Ragnarok Online Review
By Omer Altay
Ragnarok Online was one of the first few Korean MMORPGs I’ve ever played and it’s probably the reason I still play them today. If I was never introduced to Ragnarok Online by a friend, I may have never gotten into the entire ‘free-to-play’ MMORPG scene in the first place, as I only started playing free MMORPGs after I became hooked on Ragnarok Online. Yeah, Yeah, I know, back then Ragnarok Online was entirely Pay to Play, so in order to play for free, I must have played on a private server, and I did. In fact, before the release of Valkyrie, the free-to-play server, I bet there were more Ragnarok Players on private servers than all of the official servers put together. Although a lot of people still play on bootleg servers, but I’m sure that after more people learn that Gravity, the game’s publisher, launched a free server of their own, people will begin migrating to the official servers.
Okay, What about the actual game?
Ragnarok Online is a beautifully animated 3D Fantasy MMORPG. Players can move around and explore the world through a simple, yet polished point and click controls. The game’s anime inspired graphics and uniquely designed sprites help create an overall memorable gaming experience. Apparently I’m not the only one that appreciated the game’s graphics and style, as both Secret of the Solstice and Water Margin Online copy the game’s graphic style. Ragnarok Online has an interesting system where players have two levels, a ‘base level’ and a ‘job level’. Whenever you gain experience points, both your ‘base’ and ‘job’ levels will advance, but the ‘job level’ tends to level up slower. Each ‘base’ level grants stat points that can be allocated into different attributes and each ‘job’ level earns you single skill point that. What really makes Ragnarok Online feel like a ‘complete’ and ‘comprehensive’ game is the large selection of job advancements.
Snipers, Dancers and Wizards oh My!
Players start off their adventure in Rune Midgard, the game’s world, as a classless Novice but can quickly advance to one of the game’s six starting ‘jobs’ of Swordsman, Mage, Archer, Merchant, Thief and Acolyte after reaching a level 9 ‘job level’. The game has another starting class or ‘Super Novice’, but it’s mostly for bored veterans of the game looking to kill time, so new players should just ignore it. The beauty of Ragnarok Online is that the game’s job advancements are a great way of keeping players hooked onto the game. After the first job advancement, players can advance their jobs again at job level 40. If you’re really hardcore about Ragnarok Online, The game doesn’t end for you here because after reaching your level 40 ‘job’, you can advance your class one more time, but only after reaching maximum level and ‘rebirthing’ your character by effectively starting over at level 1. After rebirthing your character, you’ll have access to special skills and bonus stat points, but you’ll need to work your way up the experience ladder again, but this time the amount of experience you need to level up will be significantly more. After reaching a level 40 job class on a ‘rebirthed’ character, you can advance to your character again. For a more detailed explanation of job advancements and a list of them, click here
The single best aspect of Ragnarok Online is the game’s regular content updates. The company behind the game, Gravity, has done a remarkable job in keeping this 7 year old game fresh and addictive in a world where there are over 150 free MMORPGs. Ragnarok Online is currently on its 12th episode called ‘Nightmare of Midgard, The Destruction of Morroc”. Each of the episodes for the game have been major content updates, so seeing that the game already has 12 major content updates is quite impressive. The game’s 11th episode introduced the country of Arunafeltz, a religious nation modeled after Middle Eastern culture, to the game. The game’s 10th episode introduced the Schwaltzvalt Republic, which is an industrialized nation located in the northern part of Rune Midgard. Each of the new zones also has some solid background music which adds to the overall enjoyment of the game. Since leveling up is heavily grind based, having catchy background music certainly helps. The fact is that the sheer amount of content in Ragnarok Online is simply massive, so if you’re looking for a game that has consistent content updates, Ragnarok is a game for you.
War of Emperium / PvP
The single most popular aspect of Ragnarok Online by the game’s playerbase is the ‘War of Emperium’ feature, which is basically a series of massive guild wars between all the qualified guilds on the server. The series of guild wars only occur once a week and for a period of two hours. The War of Emperium takes place in a series of castles available in the game and the purpose of the battle is to try and capture the ‘Emperium’, inside of a castle. Whichever guilds successfully capture and hold their castles will have the benefit of exploring a special dungeon and have their guild name and banner recognized on the server until the next War of Emperium.
Last minute Thoughts
With so many new and more advanced MMORPGs coming out, Ragnarok Online does a remarkable job of being able to retain its player base, as the game’s population on the new ‘Valkyrie’ server is huge and increasing every day. I may be nostalgic, but I believe Ragnarok Online has truly survived the test of time, as even though it’s over 7 years old now, it’s still better than a lot of the newer free MMORPGs out there and can hold its own against MMORPG heavyweights like Atlantica Online and Perfect World. The only real complaints I have with Ragnarok Online is the game’s occasional server lag and absolutely terrible questing system. I’m not sure why Gravity hasn’t upgraded the game’s questing system, as it doesn’t even have a quest log, so keeping track of what quests will usually require pen and paper.
Final Verdict: Excellent (5/5)
Everything from Ragnarok Online’s beautifully animated game world to the content rich gameplay helps make it one of the best free to play MMORPGs of all time. The only real drawback is that the game is heavily grind oriented and the questing system needs to be entirely remade.
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