Free Play Reviews: Dungeon Runners (Archive)

By NCsoft.

Welcome to another issue of Free Play!

This is Riknas once again, and we’ll be going back to NCsoft once more, with their first F2P title, Dungeon Runners.

Getting Started

So, as you might have guessed (by the above screen shot), this is a fantasy game, however you’ll find that unlike most games that try to turn your game-play into an epic adventure after you’re first assigned to kill those super-scary-dangerous rats, Dungeon Runners openly mocks the Fantasy genre with slap stick humor and blatantly downplays your importance.

The character creation is very simple, you have 2 genders to choose from (shocking, I know), and based on that you’ll choose from several faces to have, hair styles, and hair color. It doesn’t matter too much though, since most people will mainly only be seeing your gear.

You also have to choose one of three classes, all three of which should be self-explanatory to nearly any gamer:

The Mage: The caster

The Ranger: The archer

The Fighter: I have big sword, me whack bad guys!

(Note: You can only make three characters, so I’m going to recommend having one character for each class, should you choose to play the game.)

So, now that you’ve got your Dungeon Runner set up, you should be ready to enter your brand new world.

After logging in, you’ll be sent into a rather cartoony world. There, you will meet a chipper, tiny dragon with a wide-smile, trapped in a box, with a large Exclamation point on top of it. He will teach you the basics mechanics of the game, while making you question whether or not you should take those anti-depressants your doctor prescribed to you.

Fortunately for the more experienced players, you can skim through it rather quickly, as the tutorials are really just text boxes. I’m going to recommend reading it thoroughly though, just in case. There isn’t too much to read anyway, so it’s not too tedious.

Story

The story, unlike Exteel(Covered in Free Play #1)), has an extremely in-depth story. And by extremely in-depth story, I mean they decided not to give us one. Admittedly, it’s a bit more solid than Exteel, but that doesn’t mean it’s actually good.

The only things we really know about it, is that there is a “King”, the players are the “Dungeon Runners”, and that the rat people have a black market on carbonated soda. At least it’s…different.

Gameplay

Similar to the story, the game play is rather…simple, in concept at least. Aside from the towns where you get your missions, the rest of the game itself will take place in instances, (or as they call it, Dungeons).So don’t expect any pick up groups in mid-quest.

The combat itself though is just as simple, (If not more) than the quests assigned to you, and is similar to the Diablo set up. To perform basic melee attacks or use your bow/shotgun (yes, shotgun). Simply left click on your enemy, and you will enter the necessary range to attack them, and perform your attack. Spells are also very simple, and you can left click on them from the small skill bar, and then left click on your target, or you can skip left clicking the spell the first time by clicking on the skill’s designated number key, (1-9, and right mouse button). Which you can adjust by dragging and dropping skills to various sections of the spell bar. (It’s just one horizontal bar at the bottom of your screen. The first box represents 1, the last one represents 0. Don’t try to find a “W” box or something).

Also, if you desire to do so, you can probably solo a good deal of the game thanks to the “Difficulty” setting of the game. Since the game is instanced, it allows you to alter the actual stats of the creatures around you to make things easier or harder. The higher the difficulty setting, the more health each creature has, and the more damage they do; although since technically they don’t change in actual levels, you won’t get any extra XP, but they are more likely to drop extra loot. This can, as a result, extend the lifespan of an older dungeon, or give larger groups more of a challenge or reward. While you are likely to be able to solo a dungeon your level on Normal, expect to see the graveyard frequently if you’re trying to solo higher difficulties such as “Formidable” or “Extreme”.

Although being killed has no negative effects, (aside from being sent to the graveyard). it can grow rather frustrating rather quickly.

Leveling is essential in nearly every MMORPG doesn’t mean too much in itself. In this regard it’s similar to World of Warcraft, where, also like Diablo, you are able to add 5 points to your attributes: Endurance, Intelligence, Agility, Strength. However, that’s all you get for actually leveling up. In leveling up, you merely unlock the ability to purchase new abilities.

PVP

This is the one thing you really can’t put a good flip side on other than, “Well, it’s THERE.”  This game just was not built with PVP in mind. You’d think otherwise, what with a class system made so that any class can get any ability if you have enough gold, making it easy to make a well-rounded character for balanced encounters, sprinkled with specialized characters. And yet NCsoft seems intent on alienating PVP players. Even though PVP takes place only in the special arena of “Pwnstown”, you can only access Pwnstown by playing in a PVP server. Other than the arenas, it works exactly like a PVE server, and is now just the “low population” server in my eyes. When all you can do is play Group Death Match, and the occasional one on one deathmatch, there is little point to having a whole server dedicated to housing one little zone, it makes it feel much less accessible, and like a waste of resources.

The Catch

There always is a catch, isn’t there? All MMOs need a way to make some income, and Dungeon Runners isn’t any different. In this specific case, they constantly encourage you to pay for the optional subscription of 5 dollars a month, (Or at a slightly reduced rate if you purchase 3, 6, or 12 months at once).

Fortunately, it feels a lot more like signing up for the subscription would be giving you something, rather than just making free players feel undeniably gimped.

As a free player you have normal functions and have a constant set of advertisements for different NCsoft titles at the top of the screen. This usually isn’t too bad unless the banner is particularly bright, in which case it can distract from the game play. Also, some load screens will delay you from going into the next zone, while it forces you to watch an advertisement. I found the captions for them to be rather amusing, though after you start to see the same one repeatedly, it does get rather annoying.

Being a paying subscriber means no more advertisements, (which is actually one of the reasons I feel almost discouraged to subscribe…)You also get a small bonus to how much gold you get (15%) and you gain experience slightly faster, (also 15%). On top of that, you get 4 more bank pages than a normal player (this really is not a big deal for the most part, at least for me, as I’m usually just selling everything I find due to lack of need ), as well as a discount for the amount of kings coins needed for specialty items.

What the hell is a kings coin?

A Kings Coin is (according to lore) a special coin from the Kings Vault, and acts like a gift card that you can turn in for a rare quality item designed exactly for your level, which you can turn in at the specialty stores by the bank. These are all orientated towards a certain class, so they’re not too godly, but they can serve a decent enough purpose, no equipment gives you the best of both worlds anyway. The big thing is that unless you want to grind special harvest items in the same dungeon over and over again, Kings Coins can become hard to come across. In subscribing, what might cost 5 kings coins for the normal player may cost only 3 for a subscribed player, or an 8 KC item might cost only 5 for the subscribed player. For me, this was one of the things where I really thought about pulling out my wallet, because this is one of the things you can’t necessarily just even out that a few extra minutes of playing couldn’t hurt.

Other than the KC, the subscription doesn’t offer anything major unless you really are an avid fan of the game, or want to be alone in the members only server (In which case, just go to the PVP server…)

Final Thoughts

Dungeon Runners is the “Rainy Day” MMO. You can log in and do some quests, and then log out if your strapped for time.

Whether or not you subscribe is as always, up to you. Either way you save more money than you would with a traditional MMO. However subscribing does not make it a new game, it will only lighten a few burdens. And come on, the ads are still funny, when they aren’t trying to pump Tabula Rasa back to life at least.

So if you’re still looking for that next MMO to call home, and nothing quite suits your fancy, give Dungeon Runners a try.

Nothing to lose when you play for free!

See you next week!

((This review was written in the year 2009, and the servers have since shut down.))

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