Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Rohan Online: Blood Feud

Hey there,

This review is focused on Rohan Online, a new English MMO (translated from an older Asian based MMO of the same name), which just happens to share the abbreviation RO with both Requiem Online and Ragnarok Online. I'll be calling it 'Rohan' instead, to avoid any confusion.

The game entered its Open Beta phase in late May (around the 27th), and shortly after opening the servers were overflowing and disconnecting. To remedy the problem they added 3 more servers within a day, which all but eliminated the lag/disconnect issues: props to them for quick action in solving the problem. The Open Beta phase is free, with no wipe before going Gold (your characters in OB will be playable in the gold version). It is a Free-to-play game with a cash-shop where you can buy skill stones (more about these later), stat/skill resets, and various other aesthetic items.

The fundamentals of the game are akin to its MMO peers; level up through grinding on monsters or performing quests, job change a certain level, etc.. What sets this game apart from many others is the fact that it contains a well thought out status point system and skill system. For each character level you gain one skill point and four status points. The status points can be alloted anyway you choose into 6 potential areas (strength, wisdom, psychic, agility, dexterity, vitality). Each area has no limit, thus at level 99 (the maximum level) you could theoretically have 400+ of a single stat, which leads to a great variety of builds appearing in the game. The difficulty with going for maximum damage (mass dexterity as a ranged character) is that you give up vitality which offers much needed health and defense, thus it is not all about pumping a single stat.

In order to compliment the status system, the skill system uses skills that deal percentile damage, such as 800% of your wisdom as damage, or 250% of your attack as damage, etc.. This means that even the most basic skills will easily scale up and be useful from level 10 to level 99, depending on your playing style and build style. It also means that the way your status points are alloted will be a very large determinant to your success in the later levels and in the PVP environment. This is completely opposite from most of the current MMOs, where your equipment is the sole determinant of your success. The skill system also contains a wide variety of 30-minute long enchantments for every class, this forces you to make a decision of whether you'd like to get all the enchantments for large passive buffs, or pump all the active skills for large burst damage. And of course, to balance, some classes have the ability to remove your buffs, or silence you from casting active skills. Because the skill system is point based (one point each level to invest) there is no need to save up money to buy new skill, and you can truly create individual builds. An addition to the skill system are the skill stones. These stones allow you to upgrade a skill beyond its maximum level, at a random chance. As an example suppose a skill is max level 5 and gives 800% psychic damage at that level; if you used skill stone to get it to level 6 it may do 850% psychic damage, and using another to get level 7 it might do 1000% psychic damage. Most skills have a skill stone maximum though, usually topping out at level 7 or level 8. The stones are incredibly rare, and are generally obtained by fishing (a mini-game) or buying them from the cash shop.

The class system in Rohan is quite similar to most other games, you must pick your races when you make your character and once you reach level 50 you can change into one of two possible classes. As there are 6 races in Rohan, there is a total of 12 end-game classes. They range from the powerful Warlock to the armored Defender. Each class has a skill-tree, including the "default" race class (such as Knight for the Human race which then changes into a Guardian or Defender), so there is a wide variety of skills to choose from. The individual classes are very well balanced in respect to the others, such as the Assassin having the ability to critical for massive damage (420% of their agility) but the Wizard is able to prevent their entire party from receiving critical damage for 60 seconds. Such counter-balances are present in each class towards some other individual class. Because the game is Open PVP, it is very important to level together in a party later on, lest you run into your classes' counter-class and get killed.

Why is the game open PVP you ask? Because certain races (the Dhan in particular) have the ability to gain experience from killing people in PVP. In order to achieve they must change their mode to "Assassination" mode, which causes city guards to attack them on sight, and if they die to other players they have a higher chance of dropping equipment. In order to prevent massive ganking, Rohan has a revenge list feature. Every time someone kills you, their name goes onto your revenge list. At any time, you can click on their name and warp directly to them in order to kill them and seek revenge. You only get one chance though, once you warp to them they disappear from the revenge list. However, if done correctly, you can easily assassinate a higher level player just as they are in the midst of a boss-battle. But don't worry about getting dropped so easily in PVP, because the damage modifier for PVP is 33%, thus any attacks will deal 33% of their normal damage.

The item system in the game is quite well thought out. Every item that drops has completely randomized bonuses. For example, you could get a sword with +4 wisdom and a rod with 2% melee damage, or vice versa. In addition, in order to use the equipment you must meet the level and status point requirements (such a sword that requires level 33 and 35 str, 27 dex). If you don't meet the requirements, you can bring the item to an NPC and get them to downgrade the requirements for you. This works by a random dice roll, if you are lucky the requirement will go down by the number of levels, or stats, you specified (more levels at a time costs more and has a higher chance of failure). If you are unlucky, the requirement will go up by the number of levels, or stats, you specified; but it will never go above the base value you started with. Many people have spent entire fortunes trying to decrease a level 33 weapon down to level 27 so they may use it; it can be quite addicting. But thats not all you can do with your equipment, every piece of equipment in the game is an ingredient to a rare or unique piece of equipment. You make these by bringing them to an NPC so that they can be forged together; there is of course a chance of failure, especially if you add additional orbs that give other bonuses (such as a +5 defense orb). The completed rare/unique weapon will have all of the bonuses that the ingredients had, thus the equipment you find from monsters/quests can be very useful. The game also features an auction house which functions like most auction houses in other games. The item system allows for a huge variety of items, especially once combining, and it is a feature I hope to see in future MMOs.

In order to help you level, or just for aesthetics, there are a wide variety of pets you can purchase and feed/level. Their bonuses range from +30% HP to an ability that allows you to teleport to a set location with a cool down. They are quite expensive however, much like the mounts, thus don't expect to have one of these until you are nearing level 40-50. While we're on the leveling topic, the questing system is very generic. Hunt X monsters, come back for a reward, or go talk to these NPCs then come back. I found the EXP rewards for questing to be quite poor, but the item rewards are amazing, thus I only did the quests which gave me a new weapon or armor that I needed.

One of the more unique features of the game is the M.Kill system (Monster Kill). This is simply a counter that tallies how many monsters you've killed, once it reaches 19 the next kill will give 7x the experience. Once it reaches 39 the next kill is 10x, etc.. until it reaches 99 in which the next kill will give 20x the experience, and then the counter will reset back to 0. This counter only works for solo-leveling, once you are in a party every kill in the party goes towards the party's MKill. The party MKill goes from 0 to 25, once you reach 25 its 5x exp and then resets back to 0. The MKill system is a very nice addition as it makes leveling quite a bit easier and more active as you should use the bonus exp kill on a harder monster. I found that both party level and solo leveling were roughly the same speed, provided you were efficient at both. However, in the later levels the exp starts to come very slowly, taking many hours to to achieve a single level at level 40.

Last but not least, the graphical aspect of the game is nothing to write home about. They are not amazing, even a little choppy at times, but all in all they do not hurt the eyes and there is a wide variety of monsters (each race has their own area with their own monsters) and monster sprites. The sound is also decent, but not amazing. Not really much to say about either categories, you can make your own opinion from the screen shots.

Overall the game is quite enjoyable, especially playing with a group of friends. It has all the aspects you'd expect in a top notch MMO, including good customer service (which is rare for F2p games). My major qualm with it lies in the grinding and cash-shop, but such things are necessities in order to keep the game afloat. The Mkill and item combination features are things I hope to see in future MMOs, along with a more detailed pet system. If you're bored during the summer I highly recommend you give this a shot, but be careful of the boss monsters, just because they are 5 levels lower than you it doesn't meant they go down without a fight!


-cash shop stat/skill reset decreases the allure of a status system
-very very grindy in the higher levels
-poor quest system
++ MKill system
++ item system
+++ status/skill system




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Anonymous said...

8.5/10? Maybe I should give this game a 2nd chance. I gave up at level 30+... It's painfully boring.