Free for All: Checking out Rosh Online

Rosh Online screenshot
Recently I was asked to take a press tour for Rosh Online, a new "massive war" MMO from Ignited Games. Press tours can be a lot of fun. You get to chat with the developers and ask direct questions about specific things that are happening right then in front of you, and you get to hear detailed explanations about systems that might normally take a while to figure out while you explore deeper parts of the world.

The problem with jumping right into a game that you have never played before is that you can't really get an exact sense of what it is like to be a real, brand-new player. It's important to know how that feels so that it can be passed on to potential newbies. Either way, I enjoyed my time with Rosh Online, but I did have quite a few issues with it. I'm sure a lot will change over time, especially since this game is brand-new, but in the meanwhile I'll tell you all about it.

Click past the cut!

Rosh Online screenshot
Graphically, the game is beautiful. It might be better to say that technically the game is beautiful. The art style comes from the school of design featured in games like Guild Wars, Rappelz, and Aion. These worlds feature more realistic lighting, textures, reflections, and other bells and whistles. From the very beginning, players are cast in beautiful, sharp armor with sometimes overly detailed weapons. I call it the "sharp chin" style mainly because everyone has an acorn-shaped face along with massive, beautiful eyes. Sure, it's a popular style, but to be honest I find it about as attractive as a blurry photo of a sunset.

I know, I know: Many players love the look of the previously mentioned games. That crazy texturing and uber-detailed armor is so beautiful to other people's eyes. To me, though, the art style gives no chance for the ordinary. I don't want a character with huge, elaborate wings, and I don't want to start off with a shield that looks like it came from one very, very rich family. I want the chance to make something ugly if I can. You know, something that looks like I do. So yes, the game is technically beautiful, if that's your thing. And for all its beauty, it does run wonderfully. But there is no soul in those eyes or art style; it's too pretty to be anything close to familiar or living. Like I said, if you like the look of Guild Wars, Aion, and other similar games, then you'll like the look of Rosh Online.

The NPCs spread around the different areas had more interesting looks than my pre-chosen character did. The problem is that the NPCs stand there, barely moving, just handing out odd bits of text and pretty much acting like a vending machine. The town I toured was basically lifeless, but this could have a lot to do with the fact that there were not very many players around in this beta. There just wasn't much going on in the place, although later on I found quite beautiful natural areas outside of the main area we visited.

Rosh Online screenshot
The developers explained some of the different systems we would encounter while in game, and there were some very interesting ones. The Fletta system is basically an opportunity for players to further customize their characters by using Fletta energy, which they absorb by slaying monsters. The energy is used to raise or change stats that tweak combat abilities and other useful characteristics. It's sort of like an extra experience system that is used to make your character more unique. If you are going to be killing monsters all day, you might as well be able to have a more unique character when you are done.

PvP plays a very large role in the game. You can toggle your PvP tag on or off, but in much of the game you can be attacked freely. While there are safe zones, the game will feature a lot of PvP. Be aware. For those of us who like to take it a bit easier, an arena area is available to jump into. The combat is pretty standard stuff, however. You target your enemy, hit a series of buttons, and hopefully come out on top. While I borrowed a slightly higher-level character, it should be noted that combat at much higher levels might be a bit more exciting. Still, this essential mechanic is pretty standard.

Rosh Online screenshot
It's not as though a massive battle would be a bore in Rosh Online. The fact is that large PvP battles would be a blast. Let's be honest, though: Massive battles in practically any game can be a lot of fun. Participating in widespread bloodshed while you're alongside your favorite guildmates is what makes MMOs in general a lot of fun, so I can't claim that unique gameplay mechanic just for this game. While it is certainly a beautiful game to explore, I was a bit alarmed by how much the word "grind" came out of the developer's mouth. Grind is an accepted mechanic with many games these days, and not just games from foreign lands. It's sort of a shame that so many titles are set up to get the players in and grinding instead of designed to get the players to participate in a living world or grand experience. Although I didn't encounter any such grind during my short tour, the developer made it clear that there will be some of it. If you enjoy that sort of thing, then Rosh might be the game for you. Don't forget that you have standard classes to choose from and fishing and mining to do as well. I tried my hand at fishing but decided quickly that I would rather look around a bit more. I didn't see mining at all. Call me cynical, but I have a feeling that system would not surprise me either.

In the end I came out feeling that Rosh Online would be enjoyed by quite a few players. The PvP is fun in groups, the art is nice, and the Fletta system allows for more customization than many other titles. The game will attract a certain audience, as PvP-heavy games always do, so be aware that exploration and roleplay might not be the main drive of the game. Be prepared to fight, a lot.

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.