Who actually likes killing boars? The World of Warcraft phenomenon has passed us by entirely because we couldn’t understand the appeal of spending hours hacking and slashing through hordes of low-level creatures in order to gain experience. Replace the boars with giant mushrooms, and you’ll see that Runes of Magic makes efforts to follow the same baffling formula as WoW.
In the lead up to Runes’ release, one of the main worries about the game was that it would attempt to follow the well-trodden path of WOW much too closely – a route many a failed MMO has dared to take. With the exception of a few new features this is exactly what Runes has done. The interface is unnervingly similar to Blizzard’s game, and the rune system – which the developers proudly claim is one of Runes’ defining features – resembles the gems and socketable items found in other MMOs.
Yet the Arcane Transmuter is an interesting mechanic that does help to distinguish Runes from its subscription-based rivals. This feature allows you to strip stats from armour and weapons and transfer them elsewhere. This may stand it head-and-shoulders above its free-to-play peers, but it isn’t enough to compete with the genre’s heavyweights.
This is a solid MMO that ticks most of the boxes that fans of the genre will be looking for, especially those who like statistical spreadsheeting. The dual-class feature and promised update schedule do distinguish it somewhat, but it’s still completely overshadowed by its behemoth rivals in terms of gameplay, character development, refinement and detail.
Runes of Magic goes some way to disarming us of our distrust of free-to-play MMOs (is it only us expecting an invoice any day now?), but it’s leagues behind the subscription-based MMOs of the world.
May 6, 2009