Gaming My Way

14 Aug

My Take On Rappelz

Now that I have my new computer, some friends of mine got me into playing Rappelz. Now that you’ve had a moment to digest that in light of my article on what’s wrong with MMORPGs, let me explain. Also, bear in mind this is my experience with the game up through 35th level or so.

For those who don’t know, Rappelz is one of many free MMORPGs available. It’s supported by items that can be purchased with real money, and graphically, it’s one of the better looking free MMORPGs I’ve seen. There are three races, each of which has a warrior, caster, and summoner class to choose from, for nine classes in total before second jobs. Now, on to the meat.

The leveling system is a little different from most games I’ve seen. You get experience points for every kill, like in most rpgs, and these go towards making your character better by boosting your stats, and nothing else. Then there are job points. As you accumulate job points, you can spend them on new skills or increasing your job level. There is no limit to how much jp you can earn, so it is possible to learn everything your class can learn by the time you’re done… not that I know of anyone even close to this point, though I hear they exist. Last I heard, the level cap is around 180.

Yes, there is lots of grinding. Lots and lots of grinding. And no, I’m not a fan of this. In addition, the quests are really just more grinding, but at least you get an xp and jp bonus on top of it. So far, it doesn’t seem they’ve committed the cardinal sin of making players grind for the best gear, and hopefully it will stay that way. I do very much like the way they’ve implemented jp in the game. It gives you a lot of control in how you build your character up, but in the end, it’s impossible to mess up your build, since you can always get more jp to fix it. In a game in which you’ll invest many hours of time building a character up to even a moderately high level, it’s important to know you can’t permenantly mess up your character.

This is also the first MMOG I’ve really sat down and played with friends, rather than trying to solo. I’m not generally a fan of playing online games with strangers over the internet, so I usually just play solo, and occasionally party with people who randomly come up to me or look like they need serious help. I think playing the game with friends, something I’ve been doing in person, rather than over the internet, has really helped me enjoy the game a lot more than the other MMOGs I’ve played. So it’s probable this is also coloring my opinion of the game a bit. It is, after all, much more fun to grind while you sit around and talk about politics, the olympics, or the upcoming party this weekend. Or just have the chance to get up and do other things with the people you’re gaming with to keep the grind from getting repetitive.

Since the game is free, there is no cash sink unless you want to buy items from the cash shop. I generally think cash shops are a bad idea, since they tend to provide gear that unbalances the game. As I understand it, though I haven’t seen much of what the shop offers, most of what can be found there involves temporary items that make it easier to level, or have cosmetic differences. There are a few that let you do things like summon a party member to you. But in general, they don’t give permanent advantages to players who buy them… they just make it so they can gain power more quickly. I doubt this is universally true, as there are pieces of equipment that can be bought, and I certainly haven’t perused all of it. But it looks like they struck a good balance between keeping the game fun for everyone, yet making the cash shop appealing enough that they can make money off of it.

In addition to the cash shop, over time, items can be unlocked in the achievement shop, which does provide some similar items to cash shop items. I think this is a good way to let players gain access to some cash shop items over time, and is one more way that the cash shop doesn’t completely cut out those who aren’t buying from it.

I’ve been finding that party dungeon runs have been the best part of the game, as long as I do them with personal friends and one or two people we’ve carefully selected and do runs with often. Having too many strangers in the group tends to cause it to fall apart when someone decides it’s more fun to run ahead and go straight for the boss, rather than working through the dungeon bit by bit. Not only does it tend to result in total party kills more often than not, but it’s much less fun. So a mid-size party of 5-6 trusted people has provided the best results for me. I imagine this is a common story in most MMOGs though. I can see how a larger group might be fun though, given we have our core group and agree not to follow anyone who tries to run straight for the end. Then, even if the large group falls apart, we can keep ourselves alive long enough to get to an easier part of the dungeon or get out.

Between the way the game is set up, and the changes I’ve made in how I’m playing this game compared to other online games, I’ve been having a great time with it.  The grinding is a bit slow, but with some distractions it’s bearable. And the way in which customization is done makes it easy to experiment and try new things, without permanently gimping your character in the process.

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