There aren’t many games able to bring back fond memories in the same way that Ragnarok Online does. The sequel failed to set the world on fire and was quickly buried and forgotten, but there was no way that Gravity Interactive would give up so easily on such a valuable franchise.
What better way to give it a second lease on life than on the best platform ever devised for some old school MMORPG action? I’m talking about mobile devices, of course. That is exactly what happened with the release of Ragnarok M: Eternal Love.
Keep Fighting the Good Fight
Ragnarok M: Eternal Love is a reinterpretation of the original game released in 2003. This is a non-linear, open world MMORPG with a new design for towns that Ragnarok fans know and love, such as Prontera, Izlude or Geffen, among others. The art style was subject to a significant revamp and the result is appealing and charming, although the new look makes it easier to mix it with other similar games.
Before you get into the game, you go through the mandatory class selection screen. Currently sitting at six classes, the offer is comprised of Wizard, Blacksmith, Priest, Hunter, Knight and Assassin classes. There is no gender lock, but the initial customization is appallingly basic, with only four hairstyles and a handful of hair colors to choose from.
As it turns out, this is the exception to the rule, as Ragnarok M: Eternal Love’s world has a lot on offer to keep you busy and entertained. You must struggle through its initially slow pace, as you move from area to area, unlocking new regions and working on trivial fetch quests that will slowly but surely see you climb through the experience levels.
Touch controls are cleverly designed, offering two different ways to move your character around. You can tap anywhere on the screen to go to the desired location, or you can tap and hold to control as if it was a virtual d-pad. You can also open the area map and click on the destination, and your avatar will make it there, running for ages, if needs be. Expect a lot of loading through locations, but thankfully these are short loading times.
The remainder of the user interface is nicely distributed across the screen. While it still gets somewhat cluttered when you’re in a party and you have the chat window open, it’s far from the complete mess that some MMOs usually throw at your face, with shining icons everywhere asking for your hard-earned cash. A “More” button includes several other important functions and keeps things tidy, as much as it can be.
Attacking is based on the traditional and timeless method of tapping on the enemy and watching as they take turns hitting each other. Of course, you can use your active skills to your advantage, while passive skills such as health regeneration are extremely useful in combat.
Ragnarok M: Eternal Love has an impressive amount of quests. Everyone and everything seems to have something to ask you in the world of Rune Midgard, and it’s best not to decline most of these requests, as you always get some reward, including experience points, loot, and Zeny, the in-game currency. But you can also stop to smell the roses, meaning that you can do other activities besides fighting and fetch quests.
For example, you can turn into a photographer and take beautiful pictures of some of the region’s landmarks or important locations. This is a simple matter of taking out your camera and the game world will turn into a nice third-person view that you can rotate and zoom at will. The relevant pictures will be saved in your Adventure Handbook, but more on that later.
Do you know how most, if not all MMORPGs are riddled with those illicit auto-fighting bots to keep farming experience without playing the game? Well, Ragnarok M: Eternal Love goes as far as actually including an auto-battle option to save you the trouble of tapping around. You can just select the option, choose your preference (attack a specific monster or all monsters) and let your hero do the heavy lifting.
There is a fatigue system of sorts to prevent abuse to this mechanic, but it is a generous one. Called Combat Time, you get 300 minutes per day to auto-battle, up to a limit of 900 minutes. When you exceed the maximum combat time, the experience and loot will gradually reduce until it becomes virtually worthless. Whenever this happens, you are advised to go complete some quests and do other tasks until Combat Time is replenished. There are ways to increase Combat Time such as listening to music in the Music Box, but the compensation isn’t really worth it, to say the least.
A great way to grind is by going to the several mission boards spread across the land after you unlock it at level 15. This is the place where daily missions are submitted and just perfect when you need that extra experience points to unlock further main story quests. A lot of these are based around killing an ‘X’ number of monsters, sometimes up to 300, so make sure you have your Combat Time ready to go.
When you reach level 10, you get to change your job. I decided to become a Swordsman, which will open the choice between the second job class Knight or Crusader at level 40. Apart from your character’s base skills, you also have Job skills which you can level up and place in the quick bar slots.
Your Adventurer’s Handbook is the place where all your deeds and accomplishments are recorded. You will frequently add to it, be it through new monsters, NPCs, pets, headwear, photographs, cards and more. You can think of it as part Pokédex, part traveler’s journal.
Obviously, you won’t be alone in your adventure. You can get a pet to follow you around and help you in combat but remember to pet him and occasionally give him some food to keep him happy. Pets also level up and have an intimacy level, leading to new options. You can also recruit an assistant that lists the available daily tasks, and as you complete these and gain intimacy points, you earn some extra rewards.
Setting up a party is as easy as it comes. Just tap on the button and all the options will appear in front of your eyes. It’s up to you to join one of the available parties or create your own. This will obviously help you out in some of the tougher quests, as loot and experience is shared between the party members.
If you’re feeling brave, you can challenge the occasional NPC that is eagerly waiting for a fight. Naturally, make sure to hold on until you feel like you are on an even level, as defeat will take its toll on your experience level.
There is a lot more to say about Ragnarok M: Eternal Love, considering the options that you are free to explore – or that you are forced to explore. It’s far from easy to get some specific gear, and the gacha machines in Prontera, or Fantasy Generators as they are called, are sitting right there, waiting for your Big Cat Coins and Big Cat Vouchers, unashamedly pushing you towards the cash shop, and you obey at your own risk, in the hopes of getting that special piece of equipment.
Ragnarok M: Eternal Love is also particularly demanding timewise. Even with the masked joy of auto-battle, it takes long hours to level up. This is a game for several weeks or months, according to your playing habits, but you can be sure that reaching high levels – let’s say level 80 – is a task for the most hardened players. The question that arises is: are you willing to invest the time?
Ragnarok M: Eternal Love is clearly designed by a clever team that knows how the fundamentals of a competent MMORPG work. From the friendly grind – so to speak – to the way that the game opens up as you progress, there is always something to do and somewhere to go. Choices.
Most of the joy derives from the discovery of new places, but it also gets a bit stale when you keep running (or transporting) from town to town, doing the same fetch quests repeatedly. The auto-battle is the ultimate proof that the gameplay is deliberately trying to keep you coming back for more. In some sense, it works, thanks to the charming characters and gripping Adventurer’s Handbook.
If there is one thing lacking in Ragnarok M: Eternal Love, that thing is originality. The gears and pulleys that make this game run are cookie-cutter material, a formulaic design that is cleverly disguised through an appealing art style. It ticks all the right boxes, but so many other games do as well – don’t go in expecting some groundbreaking idea or innovative feature.
Learning Curve: 8/10
Keeping up with the clever design, Ragnarok M: Eternal Love eases you into the game in a gentle manner. If you are a newcomer, you won’t feel overwhelmed by the consistent introduction of features such as jobs, mission boards, assistants and so on. As for the veterans of the genre, they won’t find any issues with the way that the mechanics unfold.
Graphics / Sound: 8/10
Charming. Colorful. Cheerful. These are words that perfectly describe Ragnarok M: Eternal Love’s art style. The game sports a feel-good look throughout that fans of the original will surely enjoy, and there is no way that you won’t like the design of fluffy, kawaii creatures such as the Poring or the rabbit-like Lunatic.
While there are vast empty areas to run across, most towns have a specific identity to them and may become quite crowded in places – there is an option to reduce the number of visible players on-screen, use it if you feel that the game is lagging or cluttered.
Ragnarok M: Eternal Love is entirely in 3D with a dynamic top-down perspective, but there doesn’t seem to be a way to rotate the camera angle. While you can do it in photograph mode, I didn’t find a way to do it in the main view, something that could become an issue in locations where you can’t properly see the exit points or characters of interest. As for sound, it’s all suitably cute and bubbly.
Value for Money: 6/10
You will get plenty of enjoyment for your time in Ragnarok M: Eternal Love. If you want to risk it in the gacha Fantasy Generators, it is most likely that you are going to lose quite a bit of cash. My advice is that you stick with the regular progression mechanics until you are truly sure that you want to invest some money in this game.
Generic as it may be, Ragnarok M: Eternal Love has all the trappings of a good mobile MMORPG. There is nothing groundbreaking about it, but its execution is very competent and capable of pulling you in. I can see Ragnarok Online veterans having a great time with it, and newcomers enjoying its charming world. For all it’s worth, it’s way better than the dreary Ragnarok Online 2.
• A charming world with a cute art style
• Tons of quests and content
• The Adventurer’s Handbook is a compelling addition
• Auto-battle system is useful…
• … But it’s proof that the grind is real
• Nothing that hasn’t been done before