Tobold's Blog
Sunday, May 27, 2007
 
Dungeon Runners first impressions

I've been playing a new MMO today named Dungeon Runners, from NCSoft. Dungeon Runners is not only free to play, but also free to download, making it even cheaper than Guild Wars. The catch is that if you play for free, you won't have bank storage, and you won't be able to use the better items in the game, including the better potions. If you pay, you get the membership benefits, like jumping the queue when the servers are full, for a monthly fee of $5, which still is a lot cheaper than other games. If you are a Fileplanet subscriber, you can get a 7-day trial of the membership benefits. So, if it's free or so cheap, can it be any good? Depends on what you are looking for.

Dungeon Runners is an order of magnitude less complicated than World of Warcraft or similar games. It is basically a Diablo Online game, with simple mouse-based combat. You hack'n'slash your way through lots of monsters, and collect loot. If you run out of health or mana, you drink red health potions or blue mana potions. When your inventory is full, which happens a lot, as items take more than 1 slot, you use a teleport scroll back to town, sell the stuff, then teleport back. Very simple.

There are only 3 character classes, fighter, ranger, or mage. But you can buy the skills not only from your class, but also those of other classes, mixing and matching yourself a character as you like it. For example I made a fighter, but bought a 30-second run speed enhancement skill from the ranger trainer. I could have made a fireball-wielding fighter, but obviously that wouldn't have worked very well, with me running out of mana too fast to make it efficient.

There are quests in the game, but they are of the simple kind: Kill 25 rats, or collect 12 wolf pelts. The quest-givers are in towns, which are public areas, where you can meet other players and chat or form groups with them. But the quests happen in instanced dungeons, where only you or your group has access. Quests don't give xp, only money and kings coins, which can be traded for special treasures. Killing monsters seems to be the only way to make xp and level up. Whenever you level up, you can distribute 5 points among 4 stats: Strength, agility, endurance, and intelligence. Again it is best to concentrate on a few areas, and not put points everywhere. But if you are unhappy with your distribution, you can always pay some gold and redistribute the points.

Graphics of the games are on the low polygon-count side, but pretty and cheerful. Thus system requirements are low, this game should run on about any old machine. The controls are more mouse-centric than WoW, which takes a while to get used to, but they work well enough. I never had any problems with lag, nor did I encounter any bugs yet. There are several servers, but you don't need to remember on which of them your characters are; you only have one character per account, and he is on *all* servers, you simply choose a server based on population.

Dungeon Runners doesn't take itself too serious, the general tone is more humoristic than trying to create some sort of lore. For example as fighter you get the skill Way of the Roo: "You were raised by a semi-domesticated pack of kangaroos that taught you the secret art of Kung Roo. Their teachings have provided you with an innate ability that gives you 25% increased speed with all melee weapons." And the voice-overs of the NPCs frequently make fun of you.

I haven't played in a group yet, but I know it's possible. I just don't know whether at higher levels you must group, or whether it is optional. In any way, interaction with other players is limited: There are no guilds, and there is no way to trade with other players, neither directly nor via auction. There aren't any mailboxes either. Looking for a MMO without gold farmer? Dungeon Runners is it!

All in all, Dungeon Runners is very playable. It is a simple, cheerful, and cheap game. Fun enough, as long as you don't expect the same complexity as a World of Warcraft in a free game. From a technical point of view this is a lot better than most of the free games I've seen up to now. And as downloading it and trying it doesn't cost you a cent, I can only recommend trying it out.
Comments:
You didn't post for two days.

Don't let it happen again.

I keed, I keed.

Thanks for the heads up on this game.

I'll have to check it out.

Since you're playing DR, does that mean your interest in LOTRO is fading?
 
I played this a bit in beta, and tbh I wouldn't recommend it. The only advantage is that it can be played for free.

If you really like this kind of game try finding Diablo 2 + the expansion in the bargain bin, or Titan quest. They both have a price of course but far more enjoyable.
 
Looking at the screen-shot gallery (http://www.dungeonrunners.com/downloads/image_gallery/screenshots.html), all I can say is - OMG, can you ripoff WoW any more and still get away with it? ;)
Anyway there's a huge downloadable gameplay movie, but if you want something lighter there's a youtube version of course (just not mentioned on the official site, duh ;)) - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uR7U-lCt19U

I don't think I'll go for this one, the idea of a lite-WoW is nice but crappy graphics just don't do it to me.
 
Can't see myself playing this but I love the way NCSoft are prepared to experiment with different businerss models. I guess the commercial success of Guild Wars has shown that there isn't just one way to make money from an online game.
 
I just don't know whether at higher levels you must group, or whether it is optional.

From what I could read in the help text, it seems to work somewhat similarly to the City of games, where encounters in the instances scale with the team. If so, you can solo or group as you choose. Haven't tried it yet though.
 
Well I actually thought about the problem of how to figure out which new mmo you enjoy enough to pay for it. For a lot of games you have to buy the box to try it or luck out with the beta.

I like the idea here, you can try this at no charge. At least an open zero-cost trial would be great for a lot of games out there...
 
yo played granado espada?
 
I already had a go at this game. Spent around 3 hours messing around with it so from the point of view of it being a free and fun game, it certainly is that.

But, after going back to WoW for 30 minutes, I realised the difference.

Have you tried playing Silk Roads Online? That's somewhere between WoW and Dungeon Runners, and it's still free...
 
One weird feature is related to grouping -- you can just click join a group and you'll be matched with someone and teleported to them! No notices or prompts, you can have people just appearing next to you and voila, you're now in a group.

The instances really scale with the group in a major way.. Going off in separate ways while grouped will usually be a difficult option since the monsters will be much stronger (especially without access to the better potions if you're on a free account).

But any game with pizza cutters and 'cardboard spoon of the elk' type of items sure doesn't take itself too seriously.. The devs seemed pretty close to the community and the boards seemed pretty lively when I played it in 'pseudo' beta..
 
Played a bit, too.

- The better items you find or get from exchanging king´s coins are all un-usable by a non-subscriber

- The stats on these items are a _lot_ better than what you usually can buy or find.

- progressing in the game you find yourself struggling hard to get by without the good items.

- Gameplay differs hardly from Diablo 2 and there you can really enjoy it when you find something interesting.

- the pricing scheme ist "interesting" subscribe for one month "$4.99" subscribe for two months "$4.99 * 2" subscribe for 12 months pay 12 times 4.99. Seems they don´t want long term subscribers.
 
wow at first when you started this post, i was ecstatic. when you first started describing it, it sounded like a game with runescape qualities, only with a client and better graphics. ive been lookign for a game like this for a few months. this blog has brought be to a conclusion. there is only one runescape and there will be only one runescape. all i can do is go back to playing that game, and hope the graphics, controls, and staff get better. thanks. youve inspired me to stop looking, and just play.
 
Hi :) first look at your blog. melikes! hope you get free stuff from m$ :D (google ;)) I'm gonna check out DR now, for a free game it looks amazing, at least- in comparison to knight online, tales of pirates, cabal online, rappelz etc.. hope it's not too much of a grind! :) thanks for the heads up!
 
OK, so apparently some of the point of this game is entirely missed: It is intended to be a (free!) WoW-like game with a sense of humor. It's not meant to take itself seriously at all. It's got simple graphics and a simple interface. Just look at the item names or listen to the Merchant at the beginning who complains about the medieval accents of the people in town. Or read the "Tips and Tricks" that show up during the load screens. Don't expect this to be the next big thing, 'cause it's not, but it's still fun.

Also, you can avoid groups by disabling "group with anyone"

It is simple to trade with someone, click on them, then click (or right-click?) their name at the top of the screen (It's in red, where the monster's name shows up). "Trade" is one of the options.

And one important point is that, at least in the starter dungeons, death means nothing. No XP slow down (like CoX), no equipment repair (like WoW). So it doesn't matter if you die. If you die in a group, it's even less annoying, since you can use "Go To..." to be instantly teleported to another member. So it's a matter of two load screens, and no walking, to go back to where you were.
 
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