Free for All: The old becomes new on Ragnarok's classic server

Ragnarok Online screenshot
Ragnarok Online might seem very familiar to many of my readers. In fact, if you are from a certain age group, the group that grew up with the internet instead of watching it come into being while you were already living on your own, you might have played Ragnarok Online. I can often tell a Ragnarok fan as well. They're OK with the grind as long is it pays off in the end, and they usually have a pretty exact way of looking at MMOs. I have yet to find a Ragnarok player who is over 30 and who roleplays more than anything.

In other words, Ragnarok has affected almost an entire generation of MMO gamers. Personally, I always enjoyed the graphics of the game when I got a few chances to play it, but the overwhelming world and gameplay was a bit too much, and I didn't really enjoy the entire experience.

Well, good news for me! I can now roll on a brand-new, old-school server that promises to be more like something from the early days of the game. The best news? All players will start off on the same page.

Want to know more? Keep reading because I sat in on a conference call with Ragnarok producer Jason Koerperich to talk about all of the changes.

Ragnarok Online screenshot
Ragnarok is a Korean-based MMO that began 10 years ago when it kicked off with a beta in 2002. In 2003, it was picked up by Gravity Interactive, which is currently celebrating a nine-year anniversary by launching this new, classic server. So what's the main differences between this classic server and one of the standard, long-running servers? Well, as I mentioned earlier, it will be a place for all players to start off even. Right now a new player could easily feel overwhelmed (I sure did!) by all of the high-level characters, massive amounts of equipment, and items in the marketplace, and different systems like travel. On this new server, they can start with a simpler game, one that resembles the game from six or seven years ago.


"The classic server mimics the last game version before it switched to the newer model, taking it back to content that was featured around mid-2004."

I've heard players speak of grudges against Gravity before. Apparently that's because throughout the game's history, many changes have been made to disrupt normal play. Monster spawns were changed, and renewal physics were introduced to allow players to be "reborn" at level 1 as a much more powerful character. The system allowed for higher-level gameplay but dramatically changed how players interacted in groups. Of course, the physics will not be reverted for the new classic server; it was designed to make the game appear like many other standard MMOs, something many players did not like.

The classic server mimics the last game version before it switched to the newer model, taking it back to content that was featured around mid-2004. New options will be added back in every two to three weeks, and over the next year and a half, the 900 or so maps will be added back in, while only around 400 will be featured at the beginning. Certain towns that were destroyed have been returned to the game, and monster spawns have been reset as they were in the classic era. This new server won't allow for the "transcending" of characters, either.

In other words, if you are a vet of the game and wish that it had stayed how it was in the "old days," you can experience that with the classic server. The idea is to avoid flooding new or returning players with all of the new options that they might not be familiar with. There is already an issue with new or returning players feeling overwhelmed with the current game, so doing the same to a classic server would defeat the purpose of returning to the past.

Ragnarok Online screenshot
So what about that classic Ragnarok grind that so many players were used to? Well, it's definitely still there, and Koerperich admits that in the beginning, grinding was the only way to gain experience. Now, however, some quests grant extra experience and give players a new, faster way to level. In fact, the whole leveling process has been sped up, but that doesn't mean it's Easy Street for players. I imagine that a shorter leveling process in Ragnarok is still a massive leveling process when compared to more modern, Western MMOs, but I'll have to download it and check it out again to know for sure. It will still take longer to level on this pre-Renewal server, so once players reach the levels of 99/70, the game will automatically copy their characters over to the other standard server, for free.


"Brand-new or returning players can take full advantage of grouping up and gaining glory. This makes me feel much better, since that last time I played I was surrounded by people who literally ignored me or were preoccupied with their own groups."

New players will more easily integrate into the community on the new server, a bonus since group-play was always important to Ragnarok. Many players play in internet cafes or while on a voice server, so it's always been a social game. Brand-new or returning players can take full advantage of grouping up and gaining glory. This makes me feel much better, since that last time I played I was surrounded by people who literally ignored me or were preoccupied with their own groups.

More good news: Returning or new players can easily download a client that gives access to both types of server; a simple patch will bring current clients up to date.

According to Koerperich, this is really a "call back" to community members who gave up on the game for any number of reasons but have remained attached to it through social media sites like Facebook -- the sort of folks who continue to hang around but do not access the game. Perhaps now they can join back in, instead of trolling the comments section. (Here's hoping.)

I'm a bit excited. I enjoyed many aspects of Ragnarok when I played it before but found it almost laughably complicated. I felt completely lost. It just didn't feel inviting at all. This classic server seems to give me a chance to jump back in and learn with all of the other semi-new players. We'll see. I'll be downloading the game and trying it out tonight.

Many thanks to Jason Koerperich for sitting down to talk with me, and good luck to the team on the new launch!

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.