A few months back, I tried my hand at a free-to-play MMO, Dungeons and Dragons Online.
By level 3, I’d been in some dungeons, and I’d seen a dragon, so really it lived up to the name. I am given to understand that dragons were actually not a part of the game at launch, a design decision that was met with some scorn, but eh, they have dragons now.
Level 3, however, was also the point where playing the game started dragging, which is pretty early. Granted, they have a level cap at 20 so they need to start the drag earlier than your average 60 to 90 level game, but it was only a couple of evenings into play before I started asking myself if it was really worth the hours it was taking to get anything done. I could have put some money into the cash shop for extra NPC helpers and healing items and such, but I wasn’t invested enough yet to care.
More than that, though, the character models were a bit dull and the armor not terribly interesting looking, which is a shame since the environmental graphics and sounds were really immersive.
So, that didn’t last long.
I’ve been doing more of the EQ2 thing since then, with a new guild that does some low-key raiding three times a week. Getting into a raiding guild as a fighter class is pretty unusual because fighters are (a) fun, so everyone has one and (b) not actually needed that much for raids. It also means that I’m able to gear up fast because fighter loot drops at about a 25% rate and fighters make up about 10% of the average raid. I get to watch the rogues and mages squabble over drops while I get kitted out. 🙂
I’ve kind of hit the point where I’m not burned out on EQ2 but I also don’t see the need to put a lot of hours into it outside of raiding where I have a good chance at upgrading my character. That’s a pretty healthy point to be with an MMO.
They are putting out an expansion soon to give everyone a little more grinding, so it will probably eat up a few more hours of my life once that comes out.
I was looking for information on that expansion when I came across a few blog posts talking about Lucent Heart, and somehow I wound up downloading the client and signing up for an account and making a character.
Technically speaking, I DID download Mabinogi a few months ago, but I just barely made it through character creation and the “welcome to the world, here’s your first quest” before quitting, so I guess this is my THIRD go with an f2p game but eh.
Like Mabinogi, Lucent Heart is an import from Asia, so my expectations were that it would come with a healthy emphasis on making a cute character that you can dress up in cute outfits while you grind away at endless streams of cute versions of monsters until your eyes bleed in a fashion that is rather uncute really.
From what I’ve seen so far, those expectations weren’t too far from the truth, but I haven’t hit the seriously grindy bit yet. I made a mage and have been rather enjoying the way that (a) I can kill almost anything in two spells and (b) the game hands me a new set of clothes every five levels. Examples follow of the level 5, 10 and 15 outfits:
I LIKE the level 15 outfit. Here’s an action shot.
I did get to level 20 before finally succumbing to the game’s pointed reminders that I’d been playing too long and should probably log off, but I didn’t get a screenshot of the level 20 outfit before doing so. It’s blue and rather fetching.
Oh, and yes the game DOES tell you that you have been playing too long and should log off, both with a little flashing indicator and occasional messages that get more strident in tone as you ignore them:
Now, that second image up there has my level 13 mage standing next to a level 65 character, 65 being the level cap. I am given to understand that Lucent Heart is pretty quick to level in until you get into your mid 50s, at which point things slow way down and actually getting a level 65 character takes weeks of grinding which is absurd in every way…
OH HAI EQ1
Anyway, the level 65 character next to me is kitted out in cash shop items, so they’re actually contributing to the keeping the servers up and running thing and also helping me make a slightly forced segue into this next bit:
Unlike DDO, there doesn’t seem to be a huge emphasis on the cash shop yet. I DID get a quest at level 11 or so where I was given a cash shop item and walked through the process of entering the cash shop to claim and equip the item, but apart from that it’s more or less stayed out of my way.
Yes, I’ve gone in and looked at some of the for-pay outfits, but for right now I’m liking the free clothes I’m getting every five levels and don’t see the need to drop 17 bucks on a maid outfit.
Tempted yes, need no.
Anyway, I’ve gotten my little mage up to level 20 and don’t have any complaints so far. It’s all very standard MMO fare; you get a quest from someone who needs you to kill 10 bees, you go kill the 10 bees and get back to the NPC and gain a level when you’re handing in the quest and all of a sudden an NPC who wouldn’t talk to you before will talk to you now and HE wants you to go kill bees too. The “kill 10” quests are actually usually “kill 25”, which would be a bother if it wasn’t a matter of running into a field full of the right sorts of things to kill, hitting tab to target one, nuking twice, hitting tab again, nuking twice again and occasionally running back to the NPC to get the next quest to go kill wolves and at this point you’ve learned enough that you’re going to go to every single NPC and get the quests from EVERYONE who hates wolves before you go and kill 30 of them.
It gets points for not drawing TOO extensively from the stereotypical newbie monster pool while it’s sending you out to slaughter x number of y local wildlife. I haven’t fought a single goblin, kobold, gnoll, giant spider, rat or skeleton yet. Mostly lots of bees and wolves and violent animated corn.
Now while I do quite like the character graphics, the world zones are taking a little while to grow on me. So far, it’s all been a blur of pastel colored outdoor zones and one of those techno-fantasy-mashup sorts of cities:
Eventually I hope to hit somewhere with a bit more foreboding atmosphere. I expect it will be full of cute monsters, but as long as there’s some lava pits on the ground and the remains of doomed adventurers scattered about it should be fine.
Anyway, there are quite a few aspects of the game I haven’t had a chance to try out yet, but everything I’ve seen so far says that I’ll be sticking around to dig a little deeper.