[Lineage 2] Over the past month, I have tried two MMORPGs in addition to the two I already play. One is old and one is new. The old one is Lineage 2. The new one being Rising Force Online (known as RF Online or RFO). Both are Korean based MMORPGs and, surprisingly (or not), both are very similar in several ways. In fact, they are so similar that I wonder if they are using the same engine. As far as I know, they were not created by the same company so it is a bit peculiar to me. Luckily, the gameplay, while it has its similarities, is the least similar between the two.
I will only be addressing Lineage 2 this time as I have used up my free 30 day trial and have decided not to play it anymore. I only recently bought RFO and have only begun testing it out.
What is there to say about Lineage 2 (known as L2 from here on)? Well, I cannot honestly tell you much. I was first drawn the the game by its graphics. I was looking around GameTrailers and saw a movie for the recent C4 update (Chapter 4 – Expansions for L2 are released in chapters and are free). L2 does a great job of making you want to play the game. They create a movie for each chapter and the movie generally depicts actual gameplay but it is actual gameplay that is put to a story. In other words, it is a play. Boy, I was hooked on the game from that moment on.
I bought the game online for $20 because no stores seem to carry this game anymore and I had to download the huge 1.9GB file. I finally got the thing installed and updated, which took all of about 5 hours. The game didn’t work. This was one thing that I kept noticing in L2: the game can be pretty buggy. I slept on it and came back and got the game to work in the morning. It turns out the update files that it downloaded got corrupted somehow and I had to run the check file to fix it.
I knew L2 had a bad reputation. I also knew that a lot of initial complaints about the game have been solved, or I should say made more manageable. The sad thing about L2 is that even though the game has been made ten times easier for newbies, it is still the most boring and tedious game I have ever played. Supposedly the game gets better at around level 20. This is not only when you make your first class change but also when you have your first opportunity to group up. I did not make it to level 20, but rather level 16. I will not pretend like I can fully judge the game. There probably is some good to L2 that I missed, but the fact remains that I was so bored and uninterested in the game from the start that I simply could not continue on.
Obviously the game has graphics down. There’s no doubt about that. Armor, weapon, and character/enemy models are all very detailed, fairly stylized, and look damn cool. Rarely do you find an MMORPG that makes you stare at your character model. Usually you’re stuck with some ugly leather junk that looks like you dug it up out of a trash can. Not so in L2. Very quickly I obtained hulking metal armor that made me look like pure badass.
L2 offers two classes from the beginning for any race except Dwarves. Dwarves are unique in that they focus on crafting more and thus are limited to only fighter jobs. All the other races can choose between Fighter or Mystic. These two classes vary slightly from race to race but are generally the same. I chose to be an Orc Fighter and an Elf Mystic just to get a feel for casters in L2. I mainly focused on my Orc, however. Once you hit level 20 several other classes open up. There are two more class tranfers available in the higher level.
My problem was that there was nothing to do but literally grind myself to death. Sure, there are quests but the quests literally tell you to go out and kill 70 of some type of enemy. Yes, I said SEVENTY! When the game was first released, the grind was noted as unbarable. I cannot even imagine what the game was like then because since then they have added several improvements. One addition to combat is the use of Soulshots. These are items that make your next attack more powerful. These would normally have to be bought but the game now offers quests that reward the player with a good amount of training Soulshots. The game also offers special buffs that only newbies can obtain. You begin gaining a buff at a certain level and gain one each level after that. The only thing required is to talk to the NPC who buffs you and you receive the buff for a certain amount of time. These buffs basically make a newbie invincible and have no downtime. If I were to fight the enemies I was fighting at my level of 16, I would have had major downtime. With the buffs, I had no downtime. Recently, in the C4 update, they added the ability for newbies to obtain a coupon and exchange that coupon for rental equipment. This makes it even easier for newbies, and yet I still couldn’t bare the grind.
Grinding isn’t so bad when you have something to entertain you. In WoW it’s knowing that you’re about to get some loot and lots of XP from the quest you’re on. It’s also knowing that when you level up you get a new talent point or some new abililties. In FFXI grinding is also about getting new abilities but also just chatting with your group can be entertaining enough, plus combat in FFXI is busy and someone’s always doing something. None of this is true in L2. Solo combat is boring. As an Orc Fighter I had one (count it slowly) attack ability. I take that back, I had two attack abilities. One for normal type weapons and one for fist weapons. Because I was only using fist weapons, I had one attack ability. What did this ability do? All it did was simply do a powerful attack at the cost of some MP. All I did while grinding was press my attack ability every now and then (I couldn’t spam it all the time lest I run out of MP fast, not to mention the hefty cooldown on it anyways) and then auto attack with Soultshots turned on. There was no strategy. There was nothing to break the monotony of it.
So perhaps the Mystic would be different. Not really. Rather than auto attacking, I mostly just one shot enemies with my spell before they could touch me. Joy.
Every time you kill something in L2, you get a few skill points. You can spend skill points at a trainer on new abilities. Leveling up was mostly useless except for slightly increased stats, opening up more abilities to buy every few levels, and offering class changes at the appropriate levels.
Not to mention the fact that the game is pretty barren. I ran accross very few people on my Orc, a few more on my Elf (who’d have guessed). The game just felt empty. I will not say anything further on that because it was probably because I was in newbie territory of a not very popular game that has been released a while. Of course there probably won’t be a lot of people.
Also, I thought the game looked terrific from the movies I watched but when I actually played the game, the style was odd. The world feels like it tries to be a typical, “realistic” looking fantasy world but the characters just don’t seem to fit as they are heavily anime influenced. There was just something about the style that irked me the wrong way, if not being offensive in some ways. My Elf Mystic clearly had some nice white panties on. Not only that, but when I did emotes with her, she made these weird grunting noises. I just felt offended for any females playing the game. Don’t even get me started on the Dark Elf females.
To me, the real killer of L2 was not the grind. I can grind my way out of anything as long as I have some feasible goal ahead of me. That goal in L2 seemed to be more grinding. Sure, there’s castle sieges where guilds take control of castles and do battle over them, but from my understanding, not only is it costly (L2 makes use of dropped equipment and loss of XP on death), but it doesn’t happen too often. What was I to look forwards to?
Not all was bad. I did like the little nuances such as the character actually saying words while casting or the way the characters reacted realistically to enemy blows, but most of it was cosmetic.
I won’t say L2 is a bad game. I cannot force myself to do it. I see too many people out there who judge MMORPGs just on the newbie content. I don’t mind those people but I do mind the ones that act as if they know what they’re talking about. Simply put, I don’t know what I’m talking about when I talk about L2. I don’t know how great the game is. The only thing I do know is that the game does very little to keep you motivated and I didn’t want to risk wasting my money on it. Simple as that.
Be looking for my comments on RF Online soon. It’s going to be an interesting game to discuss.