Preview: Runes of Magic (PC)

Is this free MMORPG magical or just another clone of WoW?

For the past few weeks, I have been playing the open beta for Runes of Magic…an MMORPG that’s free to download and there are no monthly fees, which in the recession can only be a good thing for gamers. But does it do enough to surpass its competition?
My time with the MMO has been short, but from what I can tell it has the potential to be a big hit. The presentation values are amazing for a game like this, especially one that doesn’t require you to put any money down, unless you want to buy specific items that is. It doesn’t break the mould of the genre, but it does everything you would expect from your standard MMO that charges you so much a month. Which begs the question, why do the better ones still do that when games like Runes of Magic can come along and offer a similar experience for less money? I doubt I’ll hear answers from Activision Blizzard, Turbine or Funcom, but maybe the people should make their own minds up on this one.

Before you begin, you obviously make your character your own with a deep level of customisation that you would expect. You choose one of the standard character classes and then after a quick tutorial, you are chucked into the world of Taborea. For those of you who like specific features of a game, here they are:

1. Free2play: no monthly fees, free to download
2. Regular updates with new content, e.g. classes, races, game modes and much more
3. Extensive dual class system with six primary classes and a selectable secondary class.
4. Versatile spell and attack combinations
5. Over 600 quests and comprehensive quest series with continuous storyline
6. Integrated into an enthralling background story
7. Already over 600 quests and level comprehensive quest series on launch
8. Freely accessible game world in atmospheric 3D
9. Instanced and persistent dungeons
10. Individually developed skills and spells
11. Armor sets with special bonuses
12. Dynamic item system: Upgrades with hundreds of runes
13. Activatable PvP system (Player vs. Player duels) with arena battles and guild wars
14. Server vs. server PvP
15. Ranking system: ranking lists
16. Mounts: various unique mounts
17. Epic crafting system with the chance to improve existing items
18. Housing from the beginning: personalization of houses through
individual furnishing
19. Guild houses in special zones
20. Reputation system
21. Scalable user interface based on the users preference (development of ones own add-ons possible)
22. In-game map and radar system to find dealers, resources and quests easily
23. Auction house: auction off and purchase in-Game items
24. Teleporting possibilities per runes
25. Controlling with mouse (point & click) and/or keyboard (WASD or arrow keys) is possible

All these features sound very impressive and will more than satisfy those who enjoy the genre. My favourite feature is being able to turn on an arrow that points you towards your chosen quest giver or dealer, which helps for those just getting used to the game.
The biggest problem that I can see Runes of Magic trying to overcome is its lack of originality. It’s a great game, but it doesn’t do anything we haven’t seen in an MMO before it. Quests are a mixture of killing and fetching items, while combat is the same point and click that has been in every MMO apart from Age of Conan, which took a more arcade-style approach to combat. My point is that if Runes of Magic just did something a little different, perhaps a new style of combat or a different type of mission structure, something we haven’t seen before…then it would become intriguing to the masses, and as a result…people would try it, especially considering it’s a free download.

It’s going to be interesting to see how Runes of Magic progresses over the upcoming months and if it will indeed be a worthy contender into the MMO arena. I will be reviewing it when it’s out of beta to see if its overcome it’s small problems, but otherwise it’s looking to be another good MMO that any fan should give a try.


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