Tuesday, 7 May 2013
Review: Ragnarok Online 2
Korean MMORPGs can be best described as a mixed bag, some are good and some are terrible. In the early and mid (20)00s, Ragnarok Online (RO) was one of the most successful and popular MMO ever created. A legendary game, built upon and championed by diehard fans and their private servers. Fast forward to 2013 and, after a revision of the first sequel, Ragnarok Online 2: Legend of the Second (RO2) is finally released internationally.
Based loosely upon Norse mythology, RO2 tells the story of the Kingdom of Midgard and its struggle with evil forces. RO2, when comparing it to the original Ragnarok, has tried to bring the story into a central aspect of the game. Unfortunately, telling such a forced storyline leads the gameplay into a linear experience. Norse mythology is a wonderful base to start from, and the original Ragnarok had such great in-game lore. But I found with RO2 we are given a boring path to follow, lined with slightly stronger enemies the further you travel.
Solid gameplay mechanics are fundamental to any MMO, or any other game's success. Sadly, RO2 has made the mistake of playing it easy. The original Ragnarok was fast-paced and required a fair amount of statistical building or practical experience. RO2 removes all of the original Ragnarok's vim and difficulty. It's truly a dull and watered down experience, featuring boring button mashing, useless character development and a lukewarm skill system. There is just no fire or depth to the gameplay.
New gameplay elements include: a revised card system, involving slotting the character instead of weapons; a job system overhaul; an achievement and title feature called the khara system; and gear heavy, instead of character statistic heavy progression. Most of the original's gameplay elements have either been a watered-down replacement or removed entirely.
RO2 is based on the free to play model. No upfront cost to play, but some central features have been cut to allow the publisher to profit, the card album being an example. Free to play is definitely a two-edged sword, and players should be reminded that nothing is ever truly free.
Graphics wise, RO2 is standard anime inspired fare. Mediocre graphics opens the game up to more players, but it does date the game, making it look 5 years older than it should. The cities are pretty and well sized, but lack interaction. Character design is pretty boring and many characters look the same.
Comparing RO2's music to the original's isn't going to be fair. Ragnarok's music was one of its best features, and could arguably be one of the best in MMO history. I'm sure fans of the game, even today, could hear the original's music and be instantly transported back in time. RO2's music, on the other hand, is serviceable, but not memorable.
I think RO2 was always going to be a hard-win for any dveloper and publishing company. RO2 had very deep shoes to fill, and I think they have failed to properly honor Ragnarok's legacy. Many fans will play RO2 for nostalgia reasons only, but all of them will realize that it isn't a true Ragnarok Online sequel.