First Impressions: Ragnarok Spear of Odin and the linear experience

Love running forward in an MMO? Well, this might just be the game for you.

The era of MMORPGs has almost fallen into oblivion if not for a good few still trying to be part of the Top 10 games charts backed by a still supportive community that still plays the game through legitimate, developer owned servers, albeit a majority still fell victim to the ever changing trends of gaming which has moved from grinding and end-game content to on-the-spot PVP multiplayer and of course Esports with genres such as MOBAs and FPS staying very dominant in the PC market.

Top 10 Online Games in the USA and EU regions as of Aug 2017. Both the USA and the EU are considered to have the biggest share in the video game market, source: Newzoo

Having been run down by newer titles on the PC arena, classic MMORPGs found their way to the gamer surface once more on newer platform that is the Mobile, with numerous adaptations, “spiritual successors”, and sequels popping out here and there from new developers and publishers, and one of them being Gravity and¬†NEOCYON’s adaptation of the hit MMORPG Ragnarok, Ragnarok: Spear of Odin.

Hitting Early Access or Closed Beta for quite sometime now for the South East Asian region looking to target both the Android and iOS, incorporating the dungeon-crawler, hack and slash mechanics, which is kinda far-off from the classic open world, point and click gameplay of the original Ragnarok MMORPG.

I know it looks confusing but it’s Ragnarok

Switching from Point-and-Click to Hack-and-Slash seems like a pretty obvious choice for any mobile MMORPG as not only to fully utilize the multi-touch capabilities of a majority of today’s smartphones but also mask the obvious limitations that smartphones usually offer when developing open world or even pseudo open world titles with the probable lack of hardware capabilities especially if you’re also including low to mid-range phones during the user consideration process. As such, Ragnarok Spear of Odin is also, obviously, utilizing the same mechanic on mobile, moving from the original open world setup to a more of a dungeon-based solo-play progression system with majority of the story tracked through different locations dubbed as “Episodes”. ¬†Now, even though Spear of Odin’s approach is a common and rather welcome change in phase in contrast to the original Ragnarok experience, it’s quite sad to note that the solo-play experience feels a dumbed down as you move through dungeons in almost only one direction, and that is forward, with less to zero variety such as surprise areas or secret “side quests”, not to mention the near-similar look which almost feels like the next “Episode” is nothing more than re-skin of the previous one.

While this might be “passable” for many, as most of the hardcore mobile MMO fans usually try and rush through the solo play quest sequences as they favor the multiplay PVE and PVP battles, which Ragnarok Spear of Odin also offer with their Raid and Arena modes, this could work if the, and although I personally find it handy while at the same time dread the heck out of it, auto-battle system is completely implemented which at this point is not, even though there’s the huge “Auto Target” button just waiting for you to press it, although it is notable that the Auto-Battle and even a Continuous Play mechanic is usable during the Tower of Challenges mode.

So you might argue, “So what if the Auto-Battle doesn’t work? It only means that you really have to play the game” but for a solo-play experience that is dumbed down and easily feels redundant as the multiplay aspect of the game is obviously gonna be put in favor over the solo play experience, having a fully functional Auto Battle system or at least one that does its job properly is a big factor for games that offer a more linear approach to the Solo Play MMORPG experience, I mean, it’s not like you’re gonna gather monsters from a wide radius so you or a party made can pepper them with AoE, you’re working on a very tight space where everything that spawns within a dungeon wall is easily hit by a couple of sword swings.

Together with the Hack and Slash mechanic, Ragnarok Spear of Odin also looks to further introduce new player experiences with its huge emphasis on the Card System wherein, mostly early on in the game, with stats progression being set in stone, and all that you can spend levels on are your abilities.

Cards dictate a good chunk of how your character would feel with most of the buffs and boosts hidden behind how you utilize your item card slots and as well as upgrade and enhance your cards to further increase your Damage, Defense, and Critical Strike Chances and Element guards. Given how cards play a major part in character mechanics, one can expect that Ragnarok Spear of Odin’s In-App Purchasing system would also revolve around cards, although if you’re expecting to directly purchase them on the in-game cash store, well, let me welcome you to the wonderful world of gacha as the IAP system utilizes the rather common Lootbox mechanic, although you can directly purchase other items that may look like plain cosmetics at first but functions more than that as it offers direct buffs to factors such as Damage and Defense meaning that the game dangerously threads the fine border line of Pay-2-Win.

In its defense, it does pay to look good while taking down waves of monsters.

With the solo-play experience feels downgraded, and the multiplayer modes feel limited as of the moment, Ragnarok Spear of Odin faces the wall that many mobile MMORPGs tend to run across and that is the content variety, given that there are only 2 actual multiplay modes available, and only 3 character classes to play with, which is a major element in retaining and maintaining your playerbase should you look forward to long-term survival in an industry and platform that is already peppered by numerous MMO titles, and is largely known for “time-killer” titles or games that people play for a good 30 minutes before thinking of either giving it another go for the next 2-3 days before they get fully hooked into it, or uninstalling it completely.

But hey, at least you get to run around Prontera’s central plaza.

Still, the game is in its Early-Access stage with lots of room for continuous development and improvement and perhaps once its out of Beta, we get ourselves a full-fledged game, with more character variety and multiplay options, as well as a better solo-play experience.

For now, I guess we’ll just have to enjoy pwning this totally-not-Donatello boss.

Ragnarok Spear of Odin is available on Early Access for Android on the Google PlayStore

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