Impressions: Realm of the Mad God

Let the mad games begin!

Free-to-play games are oftentimes hit-or-miss. Sometimes, they’re just lousy experiences that lack polish or any real value, existing only to cash-in on some cheap DLC. Others are fantastic titles, games that you can hardly believe exist for free. I admit, when I first laid my eyes on Realm of the Mad God, which debuted on Steam earlier this year, I expected to enter the former. I was skeptical, more so due to the visual style than the actual gameplay. Boy was I wrong.

I really like the idea behind RotMG. It’s simple, and makes it possibly the most accessible RPG to date. At its core, RotMG is a “dual-stick”-styled shooter. Players move around the map using the keyboard and aim/shoot with the mouse. The spacebar is used to activate the players special, unique to each character class. The goal of the game is to earn “fame” points, required to unlock special character quests. Other than that, there is little else to learn. It’s a simple “kill the monster, collect the loot” game. And it’s mad fun.

Fame points are gained by grabbing loot, killing “boss” enemies (labeled as “quests”), and earning experience. Thus, your best bet is to survive for as long as possible. Fame points can also be collected by completing certain requirements, for example beating your previous high score will increase your total fame by 10%. New character classes are unlocked not by fame points, however, but by reaching a certain level with your character. This is where I had a bit of a frustration with the game. While it’s easy to unlock the first few character classes, some of the later ones have ridiculous objectives that are near impossible to achieve.

But RotMG isn’t just about looting on the field. After 25,000 enemies are defeated in any given zone, the Realm of the Mad God will open, and all players will be transported to a dungeon where the hardest enemies and best loot hide. It’s a great slugfest with 80 or so characters slaying hundreds and hundreds of monsters, and it’s so much fun. Of course, if you want to get the best stuff, you have to survive to the very end of the dungeon, where the “boss” monsters await. I’ve made it to the end once or twice, and it’s harder than you think; there were probably only 30 of us left by then, at by the time we beat the dungeon, we’re scrambling all over the place to collect all the loot. Crazy!

Once you hit game over, the whole process starts over again. New class, new character, new powers. It’s unlimited replay value, with no permanent level system that will turn younger players off. Unfortunately, because there is no solid goal, I grew a bit tired of it after a couple of hours due to how repetitive the gameplay actually is (it’s a dual-stick shooter, afterall!).

But still, I come back. That’s because the game a great leveling system that doesn’t frustrate me with grind after grind. As long as you’re anywhere NEAR a player, you share the EXP points they gain. This makes leveling up a lot easier, which is a good thing because you’d probably want to be best prepared for the Realm. And speaking of the Realm, I guess it’s pretty easy to see how leveling up in there works. That’s right, hundreds and hundreds of EXP, all shared among 80 or so players. Mad fun.

I do have one major complaint, and it’s about the loot system. It’s extremely cumbersome to collect loot (you have to drag and drop). There’s no way to figure out of the loot matches your character class just by looking at them (unless, of course, you’ve memorized them) and there’s no way to figure out if the loot you just got is better than the loot you currently have (again, unless you’ve memorized them). And actually USING items is a pain in the butt (you have to shift-click, or use the numbered hot-key). It should be a lot easier than this. Not to mention that everything is stuck in a sidebar, forcing you to take your eyes of the action every time you have to use an item. Heck, your health bar in on the sidebar, so I oftentimes died without even knowing my health was low. What a pain.

But that’s something I can easily get over. Overall, Realm of the Mad God is a fun “dual-stick” shooter that’s easy to pick up and addictive as hell (see what I did there?). It’s the perfect social game with its EXP and loot system, and it’s also the perfect single-player MMO that anyone can pick up and play. Best of all? It’s absolutely free, and with minimal installation too. If you haven’t given this game a go, try it out yourself? It’s simple enough for anyone to just pick it up to play, but deep enough to keep you coming for more.

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