In this time of economic reprieve it is refreshing to know that there are inexpensive alternative venues available to the MMOG gamer. Runes of Magic, is a fun and captivating MMOG. It is visually stimulating and has an incredibly fleshed out storyline to back it up. Best of all, it is free. It is categorized as an official Free2play MMO meaning, no monthly fees. Free downloads are available on their site as well ( http://www.runesofmagic.com ) Seriously, how critical can I get with this kind of offer. I imagine once fully developed and out of beta they will promote some kind of business model most likely based on selling hard copies. Guild houses and players themselves are providing hosting servers at this time so the power is with the people in this world. Now let’s get to the nuts and bolts of the game.
Set in medieval times where myth, might, and wizardry accompany adventure, Runes of Magic offers PvE, and PvP environments. Character creation affords six slots available, albeit they are all human. But there are enough variations in faces and hair that can provide a truly unique looking toon. Then for hair and beard color, the whole web palette is available to choose from. For the body, it is just a sliding scale for height and size proportions to fit the shape that will work for your toon. Next you choose a character class. Now Runes of Magic offers a dual-class system. This means you choose a primary class right from the start, be it: warrior, scout, rogue, mage, priest, or knight. Then at level 10 you are offered to enhance your character with training in another class. For example, let’s say you choose a knight as your primary, which provides great toe-to-toe melee and tanking capabilities, then upon reaching level 10 you choose scout, which then gives you the ability to engage with ranged attacks. This system really puts the power in the player to build a truly unique character. Yes you can have your cake and eat it too. I felt this was similar to the dual class system in the game Titan Quest, of which I am a serious fan. Of course the use of given talent points will enhance the areas of the player’s choosing.
Right out of the gate you are introduced to gathering professions to engage your toon in the enriched economic system. Simple quests show you the ropes and then you are off and running. Then with goods developed and sold you can purchase items such as weapons, clothing, or armor and even Runes. Nice items can be achieved via questing as well along with Runes. So how do the Runes work you may ask? They are used to enhance or enchant items you use. There are even Runes for teleportation to move seamlessly from one area to another.
Your actions matter. How you react or act in situations will deem your reputation in this world. The hierarchy extends from demon to hero and is color coded above your toon indicating where you are on the scale. The reputation scale does not kick in until at least level 15. This is when PvP also becomes available. If your actions are evil and you are on the demonic end of the spectrum gate guards at cities will attack once in range. Then again if you are a hero your name will be celebrated and greeted accordingly.
The player interface is standard with respect to all the popular MMOG’s out there. This transparency is nice being there is no time wasted re-learning a proprietary system. The head’s up display (HUD) offers an interactive map, although when it is blown up I was not able to see exactly where I was at. Slots are available at the bottom of the screen for hotkeys and the player can develop macros for the more common actions he or she takes in an engagement. The graphical 3D world is seamless moving from one area to another. I also thought the character toon look and movement is better than most MMOG’s that are paid services out there. One nuance I did have was when interfacing with NPC’s for quests and turn-in information, selecting the NPC was troublesome in crowded areas. I found myself selecting other characters until I could position myself just right to select the NPC. Also some of the environment beasts were visually and audibly weak in my opinion. They did improve slightly from starter areas, and I thought the idea of a giant mushroom attacking me was more funny than menacing. This was not a spoiler as you engage angry mushrooms and wolf pups on your first mission.
Runes of Magic is developed by Runewalker Entertainment and published by Frogster. It is recommended to run on at least a P4 with a 2.0 Ghz processor, at least 512MB of RAM and a graphics card with capability of at least Direct 9.0c and 128MB on board memory. I was able to play it fine on a P4 laptop without any trouble. Being still in beta there are a lot of patches and they take down the servers on Thursday nights around midnight and run smaller patches on Tuesdays. Although, it seems every time I start it up I am downloading another chunk of code, which can be extensive with respect to time and space on your system. But need I remind you it is free? The rating is pending on this game. I did not see any information referencing a rate at this time since it is still in open beta. More than likely it will rate similar to other MMOG’s out there as T for Teen for Blood and Gore, Suggestive Themes and Violence.
I actually did not play World of Warcraft for a month while I engaged Runes of Magic. They have quests, an economy, PvP, PvE, good looking toons, mounts, a dual-class system, and best of all it is free! I rated this game a solid 8.5 out of 10. Build rep as you conquer, collect Runes, join others in epic plights. So much to offer and I have only scratched the surface. Really, you need to go to the site and try it out for yourself ( http://www.runesofmagic.com ) as I feel I have not done this game justice. With only a few minor nuances such as selecting NPC’s and some weak developed environmentals, and if you can withstand all the patching in a beta version, then this is my recommendation for a seriously fun and economically smart choice until personal finances become improved. With no monthly fees the choice is simple and Runes of Magic delivers, you can’t beat free.
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