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Rise and Shiny recap: Regnum Online


Regnum Online is an RvR-based game brought to us by NGD Studios. The motto for the game is "The best MMORPG with realm versus realm action for free." In other words, if you liked it in other games, you'll probably like it here, and for free! I can't really comment too much on this game's similarities to other RvR games, being that I only mildly experienced RvR in Dark Age of Camelot and Warhammer Online so far. Either way, it's a forgivable offense -- DAoC didn't invent PvP, anyway. But then the question becomes: Does Regnum deliver fun of any kind?

See, I long ago gave up on PvP -- it's really just a game of tag. In fact, it's one of the least "hardcore" activities that a player can participate in, simply because the "harsh" death penalty is generally equal to sitting down for a split second and maybe jogging a bit after. Granted, if this were real life we were talking about, many gamers might have a major issue with the jogging -- but it's not. Aren't PvP and MMORPGing supposed to be a semi-copy of real life, though? So where's the pain when you die? Where's the suffering or the punishment? Allods tried to punish players, but some players moaned about that. It turns out that the only fear of the Reaper is based on the fact that he has a 30 second stopwatch on.

Then there is the PvE aspect of many PvP games like Regnum. Oh, boy -- the PvE.

See, the problem with Regnum is not how it looks. It looks cartoony and stylized but it has a nice flow to it. In fact, I really like the graphics. The sound effects are all right, although the music sounds like it was piped in from an '80s NES game. Those aren't the issues. The issues come up when you go out to "hunt" a set of critters or monsters and they are just literally standing there, lifeless. Oh sure, they might move every several seconds or so, but frankly it was depressing to see hordes of horrible skeletons standing next to me. I swore I could see them glance over at me and shrug half the time.

The quests aren't really that bad, either, being that so many MMOs use the same standard three quest types: the kill quest, the delivery quest, and the gather quest. That's not a bad thing, because inside each type could be wrapped all sorts of fun story or details that switch things up. Regnum's quests were pretty fun. Again, though, the serious lack of players and the doped-up mobs made it very hard to even want to log in. I'm not kidding. And I'm the guy who pretty much can like anything. Of course, if you want to keep me away from an activity, make it bland, not hard. I'm the hardest worker in the world unless I'm bored. The running is what got to me -- the running. This is what made The Chronicles of Spellborn, such an otherwise amazing game, so hard -- the running. When I looked for a nice starter horse for my character in Regnum, the only NPC I could find that would sell me one would only sell me cash-shop based mounts.

If there is one thing I do not understand, in any game of any payment model, it is this very common practice of making obtaining a mount some sort of milestone in your character's life. That's like making an MMO in which a human finally gets to put-putt around in a golf cart for the first time. If it's a common thing like a mount, just loan us one, OK?

It was painful to see all of the potential in this earlier part of the game. Painful. Why not take a moment and have an NPC walk me through the starter-town, explaining the plight of my people? How about make a quest in which I must prove myself by diving into the frigid waters? (Oh yeah, if you fall into water, you simply float to the bottom and drown -- there is no swimming at all.) Instead of sending me on a kill quest right away, why not give me some kind of introduction to this relatively impressive world you have built?

"In other words, the world of RvR in Regnum Online is where it's at. So, why the hell is the game bothering me with killing 10 lifeless wolves or 12 awkward yetis?"

This is where it gets sticky. See, the game is not supposed to "start" until level 30. It's sort of funny, when you consider that my boss just wrote up a Soapbox that talked about growing tired of having to wait for the good part of the game, but here I was being told in chat that literally the game does not start until level 30. I was even told that, if I did not achieve level 30 before writing my review, that I was not a good reviewer. I mentioned the part that I do not do reviews, only week-long first impressions, but the person in the chat seemed to think that the first impression of this game did not count.

Here's my question, then: If a game does not "start" until level X, then why even have those first few levels? Why not take them out and get us to the meat of the matter already? Granted, I had some fun in the first few levels, and it's not really the game's fault for having no one around to play with, but it was such a similar experience to so many other games I have played that it made me wonder why NGD Studios didn't just kick us off at the higher levels?

Around level 30, players start to fight in RvR. If you're not familiar with RvR, let me break it down for you: You take a thing and make it something that players fight over. Then, players fight over that thing in endless repetition. Sometimes, player A has the thing. The next moment, player B has the thing. Then, they fight over it some more. That's RvR. That does not mean there are no subtle details or that it is not a helluva lot of fun (it can be), but let's not pretend that repeating the same activity over and over (even if fun) is somehow more complex or better than running a series of quests. If a developer makes that call and indeed declares RvR the "true" core of the game, then why introduce a series of bland quests?

I was taken on a trip to an RvR battle, and it was fun -- but mainly because I was actually hanging around other people. Some of the outfits and races really looked cool (again, like a nice cartoon) and it was fun running in a group of a dozen or so of us towards our enemy, but of course I died within 15 seconds. At one point, we rushed a door only to have it blown outward by an enemy player inside -- exciting stuff! My host was very nice and showed me the ropes a bit. He was able to make me invisible and showed me how he could track other players and what to watch out for.

In other words, the world of RvR in Regnum Online is where it's at. So, why the hell is the game bothering me with killing 10 lifeless wolves or 10 awkward yetis?

I wish I could have played more, simply because I like to put at least 10 hours into each first impression. Unfortunately, the game literally hard-locked on me twice. After the second time, I was not going to take a chance (I had to force reboot my PC). I was semi-ill for a day and a half, so that took some time away from the game too. Overall, it was not a good week for checking out a new game. I will need to return to this title to give it a much fairer shake. From my limited experience, though, it has 18 tons of potential. Some of the biggest "crimes" I witness at my job are 100-million-dollar games coming out and being filled with tons and tons of content and no soul... alongside some of the most potentially cool little indie games that are in need of only one or two fixes. I have a feeling that if Regnum Online could make its beginning levels, you know, fun, then it could be a great game.

So, if you're interested in RvR, go grind your way through the 30 levels so you can participate. Until then, skip this one.

Next week, we will be checking out Talesweaver, a super-duper mega-cutie that promises individual storyline advancement and some other neat tricks. My name is BeauHindman in game. Now, go log in!

Each week, Rise and Shiny asks you to download and try a different free-to-play, indie or unusual game, chosen by me, Beau Hindman. We meet each Tuesday night at 9 p.m. EDT (6 p.m. PDT); the column will run on the following Sunday. I welcome any suggestions for games -- drop me a note in the comments or email, or follow me on Twitter or Raptr!

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