Tobold's Blog
Monday, May 11, 2009
 
Free Realms combat

After leveling my first job, blacksmith, to the level cap of 20 in Free Realms, I received a quest to reforge a magical sword, but that quest involved going into a high-level dungeon, where your blacksmithing level doesn't help you a bit. So this weekend I mostly concentrated on my first combat job, brawler.

In Free Realms all combat is instanced. Even wandering monsters aren't attacking you, you need to click on them to get transported to an instance where you can fight them. More interesting are the many dungeons, which unlike other games are often playable solo. Which is good, because besides standing in front of the door and waiting for somebody else wanting to enter and asking him to group, or spamming chat, there isn't really a good way to find people for a group. Once you have a group however, you just need one player entering an instance for all other players in the group to receive the option to join, regardless of location.

I'm at level 9 now with the brawler job, and found the quest chain leading up to there not very well made. There was a curious mix of quests that were extremely hard, and others that were much easier. And the quest chain doesn't provide you with enough experience and levels to continue the chain, you are often being told to grind a couple of levels more before you can continue. As I didn't simply want to grind the same mobs or dungeons repeatedly, I tried doing side quests to increase my brawler level. Which isn't as trivial as it sounds, because many quests in Free Realms aren't combat related at all, and thus don't give you any xp for the brawler job. And sometimes you have to do such a non-combat Fedex quest first to get a combat quest later in the chain.

A lot of things that are impossible in most other MMORPG combat systems still work in Free Realms: Monsters can get stuck, and you can pelt them with ranged combat without them evading or resetting. Some mobs you can even shoot at a few times, run away when they come close, and the mob will go back to his initial position. But as the mob is healing only very slowly, you can repeat that process until the mob is dead. Kiting also works in many places. If all else fails to beat a particularly hard mob, you can always fight it until you get knocked out, then recover and keep hitting the mob, which will still be hurt, while your health and mana recovered fully. But you only get a limited number, up to 5, of such knockouts for the whole instance.

The more usual method of beating harder monsters is using potions. There are potions that recover health, potions that recover mana, and potions that recover both, and they are all on different timers. There are also hard to find heal-over-time potions. As I said, the instances marked "medium difficulty - level 5 and up" are often rather hard for a brawler of level 5 to 9, in spite being part of the brawler quest chain. Potions allow you to beat the place, but then you probably spent more ingame gold on the potions than you got as a reward from beating the dungeon.

The healing potions you can buy for ingame gold heal you for around 500 points. But you can buy healing potions for real money at 10 cents apiece that heal you for half your total health, and already in the level 5 to 9 range half you health is significantly more than 500 points. Thus there is a nasty temptation to heal your way through the dungeon with real money potions, which are more effective, and save you your virtual gold. Even nastier, the weapons you can buy for real money are useable already at level 1, and are better than any even high-level weapon you can find in the game or craft yourself. But I'm still using a crafted hammer for my brawler, because buying a better hammer for $2.50 would just make my blacksmithing job obsolete.

Subscribers, aka "members", have more different dungeons available in Free Realms, and more different combat professions, like wizard or medic. Thus if you don't want to pay a lot of gold or money for healing potions, but you are a member, you could try to find a group with a tank, a healer, and a damage dealer. I haven't tried that yet, and am not sure how good grouping would work. No idea how aggro control would work in Free Realms, I didn't see any "taunt" skills yet. Every job only starts with two abilities, and only gets new abilities every 5 levels, so there isn't a whole lot of skills to choose from.

So up to now, combat in Free Realms, playing solo as a brawler, is a mixed bag. Some of the dungeons were very well done, but the balance of the main quest chain isn't great. And with many side quests and dungeons only available for subscribers, and the best weapons and potions only available for cash, some people will dislike the blatant grab for money.
Comments:
I wanted to try Free realms but gave up after seeing the tutorial and that there was no mouse inversion or way to alter key bindings. I have no idea why they make a game with mouselook today without being able to invert your mouse. It's really one of the most basic settings that is available in all games.
 
It's pretty daring to make a RMT game where people who spend money are just plain better than those who don't. Previous MMO RMT has generally been cosmetic (EQ2) or ebay-like (Vanguard) or simply paying for someone else's account (Eve).

It seems to me a very risky line to take. If no matter what you do in game the guy who spent $20 more than you will always be better, why play? Exploring of course but after a while these games become less about exploring and more about achieving.

In WoW it would be lfm Naxx (link weapon) with no free to get weapons admitted into the raid.

Still FR is clearly a casual Explorer type game and nothing I have previously read underlines that point so emphatically as RMT for the top weapon.
 
Euh, you can buy weapons? Worse, better then end game content? What's the point in doing instances then if not to get better loot.

In any case, I'm not playing any games where you get a benefit over other players from putting in real money. It's no longer about having the best skills but about having the most dollars to spend.

Neither am I playing any games where I can not rebind my keys. I play with the numpad and if that's not possible, no thanks.
 
I generally muddle through using the "knock yourself out method". The key thing being to clear the trash without getting overcome and saving all my knock-outs for the boss fight at the end. Careful pulling is essential which is tricky in some instances. I know I lose a bunch of points for every knockout so it wouldn't surprise me if it was cheaper in the long run to just buy potions and avoid knockouts. I am doing my best to avoid the temptation to min-max FR but to my shame I have to admit to having already worked out an optimum button mashing strategy.
 
This comment has been removed by the author.
 
Monsters can get stuck, and you can pelt them with ranged combat without them evading or resettingAnd people actually pay money to play this game? Amazing...

(* Reposted due to formatting error in previous post)
 
I can't get the line breaks done correctly, and I even previewed it before posting. I must be a Blogger newbie :(
 
I'm curious how they are planning to market this to young kids, if someone like you Tobold is having a tough time with some of the content. Is the plan just to force all of them to buy items, or is this a case of you going into content early because of your previous MMO experience?

I figured FR would be too easy for adults to really keep them entertained, I never thought one of the issues would be its TOO difficult without paying for power.
 
Since when are games with twitch heavy combat aimed at adults instead of kids? From the little I saw of Free Realms combat it really had very little tactical depth. It was more about clicking fast and at the right time.

It seems like a game with a simplistic combat system relying on quick reflexes. So therefor easy for kids and harder for old geriatrics like us.
 
It's too early for me to be sure how combat works at higher levels, but I did notice that I needed consumable health potions to get through one of the earliest Brawler quests. (Perhaps the problem was that my wife and I were underleveled, due to having taken the cooking path through the tutorial?)

It may be a moot point, since the dungeon-running crowd is not the core demographic of the game, but you have to wonder about a supposedly free-to-play game in which the two sources of healing are a subscription-only class and consumable potions (which are really only a viable option if you're willing to RMT them).
 
@MagrothJ:
I found the lack of mouse inversion to be a pain as well. Wizard101 has the same problem... and since I'm playing that with my godson, I'm stuck with it. I'm actually in the middle of training myself to not rely on an inverted mouse to play WoW in order to enjoy W101 & FR. :P

@People miffed about RMT, etc.:
I think the combat in FR is just like everything else.... an amusing distraction.

Sure, you can buy the best weapon in the game.... but so what? This isn't like WoW, WAR, EQ, etc where combat *IS* the whole game for all intents and purposes. FR isn't ultra-competative - and trying to play it that way is to totally miss the point.

Personally I'm not going to drop real money on a virtual weapon because to me it feels like cheating... but in the same breath I'm not going to be upset that someone else DOES because in the end it really doesn't matter.

FR is a series of interlinked distractions - not a serious hardcore MMO. (And yet I dropped $5 for a 1 month sub because I feel it's worth supporting.)
 
I found the Brawler a real struggle. Luckily, as I have Station Access, I was able to take the Warrior job and fight as a Warrior instead.

The Warrior seems to me to be a much better fighter than the Brawler. As a warrior I was able to complete a Medium dungeon immediately, whereas as a Brawler I couldn't even do an Easy dungeon until I was level 2. (This is without using any potions at all, either way).

Re another comment, you certainly can use the Arrow keys for movement. I didn't notice there was no key-binding - I'll checkthat next time I play because it's hard to believe it's not possible.
 
Thank you Tobold for bringing FR to my attention, I've been playing it off and on for the last week and am interested to see where I'll go with it.

It does have a few quirks that are a little frustrating such as the lack of key bindings and mouse inversion options. I think I am overcoming those, but it's going to take time.

One other complaint, or difficulty I'm having, is that I can't find out where to go for the different jobs. I've got Brawler and Chef as jobs from the tutorial, but I want to pick up either Warrior, Mage, Medic, or Ninja. Are there any resources out there that might help or am I going to just have to turn over every stone?
 
Okay I have to seriously retaliate at this point. I will straight up admit that I am a member, and on the same breath I'll say that the membership is only thing I bought with real money. I didn't buy weapons, shards etc AT ALL.

I have once not been able to complete an instance the first time around. I log instances for a community free realms site (fr.zam.com give it a go if you'd like, remove the add if you don't like it here). I've done almost all of the dungeon content in the game, and found nothing too hard.

I currently have a level 20 archer and ninja, and am working on all the other fighter classes to get a realistic feel for the dungeons while I log them (aka I do easy dungeons with a character below level 5, medium with character level 10 and hard with a character between 10-20 as intended).

Doing instances grouped increases the amount of mobs in the dungeon, or so I hear, I've done all content solo, so if you are doing the dungeons grouped, maybe that increases the difficulty inproportionately.

As for the taunt thing, warrior has a taunt skill at level 10, but I haven't tested it in a group situation yet.

Buying a membership also got me a free boosterpack for the TCG, which I was going to buy anyways, so basically the cost of a membership for me went down to 1 dollar, which I find my moneys worth concidering I get around 40% more content in the game.

As a leveling tip, remember to spend your stars on skills and remember to always wear the highest statted gear (not the one with highest power level but the one with highest stats. The power levels of items are very bugged.)

Sare Katoan
US Server 1
 
Also I have to quickly comment that in the endgame, the difference between bought weapons and best free weapons is something like 10 attack. A bonus that's not at all important in the endgame dungeons at level 20.

Buying the +stars equipment is just worthless, because at the current rate it takes me about 12 hours to level a job from 1-20.

Actually the only thing I would spend my money on the item shop at the moment are permanent pets and tcg. If anything, the item shop suffers from too weak items for me :).
 
You may be upset when you try the Warrior. At around level 3 my Warrior hit harder than my Level 8/9 Brawler. Both using Station Cash weapons (the straight damage and stat buff ones, not the more stars/more exp ones).
 
Sorcefire -- you might try the wiki's over at http://fr.zam.com/

That's where I found the locations of the ninja, wizard, and archer trainers.
 
Well, they're doing a good job advertising this to their target audience. Over the weekend I probably saw a dozen commercials on Disney Channel and Nickelodeon. I didn't say a word, but at some point both my 9 year old and my 6 year old asked me to look into the game for them (they're aware that I have to check any game ahead of time to be sure it's appropriate). Little did they know I'd already been starting to look into it thanks to this blog, and would have had a starting character already if there wasn't a signup issue which I believe snagged me thanks to Firefox.
 
I tried this game out but to be honest, I didn't find it that fun.
 
I've been having such a good time with this game, I haven't played WoW in over a week. As an ultra-casual soloer, FR has (so far) does everything I could as for out of a game. Since I didn't play in the beta, everything has been new to me.

I did spring for some Station Cash, but I have only purchased TCG boosters with it as well as my membership. I will likely by a pet when I start on the Pet Trainer job, but the rest of the catalog seems so unnecessary to me. I've been happy with dropped or crafted equip and do not need uber-cash gear.
 
*spoiler*
The level 20 Blacksmithing quest does not require you to go in Haunted Mines - the blade is outside the mining area. You will also need level 20 mining to complete the quest chain. Hope this helps.

-Pootzen
 
I received an email from donotreply@freerealms.com tonight.. from SOE saying:

Dear Customer:

We are sending this e-mail because we have received a request to reset the password for your Station Account bub. If you did not initiate this request, you may simply disregard this e-mail.

Click on the following link to generate a new temporary password, and have it e-mailed to you at this address:

[snipped]

Password reset may only be done once every 24 hours.

Thank you.

(This is an automated e-mail. Please do not reply.)



Sony Online Entertainment
www.freerealms.com



The email had FREE REALMS in bug blue colored letters at the top. Except I never requested a password change, and have never even played Free Realms. Frankly I'm not in the least interested in the game.

Is this a surepticious free relams advertisment trolling for players?

Priceless.
 
I would guess you have a SOE Station account, and somebody tried the "forgot password" function using your name or e-mail. Happens a lot, its usually amateur hackers trying to get into other people's accounts.
 
Funny that it has a Free Realms header to it though. And when you click the link in the email I snipped, it takes you to a page that doesn't even ask you to change the password. Instead it leads you right to the freerealms website where, oddly enough, you can sign up!

To me, this looks and smells very much like a troll for customers.
 
I wanted to try Free realms but gave up after seeing the tutorial and that there was no mouse inversion or way to alter key bindings.
# posted by Blogger MagrothJ : 11/5/09 10:26
This. I gave up the game after five minutes. Without an invert mouse option, I simply can't play. They can do without my account until they fix that up.
 
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