Friday, December 16, 2022

ROSE Online : First Impressions

So, how's that whole ROSE Online thing working out for you, then? A lot better than expected, thanks for asking, at least when I finally managed to log in and play for a couple of hours. 

If Rednim Games were hoping to emulate a real 2005 mmorpg launch they pretty much nailed it. The first few times I tried to log in, either the servers were down for a patch or the login server wasn't responding. When I did eventually get in, there were more people in the starting area than I've seen since the Legacy of Ykesha launch in 2003. 

Definitely one of the better login screens I've seen.
Okay, not that many - LoY remains the all-time busiest I've ever seen a starting area without the server crashing - but it was busy. I was able to get the first quest to kill five jelly beans (Sure beats rats for flavor.) but the little jumping buggers had a life expectancy of less than a nano-second so I didn't make much progress. Or any progress.

I gave things a day or two to calm down and when I tried again this afternoon I had no problems getting in but it was still exceptionally busy. I thought that after three days the bubble would have cleared the newbie grounds but once again the starter village was absolutely heaving. So, it turned out, was every hunting ground and quest hub in the whole of the first zone. There must be plenty of new mmorpgs that would love to have these kinds of numbers for an Early Access launch.

Compared to launch day, this feels virtually deserted.

At least the crowds weren't so dense that I couldn't find enough quest mobs to kill, although frequently I was competing with dozens, scores of other players for the spawns. I guess that's why I kept getting group invites one after another. Either ROSE players are exceptionally sociable or the game has shared quest credit in parties.

I could have accepted one of the invites and found out for sure but I like to have at least a basic idea of what I'm doing before I party up. Call me a traditionalist that way. Not that there's all that much to figure out. After playing so many modern, imported, mobile-oriented games like Chimeraland or Noah's Heart, some of which seem to make a virtue of obscurity, ROSE Online feels thrillingly simple.

A peculiar quirk of the quest system is the way the dialog just trails across the screen. Not sure I've ever seen anything quite like it.

That said, while it has many of the trappings of a game of its era, it's surely also had the benefit of a decade of post-launch development. If it had played this smoothly and looked this good in 2005, we'd all have been there, wouldn't we?

And I do have to say that, even after all these years, that basic mid-noughties mmorpg gameplay loop still works. It really does. All that happens in the first ten levels of ROSE Online is a brief introduction to the head of the local village, leading to a string of simple tasks for the guards, farmers and villagers. To call them quests would be a call-back to that Monty Python sketch. You know the one. You'd think after a couple of decades I'd have developed some kind of immunity but apparently not. 

Sitting down to get your health and power back is another throwback mechanic, although you can also eat and drink for a similar effect.

It helps a lot that mobs drop clothing that goes into your appearance slots, meaning you get to change your look early on, although since one of the items that dropped was a pair of pants for which there seems to be no leg slot, it's possible I may be overselling the lack of mystery in the game. I took a while trying to figure out how to put them on but I got there in the end, although I couldn't explain how I did it.

For such an elderly mmorpg, the visuals are surprisingly appealing. The style is described elsewhere as "anime" but it feels more generically cartoonish to me. There's not a huge amount of detail but the set design isn't bad and the color palette is cheery. There's a huge amount of on-screen clutter, not least the heaping piles of uncollected loot that cover every inch of the killing fields but you can toggle a lot of it off in the options.

Okay, now it's your turn to hit me.

Combat at this extremely low level is about as basic as it could possibly be. Until you start to specialize at Level 10 you get auto-attack plus one skill. You can also throw a stone for ranged pulls. For a weapon, everyone gets a wooden sword before an early quest upgrades that to a bamboo spear. That's it. 

It works. Mobs die quickly enough that it doesn't matter too much when the Kill Fives become Kill Eights and even Kill Sixteens. There's no shortage of targets, either. The ecosystem seems to operate on the same principles as the average battery farm.

Is it Halloween already?

At Level 10 you're sent to the training camp just outside the village, where a bunch of trainers stand around waiting to explain your options. You can revoke your "Visitor" status in favor becoming a Soldier, Muse, Hawker or Dealer. I didn't find it an easy choice.

I'm well aware that a pure melee character woud be the most straightforward and therefore probably the most appropriate in a game it's highly unlikely I'll still be playing by New Year. On the other hand, fighters are so bland at low levels. Magic-users are always more interesting although that interest tends to come at the expense of efficiency. And then there's the insiduous pull of the unfamiliar, that curious hybrid trader/crafter that also commands mercenaries and uses guns. 

The official Hawker uniform.

In the end I plumped for the Hawker and I'm already doubting my decision. It's an error I've made many times and one I fell into particularly often around the time ROSE Online was new. Somehow, the idea of picking off my targets with a bow from a hundred yards away always seems like it's going to be both easy and fun and yet it so rarely is, unless you also get a pet to tank for you.

I'm pretty sure the Hawker doesn't get a pet. I guess I'll find out for sure next time I play. I logged out at the start of the second zone, where my Hawker trainer sent me to get some hands-on experience with the bow. He also told me not to forget to buy some arrows from him, advice which I now realize I completely ignored, so the first thing I'll have to do when I log in next time is go back to the training camp and pick some up. That's going to be embarassing.

I think this might be more my style.

Such is the life of a neophyte Hawker. I'd better get used to it. I have another ninety levels to go before I can call myself a Scout, which is what experienced archers are known as in this game. Somehow I don't think I'm going to make it but stranger things have happened. After all, I'm still playing Noah's Heart...

1 comment:

  1. I totally agree first impressions are correctly described. Now I dont have time to play as i am helping people in fixing their quickbook errors like: Fix Sync Manager Error In Seconds.


Wider Two Column Modification courtesy of The Blogger Guide