Released in 2002 by Gravity, Ragnarök Online has been one of those MMORPGs that keep a lot of gamers coming back consistently due to the pure fun and calculative nature of its play. Divided into a series of maps, players exist in a fast-paced fantasy world with massive amounts of character customization to quell the forces of baddies sprinkled throughout the RO universe.
Skill and potion spamming, min-maxing for each boss, the unique art style with anime-inspired flair, 2D sprites, and an isometric view make the game unique and continue to pluck notes of nostalgia with many of us.
Recently, the English closed beta period for RO 2 was announced, giving all of us a chance to check out how it compares with the original. Over a few-day period, English-speaking players from all over the globe downloaded and logged in to try things out, including yours truly!
If you're thinking like I was when I started playing, the main issue on your mind is: What are the differences between the two versions? Well, let's take a look.
The original game is a masterpiece of isometric 3D landscapes, peppered with adorable (and sometimes creepy!) 2D sprites for monsters, players, and NPCs. RO 2 is aiming to capture the style of a modern-day MMO, while still holding onto what makes their series unique.
The maps are much like any modern-day MMO now. The camera follows your character, you can adjust the view and zoom quite a bit compared to the original game, and all models are in a stylized 3D now. It's quite different, but at the same time evokes familiar RO memories. Monsters are playfully redesigned versions of their past counterparts, often differentiated within their species by silly hats and accessories
The same sense of humor is present throughout the game, as you'll see doing the various quests and challenges you'll encounter.
In RO 2, you'll actually be questing in a more modern MMO style, rather than the epic-length, wiki-required quests of the old RO days. Quests breadcrumb from area to area and mark objectives on your map, leaving less room for confusion.
They're actually really short, too. You can get a ton accomplished in the game with just a few minutes of play, as kill quests generally only ask for 3-5 kills or items obtained. In the first two zones I played, players stay leveled above the quests in an acceptable margin, and quest availability didn't run dry.
Classes & Combat
The tiered system from the first game is followed, giving players a choice of Swordsman, Magician, Archer, Acolyte, and Thief. When you hit level 25, you can choose a more specialized version of the class tree your'e in.
It's a little different in several ways - for one, Merchants don't exist anymore because of the new Job system. In RO 2 you have Class exp, which is your main combat leveling, and Job exp, which is a profession you designate at character creation.
You can be a Blacksmith, Chef, Artisan (tailoring-type stuff), or Alchemist, and you get an appropriate outfit for each that you can switch to at any time, even during combat! Anyone can now open their own vend shop.
Characters have many more gearslot options, and you still pump stats and apply cards. The card system is character-tied, rather than slotted into your gear. You unlock card slots every 10 levels and can replace them as needed, though they're destroyed in the process.
The combat system itself is much revamped. Rather than diving in with increasingly spammy skills and attacks, hoping your potion button is being hit fast enough, you are encouraged to fight stuff at your level, with a more up-to-date combat system. Skills are reworked but still familiar -- in playing my Swordsman I discovered that I could still Bash my way to victory, but this strategy is now supplemented by a combo system much like Rogues have in WoW.
Potions have a 10 second cooldown now, and food is eaten over a period of time out of combat to heal up after battle.
One of the biggest changes is an actual, interactive map. NPCs, quests, job trainers, objectives, Kafra, and more are all marked, with options for an overlay, explorable world map, and minimap!
There's now an NPC near each Kafra that will fly you from location to location on her handy broom. Kafra still have personal storage, save points, and will now sell you Butterfly Wings and other useful items.
Inventory is managed differently, with items stacking to limited numbers now and bag space being a bit of a limited commodity. STR-based weight limits are no longer in effect, it's all about space now. New Card Albums allow you to store cards so they don't take up tons of space, and Zeny is a lot less inflated. 1,000 Rupees equal 1 Zeny, and by level 10 I had around 4 Zeny. For reference, Kafra broom rides cost around 60-100 Rupees in the first and second zones.
Crafting has gotten a huge overhaul. Based on the job you choose, you can gather various items that would be useful to you (I chose to be a Blacksmith). There's a crafting interface, recipes you can learn, and adorable animations that everyone can see.
A new system, Khara, gives you little side objectives to work on while you quest and craft.
- Choose a challenge like crafting five items, killing a bunch of porings, or simply using potions in combat
- Complete this challenge at any time and gain a small reward like experience, zeny, and Khara points to spend on more challenges.
- Complete patterns of them to unlock bigger rewards and better challenges!
Closed beta was loads of fun but unfortunately there's only one more night, beginning at 7 PM PST tonight - go download the client at http://www.playro2.com if you want to try to make it before it opens.
On the 27th of December the official Open Beta will launch, presumably staying open until the actual game launch.
If you enjoyed the first game this one is definitely worth a try even though many mechanics are completely different. Check out the gallery below for a roundup of everything from this weekend, and stay tuned for more RO 2 news!