July 2nd, 2008

Not only is this week’s cheap game is free, but it’s also the first MMORPG that I’ve covered here at DoSu. Both published and developed by NCSoft, Dungeon Runners has been available for free or paid play as a download for just about over a year now, but starting last week retail boxes have been hitting shelves. While my boxed copy is still in transit to me (B&Ms are for suckers!), I’ve been playing on a free account and I am ready to recommend it.

Sometimes you just can’t get away from it: Dungeon Runners is a lot like Diablo. Just don’t hold that against it. You’ll play as one of three classic archetypes that fulfill classic roles: the fighter who specializes in melee combat and taking hits; rangers who are want to attack from a distance with bows or shotguns (YES! shotguns!) to deal damage directly or over time; and finally, mages who have an arsenal of spells at his disposal to inflict direct damage or damage to an area. Each one plays as you might expect, though there are surprisingly very little restrictions on the equipment you can use; my mage rolls around with an axe and my archer wore plate for a few minutes before I found some chainmail that suited me better.

That would be one of the main attractions to Dungeon Runners, as is the case with many games of this type: loot! Everybody loves loot, especially when it has whacky names, and loot in Dungeon Runners does not disappoint. Actually, everything in the game has whacky names. Upon entering the game from character creation you will find yourself standing in the middle of a small, forested enclave, face to face with none other than The Noobosaur! I almost wish I were making that up, but that’s the name of the small, red, dragon-like creature who helps to acquaint new players with some basics of the game. Humor is another big motivator in Dungeon Runners; most of the game is satire of the entire RPG genre. Even the city names. The first one you’ll come to is called “Townston”. From there, provided you’re on one of the two PVP servers, you can venture to “Pwnston”.

As can be expected with just about any free MMORPG on the market, there are a few catches when playing Dungeon Runners on NCSoft’s dime. However, I wouldn’t be covering this game if they weren’t completely tolerable. The most invasive imposition will be the presence of a banner displayed at the top of your screen at all times. At 1680×1050 resolution it takes up about 85px of vertical space. This will typically be advertising some other NCSoft property such as Guild Wars, Lineage or Tabula Rasa. They aren’t monitoring your activity for the sake of targeted ads or anything, and you actually get used to it being there quite quickly. I believe this is the only catch worth discussing ad nauseum, so below I will list the rest of the things that being a paying member nets you, according to Wikipedia:

  • Voice chat
  • Access to two additional pages in the bank for storing items, while non-paying members receive only one.
  • Additional 2 bank pages (unlocked at lvl50 and lvl100 respectively)
  • Stackable potions up to 10 (as opposed to 5)
  • Access to all Rare (Gold), Epic (Purple) and Mythic(Rainbow) items
  • Login queue list priority
  • Access to the Member Only world
  • No Advertisements
  • 15% More Gold and Experience
  • Pay less for King’s Coin items

Believe it or not, the timing of this post is actually quite coincidental, in light of recent announcements. I had been planning on covering this game for a couple of weeks. I think it worked out pretty conveniently as I am sure there are a lot of people that are jonesing for this type of gameplay. Best of all, it’s free! Provided you don’t mind dealing with a few of the annoyances I listed above. If those prove to be too much for you to deal with, the game is actually quite cheap to subscribe to. Since the client is free to download, a month of play costs you only $5. Unfortunately, there is no discount for paying quarterly or annually, but if you buy the retail box, 6 months of membership is included. I was lucky to catch it for $12.99 at GoGamer during a 48 hour sale, but it’s back up to $17.90 now. Additionally, Amazon has it for $18.99 and I believe GameStop will begin stocking it this week. Considering the cost is less than 6 months of membership would normally cost you, there’s no reason not to go with the retail box.