Runes of Magic review
Costs: Free to Play
Page: Runes of Magic game
On 9 Feb, 2011
Pros: Great graphics, crafting, class system
Cons: A few boring quests
With the dizzying array of free-to-play MMOs available, it’s hard to separate the winners from the rest of the pack. Runewaker Entertainment’s classic fantasy game Runes of Magic falls firmly into the former category.
Runes of Magic stands on the shoulders of a giant–namely, the juggernaut MMO that other MMOs want to be when they grow up, World of Warcraft. If you’ve played World of Warcraft, the user interface of Runes of Magic will be as familiar as the view from your kitchen window. This isn’t a knock against Runes of Magic’s UI; on the contrary, it’s a good sign that designers haven’t wasted time retooling a logical, familiar interface for the sake of spurious originality.
Instead, they’ve spent time making the realm itself beautiful. They’ve largely succeeded, too; the world of Taborea is lushly painted and aside from one minor swimming glitch, graphics perform well. Monsters look appropriately cute, weird, or menacing; if bears are going to eat your character’s face, isn’t it better when they’re pretty bears? Maybe the most exciting use of these detailed graphics is the extensive character creation interface. If you like to play around with character creation, you’ll happily spend hours looking through all the options. Despite its good looks, Runes of Magic has little appreciable lag, so even older systems are able to run the game with ease.
Once you’ve created your Runes of Magic self, you may want to outfit your guy or gal with fancy clothes. You can–but for a price. Although Runes of Magic is free to play, the game features a cash shop where real money gets turned into in-game gemstones. Some of the fanciest clothes and mounts can only be bought with diamonds. Fortunately, Runes of Magic has a wealth of content beyond the cash shop goodies.
If buying your armor doesn’t appeal, you’ll need to earn it. Fulfilling quests and killing monsters to gain experience is standard in MMORPGs and Runes of Magic is no exception. With hundreds of quests and plentiful monsters, though, the grind isn’t too tedious. In fact, early levels seem almost too easy. Daily quests are repeatable, mobs die in a hit or two, and almost every NPC will reward you richly for delivering a package fifty steps away.
The quests themselves are where Runes of Magic falters. There are few ways to make collection quests interesting, but the solution to that lies in more creative quests, not more varied bug bits. Stilted quest dialogue and missing punctuation here and there doesn’t help. Although plentiful and rewarding, some quests just felt like afterthoughts.
Runes of Magic rises above its massive predecessor in its dual-class system. At level ten, you get to choose another class to augments your own, giving you access not to the eight basic classes, but to dozens of possible permutations. The crafting system also tops the pay-to-play giants; every character can hone every trade skill, so if you’d rather craft than kill dragons, Runes of Magic may be for you.
There’s still plenty of dragon-killing, though. Smaller instances for six or raids for a dozen players keep end-game exciting, while even larger open-world raids add extra challenge. There are also guild wars to be fought, strongholds to build and maintain, gardens to grow, runes to collect, wood to chop, players to kill (at least on PVP servers) and ore to mine. If that isn’t enough free-to-play fun to be had, you just aren’t looking hard enough.
Runes of Magic is as good as it gets for free-to-play fantasy MMORPGs. Beautiful graphics, highly customizable characters, a sophisticated crafting system, dual classes, and guild homesteads make this game a cut above many pay-to-play games, let alone its free MMO competition. Four million registered users can’t be wrong.Runes of Magic review,