The First Ten Hours of Runes of Magic is a multi-part editorial column by iTZKooPA. During his journey he will spend a solid ten hours tackling the opening of today’s hottest MMORPGs that he hasn’t played to death. Be it new game, old game, new faction, or new class, it’ll all be new to him. All titles are judged on the same basic points as described below.
Welcome to my early review of Runes of Magic. As the premiere WoW-a-like free-to-play title, it’s only fair that we tackle Runewaker’s MMORPG, and Frogster’s localization of it. The title has been out for months now, allowing me to jump in and take in all that is Taborea on a few different characters – the highest being a level 18/15 Rogue/Scout. It’s also allowed the tandem of Frogster and Runewaker ample time to ferret out any glaring bugs.
Character Creation: There are many games out there with crazy amounts of character customization. However, Runes of Magic is not one of them. The game is severely limiting for your basic choice of race, Humans being the only candidate at launch. Thankfully the latest Chapter has added a second race, the love-em or hate-em pointy eared Elves. Although gamers are limited to only two races, and obviously two sexes (look to sci-fi MMOGs to change that one day), to start, once we select our poison the creation opens up. From hairstyle to bust size to foot size, the game is loaded with thirteen additional multi-position sliders. The mix of combinations gives Runes of Magic one of the more in-depth character creation systems in the fantasy genre. But that’s assuming you can look past the extremely limiting number of races at the surface.
Opening & Lore: Diving into this title is incredibly bland. There’s no opening cinematic to speak of, and no opening quest lines to get you started. You just pop into existence and are hit with a minimap full of icons demanding your attention. If one wants to find out what’s going on, then your best bet is to spend time on the title’s official website (perhaps while downloading the beastly package). Played any other MMORPG in your life? Then expect to be bored to tears with the opening of Runes of Magic. “Kill 10 foozles” and then “Kill 10 foozles” some more.
User Interface: Runes of Magic’s interface is something that MMORPGers will be very comfortable with. The control scheme is essentially a clone of so many other titles and the keybindings match World of Warcraft’s more often than not. RoM has a myriad of buttons surrounding the very busy minimap, most of which take you to useful places like the Item Shop. For better, or for worse, everything is in your face and readily accessible.
Quests & Grinding: Get ready to be bored. Considering that the opening of the game is very uneventful it’s unlikely that the later levels get anywhere near epic. After leveling my Rogue/Scout for a healthy amount of time I have yet to find an interesting quest. Making matters more tedious is the fact that the company employs the idea of daily quests from the early going. And all of them have you grinding a collection of foozles. For those of you who leveled a WoW character back in Stranglethorn Vale, you’re probably familiar with the The Green Hills of Stranglethorn quest. The original designer of the quest has admitted that it’s the worst quest in WoW for numerous reasons. Yet the creators of Runes of Maker copied it, right down to the required page numbers. How’s that for a synopsis of quest design?
Dungeons: Dungeons are everywhere in Runes of Magic. They present themselves through kill quests early on in the game and offer appropriately awesome rewards. They aren’t exactly original or expertly designed, but they offer a good distraction to the monotonous grindfest of the quests proper. It’s worth mentioning that RoM has a ton of outdoor bosses, or named mobs if you prefer. I call them bosses because you have absolutely no business attacking these suckers if you’re around their level and alone. They hit like trucks and possess a healthy amount of hitpoints. Another worthwhile distraction to the awful quest design.
Polish: Polish is one of those things that isn’t often categorized. It’s an ongoing process in every MMORPG, and title’s always get more polished the longer they are around. Therefore many titles are launched in what is labeled as an unpolished state. Runes of Magic is one of the titles where its obvious that the idea of polish is not at the forefront of the developer’s mind. Actually it’s a mixed bag, some of the issues can be squarely placed on the localizing agent, Frogster America. Poor graphics, mixed framerate performance, jerky animations and balance issues lie squarely on Runewaker. Frogster is at fault mainly for the incredibly shoddy job of localization. The company seems to have taken on too much by trying to localize multiple languages at the same time. In all of the languages there are glaring errors including spelling and grammar mistakes and buffs who’s tooltips don’t specify what they do. Instead a player is shown a placeholder message. Annoying gamers further is that both companies seem to ignore the issue, releasing new content without fixing the glaring problems before them. Some problems can be fixed in just few minutes time.
Uniqueness: Runes of Magic is an admitted WoW-a-Like. It was designed specifically to cater to a crowd that enjoys World of Warcraft, but doesn’t have the time to invest in that title to make them a hero. Or doesn’t want to pay a static fee. At the surface it’s a simple clone, but RoM does offer plenty of uniqueness including the dual class feature (hence why I am a Rogue/Scout), a deeper crafting system, guild and personal housing and a quick content development cycle.
Overall: If you love World of Warcraft, but can no longer afford the time or monetary investment then Runes of Magic might be a good fit for you. It kept me, a staunch WoW lover, mildly interested much further than the intended ten hours of play time. I’ll likely keep it installed as I work my way up to the level cap of 50/50. And why not, it’s free.
Not a fan of World of Warcraft? Then Runes of Magic isn’t for you.