Tuesday, June 25, 2019

I Just Ride: Riders of Icarus

Just because I haven't mentioned Riders of Icarus for a few days doesn't mean I haven't been playing. Secret Worlds Legends has grabbed a sizeable piece of my extensive available playtime but RoI has been rolling along steadily behind.

Steam tells me I've now played for thirty-four hours, although that's somewhat inflated. So long as you have a Familiar summoned it will level up, even if all your character does is stand in a safe spot, running through their idle animations and squealing. What's more, the game tends not to time out when minimized, which has, on a couple of occasions, led to me not realizing it was still open until it came time to shut the PC off for the night.

Even so, the great majoriity of those hours have been actively played, most of it directed towards questing and leveling, which seems to proceed at a relatively stately pace. My new character dinged seventeen yesterday.

I continue to be quietly impressed by Riders of Icarus. There's nothing particularly special about it other than the collecting and taming mechanic but the familiarity of its basic systems form a substantial part of its charm.

It's quite an old-fashioned game, one that plays very much like an MMORPG released a decade ago, not in 2016. There is a market for this kind of thing. That's what the heavily-publicized Astellia is counting on but why pay $99 for beta access when you could play RoI right now, for free?

I spent some time crafting yesterday. There are six crafting professions, five of which you'd expect to find in almost every MMORPG: Armorsmith, Weaponsmith, Jeweller, Cook and Alchemist. The only unfamiliar tradeskill is Bardercraft, which makes armor for Familiars and consumables that buff your chance to tame them.

Tradeskills seem to level up very similarly to what I remember from Lord of the Rings Online, although with a considerably simplified process. You go to a crafting station and make items. When you've made enough of an item you "Master" it. When you've mastered all the items in a tier you pay your trainer a fee, they open the next tier and off you go again.

You can do all the crafts on the same character and since I happened to have a small pile of silver ore in my bank I started with Jewellery. It didn't take long or cost much to complete the first tier. There's minimal randomization of results when it comes to leveling the skill - you get a point per combine and you need a specific number of  xp points per Mastery.

You can get a Triumphant result, which gives you double the xp and two of the item you're making. I think I had that happen twice. Materials come from gathering in the open world or instances and from mob drops plus a range of items bought from your trainer.  A nice touch is that trainers also sell the basic Tier One gathered mats, which gets you off to a running start. I only had about enough gathered mats to do half of T1 Jewellery but I was able to buy the rest for a nominal cost to finish the Tier.

As with all "make items to level up" crafting systems, you end up with your bags full of things you neither want nor need and which no-one wants to buy. My first response was to sell them all back to the Trainer. I made a loss but it wasn't a big loss. I was happy to take it as the fee for leveling up.

Then, as I was moving on to Cooking, it occured to me that RoI also has a salvage system. You can buy Extractors from NPCs which allow you to deconstruct gear and get Tempering Stones to upgrade your gear. At the moment this is of limited use, since most of my gear isn't upgradeable but the stones stack and will no doubt come in handy eventually. (Where have I heard that before?).

I bought all my rings and amulets back from the vendor I'd sold them to via the Buyback tab. I was interested to see that you have go back to the specific vendor you used, meaning they must all have individual inventories. That's something that varies from game to game. I rarely use the function so I tend to be fuzzy on details, game by game, but as Syp found, when he was dabbling in the World of Warcraft Beta, Buyback is a thing you only miss when you find it's not there.

How useful crafting is long-term remains to be seen. One thing I wish I could make is bags but the developers have cannily limited those to quest rewards and the Cash Shop. Apparently there's a market for high-end potions and the Marks needed for taming Familiars but since all the available info on the web seems to be the best part of three years old I'll believe that when I'm high enough to make them, will will probably be never.

Despite the lack of up-to-date guides and commentary online, the game itself always seems quite busy, even though I'm playing weekday afternoons in the U.K. on a North American server. It's certainly busy enough that I can't solo in peace without people trying to chat to me. That's a particular feature of Eastern imports that rarely gets a mention - people who play them seem to love chatting to complete strangers.

I guess that's another feather in Riders of Icarus's old-school chapeau, although, like many of the supposed wonders of the Golden Age it's probably one I could do without. I prefer wombling about at my own pace in this kind of simple, open-world content. Might be a different matter when it comes to dungeons, I guess.

There's a new event going on but it doesn't seem to be a patch on the last one. It revolves around taming ten horses every day and then Sealing them to hand over to a robot cat from outer space. Since it costs 20 silver to buy the item that seals a single horse, that seems prohibitively expensive for a daily quest. I've only made four gold in total so far!

What's more, the items the cat's selling aren't all that interesting to me and the prices he's charging seem extremely high. I think I'm going to sit this event out and wait to see what the next one brings. I'm sure there'll be another one along any day now.

Meanwhile I'm just going to wander around and enjoy myself. The scenery is often spectacular in an over-sugared, junior-on-psychedelics kind of way but there's some real attention to detail that makes both the art and sound design stand out.

When I eventually found my way onto the battlements of the capital, thanks to a quest, I was particularly taken by the way one of the flowering cherry trees outside overspilled the crenellations onto the walkway. I have seen exactly that effect in very similar circumstances in real life and in video games these things don't just happen by accident, so I'm guessing so had the artist.

When I got my first permanent flying mount (I have two now) I hedge-hopped past a windmill and was stopped in my tracks (not that sparrows leave tracks in flight but you know what I mean) by a hauntingly familiar sound. I have stood next to a windmill of very similar design in La Mancha and that's exactly the noise they make. In game I found it evocative and impressively authentic.

Small pleasures, to be sure, but they add up. I'll be playing this one for a while.


  1. I assume I'll need something to play when the FFXIV servers get smushed under the weight of the new expansion hitting this week. I might have to use that time to take Riders of Icarus for a spin. Thanks again for the post about it!

    1. I hope I haven't ovesold RoI but I do think that, compared to other not-so-great recent imports like Bless and Revelation Online and even to better-known titles like Blade and Soul it has been rather unfairly ignored for three years, not least by me! It's nothing amazing but it's very well done for what it is and I'm enjoying it. Looking forward to hearing what you think of it.


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