When I first read about the game Royal Quest I was quite intrigued. The video game world is full of free-to-play MMO’s but this one was offering a setting that I hadn’t seen in a while. One that harkened back to my Ragnorak days in the way for the visual art style, and coming from the studio that made Space Rangers and Kings Bounty I expected greatness. What the game offered however was shy of greatness and more in the realm of mediocrity.
Royal Quest is set in the land of Aura. It is a land of magic and technology, which means you will be able to employ the usual spells that involve fire and ice, but you can also use technology such as guns. Some items offer a mix of the two so you may find a weapon that is a gun but has ice ammo, or is designed in a more non-traditional way. As players level up they gain access to mounts that can help with exploration. I know there are some people out there who enjoy that aspect of MMO play and if you are one of those people you will want to invest in a mount to help you out. (more on that investment in a bit) But these mounts also add you in combat which is a boon to those that enjoy the fighting aspect of MMO play. My warrior would ride his dragon into battle jousting style, which was a lot of fun and really cool to see.
Graphically Royal Quest is a very vibrant game. Characters are detailed and distinct enough that you will be able to tell yours apart from all the others that are roaming the countryside. The character creator system is not as deep as other big name MMO’s but there is enough options for everyone to find something they like. Also this is where you can purchase various cosmetic items to further make your character stand out from the rest of the pack. (more on that in a bit) The developer claims that there are over 100+ different types of monsters and creatures that you will face while adventuring in Aura. I must say that there claims are true, over the course of my time I don’t think I ever say the same type twice which is a welcome change. Most of the MMO’s out today do palette swaps and name changes for the various monsters, so it was refreshing to be fighting different foes.
The combat in Royal Quest is not like what you will find in World of Warcraft or Guild Wars 2. Instead the developer opted for a user-friendly approach with the clickable controls mimicking Diablo or Marvel Heroes. This makes the game one that anyone can pick up and play and not require you to have remember numerous hot keys for different skills and attacks. Being a fan of both the Diablo series and Marvel’s superhero MMO, I really enjoyed the combat in this game. I was surprised because I was expecting something along the lines of the more mainstreamed MMO’s but it was a pleasant surprise. If you are a new player to the game you will notice that the developers also added some other things to help acclimate you to the land of Aura. New players do not give off any aggro in the starting areas of the games, any monster you come across will fight back if you provoke them but they won’t just attack you for walking to close to them.
Combat in Royal Quest also has an elemental component which should be observed as well. This underlying system impacts your weapons as well as the monsters you will be facing. When fighting you should ensure that your weapon and the monster do not belong to the same element. For example if you are using a fire sword on a fire monster then you will do little to no damage, but if you pull out say an ice sword you will notice that you can hack that monster down to size in no time. This is not uncommon in RPG’s but I think this is really the first time I have seen this extra layer of combat preparation added to an MMO. It is not unwelcome and adds another layer of strategy to each and every fight.
As you are exploring and fighting monsters you will of course gain experience points or ‘XP’. Each of your characters can be customized by placing these points in various categories as you level up. You are able to manually accomplish this or let the game decide for you, but you can only use the automatic system up until level 20. Once you reach level 20 you will have to manually assign your points. I recommend not even bothering with the automatic system and just dividing your points as you see fit. This way you can really make the character you want to play, and feel in total control of his/her development over the course of your 100+ hour journey.
PVP is a huge part of any MMO’s longevity as of late, and while Royal Quest has a version of it you will find its not as good as it could be. The game doesn’t offer PVP specific servers, instead they have designated parts of the world where PVP is accessible. What you find is everyone who is any good in the PVP realm has bought their way to the top, they have the best mounts, the best gear, and the added buffs which make them all but untouchable to anyone who hasn’t spent money on their character. Royal Quest also offers PVPVE zones, in these areas you will find the normal mobs but you will also have other players who can attack you at will. The biggest issue with these was there was no warning that you have entered on of these areas. Instead you are trying to complete one of the generic quests that this game is full of and then you get killed by a higher level player. Greifing is in every online game, and I was expecting it in this one, but I was disappointed that there was no warning or anything that I was entering into one of these zones.
The last thing I think that bears discussion is the “free-to-play” theme of this game. The plans for this game was to not offer any sort of items that would change the overall gameplay or balance but would instead be used to add more visual flair to your avatar or add convenience. I think this is where the developers failed to deliver on their promise and has really hurt this game. Sure you can buy items to spruce up your avatar and make them more unique but you will find really quickly that you need to invest in buying more bag space. If you don’t upgrade your bag you will be emptying it in the middle of a quest multiple times because of the lack of space. If that wasn’t enough for a game that claims to be only free-to-play the cosmetic items that you can purchase add attributes to your avatar. For instance you can get +5hp or +3 stamina for equipping such an item. These added numbers are on top of your already equipped armor and weapons. The other thing that you can purchase is a premium account which would net your avatars on your account a permanent XP and loot multiplier that will add you in leveling faster than those who are opting to play the free route. There are a number of these types of scenarios that involve getting the good mounts, or other equipment.
In closing I don’t think that Royal Quest is a horrible game. I do however think that there is massive room for improvement. From the seemingly pay-to-win theme as you get higher in level to the difficult PVP this game could use some more time in beta. During my play through the servers were never quite as full as other MMO’s I have played in the past and I can almost guarantee it’s because as people progress they really find out what this game is about. If you want your game to be pay-to-win then just say that, don’t lure people in with the promise of “fair and balanced” only for them to find out later that it was all lies. If you have some spare time, and spare change I would say check Royal Quest out but if you don’t want to spend the money for fun play one of the other Free-to-Play MMO’s like Marvel Heroes or Star Wars: The Old Republic.
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