Thursday, November 23, 2006

Ragnarok Online II Preview!

Hey everyone,

Sorry for such a long time between posts, but dear lord I've had one busy week. Now that midterms/lab exams/stress are finally over for a few weeks, figured I'd post this length preview of Ragnarok Online II(RO2).

The most obvious difference between RO2 and RO is in the graphics department. RO2 was designed from the ground up using the Unreal 2.5 engine. This results in breath-taking 3-D graphics, and most importantly, every piece of armor/weapons/headgear has their own graphical display. Resulting in almost 1000 different pieces of equipment to make your character's sprite unique. But as I'm sure everyone knows by now, I care little about graphics, so lets get to the core of RO2's design.

RO2 is designed around 3 basic races. The Dimago, Normans, and Ellrs. Little is known about the Dimago, but the Ellrs appear to be magically inclined; and use magical stones to battle. The Normans however have the most information, and will be the main focus of this preview. Every Norman starts off as a novice class (similar to RO) and at the appropriate base/job level they are able to change class into one the current 5 other classes: Swordman, Enchanter, Recruit, Thief, and Clown.

Now this is where Gravity put a creative spin on things. Each character may change classes an infinite amount of time. Whenever you change to a new class, your job level goes back to 1 and you are free to learn skills from the new class. If you wanted, however, to change back to your old class; you will still have the skills and job level from before.
As an example: If you were a level 30/25 (base/job) Recruit and wished to change to an Enchanter, you would then become an level 30/1 Enchanter. However, if after a few weeks you decided to go back to Recruit your level would again be 30/25.

What use is this, you might ask. Not only did Gravity allow for job changing, they also allowed the use of skills from all of your previous classes. Of course, you cannot level these skills without changing to the appropriate class, but it presents a lot of possibilities for builds. This would mean unlimited skills, but that is not the case. In order to use skills of another class (called 'specialty skills'), one needs to place them in their specialty skill grid. A 4x4 (at max level, it grows as you leve) grid which you can add skills to. Some skills may require 3 'blocks' of the grid and some may require 1. This makes the skill system much more exciting than RO's current system.

Some of you may be wondering, "but what about our stats! my enchanter is useless with strength and vitality from a swordman!". Gravity also thought of this, and reduced the stat 'system' per say. In RO, the current system is 9:1 (9 stats for every 1 "job level stat boost"). In RO2, the system is 2:3 and the stats have more widespread effects.
Take the example of Wisdom:

  • Increases melee physical attack speed
  • Increases ranged physical attack speed
  • Increases hit rate on spells
  • Increases minimum spell damage
As you can see, that could be beneficial to EVERY class at varying degrees, and thus stat builds have evolved into much more than the generic "pump all int/dex for mage". This also opens the doors for battle priest-style characters.

Now surely, this is incredibly exciting and you want to already play; but wait! There is more!

To further increase the character customization(build wise), Gravity has added more features, the most impressive being the equipment system. If anyone has played Secret of Mana they will be familiar with parts of this system. The basic premise is that two types of equipment exist in RO2: 'leveling' and 'non-leveling'. The leveling type speaks for itself; it gains experience and levels and has stat points the same as a character does. They are bound to your character. The non-leveling type are the more common MMORPG style equipment and they are not bound, but they do have random stats (think Diablo). As exciting as random stats are(I love the system), I'm going to talk more about the leveling-type.

The leveling type weapons are broken into three classes (think Lineage 2).
  • A-class: Max level 20
  • B-class: Max level 20
  • C-class: Max level 20
Once your weapon reaches max level, you must use a special combination item to upgrade it to the next class. Each time your weapon reaches max experience, you must take it to a blacksmith (think Secret of Mana) and have him upgrade it for you. Each weapon has a "growth" rate, in which its stats increase randomly based on that rate. For example:

The C-weapon 'Ellr's Knife' has high growth rate in both melee and magic power. Once it is upgraded into B-weapon 'Kris of Thorns', its growth rate changes to critical attack. So every level, the critical attack will "grow" faster than the other stats. As you can see, this leads to some very interesting builds also.

A few final features of RO2 that many people have been asking for are:
  • The ability to swim, jump, and move via WASD (keyboard). Also, the path finding has been improved so you do not run into walls when clicking around sharp corners.
  • Loot will be collected from a corpse's body (removes looting, which plagued early RO)
  • Facial expressions instead of emoticons.
  • INCREDIBLE sound track, composed by Yoko Kanno (google her name for some of her work), she composed over 90 songs for RO2.
Overall, I suspect RO2 will be a mega-hit. The character customization is amazing, and the various builds..are limitless. It will be quite exciting indeed. Currently Korea, Japan, Brazil, Taiwan, Thailand, Malaysia all have licences purchased to host the game in their respective languages. No official word on international RO2 yet, but I assume its tied closely to the Korean version, as iRO is a subsidiary of kRO. Open beta is slated for December/January in Korea, and the other countries should not be far behind.

Note: I did not discuss PVP, WoE, etc... because there is no info on them currently. We have been assured it will more exciting than RO's current implementation.




RedFlame said...

Err I just noticed I posted 2 ROSE screenshots by accident, will remove them when I get home from school in a few.

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