However, Ragnarok Online 2 has been in development for quite some time. Actually, it's been out in Korea since March. Talks of it coming to the west have been happening for what feels like years, though finally, that seemingly pipe dream becomes a reality. Ragnarok Online 2's open beta has commenced, and Hardcore Gamer will be partaking in it. Thus, I (Bradly Hale) will be liveblogging my time with the game, providing you an in-depth look at what it has to offer along with the thoughts of my journey.
So check back, and check back often for updates throughout the day, as well as over the next few days for all the insider goodness.
Do note that there are plenty of spoilers to be found in the entries below. Consider yourself warned.
I just fought a rock song-singing, violin-playing, sunglasses-wearing, saw-wielding king crab. I kid you not. I think this gives new meaning to the song “Rock Lobster”.
On that note, that’ll do it for today’s liveblog. Check back this week for a few more entries!
The soundtrack in RO2 is really quite excellent. Actually, the audio in general is top-notch. From the sound effects to the voices to the whimsically beautiful soundtrack itself, this game delivers in spades in this area. The field music of any MMO has to be good; after all, it’s where you’ll spend the majority of your time. So to hear the heartwarming song that plays as you traverse RO2′s vast landscapes is a real treat.
The only thing holding back the OST right now is its diversity — there really isn’t any. I’ve heard the field track, and a small handful of other tunes, but that’s it. I hope it opens up more as the game does the same.
And I’m officially out of West Mjollnir, and have landed in East Mjollnir. I’ll see what this place has to offer me.
I got a hat for taking down Pritz — my guy looks like a total idiot now. Never been a fan of caps in MMOs. it spoils your character’s appearance.
Well, I didn’t give him the Stone Cold Stunner, or even the Hulk Hogan legdrop, but I did team up with a fellow passerby acolyte, and we took him down. He said the reason he defected was because Freyjanity’s plans for the future were “too perfect.” Dude was off his rocker.
It would seem this was just the tip of the iceberg. Freyjanity has more in store for Mjollnir. I’ve now got to get my ass out to warn people in Bouquet Village.
There’s that treacherous dog, Pritz! Time to give him the Stone Cold Stunner.
I’m on the hunt for the traitorous professor (Pritz), when I suddenly run across a cutscene between him and one of the academy knights fighting! Hot damn! I’m about to investigate what’s going on. Have a screenshot of the duel to tide you over.
A break the action; let’s talk about the Card System in RO2. Making a return appearance, the card system here is a little different than it was in the first game. This time, the cards are attached to your character instead of specific items. In an interview with Gravity Co. CTO Jin-soo Jun, this change was essentially made in response to the fact that Ragnarok Online had a plethora of rare items that often were under-valued due to low level items being socketed with powerful cards. This ultimately made the inherent abilities in said rare items far less meaningful, and thus actually became a balancing issue and a limiting factor when making new content.
Worse yet, a good number of folks had trouble obtaining the cards in the original RO because they were incredibly rare. To counter this in RO2, the devs implemented cards in rank order: bronze, silver and gold. What that means is simple; a gold card is more difficult to find than say a bronze card. So, once someone obtains these, they can then combine five of the same card to be rewarded with a special version of that card, which will in turn more greatly increase its stats. Keep in mind that the cards help build your stats and make you stronger.
There’s a laundry list of cards to collect. This adds a sort of Pokemon, gotta-catch-em-all feel to the game, as after a player kills an enemy and subsequently loots them, there’s a chance the monster will have dropped its card. It just adds another layer to the game that makes it all the more addictive. As you can see below, I haven’t found many yet. Even the bronze level aren’t all that easy to come across.
Success! I’m pretty sure I needed to be a higher level and/or with a group of people to more effectively take that guy down, but I did it all the same. Exhilarating is the word I’d use to describe that. Even better is the story that went along with it. It seems that one of the professors, who I have been receiving quests from since the beginning of the game, is in cahoots with Freyjanity — the occult group who was thought to be vanquished three hundred years ago. Yep, that’s right — shit’s gettin’ real. Now I have to track him down. Hell yes.
And I’ve enter my first dungeon. I’m not in a party — I plan to get into party play in a little bit — but so far it’s been manageable on my own. I’m starting to notice how slow it is to level a full-support acolyte. This is painful! The worst part about it is there’s no skill reset in the game, unless you plan on going monk or beastmaster for your secondary job. Bummer. Guess I’ll just have to live with the consequences of my decisions. Being a healer is overrated and under-appreciated, my friends.
Ah, finally, a new weapon and a change of scenery. In our world, we call that a two-for-one deal. I mean, I can only take so much of seeing trees and rolling hills before I just want to cry.
I said it before, but I’ll say it again: I love how RO2 makes you actually use your map. I continue to need to consult it to find where I’m going. That sort of thing seems to be missing in today’s market of MMOs.
And its back to killing hornets and looting their corpses to complete a quest.
I’m being directed to the repair shop as part of a quest to get me acclimated to all the game’s workings. Little does this repair lady know, I’m money — I don’t need her services. These fools can’t touch me; I got dem 1337 skills. (Is saying you have “1337 skills” still a thing?)
As I walk further into the town’s center, I notice a bunch of player shops are set up. I immediately reminded of ROSE Online… So many seller shops in that game. It was obnoxious.
BUT!, this isn’t so bad. Actually, I’m immediately reminded of RO2′s new Dual-Life System. If you played the original Ragnarok, you may have noticed that all of the classes in that game made the transition to RO2, except one: the merchant. There’s a reason for that. In the first game, the merchant was the one used to set up shops and sell your wares. Here, people are allowed to set their characters to NPC’s while they are offline, in order to offer their services (such as crafting, tailoring, etc.) to online players.
This is a great way to make a profit while not actively playing the game. Not to mention, it cuts down on having to spend your precious play-time selling stuff. Pretty rad and innovative, actually. I just hope it doesn’t result in entire cities being overrun by bots and player shops, like in ROSE.
Ran up the nearest hill to a small town where I continue my story quest. Kind of cool: for part of my mission, I’m asked to read a book given to me. I open up my bag, click on the book and read a quick, three page report on the history of the Goddess Freyja’s destruction. Upon finishing it, I talk to the quest giver again, a historian with the academy, and she gives me a shot, two question quiz. The questions are multiple choice, and aren’t all that difficult. Fortunately, if you get a question wrong all that happens is you start the test over again. No big deal.
This is the first quest that’s broken away from the tried-and-true formula of killing stuff in return for dropped loot. I like it. I hope to see more of this variety. It’s not anything mind-blowing, but it was appreciated nonetheless.
Taking a look at the skill tree now. I have held off on spending any points, but the good news is the tree is pretty self-explanatory. Often times, skill trees can feel a bit unwieldy and overwhelming. That’s not the case here. I scan the 13 options, some of which are DPS-related, others are embedded in a seemingly support/healing role. For the sake of my build and what I want to do in the game, I’ll be looking at the middle, but mostly the right column for all the support skills.
You’ll notice there appears to be more than 13 abilities. That’s because there are — but those are for my secondary class that I”ll receive upon completion of a specific quest at level 25.
Back for day three of the Ragnarok Online 2 liveblog. Time to jump right into it.
Alright, got my first full, new set of armor! Though it’s not all that different from the starting gear, it at least offers some cosmetic (mostly color) variations that are noticeable.
Nevertheless, that should do it for tonight. I’ll be back tomorrow morning when I plan to discuss skill trees, the Card system and so much more! Fare-thee-well, people of the Internet!
I catch back up to where I was before, though I’m not as high a level — skipped some stuff to hurry back to the plot. I fight my first difficult pseudo boss battle. He’s a giant, round, slime thing that hops and wears a crown and oversize sunglasses. Yep, you read that correctly. If that’s not awesome, I don’t know what is. If you don’t believe me, check ‘em out below.
To my surprise, as I log back into my acolyte, I realize all the progress I made in the past hour has been erased. I’m assuming it was lost during the server maintenance. Man, this game just can’t get with it. Talk about taking two steps forward and two steps back. Better yet, and more relevantly, talk about taking two levels forward, and then two levels back. In other words, I’m back to level 3. Womp, womp.
I quickly log out to check on the status of my original server. We’re back in business. Back to my acolyte, I go.
Switched over to the newly added Freyja server. I decided to mix things up and roll an archer. So far, the gameplay is fairly different from that of the acolyte’s. Battles are a little faster, a little more varied and the archer’s starting costume (which is the same as the thief’s) is super gnarly. It’s very hunter-esque, and certainly solidifies the I-can-make-it-rain-with-a-barrage-of-arrows feeling. I’m blowing through the quests more quickly now, almost catching up to where I’m at with my main character. Though, I can’t hide it — I miss my acolyte.
Server down yet again. Switching over to another for the time being.
I’m on a story quest now. It seems the plot is starting to gather steam. There’s some weird shit happening around the academy from which I’m about to graduate, and it would seem I have stumbled right into the middle of it. After bearing witness to a group of mysterious looking folk, who apparently look an awful lot like another band of misfits from a time long since passed, I’m asked to deliver this news to the dean of the academy — and to do so with haste. The quest giver, a professor and knight of the school, seems particularly distraught over this suspicious lot. I oblige her request and get on my way with a little extra hurry in my step.
More gathering quests. How riveting.
Fortunately, the quest structure is rather well put together, so you never feel like you’re lost or without good direction. At the same time, the game doesn’t hold your hand. I’ve grown so accustomed to MMOs telling me exactly where to go and what to do, that having a little bit of ambiguity is refreshing. RO2 tells you a direction to go, but never the precise locale. Instead, it makes good use of proximity, location and environmental layout to help you navigate to your next objective. I’ve noticed that the flow of each quest makes sense. Rarely do the story quests feel disjointed.
So the leveling seems to tick by pretty quickly. Though I have been just wandering around and exploring the game world without any real sense of urgency, the battling and quests that I have engaged in have netted serious EXP. About 15-20 enemies will earn me a level at this point.
I did hear prior to the game’s launch that level cap could be reached fairly quickly, roughly 40-ish hours. This can only mean that much of RO2′s experience will take place in the end-game content. I’m quite okay with that. I’m much more of a party/raid kind of MMO’er, so I welcome a quick run to the end, if it means that’s when I can get into all the stuff I enjoy. I can see where others may not be of the same mind, however.
And we’re back, seven hours and a few beers later, ready to delve into some more RO2. Let’s get this show on the road.
Ah, server maintenance.
For the next 7 hours.
Well done, guys
I’ll return then with some more livebloggin’, and plenty of beer.
Servers are down again. That would explain the aforementioned lag. Looking into what the deal is.
Hello latency, my old friend. This game has some serious server issues. I hear they’re working on that, though. Probably a good idea.
There’s a good deal of talk happening in the chat box right now about feeding alligators ramen and virgin’s blood. All in broken English. Perfect.
Combat so far has been your run-of-the-mill point, click, cycle through your hotkeys. In a market that seems to be leaning more toward dynamic battles, such as those found in TERA and Guild Wars 2, it’s a peculiar move to implement such a formulaic, and static battling system. I’m not vehemently against more traditional combat mechanics in MMOs, and in fact I often welcome then (they just seem so much more relaxed, which means I can drink more beer and not have my skills hindered), it just feels strange to have a new game come out that sticks strongly to the basics.
As an acolyte, the combat can feel mundane. You start the game with only three skills (one of which is a heal) and more or less spam your fire attack over and over again. There seems to be a pretty high rate of landing critical hits, so that makes watching things unfold a bit more exciting. I’ve dabbled in the thief a little as well, and their battling is far more active. You can string together combos in addition to building up a gauge with specific skills to only unleash enormous attacks once a certain condition has been met.
Whether you enjoy the combat will probably be contingent upon the class you pick. Keep that in mind.
And we’re back, seven hours and a few beers later, ready to delve into some more RO2. Let’s get this show on the road.
I ended up finding dude’s items by killing a few Porings. He gave me some item to run off to another guy in return. What a terrible reward to give someone for doing you a favor: “Oh, hey, thanks for doing that. As a token of my appreciation, I’m gonna give you more busy work to do. Enjoy!” No, thanks. All the same, I take off on my merry way, collecting more pointless quests as I trek to my next story mission. In the process, I start noticing some pretty gnarly input lag. It’s manageable up front, just requiring me to double-tap my hotkeys to perform combat maneuvers, which is annoying but like I said, I can work with it. … Until the whole damn server stops responding. And that’s where I’m at now, along with about a thousand other people who are spamming their nerd-rage through the chat channel. Real mature, people. Oh, just kidding, I was just dropped from the server entirely. Awesome.
I’ll take this time to talk about some of the other aspects of the game that I haven’t touched on yet. For starters, anyone who’s played an MMO over the last ten years will feel very comfortable with the game’s interface. It’s actually quite slick: it makes sense, feels familiar and is easy to navigate. All the buttons you’d expect to open certain menus do (like ‘C’ opens your character screen, ‘L’ opens your quest log, etc.), and the icon placement of the hotbar for your attacks is very WoW-inspired. Not having a hotkey for your basic weapon attack feels cumbersome though, as the game requires the player to point and click on a target to unleash a standard attack.
Despite its super clean layout, the HUD can feel a bit small and hard to read. When I say small, I mean if you’re playing at your screen’s natural resolution, some of the icons and writing looks a bit tiny. An MMO requires large, recognizable menus that don’t force players to double and triple check a screen to ensure they’re clicking on the right menu. The game’s aesthetics do some to make up for this however.
Ragnarok Online 2 is a good-looking MMO. It’s vibrant, the art direction is unique and the use of colors does a lot to create an imaginative world. With all the settings cranked up to the max, the game looks rather sharp. Fortunately, the system requirements aren’t high, so it’s likely that you’ll be able to max out the graphics if you have a decent rig. (Anything bought/put together in the past six or seven years will do just fine).
That said, even with the solid visuals, they aren’t as strong as many others in the genre. Sure, they trump Dragon Nest, C9, Runes of Magic and Allods, but with newer titles like RaiderZ cropping up, it’ll be interesting to see how long RO2′s graphical presentation holds water. Nevertheless, with other games such as AION, DC Universe and Planetside (and even upcoming F2Ps like Firefall and Neverwiner) looking like AAA titles, Ragnarok’s aesthetics may ultimately become an acquired taste. They will certainly appeal to anyone who likes a heavy helping of anime flare with their MMOs — that’s for sure. If that’s your thing, you’ll have plenty at which to marvel.
So it seems today is graduation day for all the little orphans. However, for my guy, today’s not starting off on the right foot. It would seem that I’m skipping class, and as a result, I’m being forced to kill Baby Porings. Apparently, the little bastards are infesting the whole place and just generally causing mayhem in and around Mt. Mjollnir. I wonder if the developers, Gravity Co., think they’re really clever using all this Norse mythology.
Anyhow, so I’m off to kill these cute things as a punishment for playing hookie. No big deal. I run off and destroy not three, but FOUR of them, just for good measure… and to prove that I’m a death-dealing bad ass. Afterward, I arrogantly run back to the teacher who reprimanded me only to hear him tell me that there’s a grounds keeper who really should be taking care of this Poring business himself. I agree; I just wasted 5 minutes of my time exacting genocide on the tiny dudes — I don’t want that shit on my conscience.
Regardless, I’m off to find the grounds keeper with a poor work ethic. On my way to him, I find a random
drunk man, lying face down on the ground. He mumbles something about the Porings being “too strong” — the same Porings I just steamrolled without any issue — and requests that I hunt more of them to find some lost item of his. Let the fetch quests begin!
So far, pretty standard stuff. Go to point ‘A’, kill ‘X’ of creature ‘B’, return to quest-giver. Rinse, repeat. We’ll see if the story quests can pick up the pace and give us something good to chew on.
On a loading screen now that is doubling as a cutscene to deliver the game’s back story. It’s being told in stills and text. The art isn’t all that spectacular; in fact it’s markedly blurry. Interesting. Nevertheless, it gets the job done.
It seems the game is following up on the events of the original Ragnarok Online. (That would make sense, after all.) We’re provided a recap of the defeat of Frejya, the villain of the first RO. The scene jumps forward 300 years and a bunch of kids have been abducted by a cult that is rising up in the name of Frejya. Their group is aptly dubbed, “Frejyanity”, and they all look rather sinister. That… that’s just a terrible name: “Frejyanity”. Ugh. Anyhow, the famed hero Reinhart eventually vanquishes the evildoers and recaptures the taken children, who are now apparently orphans after the whole ordeal. The screen goes black, and the text, “ten years later…” pops up. We’re in the game now, and from the looks of it, we’re one of those orphans.
Alright, so the lore isn’t super engrossing, but it’s compelling enough. At least the translation is pretty decent; that’s more than most K-MMOs can claim.
Alright, so first things first. Let’s take a look at the character creator. We’ve got the standard male and female genders, along with five character classes from which to choose. For the time being, I’ll be going with my usual class: a priest, or as they’re called in RO, Acolytes. Way to be different, guys. Way to be different. From there, it’s on to pick one of four jobs: chef, alchemist, blacksmith or artisan. Since acolytes specialize in light armor, I’m going with an artisan, which can produce cloths, light armors and a variety of accessories. Up next we’ve got sliders for actual physical customization. 15 hairstyles, 15 hair colors, 9 face styles, 17 different eye colors, 5 voice options and 10 eye styles. Lastly, you’ll be asked to input your name; fortunately, mine hasn’t been taken. And we’re off.
Not a bad little character creator, really — especially for a F2P game. I mean, it’s not AION or Guild Wars 2 extensive, but it’s more comprehensive than WoW’s, and is in a league of its own when put up against an appropriate competitor like Dragon Nest.
Welcome to the Ragnarok Online 2 Liveblog!