Now that the NDA for the Dungeon Runners beta has been lifted, I thought I’d talk about it here for a moment, because I found it to be pretty interesting.
Dungeon Runners, if you haven’t heard, is one of NCSoft’s latest MMO’s. NCSoft is quickly becoming an MMO mecca, like Sony Online Entertainment, so much so that they’ve recently released an NCSoft “launcher”, a universal patching/launch program that lets you update/launch any of the NCSoft games you have installed on your computer.
Anyway, I got to sit down with Dungeon Runners for a few minutes at E3 earlier this year, but it didn’t make any big impressions on me. The controls were a bit awkward, and I was putting more effort into feigning interest (“Uh huh… right… mhhmm…. ahh, gotcha… mmhmm…”) in what the NCSoft employee standing over my shoulder was saying, than in paying attention to the game. Nevertheless, the concept of the game was intriguing, so when the beta came about I was happy to give it a try.
I think that if you approach Dungeon Runners thinking of it as an MMO, it’ll seem very barebones to you. With practically no character customization options to start with (a selection of faces, and hair styles/colors, all on the same body type, regardless of class), no trade skills and a very simple UI, it doesn’t reflect what we’ve come to expect from an MMO.
This is why I suggest that you approach Dungeon Runners as an arcade game, that is massively multiplayer. It’s like… a beefed up, persistent-world version of Gauntlet. Or Diablo’s cartoony cousin. It’s an MMORPG at a very basic level. All the extra stuff stripped away, and it’s all about dungeon crawling, getting loot and leveling up. And its pretty fun.
The game’s sense of humor is what really makes it work, though. It doesn’t take itself seriously in the slightest. From the first merchant you encounter (who sounds remarkably like Krusty the Clown), who is depressingly sarcastic, to the names of the items in the game. I couldn’t help chuckle when I killed a wolf and was rewarded with “Baby Seal Skin Pauldrons of the Newt”. It’s all pretty lighthearted and tongue-in-cheek, and seems like it makes for a nice simple dungeon crawler.
All of the dungeons are instanced, so you or your adventuring party have them all to yourselves. And some dungeons will be randomly generated, to boost replayability.
The big draw here will be their price model. Free. You don’t even have to buy the boxed game. You can just download and play away for free. Of course, there will be an option to subscribe if you want, which will net you access to special gear (certain tiers of armor and weapons are only available to subscribers) and priviledges.
Anyway, it seems like a fun little game. It won’t take the place of a full-blown MMO for you (for me it’s Age of Conan), but it definitely has it’s merits. It’s still in limited beta phase, but check it out when they open the doors.