Ragnarok Online - The War against Monsters over decadesBy: KradisZ posted at Aug 22, 2012 6:09 am
Ragnarok Online over a decade old and more. One of the first MMORPGs that has critically hit almost every gamer's mind if they grew up in that generation. Not to be presumptuous but even to say that all gamers have heard of Ragnarok Online may not be an exaggeration.
That being said even new gamers and young gamers of the new generation still hear the echo of battle with which Ragnarok Online brings.
Ragnarok Online is a surviving player. It only fights against 1 monster. That's right ONE SINGLE MONSTER.
That monster is called time.
Gravity Co.'s baby is Ragnarok Online. It has enough Vitality to fight time for over 12 years and more. With the amount of Luck it has it could still be going for another few years or to a full second decade making it one of the oldest MMOs alive still. The "Level" of Ragnarok Online would probably have succeeded 3 rebirths and more but the game treads on as if it's still a game that's been recently released.
While the game was Pay to Play for several years after their beta release, the uhhh.. "underground" servers came up and revitalised the whole game. At which time I was still too young to afford to play any Pay to Play games. The ... "free" option was rather intriguing to what gave me the game's intricate experience. But as time moved forward and gained more power, Ragnarok Online has made itself a free-to-play game. Or basically a zenny shop.(Cash shop, F2P).
Why are you talking about ancient old dead MMO's you fool?
It may be ancient but it has simple features that grant it that effect where it makes you want to come back and try it again. And most importantly I don't think it's a dead MMO. In fact I think it's very much alive still. The sprite work of monsters just keep coming, getting more and more intense in detail with its limitations. Monsters are abundant and different types are always available.
Ragnarok Online features a simple objective - Kill monsters. The game's story revolved around you being a player fighting in the war against monsters.
Its just another grind, probably the mother of all grinds.
No, the mother of all grinds is Silkroad Online but that's not what I'm talking about here. The game may be just kill monsters but you can play as many different roles such as Cleric, Swordsman, Thief, Archer, Merchant and so on.
Pfft it's just role-playing...
The game has more depth than just that. There's also MVPing(Boss hunting), card hunting, gear hunting, headgear collecting, PvPing, Wars, and many more.
In its early days there were only monster grinding and barely any MVPing. Baphomet was revered to be the hardest boss at first and is a signature monster of Ragnarok Online. The hardest now is... who knows? Not even the Lord of Death is that strong... in my opinon.
Not to mention all your jobs can bank off and upgrade into another tier of power. Swordsman can branch off into a Knight or a Paladin. Knights concentrating more on attack where Paladins are concentrated more towards defense. Furthermore you can upgrade into ANOTHER tier past that furthering your abilities and skills into a massive tree where you start losing sight of earlier skills. Knights for examples become Lord Knights and Paladins become Crusaders.
The game has a ton of content just on re-rolling and replay value. The game has a vast world and ultimately environments of every type I can think of on the top of my head before I lose track. IT IS A BIG GAME. Ragnarok Online has persisted through its business for many years without falter.
Why then is it not the top game out there or any sequel being high up there with Gravity Co. being the trademark publisher/developer?
Ragnarok Online's art style, design and systems is what made the game simple, fun, appealing and addictive. Their sequels such as Ragnarok Online 2 didn't do so well because of the loss of these elements in its representation. Although they did look pretty promising but upon experience it was rather dull and boring compared to its predecessor. Which then lead most of their core players to sink back into the old, Ragnarok Online.
So you mentioned a ton of content explain so I can go check it out, if I haven't already.
Explaining the amount of content Ragnarok Online has to give for an RPG is purportedly very long. Mostly because the game has so much to describe you'd be reading for ages just trying to figure out what the heck I'm trying to say. I've played the game for 7 years at least and I still don't know everything. The new episodes of Bifrost, Dewata and Eclage are ones I've never even experienced yet. This is insane for how long I've been connected to this game and what I know about it. The game is a behemoth in size over pretty much 70%+ of all the MMOs out there today.
To sum it all up its in the previously mentioned simple feature of the game; Kill Monsters. It may sound boring but the game's graphics definitely don't feel that old playing it in today's market. The mechanics of the game also don't feel old for how long its been out. Intense damage counters and rapid attack speeds are prevalent in Ragnarok Online.
The other thing is spell effects in this 2D game are impressively detailed for its time and how the future tier of the jobs' spells are even more detailed to match the date. With higher resolutions being offered and a bigger zoom-out of the game, the game looks pretty good as you zoom it out. The sprites don't look as pixelated since they're automatically smoothed a little from the zoom-out and you can see more detail along with it.
The massive content being mentioned is the amount of jobs there are that can branch off from your 1st job progression. For example you always start off as a Novice. Then you have about ... I don't know maybe 23 different jobs to choose from today?... Either way it's a choice that will differentiate you from someone else making you unique! Like this: Novice -> Thief -> Assassin -> Assassin Cross -> Guillotine Cross. Or well the official path is like this. Novice -> Thief -> Assassin -> Rebirth Novice High -> Thief High -> Assassin Cross -> Guillotine Cross. Every base class has this kind of choice. But it's not limited to this choice only... That seems linear but at the Thief point in the example you could've also went to be a Rogue instead of an Assassin and then Rogues turn into Stalkers and then finally a Shadow Chaser.
Here's an example I ripped off the net to explain what I'm talking about.
The statistic system is complex for newcomers. Statistics in Ragnarok Online can be overwhelming for new players, there are so many ways to build a character that one single way just doesn't work for every situation. There's no cookie cutter builds in Ragnarok Online. The way you spend your skill points and stat points will determine what kind of character you're trying to make. Maybe you want one that dodges everything -> Max Agility. Maybe you hate missing your attacks or want to cast faster -> Max Dexterity. You love to live -> Max Vit & Agility. You highly regard the dice rolls for crits and magical lucky dodges -> Max Luck. You want pure power? -> Max Str for fighter types, or Intelligence for caster types.
Here's a skill tree example of just a job expanded past the Acolyte into Priest... it's already a LOT.
Every statistic has their own purpose. (I may be missing a few attributes with each but...)
Strength -> More inventory weight capacity, more melee damage.
Agility -> More attack speed, more evasion.
Vitality -> More HP, More Defense, faster HP recovery
Dexterity -> More accuracy, minor attack speed improvement, casting speed improvement, more ranged damage
Intelligence -> More MP(Magic Power), More magic damage, Faster MP recovery.
Luck -> More critical hit chance, more lucky dodge chance, ???
Yes of course! The monsters! With a game themed around a war against monsters, monsters are definitely abundant. They're not recycled either(except maybe the porings... goblins... flies... doppelganger...). The game has numerous amounts of monsters of different types. Spells have elemental effects against them vs. their weaknesses and strengths. Some monsters can dodge like a ninja just like you making them very hard to hit unless you have high Dex. Other monsters can cast spells too, they're not just limited to a regular attack. Bosses are motherfreakingly hard. If you play the official expect to party up and team up to go killing these beasts. They're normally large on screen and take forever to kill and is normally hunted in groups. Why it's called MVPing is basically whoever does the most damage or contributes to the monster's death is the MVP(Most Valuable Player) and is then granted a solo reward to the damager.
Here's a boss... it's pretty much in scale with the above sprites. This thing is practically towering over your character being about 2 character's length in height.
That must suck for healers right? No, even healers have their own nukes that can wipe bosses really fast. Like a Priest's Magnus Exorcismus that just rips through demon/undead type monsters. The Arch Bishop later on provides more towards that offense that you need. If you prefer more furious combat go the path of the Monk. If not there's still other options out there in Ragnarok Online, one that can most definitely probably cater towards your liking.
Armor and equipment have slots also. These slots are to be fitted with cards, and pretty much 99% of all the monsters in Ragnarok Online drop cards. Cards grant special effects to your armor/equipment some even granting them passive abilities like Frost on hit...(probably the most OP thing ever). But the game gives lots of customization options with cards. TONS. So many you'll take a few years just trying to figure out them all 'til you find the ones you're looking for just for your one certain build.
Sounds impressive... how can a 2D game do all this?
The game runs on a grid system where you move cell-by-cell. No that doesn't mean this is a strategy game lol, it's just their way of presenting this game as a "3D" open world game rather than a side-scroller. So yes the environments are 3D polygons and your characters/skills/monsters are all 2D artwork made by some very talented artists who spent a lot of time making frames of attacks/death animations/attacks/skill effects.
Don't forget even after all the killing and stuff there's still PvP to be had.
PvP is fun in Ragnarok too. It can go fast or one-way or tied. Depends what you play. You could strip your enemy of their armor and wipe them out. Snipe them from afar with arrows. Call your bird repeatedly and strike them like a machine gun. Bash the crap out of your enemy. Strike them down with one hit from your fist. Counter their attack and smash them back with 1 hit with black words flying across your head. Call down meteors on your victims, send a chaos bolt of rainbows towards them and watch them drown in the misery of damage numbers flying out of their character. Hide in the shadows and strike like an assassin. Speed and criticals to overwhelm your opponent's damage output. Heal and smite your foe repeatedly so you never die and he gets weary of attacking losing an attrition battle.There's many ways to kill your enemy players in this game.
War of Emperium is like a Guild vs. guild battle where you defend your guild house or area against invaders. it's really damn fun just defending a fort against an invasion or onslaught of incoming players and not letting up on the defense.
Headgear collecting is fun. If you're into that kind of thing where you like to outfit your character, Ragnarok Online has a little bit of it. Although the game doesn't customize too much on character's body arms etc. Headgears are the items that present your customization over it all. Back in the day there wasn't very much due to limitations but the creators got 3 slots dedicated to headgear customization. That's not bad! Some games didn't even have any or only 1 or 2 things. The list of headgears you can wear? It's probably over 400+ items now. I could be wrong but that's a lot of swag to mix and match already. They're all different. Not 400+ recycled stuff.
Big world -> Ragnarok has a vast world, many cities, many monsters, many bosses, many jobs, many skills, many stats, many customizations, many players, many priv serv..., many environments, many episodes... and so on (Wait what was that 3rd last one?)
Ok if you continue going about the content this'll never end tell me what you think already.
The aspect of game play Ragnarok Online provides is simple. You kill monsters, you level up, you grow your character. It's a grind. No one is ever the same as you. Well... ok they'll be sort of similar to you in the beginning but like once you're past that 1st job change it's highly unlikely. But once you get to those 3rd jobs like Guillotine Cross, Arch Bishop, Rune Knight, and the like, there's probably no way you'll be the same.
The game is fun and addicting with its simple combat even when you don't use skills. Statistics are definitely a noticeable change for what you invest in. There's lots to do with quests now available in its present state. The game may be outdated but the graphics certainly don't look it. The sprites look like they could cater towards young adults too since you're not chibi-tized in game and your proportions do look human-like. The cartoony style makes it feel like it could be for kids too. The game would range from casual to hardcore. Where some just like to sit in town and chat with their avatars, or hardcore where you prefer to throw out damage counts of 1000-99999+ (or even 999999999).
The graphics are vast and detailed. They're very detailed and used very precisely. Even though the animations are mirrors of each other and the direction you face is just a mirror of your sprite. If you don't inspect it you won't notice. Their symmetrical mirror of the animations make the characters look asymmetrical during game play. Except when you attack it's noticeable but standing still not really. The environments fit the characters. They blend with it quite well and fit the game's theme very good. With future updates even some towns upgraded. Like Payon, it used to be puny until future episodes it's like a massive forest temple now. Or how about Morroc? where it got destroyed by Satan. The game has reflected changes with its episode and story. Even NPCs and their concept art image representation was well presented. The artwork was centered around the sprite characters presented in game.
The sound of the game was catchy at some places but hit the spot for all the environments you were in. Some places melodic and angelic, other places demonic and freaky. Or maybe you feel stranded from the tone of the desert? Or stuck in a strange dungeon. Ragnarok had its music themed well with its many different areas. The battle sounds didn't get old, they sound of a critical crack was always joyful to hear when you land them. The regular hits were appropriate, swords sound like swords slicing, bows shooting arrows were accurately presented in its gaming exaggerated format. It basically wanted you to come back over and over. Making the grind less noticeable in a sense.
Originality? Ragnarok Online is original, the amount of jobs and their tiers and the skills all put together make it top-notch original. Story its a war against monsters. They told you straight up that you're going to kill monsters and lots of them. They didn't beat around the bush trying to lure you into a grind, they told you straight up, your objective: Destruction of anything that isn't a player. unless you're in PvP. Story of the game evolved over the years it wasn't just kill monsters. The game eventually grabbed itself many different episodes about different bosses and monsters. Eventually quests made it to the game too and granted it more to do and story to be heard. The game had lots of sidestories with NPCs but I don't remember there being a main story though other than being the war against monsters. Apart from that I liked most of it anyways though it may be biased I'm leaning towards a high mark further down this review.
The story being mentioned a lot being about the war of monsters. it was a simple one at that. But the game had many different side stories. Even your job changing test quest was a story. The amount of little stories in Ragnarok Online was enough to tell a tale alright. Just many tales rather than one big tale. It wasn't the focus of the game but if you're looking for a story Ragnarok Online probably doesn't have it for you and you're better off seeking a single player or two player game for something more in depth.
Gameplay -> Ragnarok's game play was simple, or extremely complex. What do I mean? You could easily just play it and kill some monsters going "yeah whatever" or you could go crazy and be all "I need this card... I need that armor... I need those stat boosts.... god damn I need that boss' weapon drop..." It can range from anywhere from easy to megamind. Knowing your enemies' abilities and counters towards certain enemies helped a lot. Even monsters had a size category which your weapon had a certain decrease/increase of % damage against. Daggers doing like crap damage to huge monsters and strong damage to small monsters. Or Axes doing full damage to huge monsters and crap to small monsters etc.
The game had a lot of detail in terms of its mechanics and traits. Elemental effects, stat systems, dodge, % defense, # defense, critical hit chance, magic attack, physical attack, many different status effects, combos, skill combos, job skill combinations with other jobs. The game had many things other games today do not even have. Due to the long connection of Ragnarok and the massive amount of times I've quit the game and restarted it I have to give this game's game play at least a 9/10. Why so high? The grind wasn't meaningless, there was a purpose to get to that next job level, or killing that monster x number of times for their card, or chasing a boss down to prove yourself worthy, or just simply gaining the next level to make your character more godly.
Visuals -> Ragnarok Online had a lot of monsters. I saw tons and was always curious how a monster died(might be a little sadistic... :P) simply because I loved seeing the death animations of some monsters, where huge knights on horses just vanished into just a shield and a lance to a pink blob exploding into bits. There were plenty of environments to check out and never got bored of seeing one certain one since there was always another choice to move to another.
Towns were plenty rather than some games where there's only 1 or 2 of them for the majority of your gaming life on those games but Ragnarok provides you with at least 10 towns and more! Not that it's anything to brag about having so many towns its just that you can explore so many rather than see this boring drab city you're so sick of seeing every time you log on. Jobs/Classes were different as well but the skills each one had and the effects they presented in game definitely fit well with the combat and all the number generating times when you're fighting. Headgears were crazy things to go about in Ragnarok Online and provided most of its customization with it. Future updates gave certain dye palettes to your character's job/class making your outfit look different in color swaps. So many things to see and the 2D sprite on a 3D backdrop made the game a big world to explore rather than a limiting side-scroller. The visuals deserve a 9.5/10.
Originality -> The classes, the monsters, the skills, the world, the npcs, the kafras... how long it's been since the game was first unveiled. It's original. Probably one of the most nostalgic games every online gamer has dabbled into. Being a pay to play game at one point it certainly does have its value for being pay to play. With everything mentioned previously I'm giving this a solid 9.5/10. Just the amount of detail into this game is so much that it does differentiate itself from the others by a lot.
Sound -> The sound in game was great, the music was catchy, it fit their temples, dungeons, worlds, fields, and what not. They had a music for every themed area. Even the snowy areas sounded like Christmas and some areas just sounded like cold winter. Niffleheim was more along the lines of demonic/hallowe'en. Amatsu being extremely oriental.
Skill effects and things were also good, like triple knuckle strike on monks, sounded like a triple slap to the face that was a punch. Attack swings and bow string stretch release and hit were all there. Smallest of details were covered. Monster sounds and animations were all there, some were recycled but most weren't. The game has a lot of sound, and not annoying ones(except those F***ING MUKAS) and definitely had a lot for each and every monster being unique in their presentation via decibels, melodies, onomatopeiac noises. Concluding this score to be also a 9.5/10 (God damn they're all so high...)
Story -> Ragnarok had a simple story mentioned so many times in this article it's not worth mentioning any more. What Ragnarok did have was many side stories and little quests to go about it. Although in the beginning I don't know why they didn't have any other than make the game a mass grind until later years...
I even... uhh well I shouldn't mention this but I will; even I scripted a few quests on a privy, and managed a database and conjured up daily quests in Ragnarok which added a ton of things to do in the game. Eventually advancing those scripts and quests into events that actually generated a story driven with NPCs and concept art representations(I had NPCs disappearing after talking to you and other rooms where a portal opened for you to walk in and talk to another NPC in your own instance which afterwards spawned a monster for you to destroy or whatever to save the NPC.). I don't know why Gravity didn't invest in that further but as a single person who did dive into it, I made it happen for one server and ... well because I did I wondered why they didn't. Just because I found out and discovered this... development on a developer's side of view I'm going to give the score of Story a low 3/10. Simply because as a single person vs. an entire company I was able to accomplish something on this aspect alone that they didn't and is not apparent in their official version.
But due to many side stories being available in Ragnarok I'm giving it an extra 2 points to range from making it a 5/10. The missing 5 is that if you're a new player coming in old content won't be available to you for instance the destruction of Morroc by Satan won't make much sense if you're coming in blind to Ragnarok, players of old will know what happened but new one's won't, and due to the episodic updates of Ragnarok background lore is erased from the eye. How often does a player go seeking talking to NPCs looking for quests if they have no quest icon on the map? A lot of stories are available in Ragnarok, I personally found it hard to immerse on a story myself since there was no mainline one. It was more casual. Think of it like a series of comic books but all of a single subject and none connecting to one another. Don't get me wrong but there are some that are crazily linked together like the Dungeon Entrance quests(Bio Labs, Ayothaya etc.) but discovering them will take a bit unless you're a veteran. Especially the god item quests(Onward to the New World questline) they won't even be available until you've reached peak high-end.
Gameplay -> 9/10
Visuals -> 9.5/10
Sounds -> 9.5/10
Originality -> 9.5/10
Story -> 3/10 ~ 5/10 *Range score - no main story, lots of sub-stories though
Score: 40.5/50 ~ 42.5/50 -> 81/100 ~ 85/100
Lasting Effect: There's so many jobs to explore you can always replay and re-roll a different character. Some jobs level well in other areas that other jobs don't. So there's always a different place to try out for different levelling schemes/speeds and different monsters to check out. Different builds and stats to mess around with early on. Later on there's cards and equipment slotting that makes it even more intense.
Challenge: Easy To Hard To Tedious To Overwhelmingly Tedious
End Comments: Probably is one of the most well-known MMORPGs in the MMO market with this being one of the first. A high success unfortunately its success is determined by its... "free" option over the years. But the game still lives and hasn't shut down and continued updating. So it is a success even if it's business model has changed over the years. The content it gives is a lot and is highly regarded as a great game being compared to even MMO's in today's market. This article will be edited in the future just to add more detail since I'm too tired to write more at the moment. (Wrote from when I woke up 5am-7am).
The game was so popular it even had its own spin-offs
As always comments are welcome please keep it civil thanks!
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