In two years, RoM has seen three major updates, and a fourth is just around the corner. The first two chapters made it into the first year, and although Chapter 4 didn't quite make it into this article, chapter 3 brought a whopping amount of content and features.
If your extra ginger beer isn't cutting it anymore and you're feeling brave, move on up by grabbing a bottle of Blenhiem's old #5 and join me for a look back at the last year of RoM.
Zones and instances
Chapter 3: The Elder Kingdoms was brought to us in a quick succession of four chunks that brought the level-cap from 55 to 60 and surprised us with some great content. There was a fifth update included, but it wasn't expected or announced as much as it was tacked on at the last minute, although it did add the new world boss Amboriar into the game.
As for world-size, RoM gained three new zones full of quests and four new instances. We were introduced to many new races including the rhinoceros-like Kalo, the evil elven Jyr'na, the Angren, and more. Two difficulty settings were instituted in the older Hall of Survivors and Heart of the Ocean instances, and five levels came with Raksha Temple in Chapter 3. For all you lore-lovers, Raksha Temple introduced a key character that will be a focal point when Chapter 4 starts.
Guild castles received a bounty of special treatment with minigames and new structural skins. Separate from leveling our guilds, we were given the ability to upgrade the look of the main building and walls from a wooden to a stone facade. There were also a handful of guild minigames added, which award honor points and additional fun for guilds to experience. I have to say they are a lot better than the whack-a-mole minigame. I'm just not a big fan of that one.
You know all those Black Codex NPCs strewn about, offering tasty gear in exchange for a strange currency? That is the memento system that was added in Chapter 3 as an alternative and additional way for players to be rewarded for killing bosses in select instances. I've had conversations about the addition of mementos as a reward in public events, and I personally feel that events need to be gated to prevent AFKers. Currently, the public events get overrun with players who join, go AFK, and still earn mementos, which allows them to buy some very nice gear but makes it hard for anyone who would actually want to participate with groups. I'm not against offering mementos as a reward, but something needs to be done about being able to AFK and still win in the events.
RoM saw some robust features added or significantly upgraded in the form of a pet system, housekeepers, monster compendium, new skill system, rune extraction, public events, two-player mounts, newbie tutor system, newbie pets, a new battlefield and a relationship system. Whew! That's a lot of stuff, and those aren't little features either.
The pet system alone is robust enough to be considered a game of its own on which you could spend your entire game career. In fact, a lot of the new features are like that. Monster cards became very popular when the team added stat bonuses to them. Housekeepers provide buffs and can make potions and food. An array of different relationships can be forged -- including marriage -- that provide special bonuses you can level as the relationships grow stronger. The popular Tyrefen Mountain Range battlefield was added. Built-in Vivox voice was implemented. Elite skills were given a revamp. Newer skills,e gained by completing high-level sets, were added, and the tutor system rewards high-level players with bonus stats for helping lowbies.
Double, double, toil and trouble
The second year brought with it some growing pains for Runewaker and Frogster. The late hacker incident involving an anonymous miscreant who blackmailed Frogster is probably still fresh in the minds of veteran players.
Earlier still, Runewaker seemed to be on a never-ending quest to figure out and implement a new system to replace the very popular diamond trade that we haven't seen in the auction house for many months now. The initial system was nearly perfect, and it's a shame it's gone. I dislike the idea of static NPC traders (Runewaker's current solution), but thankfully there's still the option for players to trade through gifting of items. I would really love to see the old system reinstituted. It was incredibly easy to trade diamonds for gold on the auction house in the same manner we buy items now. Here's hoping Runewaker finds a winning method to return to the old way we all loved so much while being able to crack down on gold-selling and fraud.
In addition to the aforementioned memento problem, we've seen a flip from Mages being over-powered to Scouts taking the lead. Some player surveys on skills were taken on the European servers a little while back; they suggest we're in for some changes, but we don't know when. The teaser we've seen of the new zone describes the first instance and area as being more Mage-friendly, but it will take more than that to fix the problem.
The prospect of new mana calculations still looms over the playerbase like a thick fog. This past year's attempt to change all mana consumption to percentage-based was met with a mana strike and was removed from the game about as fast as it was implemented.
Players are also tentative about how many quests will be seen with the new areas. There's still some debate over the number of quests being too small in the last-released zone, Limo Desert.
With all these additions, we have to wonder what Runewaker could possibly have up its sleeve beyond the teaser video. If this next update is anywhere near the size of Chapter 3, players are in for a tremendous time as RoM rolls into year three. Happy birthday, RoM, and here's to a prosperous new year!