Time to pull my head out of Stardew Valley and make good on the potential of my new laptop.
Let’s talk about Realm of the Mad God.
RotMG is a browser-based MMORPG of sorts developed by the independent Wild Shadow Studios and bought by Deca Games in 2016.
It has the multiple servers, raid battles and virtual economy you would expect out of titles like World of Warcraft or Final Fantasy XIV.
But in terms of gameplay it’s a free-roaming bullet hell similar to Enter the Gungeon.
Just more stylistically and mechanically simple.
It’s a game that has been around since 2010.
Patches and balance updates have been constant throughout the game’s nine years, as recent as May 9, 2019. But looking through RotMG’s update history on its curated RealmEye forum shows a particularly interesting early life.
Around 2011 you can see the game launch servers for different regions worldwide, and in February 2012 a stand-alone client was released on Steam that can be used in conjunction with the browser version.
Plus some cool moments like a charity event for Hurricane Sandy relief in late 2012.
I can’t tell you exactly when I first played RotMG but it was undoubtedly early on in the game’s lifecycle. Probably around the same time as I was playing tower defense flash games on Addicting Games — which is honestly a post for another day.
Recently I had a craving to pick up the game again, and found that many things were the same despite its scope growing wildly.
Now I’m sure you must be asking, “how exactly does RotMG work?”
After you make an account, first you pick a class.
And by that I mean you start with Wizard and have to unlock everyone else. More classes are unlocked as you reach level milestones, such as the Priest coming when Wizard reaches level 5.
With a character in tow you choose a realm to explore out of the Nexus hub world.
Within each realm you encounter hordes of monsters based on fantasy creatures and tropes led by a larger boss variant.
Or… Not so fantasy creatures. Like this Sumo Master and his minions.
Sometimes a boss monster has multiple phases when damaged.
In case you couldn’t tell, I really like the Sumo Master. He stands out in the best way.
Occasionally a monster will drop the entrance to a stand-alone dungeon on top of their typical loot.
These little mazes have a major boss at the end that will usually drop a couple pieces of loot.
Now would probably be a good time to discuss gameplay specifics so you can understand the loot system.
RotMG is simple to play. You move with WASD, aim and shoot with the mouse and use a special attack with spacebar.
Every class uses different weapons, special items and armor alongside a few overlapping items like rings with universal effects like raising health.
Characters are balanced for different play styles. Archers can shoot up to three arrows at once, making them more offensive than the Priest with one slow shot. However, the Priest’s special attack is a local heal that can buff allies.
Yet none of them have armor that compares to the Warrior.
Loot drops are the only way to improve your character’s weapon and armor without resorting to microtransactions, but enemies are just as likely to drop goods for a different class.
Killing monsters will level your character up to 20, at which point you start accruing “fame.” Whenever they die (because there is Permadeath in RotMG), fame is tallied up for a system where each class can earn up to five achievement stars.
As far as I’m aware the stars are purely a status symbol, though fame can be leveraged to do things like start a guild.
That’s about all there is. You fight hordes to level up and gain loot to survive until you can defeat bigger boss enemies on each map, all the while collecting pets and making friends.
Once all of the Mad God’s “Heroes” are killed, all players in a realm are teleported to the Mad God’s Castle… But so much happens that my game lags until I get kicked out.
So I’ve never personally seen Oryx.
But the game is still incredibly fun in how simple and immediately goal-oriented it is. The art style is charming and design philosophy appeals to my fantasy leanings.
That said, my main problem with RotMG besides its tendency to lag (on browser at least — I’ve never the steam version) is microtransactions.
There are an obnoxious amount of quality of life benefits locked behind currency you need to buy with real money.
If you could purchase these things with fame or obtain coins through grinding, I wouldn’t be so annoyed at the system.
But to be fair, nothing is behind a paywall that impedes gameplay. Even if in-game purchases are more prevalent than I remember.
At least additions like daily log-in bonuses have improved the experience over time.
Now if only they could add more than one looping music track over every part of the game.
You’ll want to play on mute. Perhaps catch up on GDQ runs in the background.
Music aside, if you’ve never heard of Realm of the Mad God before, I’d recommend checking it out. It’s a free game with a big history on the Internet that’s simple to pick up and try.
If you have heard of it before, let me know! I’d be cool to get some confirmation I’m not the only person in my small sphere of influence that has challenged Oryx.