Review: The World R:2

The World R:2 is the second version of the VRMMO in the dotHack franchise. Now based on a unique story instead of the epic poem, the game has been completely overhauled. The World R:2 is featured in the “G.U.” series of PS2 games, and the Roots anime. Through this article I will be reviewing the game, as if it were an actuality, and giving opinions from a game development point of view. This article references my “The World R:1″ review multiple times, and it is suggested you read that one first.

Starting from the same place as my R:1 review, the user interface has been cleaned up and made more modern, although in my opinion they ruined some things. The inventory is now a single, poorly sorted menu, with equipment and key items getting their own pages, and everything else being grouped together. Equipment and other items also now have their own inventory limit, 30 unique entries for each. The removed the quick chat menu for controlling NPC allies, which is a huge minus. The minimap is much cleaner now, and the full screen map gives more information than before. There’s even a memoire incase you forget what you did last. Overall, the interface looks much nicer, but has lost much of the functionality of the original.

Gameplay has not changed too much. It is still a dungeon crawler style game with root towns, and the saving system is still included. They did change the interaction system, however, which was one of my favourite parts of the old game, though I can see why since they added a ranged class. Now you must go up to an object and hit “X” to open a menu, the arrow buttons now toggle between targets. Towns have been made larger and much more interesting, which is definitely a big plus.

Player creation had some large changes as well. There are now 2 races to choose from, human and beast, and multiple tribes of beasts which look different. A player may also change the colour scheme of their character to their choosing, and pick from some variations in appearance. This doesn’t completely remove the possibility of meeting similar characters, but is much better than the previous game. The classes are now much more balanced, with wave master being split into 3 classes, a healer, an offensive mage, and a support mage. There is also now a ranged class, the steam gunner. The most unique class though is the multi-weapon, also known as the adept rogue. This character has a set amount of points, and is able to spend those points to choose weapons to use, making very unique character builds possible.

As mentioned earlier, towns are much larger in R:2. There can be more than one of a single type of shop now, with different merchandise, as well as Guild @HOME’s, and other quest related locations. In order to make movement through the town convenient for players, there are warp points throughout town. Grunty Ranches have been removed from the game, which is a sad loss of a feature, although Grunties do make appearances in the game as mascots for guilds. There is also a central marketplace in each town, where guilds can set up shops.

Fields and Dungeons had huge overhaul as well, although I am not happy with some of the changes. Now each area word will send you to a field OR dungeon, dungeons are no longer within fields. This was a huge mistake, as the fields got a huge upgrade, and seem too short and simple now without dungeons, even with how much better they are. The only thing I really dislike other than that about fields, is the lack of an oasis to upgrade gear, that was quite fun. There can now be bosses on a field, instead of treasure, which is nice, but why they did not add this to dungeons as well is a mystery. Dungeons also got a huge upgrade. There are more features in the dungeons, such as Chim Chims, small creatures that release energy filled spheres when you kick them, and machines operated by these spheres. There are also trap rooms, although those are a bit of a disappointment, as you can easily walk around the edges of the room. All in all, a lot of improvements, but also a lot of untapped potential.

The item system is much different in R:2 than it was in R:1. Although there are still skill items for non-magic players, there are also items to learn the spells permanently, and skills no longer come as part of your equipment. Instead, equipment is less linear, can be upgraded in your guild @HOME, and have slots for “materials”, which give passive bonuses to the weapon. This is definitely a step up from the past equipment system, allowing much more strategy and customization with your equipment. Treasures were also removed, which being a collector at heart, is a big loss. Now all fields and dungeons have equipment at the end. The level system for equipment is much better, actually being linked to your own levels. One item I miss is “Fortune Wire”, as trapped chests behave differently now, I prefered the old version.

The combat system was almost pure improvement. Battle has a faster pace, with multiple normal attacks possible, such as charge attacks and combos. Skills also now do not suddenly freeze enemies in place, a circle is sent from the caster on the ground, when and only when that circle hits the target are they stuck for a short time. This circle can be avoided if you are fast enough to react, making spells a bit more fair, although you can still get locked in a combo if multiple mages catch you. Melee skills also no longer require you to be right beside the target, you will charge a target before performing the skill. As mentioned earlier though, without having a good way of telling your party members what to do, parties can be a bit more frustrating. Battles now happen in sealed areas which spawn around the two who started the combat. These areas appear on the map, and so other players can walk into the area and help, or PK you if they wanted I guess. The updates were a bit excessive though, adding awakenings wasn’t neccessary, or atleast could have been implemented better. Atleast attacks are avoidable now.

Like the previous version, R:2 has some interesting systems. Although you can no longer raise grunties, the member address system is still in. There are also now quests to be done, and a few special NPCs with long continuous quests. One gets you to collect data on Chim Chims, another gets you to collect data on animals, and the last gets you to help out his defective flying robo-grunty if you see it in the fields. The animals themselves are a unique system, giving you special bonuses if you catch up to them and kick them. There are also Unlucky animals which give you negative things, however. Guilds also now have achievement systems, upgrade workshops, and their own base, called an @HOME. Unlike other games, guilds are not exclusive in The World R:2, so a player may join more than one if they wish. I’m not so sure about leading more than one guild, however. There is also a huge focus on PvP with the PK (player kill) system, where you can choose to either be a hunter to earn rewards. Players into PvP can join the arena, where they get bonuses and prizes for it.

Looking back at my previous suggestions for The World R:1, the update seems to have provided similar things to what I wanted. Instead of randomized equipment the traditional way, equipment can be socketed with materials, and some equipment come with materials already in them. They also gave equipment it’s own inventory to make up for the extra slots it takes up without stacking. Unfortunately however, the system still does not give the impressive finds of a unique or rare gear, as what you find is normal common equipment with some addons already applied, even if some of those addons may be somewhat rare. There are rare unique items in the game, but most are purchased or traded for. Basically all my combat wishes came true, although dropping some of the excessive systems for more polished, simple combat would be prefered.

Overall, the two “The World” games are definitely gems that could make it big, if ever developed in reality. There are more versions of the game, although I do not personally own the media that contains them, so they will have to wait until a later time. Up next in my VRMMO streak is Sword Art Online, a unique game focusing on melee combat, player skill and epic boss fights.

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