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Royal Quest preview - New trailer shows off the King's Bounty developer's new MMORPG

Katauri Interactive, developer of the popular King's Bounty series, has been busy recently. Besides working on an entirely new King's Bounty game - King's Bounty: Warriors of the North, which is due out in late spring - it has also been putting together an MMORPG called Royal Quest, which just recently went into a closed beta in Russia. To celebrate the milestone, Katauri released a trailer for the game today, showing off a number of different elements of the free-to-play game.

The developer also stopped by to show the game off, giving us a look at the combat, PvP, and free-to-play model.

Above: The new trailer shows off the world and the combat

There's a pun in that last paragraph, though you likely didn't catch it unless you've been following the game. Royal Quest's emphasis is on the elements (get it?), with different elemental weapons and spells doing different damage to different elemental enemies. It's not a wholly unique idea - in fact, we see it in just about every RPG from Pokemon to Skyrim - though we usually don't see developers put as much emphasis on it as Katauri is.

When we checked out the game recently the developers said that their character was dual-wielding ice and fire swords, as their fire weapon would barely scratch a fire-based enemy.If that's not an exaggeration, it means we'll seriously need to consider swapping weapons when we attack elemental baddies, instead of just hoping to power through their defense with brute force (as we typically do).

While on the subject of brute force, Royal Quest's combat also looks like it will set it apart from most MMOs. Instead of employing the traditional whack-a-mole style of combat where the avatar attacks while you sit back and watch, it's more action-based, playing more like Diablo than World of Warcraft.

Above: PvP is a major part of Royal Quest

The thing that we're most skeptical about, however, is the free-to-play model. Katauri started off by saying that the only things that could be purchased with actual money would be cosmetic gear and a "premium account." In a weird role reversal, the premium account is made for those who don't have a lot of time to play, rewarding paying players with additional experience and loot. This seems somewhat counter-intuitive to us, as we usually think those who spend more time in the game are the ones who should have to pay.

Later, we found that bag slots, too, would cost actual money. Since quest-based items (see: the mushrooms in the "collect 20 mushroom quests") are stored in the bag, it feels like we would hit a wall unless we spend money on bag slots. It's still better than being able to buy a powerful sword or gun with real money, but we're unsure as to how encumbering this might end up being.

Above: Players can have these little guys sell their wares for them

That said, some of the game's other ideas have us excited. Player-versus-player areas aren't just giant warzones - they're filled with stuff to kill and loot. But there's a catch: anything you loot in a PvP warzone can be looted when you die. It's an incredibly bold idea, and one we hope pays off for the developers.

Royal Quest just started a closed beta in Russia (where the developers are based), but they're planning on having the game out there soon, with an international release set for late in 2012. Hopefully the free-to-play model is cleaned up a bit before then, as it's the one thing sort of holding us back from getting too excited about the MMO.

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