Free for All: Your guide to a freemium Ryzom

While some details are still a little foggy, we recently learned that the unusual sci-fantasy MMO Ryzom will be going freemium on March 9th, pretty much the time that this article will go live. To say that this was exciting news is quite the understatement, especially since I have been a fan of the game for several years. I even hosted a podcast dedicated to the game and have always tried to play it when I get the chance.

Of course, a $10.95-a-month subscription kept me from dedicating too much time to it, as did the fact that I keep myself busy with every other game under the sun, so getting the chance to take as much time as I want in the game is thrilling. Also, this means that new players can try the game out without fear of running into the end of a 21-day trial, although since free players are capped at a level limit of 125 out of 250, they'll eventually be asked to pony up for the rest of the game.

Let me tell you why this is exciting and give you some basic information to get you started on the wonderful world of Atys. Later in this article, I've even embedded a two-year-old video I made about live events in Ryzom. It's funny, I have my work clothes on, and I talk really fast. I felt it was still relevant because live events still happen in Ryzom, and I wanted to show off some of the games graphics while I was at it.

Click past the cut and let's discuss!

First, it's important to know what you are getting into. After setting up an account, you will need to decide on your new character's race. There are four distinct races: the mysterious, masked Zorai; the noble (and snooty) Matis; the smaller and gear-friendly Tryker; and the mighty warriors of Fyros. I'll let you discover which race you would like to try, or you could fill up each character slot with a different one and have fun.

If you want to catch up on the very extensive lore, you can try the Chronicles of Atys website. Over the years, the lore has taken on a life of its own, and you would be hard-pressed to find a world as unique and varied. Read up a bit and get in the mood for some strange, yet engaging, storytelling.

Once you roll your character, you will be asked to pick a specialization like magic, crafting, or combat. Don't worry -- with time, you can learn every skill there is to know in Atys, so the ones you pick before beginning the game are just to give you a slight head-start down a preferred path. I always start with combat to build up some much needed fighting abilities (Atys is beautiful, but very dangerous) and learn the others along the way. That's right -- you can eventually be a sword-wielding crafter who likes to heal people. It's brilliantly simple, yet it can be hard to learn everything!

Spouse Aggro Vidcast #12: LIVE events! from Beau Hindman on Vimeo.

When you appear in the game for the first time, you are on the island of Silan. Essentially, the island is where the Homins (the collective humanoid races of Atys) are to be trained before making their way onto the "mainland." For now, just follow the quests, take your time learning how to play, and enjoy the changing seasons and marauding predators and prey. Pay attention, because things can get a bit complicated rather quickly. If you have a question, feel free to ask it in the /universe chat. Just make sure that the channel is kept free of trolling or anything other than a few hellos or questions. Save the chit-chat for the /region chat -- Ryzom polices its chat pretty tightly, and if there is one thing the older playerbase fears, it's new, smart-alec players. Play nice and be polite.

Once you think you have mastered all there is to know on the island (there is a lot, so take your time), you can leave the island. If you talk to the right people, you will be teleported out of newbie land and into the "real world" of Atys. Again, make your decision wisely. You can start out in your racial starting town, but you can also pick another one. It might sound like an adventure, but traveling in Ryzom is no small thing. Players arrange "treks" to help new players run around the planet and discover instant travel "flight path" points, but if you get lost in Ryzom, you will die. Pick your starting town wisely.


"The island was designed to give players a well-rounded experience, to ease them into a game that can often feel confusing or massive."

The experience on the mainland is different from the one on the island. The island was designed to give players a well-rounded experience, to ease them into a game that can often feel confusing or massive. On the mainland, things are not handed to you nearly as much, and the world is not peppered with friendly quest-givers with yellow exclamation points over their heads. Make some friends on the island or contact a potential guild. Whichever you choose, hook up with other players who have more experience than you.

While there are way, way too many neat little systems and items to explain here, I would like to point out a few helpful tips that every new player should know.
  • Shift-W is awesome. This shortcut brings up an information window that hosts the in-game forums (the preferred forum for players), roleplay information, recipe books and much more. This is your friend; use it.
  • Spells and abilities can be "edited." While this will be explained to you in-game, just remember that you have the ability to tweak specific spells and abilities much like you would a recipe. Add a little power here, take away some range there, and create something that fits particular situations or that just feels right. Don't worry -- you'll learn all about this -- but just don't forget to learn it well.
  • Trial accounts are reportedly allowed one mount. Mounts can be killed, and when you log out, they sit there, waiting for you. Park your mount somewhere safe, like inside a stable. You need to buy feed for the mount if you want it to move at a speed above a walk, so always be sure to have a lot on you. Winch Gate is increasing the size of the storage on a mount for free accounts, though, so gathering will be a breeze, once you learn how to gather. Paying players can have up to three packers -- creatures that look like mounts but merely carry your goods. Mounts and packers cannot teleport. If you want them somewhere, you have to travel with them. There are no mounts until the mainland.
  • There is a grind in Ryzom. I love Ryzom; I always have. There are reasons I never got above level 135 out of 250, though. I just don't grind that much. Yes, hanging out with friends on a Friday night while killing plant-monsters makes the levels go by faster, but if you plan on hitting 250 in one or more skills, you will be grinding. There are items that can help speed up the process, but save those for later. The grind is only one small part of Ryzom, and there's so much more to explore, craft, shoot and roleplay.
I'm not giving you too much to think about, am I? I hope I am. Ryzom is simply one of the most original and best-designed games I have ever played. While it has had financial issues in the past, here's hoping that this latest decision will keep the game going. If you enjoy the game, you can always pay the subscription fee and help it and the company out. I certainly hope that this move gives Ryzom that extra push to do what long-time players like yours truly have always known it could do. While the indie market has quite a few unsual games like Ryzom spread throughout, the "AAA" market is just too afraid of such unusual design. If you want to experience it, I would say that now is definitely the time.

Enjoy yourself. Enjoy the community. If you have any newbie survival tips of your own, feel free to leave them in the comments section.

Each week, Free for All brings you ideas, news, and reviews from the world of free-to-play, indie, and import games -- a world that is often overlooked by gamers. Leave it to Beau Hindman to talk about the games you didn't know you wanted! Have an idea for a subject or a killer new game that no one has heard of? Send it to beau@massively.com!

This article was originally published on Massively.