Pioneer Spirit

A magazine advertisement for Pioneers of Iria, the expansion to Nexon’s Mabinogi, might focus on the addition of the new races, Elves and Giants. A banner ad on a website might boast that...

A magazine advertisement for  style="font-style: italic;"
href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/64386" target="_blank">Pioneers
of Iria, the expansion to Nexon’s  href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/taxonomy/term/856"
target="_blank">Mabinogi,
might focus on the addition of the new races, Elves and Giants. A
banner ad on a website might boast that Iria, the new continent, is
three times larger than the original game. A news blurb on a forum
might tout the new skills, items, and features. An email to former
players might try to entice them to patch up and play again with
information about changes to the Rebirth system and the inclusion of
the Quest Board. All of that fancy marketing language is impressive
(and accurate), but there is one reason above all others I think
players should try Pioneers
of Iria
: you get to explore the unknown.

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href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/62421"> style="border: 0px solid ; width: 200px; height: 130px;" alt=""
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Exploring is fun, but maybe you don't want
to bump into this guy. Or do you?

Before Pioneers
of Iria
, the last expansion for any game I seriously
played was Rise of
Kunark
for  href="http://eq2.tentonhammer.com/" target="_blank"> style="font-style: italic;">EverQuest II.
I remember the love affair every player had with the Sarnak race. They
were cool looking, they were evil, and they had the best balance of
stats and racial abilities in the game. And that last bit was the
problem. I enjoyed my time learning the lore while running quests in
Gorowyn with a million other Land
of the Lost
rejects ( href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/55459" target="_blank">thanks,
Coyote). My problem with Rise
of Kunark
wasn’t a lack of new quests, new skills, or new
races; instead my issue was that fifteen levels in, I felt like I was
doing the same things all over again with a different character model.
I felt compelled to try the new race because it was statistically
superior to my choice before the Sarnak became available. Sadly, the
lore of the Sarnak around Timorous Deep did not disguise the fact I was
only starting over to min/max, or metagame (which  href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/51801" target="_blank">kills
the fun for me too often).

That I do not experience metagaming déjà vu with style="font-style: italic;">Pioneers of Iria is
only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the massive amounts of fun
I have had so far. When a game has been out as long as style="font-style: italic;">Mabinogi has, the
temptation to play one of the two new races is great. Certainly, Elves
and Giants have their advantages: nimbleness and brute strength,
respectively. Even so, these two new races are most fun to play when
you do so to experience their lore. Embroiled in tribal warfare, the
Elves and Giants have long spilled each other’s blood in vast expanses
of Iria, and the plot thickens now that humans have discovered their
continent. Some humans will side with the Elves, but some will aid the
Giants.

Forget
the political intrigue for a bit. Sony Online Entertainment rightfully
could argue that EQ2 provided the same thing with the Sarnak. The
inhabitants of Iria live a vastly different life. Their continent
contains plains, deserts, and snowy regions. They ride different
mounts, command unique technologies, and keep atypical customs. Iria
feels like a new
land instead of just another
land tacked onto an existing game. Returning players feel this sense of
exploration doubly, but even new players can get an impression of how
different the continents are with only a few hours of play time.

Lastly, I’ll plug the shape shifting abilities of the new
races as a gameplay element that heightens the experience of novelty in
Pioneers of Iria.
The first time your Giant enters Beast mode, you’ll know what I mean.
Neither the mechanic nor the concept is revolutionary, but the result
(the most important part) is near to flawless.

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Pioneers of Iria fills players
with a sense of adventure.

Parting Thoughts

Those who have appreciated the focus on adventure in style="font-style: italic;">Mabinogi before
should check it out again. Meanwhile, I’ll do my best to find out if
players outside of Korea and North America will be able to play it
soon. The fact that gamers have to  href="http://www.truveo.com/Mabinogi-not-a-service-area/id/944435872"
target="_blank">work around the region blocking
indicates interest is high. I’m sure Nexon wants your patronage.

Players who did not enjoy Mabinogi
prior to Pioneers of
Iria
probably won’t change their minds just because of the
expansion. The core gameplay is not altered enough to tell you it’s a
different game. Still, many features implemented with the expansion
make the game better (Quest Boards, Mana Tunnels, free Rebirth at
character age twenty, and more). At the very least, the content found
in Iria is not merely more of the same.

Have you tried Mabinogi since the expansion? href="mailto:mailto:%[email protected]">Email
your thoughts or post them href="http://forums.tentonhammer.com/showthread.php?t=42315"
target="_blank">in our forums!

My game time this week has been spent on style="font-style: italic;">MLB Dugout Heroes
and an obscure browser-based game called style="font-style: italic;">Civony. The former
is a fun arcade-style baseball game. Plenty of modes allow players to
get the experience they want. I’m not sure I am sold on the digital
controls of a keyboard for the precise sport of baseball, though. Read
more about this game  href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/66616" target="_blank">here.
Meanwhile, Civony
emulates the city-building theme of Sid Meier’s Civilization. The great
thing about it is that I can have it running while I work and check in
on my budding city whenever I get a free moment. Buildings take place
in real time minutes, so it’s easy to play this game as a background
activity. In three days of play, I have two cities but am still a
newbie.

I appreciate the  href="http://forums.tentonhammer.com/showthread.php?t=42165"
target="_blank">lively discussion in our forums
about what makes an MMO free. I’d love to make a dozen lists covering
different variations of free (and I’d love love LOVE to be able to
include a game like Diablo
III
), but I couldn’t do that and have any time left to
actually play anything. For that reason, I encourage readers to keep
sharing with one another. I’ll latch onto my favorite games and feature
them, but I can’t play them all! So keep talking about free games and
I’ll keep my ear to the ground about any upcoming big titles.


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colspan="3" rowspan="1"> style="color: white; font-weight: bold;">Top Ten
Free MMOs

April 13, 2009

1


Last
week: 1
href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/38580"> style="border: 0px solid ; width: 100px; height: 100px;" alt=""
src="http://www.tentonhammer.com/image/view/38580/preview">
style="width: 334px; vertical-align: top;"> style="font-weight: bold;">Atlantica Online - ( href="http://atlantica.ndoorsgames.com/" target="_blank">http://atlantica.ndoorsgames.com/)

NDOORS



Atlantica
is a squad-based fantasy strategy game that breaks the mold. Players
can control up to nine characters at once in fast-paced turn-based
combat. A lot of the systems in Atlantica
are different from the standard fare on the market.

style="font-weight: bold;">

2


Last
week: 2
href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/65242"> style="border: 0px solid ; width: 100px; height: 100px;" alt=""
src="http://www.tentonhammer.com/image/view/65242/preview">
style="font-weight: bold;">Mabinogi - ( target="_blank" href="http://mabinogi.nexon.net/">http://mabinogi.nexon.net)

NEXON



Mabinogi
provides so many things to do that it earns its self-appointed moniker
of “A Fantasy Life.” Players can farm, play music, hunt, craft, go to
school and more in this fantasy land. In style="font-style: italic;">Mabinogi, combat is
not the only way to advance.

3


Last
week: 3
href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/36886"> style="border: 0px solid ; width: 100px; height: 100px;" alt=""
src="http://www.tentonhammer.com/image/view/36886/preview">
style="font-weight: bold;">Runes of Magic -
( href="http://www.runesofmagic.com/">www.runesofmagic.com style="font-weight: bold;">)

Frogster



Runes of Magic
is a traditional fantasy game that uses a Dual Class system to inject a
little strategy into character planning and a lot of flexibility into
grouping. RoM has all of the features gamers want in a
subscription-based game, but they’ll enjoy them for free here.

style="font-weight: bold;">

4


Last
week: 4
href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/33602"> style="border: 0px solid ; width: 100px; height: 100px;" alt=""
src="http://www.tentonhammer.com/image/view/33602/preview">
style="font-weight: bold;">Dungeon Runners -
(http://www.dungeonrunners.com style="font-weight: bold;">) NCSoft



Dungeon Runners
is a hack and slash fantasy game that infuses every aspect of gameplay
with humor. DR makes fun of other games, the genre, and even itself.
This is the perfect game for a player looking to blow off steam after a
rough day at work.

5


Last
week: 5
href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/34626"> style="border: 0px solid ; width: 100px; height: 100px;" alt=""
src="http://www.tentonhammer.com/image/view/34626/preview">
style="font-weight: bold;">Requiem: Bloodymare - ( href="http://www.playrequiem.com" target="_blank">www.playrequiem.com)

Gravity Interactive



Requiem: Bloodymare
is a horror-themed game that blends the traditional elements of MMOGs
with the visceral feel of a gore film. style="font-style: italic;">Requiem is worth a
look because of its fresh take on setting in MMOGs.

style="font-weight: bold;">

6


Last
week: 6
href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/32333"> style="border: 0px solid ; width: 100px; height: 100px;" alt=""
src="http://www.tentonhammer.com/image/view/32333/preview">
style="font-weight: bold;">Dream of Mirror Online - ( target="_blank" href="http://domo.aeriagames.com/">http://domo.aeriagames.com style="font-weight: bold;">)

Aeria Games &
Entertainment



Dream of Mirror
Online
puts the player in the starring role of a classic
Chinese myth. The eastern-based lore provides a refreshing twist on
MMOGs, and the multi-class system makes character development in this
fantasy game fun.

7


Last
week: 7
href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/49892"> style="border: 0px solid ; width: 100px; height: 100px;" alt=""
src="http://www.tentonhammer.com/image/view/49892/preview">
style="font-weight: bold;">Shin Megami Tensei: Imagine - ( href="http://megaten.aeriagames.com/" target="_blank">http://megaten.aeriagames.com style="font-weight: bold;">)

Aeria
Games &
Entertainment



Shin
Megami Tensei: Imagine Online
brings the popular RPG to
life in the MMOG sphere. Players can use friendly persuasion or
aggressive coercion to get demons to fight by their side. The dark
subject matter and modern setting of the game is a welcome contrast to
the enchanted glens filled with pixies we often find in MMOGs. style="font-weight: bold;">

8


Last
week: 8
href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/35119"> style="border: 0px solid ; width: 100px; height: 100px;" alt=""
src="http://www.tentonhammer.com/image/view/35119/preview">
style="font-weight: bold;">Rohan: Blood Feud -
( target="_blank">www.playrohan.com style="font-weight: bold;">) YNK Interactive



Rohan
is a traidtional fantasy
MMOG with deep lore and nice graphics. The world features intense PvP,
gambling, and a few creative systems for managing gear. The level curve
steepens midway through the game while the story diminishes.

9


Last
week: 9
href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/47948"> style="border: 0px solid ; width: 100px; height: 100px;" alt=""
src="http://www.tentonhammer.com/image/view/47948/preview">
style="font-weight: bold;">Exteel -
( target="_blank">www.exteel.com/us style="font-weight: bold;">) NCsoft



Exteel
is a visceral PvP-centric game featuring mechs and beautifully designed
levels. Exteel
uses a lobby system to connect players, and people can upgrade their
mechs with resources found in game or purchased from the item mall.

10


Last
week: N/A
href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/image/view/45940/preview"> style="border: 0px solid ; width: 100px; height: 100px;" alt=""
src="http://www.tentonhammer.com/image/view/45940/preview">
style="font-weight: bold;">Florensia -
( target="_blank">http://en.florensia-online.com style="font-weight: bold;">) Florensia Western Global



The peace in Florensia
is fragile and you need your friends as well as
strong allies to fight against sinister monsters on shore and at sea.
Train your skills, experience thrilling trips through the countryside,
load the cannons and hire a skilful crew to explore the ocean. Get
ready for Florensia! style="font-weight: bold;">



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style="text-align: center; width: 105px; background-color: rgb(114, 105, 62); font-weight: bold; color: white;"> style="width: 334px; background-color: rgb(114, 105, 62); font-weight: bold; color: white;">Game
colspan="2" rowspan="1"> style="color: white; font-weight: bold;">Ralsu's Watch List
href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/63895"> style="border: 0px solid ; width: 100px; height: 100px;" alt=""
src="http://www.tentonhammer.com/image/view/63895/preview">
style="width: 334px; vertical-align: top;"> style="font-weight: bold;">Free Realms -
( target="_blank">www.freerealms.com style="font-weight: bold;">) Sony Online Entertainment



Free Realms
is a a 3D fantasy
world designed to encourage exploration and support casual play. With
graphics similar to WoW and all the gameplay of a standard MMOG, style="font-style: italic;">Free Realms could
appeal to adults. Its many minigames and events are designed to please
teens.

  • href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/taxonomy/term/287"
    target="_blank">Free Realms Portal
  • Preview (coming soon!)

style="font-weight: bold;">

href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/66678"> style="border: 0px solid ; width: 100px; height: 101px;" alt=""
src="http://www.tentonhammer.com/image/view/66678/preview">
style="font-weight: bold;">MLB Dugout Heroes - ( href="http://mlbdugoutheroes.gamescampus.com/" target="_blank">http://mlbdugoutheroes.gamescampus.com) style="font-weight: bold;"> GamesCampus



MLB Dugout Heroes
brings arcade-like baseball action to the realm of
massively-multiplayer. Controls are simplified to make a smooth
experience on the PC. The official MLB licenses allows gamers to play
with real teams, players, and stadiums.

href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/64767"> style="border: 0px solid ; width: 100px; height: 100px;" alt=""
src="http://www.tentonhammer.com/image/view/64767/preview">
style="font-weight: bold;">Neo Steam -
( target="_blank">http://neosteam.atlusonline.com style="font-weight: bold;">) Atlus Online



Neo Steam
is a steampunk
game set in a world where warring factions compete for a limited supply
of the resource Neo Steam. It was above average in most categories
during closed beta for the US, but it had multiple translation
problems. Atlus Online should iron out the kinks.

style="font-weight: bold;">

href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/47950"> style="border: 0px solid ; width: 100px; height: 100px;" alt=""
src="http://www.tentonhammer.com/image/view/47950/preview">
style="font-weight: bold;">Warrior Epic -
( href="http://warriorepic.com/">http://warriorepic.com style="font-weight: bold;">)
Possibility Space



Warrior
Epic
is ready to begin the next round of closed beta soon.
It provides a fantasy hack and slash dungeon crawler experience with
some very innovative features, including the ability to choose
different character classes for each dungeon and a Warrior Hall that
grows with the player.

href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/41097"> style="border: 0px solid ; width: 100px; height: 100px;" alt=""
src="http://www.tentonhammer.com/image/view/41097/preview">
style="font-weight: bold;">Wizard101 - ( style="font-weight: bold;" href="https://www.wizard101.com/"
target="_blank">www.wizard101.com)

KingsIsle Entertainment, Inc.



Wizard101
is an online, wizard school adventure with collectible card
magic, and wizard duels! The game allows players to
create a student wizard in an attempt to save Wizard City and explore
many different worlds. In Wizard101,
cards are magic spells. There are
Fire spells, Ice spells, spells of Myth, and much more. The game is
free to download. To access all of the areas, gamers will need to
subscribe.

style="font-weight: bold;">

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This List

Please refer to the href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/features/free">Top
Ten
Free MMOs Portal to find out how to get a game you
make or like on this list.



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