So my buddy and I are trying to find a multiplayer role-playing game, where we can play together. So we hit this list: Free Multiplayer Games. Here’s my personal report on the ones I’ve tried. Your criteria and standards will vary, of course.
Now, lately a lot of free MMO games have sprung up; they’re based on some game engine from Korea, I think. And these games are really pretty horrid, in terms of story. In fact… there IS no story. You get into the world and from the first quest, somebody gives you a grocery list of monsters to kill. You do that, then you get another grocery list. And so on and so forth. Things like “Kill 5 Pointy-Toed Kiboobles, 3 Nasty Jerboas, 5 Juvenile Delinquent Tortoisemen, and 5 Irate Taxpayers.” Then after that it will be “Kill 5 Flat-Footed Kiboobles, 3 Vicious Jerboas, 5 Intermediate Tortoisemen, and 5 Blue-Faced Taxpayers.”
You know, I forget the name of the game that this was. But it was horrid. We also played Perfect World for a while. Perfect World was quite similar, but at least had a modicum of a storyline. Like WHY you need to rid the world of 5 Blue-Footed Boobies. It also had a distinct advantage because, if you were the shapeshifter race, you could turn into a fox (female) or a white tiger (male). AND the guys could carry the gals around. Either by picking them up in their arms, or giving them a ride as a tiger. This was extremely helpful with my RSI. We would get a quest, I’d make Jester hoist me up into his arms and run around the blasted world until we got to where we had to fight these fool things. And then he’d carry me back home. Talk about service!
The other “features” it had were collecting and crafting. And player market stalls where you could sell extra crafting junk. And “mounts” and “pets,” the big draws for MMO games. (Uh… at least for me. Sue me, I like animals!) But you couldn’t get a land-based mount until you reached level 30, and you still had to pay something like one million gold for a brown horse. At some other astronomical level, you could get a flying mount. Well, we didn’t last that long on there.
Oh, the pets you get from pet trainers, and you have to feed them and buy them water….!
As for PVP in MMOs… I really suck at PVP. I mean, I used to do okay at Quake and all, but… I tend to make characters with cool-sounding skills that totally suck in trying to actually DO anything. So we tend to avoid that. We want STORY, man!
Now, on with some reviews!
This is very old; I’ll include it here for completeness. Jester and I played GW; in fact, we bought two expansions for it. The only one we ever finished was the Canthan one. Mainly what happened was, we’d get so far into the game, and there’d be an area/boss/level/quest we couldn’t beat. OR, the story would just get so stupid, Jester gave up on it. (ie: You suddenly get abducted — sorry, inducted — into the White Mantle.)
Story: These games actually have a story! It’s more of a run-on-rails thing than an RPG story. Really, your only choices when offered a quest are Yes and No. And if you say No, you’re not going anywhere until you say Yes. No alternate options, no alternate endings.
Role-Playing: No. In fact, it seems that most people who play this game disparrage role-playing in it. They seem to think that getting into character and speaking/acting like your character is somehow psychotic. “Ooh,” they taunt, “you think you’re really inside this world? Talking to a real Prince Rurik! LOLZERZ!” Uhm… no. It’s role-playing; it’s more fun that way. Why, do you think YOU, yourself is actually talking to Prince Rurik? Hellooooo? Nah, they don’t. They think it’s a game and you jump through those hoops so you can get leet gear and go PVP. ::shrug::
PVP: This is relegated to the PVP section of the game, and is team-based. If you don’t want to PVP, you don’t have to, ever. Also I’d like to point out that all non-city areas of the game are instances. Once you and your group go outside the city gates, there are no other players out there hogging your bandwidth, stealing your kills, PVP hunting you, etc. Nice and peaceful and quiet.
I got into the Rift beta — they musta been desperate. :X I told them in my sign-up form that I thought MMOs and RPGs were mutually exclusive. I’ve never played WoW, but I expect Rift is much like it. I hated it. I mean, it was pretty and all…. But everybody ran around all in the same places, and you slogged through these trainer quests that were all pretty meaningless.
For example, in one part you had to destroy some evil-cloud making machines. And once you did that, your quest was over, but the fool things just keep respawning and respawning and respawning. Everything you kill or destroy, every item or message you deliver, just keeps getting done over and over and over again. It was depressing, actually.
Story: A loose thread of doing stuff to prepare for the big Good vs Evil thing that was going to go on in the higher levels.
Role-Playing: Not likely. There’s nowhere to get away from the munckins running around doing “Questorzez!” and crap. No instancing, no henchmen — I really learned to appreciate those things that Guild Wars did.
PVP: You could create a character on a PVP server or a PVE server. Or a PVP/PVE server, I think. Characters only exist on one server and can’t move between them.
This sounded pretty decent on the Free RPG list. Traditional medieval RP stuff. It had a bonus that you could play it in single player mode offline. And… I hated it.
You start off god-knows-where, with no real indication of where you’re supposed to go, who you are, what you’re doing there. I accidentally clicked some bridge guard and got my butt killed. Oops. And then ran along until I found some quest person. He told me to go find someone in the town. Well, the map is so horrid…. all the names of places/people overlap on each other and you can’t read a thing. Also, the graphics were really dated. The landscape looked like lumps of mud. Not even real mud, but fake 3d landscape mud.
I didn’t get far enough into it to really be able to speak to the story or the rp or anything.
This was another interesting-looking one I plucked off the list. I liked the look of their classes — I wanted to play my elf Valorien as a Scout/Warden. The client takes a couple hours to download. And then another half an hour or so to patch itself. And… the game is very pretty.
It is, however, still the same shallow as the cookie-cutter MMOs. You start your character, and you go on this tutorial… that tells you how to walk and how to kill things. Basically. (Very basically!) And then you start out in your home town with people telling you to run hither and yon and find these people, who are your teachers and trainers at the academy. And there’s no map where you can FIND these people. Just your one little corner mini-map, that is not very helpful. And there’s no quest log, where you can open the quest you’ve been given and read the names of whoever it is they told you to go find. Or the directions how to get there. (I suck at names, remember this.)
There isn’t a panel you can open and see what you are wearing. That I could find. I got a ring as one of the first rewards; I had no idea how to put it on. You have a backpack, but no character sheet. I double-clicked it or right-clicked the ring, and it disappeared. Was I wearing it? How could I tell? I couldn’t! (Right-clicking is how you equip something, though.)
There also wasn’t any tutorial on how to spend your level skill/talent/whatever points. I had some. I was waiting for the academy guy to tell me their usage. But no… he wanted me to jump on a pile of crates to get cherries out of a basket….
I was a bit impressed with the fact that, as an elf, you didn’t run around killing all the flora and fauna for the tutorial quests. But eventually, they got to those. Kill the gluttinous snails before they eat the poor ents (I kid you not). Then kill the white bunnies and get their pelts. To save the trees where the little pests are digging up their roots, you know.
Runes of Magic also has Mounts and Pets. It seems to be using, yes, the same free MMO engine. You grow you pets from eggs you get from Pet Tamers, and yes, you have to constantly feed and water the little buggers. Mounts were a bit more attainable than in Perfect World. Although you have to buy them with diamonds, and it costs about 200 of those to get a permanant mount. Otherwise, you get one for one whole day, or one whole week. Wow. Oh, and another thing… Don’t try to ride your free beginner white horse across the river. The horses vanish in water. I mean, poof. Gone. No more horsie.
I’m not clear on the whole diamond thing on Runes of Magic. I get the impression those are the things you buy with your real-world money. Though I expect there may be ways to earn them in-game. Probably by doing long, onerous tasks, farming and grinding, and taking several months to stock them up. Yeah, that’s how it goes. Those free MMOs gotta pay for themselves somehow.
Story: You’re a newbie learning how to play the game, basically. If it gets any better from there, I don’t know; but I somehow doubt it.
Role-Playing: Mmm, no. “Quick, we must slay the ent-nibbling gluttinous snails, in order to save our ent friends!” Don’t think so, sorry.
PVP: You can join a PVP or PVE server, depending on your taste. On a PVE server, you can only duel if both parties agree. On the PVP servers, there’s more open season on everybody.
This is run by the same base group (Frogster) that runs Runes of Magic. The two games, however are totally dissimilar. RoM is clearly Asian and very beautiful. BBO is German, and a bit more stoic and crude. They have nice animal models, though.
This is a pirate game, rather than medieval RP. The text is really horribly translated from German, and doesn’t have proper word-wrap. Words get cut off in the middle, at the last letter, etc; and get stuck on the next line. This makes it difficult, or even downright painful, to read. The font is old-fashioned un-anti-aliased as well.
The story — or should I say beginner training segment — is pretty tolerable. Yes, one of the first quests is to get crab claws and turtle blood for a seafood recipe at the tavern. After that, though, you go hunting some normal animals for pelts and hides and such. As a treasure-hunter class, a sort of explorer, I also got bonuses for bringing back proof of discovery of new animals like the Bellweather ram and Reindeer. (Don’t ask what reindeer were doing in Greece, which is where the story starts.)
You do a few fetch and deliver quests. One good thing about BBO, though — if you open your quest log, you can click on the target/recipient’s name and get auto-piloted right to them. Okay, minus ten for interactivity, but a big bonus for not ever getting lost! You can also open the big map and click anywhere on it to auto-pilot around the current area to where you want to go. The success of the pathfinding routine can sometimes leave something to be desired.
Finally, you get a ship and get to make a cargo run. (Your quest may vary depending on your class, which may be a pirate or a businessman, or a guardsman.) Nothing really special about that — it’s not Sid Meier’s Pirates where you have winds and all.
Then on the trip home I decided to explore a little pirate isle. Sink a few ships. Get some plunder. That was a bad idea! I have no idea how to run the ship in that mode, and I got my butt handed to me. I think I will leave that until I get to the tutorial on it. Because there’s no instructions that I can find on their web page or forums, either.
I’m still playing BBO… although I’m currently stuck because I can’t get this skill the current quest thinks I should be able to go get. Trying to get help on the forum is no easy task, either. First it tells me I can’t register on the forums, because that is closed. Then it tells me when I created my game account, I got a forum registration with it. Of course, it doesn’t tell me what it IS; it doesn’t seem to be the same name/password as the game. So then I try to contact support for the info… and I have to fill out ANOTHER registration to get on the support forum. GAH!
Story: Not sure yet. Though if your idea is you’re a young seaman/pirate getting your first ship and making your way in the world, I do think that works.
Role-Playing: I expect this is like most MMOs. Kidz getting their stats and bragging rights on being the leetest piratez around. I haven’t run into any crowdedness or that, however. I also haven’t run into anyone role-playing, either.
PVP: I haven’t run into any wankers yet, nor player pirates. There are venues for engaging in PVP, according to the website. I’ll have to reserve judgement on this.
Yes, the Disney franchise; run on Disney.go.com. I have to say, I really do like this game. The graphics aren’t all that great, the characters all look sorta like papier mache puppets. But the game really is fun. The only bad thing is, you can’t use/access about 80% of the game unless you pay for Unlimited Access. Which is tempting, if I could buy the game once; but it is a subscription plan.
You get to meet the big name characters from the movies — all voice-acted, too! Jack Sparrow, of course. Then Will and Elizabeth, and Tia whatshername. The rest of the characters have plain text conversations. Instead of the usual “you’re here at school” plot/quests, you wake up in jail with Cap’n Jack, then break out and need to rendezvous with him later. Will teaches you swordplay and sends you on your merry way.
Fighting is user-skill based, which can be one drawback. Unlike the click-on-enemy and auto-attack methodology of other games, you have to work at this one. To use your sword, you have to face the target (sometimes really hard to do when they jump past you at the start of the fight), and click the mouse in the proper rhythm to time the strikes for maximum effectiveness. To shoot, you have to be really sure you are facing the target so the reticule lines up with it and turns red. Also note: you are very restricted to when you can use the flintlock pistol — the Pirate Code and all.
Ship-to-Ship fighting is fairly simple. I think my time spent playing Sid Meier’s Pirates paid off. I knocked out a couple of Navy “ferrets” in my first foray. You can have other players man your cannons, as well; so you can build up a PC crew. I haven’t tried group fighting yet.
There are some mini-games you can play in it. One is Tortuga Hold-em; the card game. You can win (or lose… copiously ::cough::) in-game money on it. There’s also ship-repair and potion-making ‘games.’ This idea is a bit like Puzzle Pirates, but I think much more nicely implemented. You can repair ships for gold, or you can repair your own ship. You do this by playing several ship-based mini-games:
Hammering — you have to time your hammer strikes to drive nails into the wood.
Sawing — you have to have a steady hand to drag the saw across the boards with the mouse.
Bracing — lining up four lined tiles in a row (excessivly simple, really).
Patching — tossing tar on leaks (I suck at this one :X ).
Pumping — timing mouse clicks to man the bilge pumps.
The potion brewing is like a sort of Tetris-style game. Line up groups of the same ingredients to transform them into other ingredients, and eventually (if you’re lucky and/or skillful) the ingredients you need for your potion. This is just so much more engaging than the usual… run around the island; click on the weeds; harvest the berries; bring everything to the mixing bench; pay x amount of gold to craft….
While I was still a nameless freebooter (if you want your own name, it has to be approved by real people…!), there was some sort of server-wide event. An invasion of Jolly Roger’s undead pirates. I had no clue what I was doing, but I sailed to the pertinent area, got invited to a group by a nice markswoman, and ran around trying to kill skeletal pirates. It was fun.
I think they did a great job on this game. Like I said, if it was a one-time buy thing like Guild Wars, I would probably get it. But I don’t do monthly subscriptions. It’s rather like renting a game. I kinda like to keep my game around. (Yes, Sid Meier’s Pirates is still on my hard drive!) Not sure what happens to your “Unlimited Access Only” tattoos and clothes and weapons and ships when you drop your subscription. Do I hear the sound of a cosmic-sized toilet being flushed!?
Story: Not your typical MMO quest series, but a run-on-rails storyline. So far, not a very restrictive one.
Role-playing: There’s room for this. I doubt other people on the servers do, but if/when I drag Jester in, we can do this. If we want. It’s not a seriously DEEP game.
PVP: I haven’t really explored this option, yet. It is in there, however.