. What’s more, you will not be bothered by a long list of purchase prices as well as the looming anxiety to pay monthly fees. In fact, it is promised that the account will remain virtually free forever, providing a pleasant subliminal motivation. In another word, the character you play in Runes of Magic is not based on a temporary loan basis, as is the case with some other titles that require monthly costs or something else.
Marching into a toll-free world, you will be blessed with a feeling of great encouragement and mental relaxation at the beginning of the game. Judging from the lush and luxuriant landscapes, I am sure that the game is designed to be both tempting and inviting. When it comes to the character design, you will probably be awed by the striking images of your avatars as well as the formidable portraits of giant monsters. For example, there is a chance that you will come across a gigantic greenish troll with a deformed arm, a round belly and a weird eye on its chest. But to my mind, the animations still lack of some fine tuning. Hopefully, this minor blemish can be solved soon.
Frogster and Knights without Coconuts
I have to say that the soundscape is quite disappointing with a pretty meager overall effect. There are no spoken dialogues or sounds of retorts, and your mount can only creep silently through the vast landscape, which definitely decreases the pleasure and excitement of exploration. And to address the problem, we think of a brilliant idea: those showy hooves should be wrapped in two hollowed-out coconuts so as to give out some melodious sounds throughout the adventurous journey. Just kidding!
In Runes of Magic, you can engage yourself in one of the five trades and strive to improve your skills. It is advisable to inform the community beforehand of your following plans so as to get advice about the sense and nonsense of your individual activities, some of which may require a large number of cruel ingredients and a staggering amount of labor. In general, patient players tend to secure the ultimate success more easily. But if you are hot-headed in nature, you also don’t need to worry because the spawning time of the much-needed materials and resources is encouragingly short.
The advancement can be achieved mainly in the traditional way, that is, through the fulfillment of quests, including fighting against NPCs and real players, exploring hostile regions, and collecting rare resources and items. Successful competitors are usually those who perform a multitude of missions on a daily basis and get bountiful rewards to level up. Runes of Magic also incorporates an item shop where you can exchange accumulated points and real money for all sorts of fashionable items. And I think some marvelous yet useful objects really deserve more or less investment. But you should have some restraint in this regard, or you will lose a lot of cash.
Is It an Asian Grinder?
The initial flood of new players will shrink a little bit because the level cap for gaining access to the second class is 50, which may set back some users. To experience the entire route, one must bear all the preliminary repetitive quests and grinding adventures. But once you have reached the prescribed level, Runes of Magic will unravel all its charm and content without reservation. Though some impatient gamers succumb to the grinding boredom and quit the game, the majority of them still sticks to it unyieldingly and eventually gets paid off for their perseverance.
Similar to all other titles, Runes of Magic pays heavy emphasis on guild wars which constitutes an integral part of the game in the later phase. For sure, it is important to achieve a connection with a powerful guild. Actually, you can either take part in an existing one or create a new organization by yourself. From then on, you can venture into extensive arenas and battle it out against your foes. Unlike many modern MMOs that feel almost like solo role-playing games, Runes of Magic focuses more on group cooperation. Thanks to the developer’s insight, we can join in EverQuest-like missions where the typical setup of party healers, damage dealers and tanks is completely included.
It is well-known that one of RoM’s selling points lies in its abundant content which also serves as the top-level segment of the whole game. Furthermore, Frogster has promised that a major content update will be inserted subsequently at least once every three years, which will not only bring forward the background story, but also incorporate brand-new content into the wondrous world. Consequently, you will never get bored in the future. And to be fair, Runes of Magic, as a free-to-play title, is already very extensive, stable and enjoyable. What can you expect more from a free game anyway?
Unnecessary Arms Race
Nevertheless, if you wish to compete against a powerful league and expect long-term playing thrill, you will soon realize that it is not easy to advance without the option of item shops. To go through the lengthy journey, you will be probably in want of advanced weapons and necessary resources which can accelerate your expansion and leveling progress. But those equipments have to be purchased by real coins. Anyone who yields to these temptations will have to face the fact that the virtual arms race will waste far more money than the standard monthly fee of a classic MMO.
As a result, a heated debate erupts among the community. Players can regularly gain advantages by paying some monthly costs in other MMOs, but in this case, due to the illegal operation of the third-party, players are seduced to pay more money. In my opinion, this is not necessarily a totally reasonable accusation, but if some players know no bounds and invest a huge sum of dollars into their characters, they will certainly suspect that the whole game is nothing more than a mercenary conspiracy. Still, there is a theoretical possibility for those stingy players to catch up with the affluent by making more efforts. After all, you are not forced by anyone to spend unnecessary money.
Whatsoever, due to the unremitting endeavors of the developer and time-honored reputation of the publisher, Runes of Magic is inborn with a wide fan base as well as a promising prospect.
Runes of Magic is without doubt one of the best free playable titles at this highly competitive market of online games. Though you will probably find the first 20 levels grinding, you will be continually surprised by the wide variety of options and possibilities in the following sections. Newcomers and casual players who have amassed only limited experience with MMOs will be able to spend many enjoyable hours in the fantasy world of Taborea, thus getting a panoramic view into the genre.
Veterans of online games who have a penchant for captivating content as well as stimulating PvP combat, on the other hand, will quickly reach the limit of their financial tolerance. The arms race is taking its toll on the interest of players, and anyone who wants to get deeply involved in Runes of Magic will have to invest a massive amount of money.
Although Runes of Magic comes from a different studio from that of Chronicles of Spellborn, the two games share surprising similarities in terms of visual effect. The characters seem stylized and slightly horrifying. Generally speaking, the graphics will awaken our memories of the bright color palette of the Far East.
At for the sound, we are still looking forward to a real acoustic fantasy atmosphere rather than the monotonous accompanying noises. A groovy background soundtrack can greatly enhance the overall gaming pleasure. Hasn’t the developer been aware of this?
If you are familiar with the current MMO market, you may instantly figure out that Runes of Magic is a blend of various popular games, including a pinch of Everquest, a good portion of World of Warcraft, a little Lord of the Rings and a touch of Lineage. Surprising, the mixture does not look weird or chaotic; on the contrary, all elements are commingled ingeniously, contributing to a unique gaming experience.
Starting from level 20, Team Play will be available to you. And thanks to the continuous influx of new players, you can easily find a group to join in virtually round the clock. Those who stubbornly remain alone in Runes of Magic and get bored step by step have only themselves to blame.
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