E3 2011: Checking in with Free Realms

Representing Massively, WoW Insider's own Dan O'Halloran met up with the folks at Sony Online Entertainment at E3 today to talk about the newest features coming to the popular free-to-play MMO Free Realms. Apprentice Designer Eric Smith walked Dan through the time-honored art of Farming as presented in Free Realms, though the in-game version is much less tedious than its real-world counterpart.

Players are given a plot of land, which they must clear of rocks and trees through a series of introductory quests. After that, all that's left is to lay down some topsoil, plant some seeds (bought with Station Cash or found from plants throughout the game world), water them, and wait for them to grow. Crops can take anywhere between 15 minutes and a whole day to come to bloom, which gives players extra incentive to log in daily and harvest the fruits of their labor. Eric was quick to note that it's absolutely possible to get the most out of your farming experience without dropping a dime in the Station Store, though fertilizer (which makes your crops grow faster) and miracle-grow (which brings withered crops back from the dead) are both available for those who want to enhance their farming prowess. The crops can be used either to initiate a Farmer's Market minigame or for Ranching.

Farming is just the first stage of a planned three-stage process, the second of which will be Ranching, and the third of which is yet to be announced. Ranching will allow players to collect their own menagerie of wild animals, which they can feed the hard-grown crops from their farm. Your farm levels up with you, and as players reach higher Farming levels, they unlock the ability to grow more varied crops, which they can in turn feed to the animals on their ranches. There is currently no release date for the Ranching addition or the third to-be-announced stage of the process, but be sure to keep an eye on the official Free Realms site for future updates.

Massively's on the ground in Los Angeles during the week of June 6-9, bringing you all the best news from E3 2011. Whether you're dying to know more about Star Wars: The Old Republic, RIFT, or any MMO in between, you can bet we'll have it covered!
This article was originally published on Massively.