Ragnarok Online review: a true classic, hardcore Asian MMORPG
Hendy Wijaya | On September 30, 2013 at 2:00 pm
The game features very unique graphics where the characters, monsters, and NPCs are all in 2D, while the environment is in 3D. Ragnarok Online was published all around Asia, and after some time, in the US, Europe, and Australia.
Very fun, unique gameplay – even after 10 years.
Ragnarok Online has some unique features not seen in other games, even 10 years after its launch. It uses the classic job advancement system popular in Asian MMORPGs, plus a novel skill tree system which is even now one of the most robust skill trees in any MMORPG I’ve ever played. The stat system is also very innovative. While other MMORPGs tend to give much more power to the equipment and the customizable stats are pretty much neglected, Ragnarok Online puts more emphasis on its stat distribution customization. Allocating stat points in the wrong place will seriously effect your character. For example, you can create a mage that casts faster but doesn’t hit hard, or a mage that casts really slow but hits like a truck.
It should be noted however that the combat does not involve much in the way of movement controls. Certain classes can dash with skills to reach places quicker, but that’s that. The rest is pretty much keyboard mashing and a click-fest, although strategies and quick thinking is indeed necessary to perform well.
Ragnarok Online also has a very good guild war system, called War of Emperium. It is not a 1-vs-1 guild, but a battle royale system where one defender guild and its allies must defend itself against every attacking guild, although these attacking guilds can attack each other as well. The fact that Ragnarok Online PVP is extremely fast-paced makes the guild war extremely fun. You can trap many enemies at once in a bottleneck and kill all of them in a matter of seconds. You, of course, could also be killed in less than two seconds. I think it’s good fun. I cannot stress how epic it feels when you and your guild manage to hold off hundreds of other players in one area and repeatedly defeat them as they try to get in, or when you finally manage to break the defense that had held fast for a long time.
There are many more fun features such as a card socketing system, sandbox dungeon system, and so on. But I will end up making a book if I explain everything, so I suggest you find more about these features on the game site or perhaps by playing it yourself. Suffice to say, in terms of gameplay, Ragnarok Online is an amazing one-of-a-kind MMORPG.
Graphics feel dated today
As I mentioned before, Ragnarok Online has pretty stand-out graphic style, mixing 3D and 2D. For a modern MMORPG, obviously the graphics of this game are totally out of date. When it was released in 2002, it wasn’t exactly jaw-dropping either. 2002 was the year when Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, Kingdom Hearts, and The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind were released. It’s probably unfair to compare it to single-player games like these, but nevertheless its graphic were bad when compared to those games when they all launched. The 3D objects are not too bad however, and even now I can still appreciate the building designs in the city.
The 2D models are very, very nice. Just compare this game to other 2D games, and you will realize Ragnarok Online has one of the best 2D models in gaming, even compared to newer 2D RPGs. Unlike most RPGs these days, changing equipment will not change the look of your character, with the exception of headwear. The outfits for each class are really cool, as is the headgears. Most of the monsters are also cool-looking, some being really cute, others scary. There are a few monsters here and there that look ugly however, as if they’re not refined or made by different (worse) illustrators.
Still the best collection of soundtracks
Sound has always been my number one most appreciated feature in Ragnarok Online even after 10 years of playing this game. It is so good that I have the game soundtrack in my smartphone. Most of the soundtracks are made by SoundTEMP, which also created the soundtracks of Granado Espada (which has epic music as well). Each map has different soundtracks that set the scene for the map. For example, a very peaceful field with cute, tame monsters has a rather peaceful romantic soundtrack for it, making the map a popular place for in-game dating.
The sound effects are also nice, especially for a decade-old game. Compared to newer games, they’re perhaps nothing special, but back then the sounds were pretty amazing. During guild wars and boss battles you will really appreciate the sound effects. The ring of a bell marks the buff casted by the priest, as the enemy screams from the scorching heat of the meteors summoned by the wizard. Back then, it just feels so epic hearing the sounds produced during big battles. After playing newer games, however, it doesn’t feel as awesome.
Tons of content, but pretty linear.
More than 10 years after its release, Ragnarok Online has tons of content for players. From a level one Novice to a level 150 Royal Guard or whatever your class choice is, it will take you to more than 100 maps, and when you reach level 150, there will be a further 100 maps for you to explore. To be exact, there’s more than that in the game. The world itself is huge – probably not as huge as World of Warcraft or Tera Online – but it’s hard to compare since Ragnarok Online uses a top-down view instead of the third-person perspective view, and uses a grid system. While there’s a ton of content, most of it is pretty much the same. It lacks activities beside hunting, killing monsters continuously in the hope of getting a rare drop, killing world bosses, PVP… and that’s pretty much it.
It might be an old MMORPG, but Ragnarok Online is still a very good, unique game that no modern MMORPG can replace. Whether you’re looking for hardcore, fast paced PVP action, or just a nice stroll while listening to a great soundtrack, Ragnarok Online might be one of your best choice.
(Editing by Steven Millward).