What do Harry Potter and Ragnarok Online 2: Legend of the Second have in common? The first features an orphan who attended a school for magic, the second – a game where you play as an orphan who attends an academy that happens to foster the abilities of a whole group of orphans, many of whom have magical abilities. HP is also the kind of thing I read while on holiday, but this summer I decided to break that trend and subject myself to RO2 . And while the world has yet to tremble in the face of a Harry Potter MMORPG, I can’t help but feel that the kind of path such a thing would travel upon would (under certain, plausible, conditions) look a lot like this alarmingly sugar sweet MMO.
Ragnarok Online 2 is free-to-play, so you could just go and see for yourself what it’s like over here.
Not enough Norse
Once you’ve gotten through the complications of setting-up an account, downloaded several gigs of installation files and then a load more updates on top (currently the install files available aren’t as up-to-date as they could be), gone through the two layers of security the game imposes… You’ll finally get to experience the introduction.
The whole haphazard grabbing of Norse mythology and names feels uncomfortable. The names mostly, because the story’s resemblance to myth is almost non-existent. At the source of all that is apparently wrong in the world of Ragnarok Online 2: Legend of the Second is “the goddess Freyja”, who stirred-up a whole heap of trouble. There was a war that caused lots of kids to become orphans, but Freyja and her followers (the ‘Freyjanity’) were defeated. But it was discovered that these orphans have powers and so arrangements had to be made for their care. As previously hinted – you play as one of these orphans and by this point in the game a part of me was wishing this was a Harry Potter MMO.
Character creation is nothing complicated though will always end-up leaving you with a character that looks almost too cute for anime. Picking a first and secondary class (I played as a mage who was an alchemist) was interesting, but not enough was explained there and then about the kinds of paths the classes lead to in terms of development – what their later abilities are like. It was kind of relying on you already being very aware that a mage probably means fireballs of some kind, but what the alchemist could go on to do, beyond being able to make health potions – not much info for such an important decision.
Once you’re finally in the game world, a sprawling academy where the surroundings almost look like they could have come out of a very sickly fairytale – once you’re there and can look at your skills, you see that there isn’t much room for development. A fighter’s skill set or a mage’s spells increase in potency, but only seem to gain any real diversity in much later levels and then there’s not much to choose from. There’s a chance to specialise at much later levels, but the skill tree is incredibly limited.
Now, I was expecting a degree of hand-holding/tutorial time, but I wasn’t prepared for how long it would last. It took me over two hours to get through the Elemento Academy area’s tutorials, this was unhelpfully due to how spaced out all the tutorial quest givers were in this area. It’s a lot of running around, collecting or bashing sickeningly cute monsters over the head (or in my mage’s case, throwing basic elemental spells their way). The only good thing was having quest givers highlighted on the in-game map.
Paul Wood’s thoughts
Rinse and repeat
Frustratingly, the way quests were handled at the tutorial level continues throughout the game. It feels far too much like an ungainly World of Warcraft and a lot less fun. Sure, forming parties in WoW is an integral part of the experience, but nowhere near as early on as it is here. Solo questing, once you get out of the Academy area and are following the main story, the enemies – especially the bosses – are an absolute pain in the ass when it’s just you.
Not only does the style of questing remain stale, but you need to put yourself into parties of four players or more pretty early on, unless you want to spend an alarming number of hours grinding and levelling up. It was more than I cared to be subjected to and of course you get fewer experience points the higher your level when you keep fighting the same monsters, but you could almost guarantee that you’d begin to struggle as soon as you sought out tougher opponents.
Forming a party is not always the solution to getting through tougher bits of the game. For instance, it seems that if your character has already completed a dungeon, you can’t go back into the dungeon with a new party and help them defeat the boss inside, at least that was my experience when meeting up with Paul B in-game and then trying to help him complete the first dungeon. We could both go in, but we didn’t end-up in the same instance of the dungeon. Though could have just been a quirk of this particular instant, though entering and re-entering the dungeon still caused us to be in different instances.
And if moving from one quest hub to another wasn’t enough repetition, most fights involve you spamming either the same move and some potions one of your short cut buttons. Tactics seem to hardly come into any of it. Again, I couldn’t escape the feeling that I’d have had more options if it was an MMO based on a certain wizard’s universe.