Chances are you’ve never heard of RF Online. Codemasters released the South Korean-developed MMORPG over a year ago, but it never quite found an audience outside of its homeland. Perhaps that’s why Codemasters has opted to rerelease the title as a completely free download with no monthly fee. That’s right, RF Online is now entirely free to play.
Set in an anime-inspired, sci-fi universe, RF Online is a solid, if fairly standard, MMORPG with a strong focus on large scale player versus player combat. I spent some time with the game around its release, but found it much too grind-heavy for my tastes. Still, those looking for a decent MMO experience should walk away pleasantly impressed by RF Online. You certainly can’t beat the price.
Detailed impressions after the jump.
RF Online features three playable races – the robotic Accretians, the clever Bellatos, and the mystical Corites – all of which are fighting for control of a mine rich in valuable resources. This conflict plays out once every eight hours, with players from the three races taking to a massive, three-sided battlefield in order to destroy the opposing races’ control towers. Besides mining privileges, wining one of these thrice-daily battles provides other bonuses, and killing enemies in the heat of battle yields contribution points used to determine your rank relative to other players. These large scale battles are chaotic and epic, and are the most interesting aspect of the game. Unfortunately, they often degenerate to button mashing potion spam, as health potions instantly heal the user and have nearly no cooldown between uses.
While this PvP component is relatively interesting, getting there can be a long, painful experience. Before you’re allowed to enter the fray, you must first grind your way through the first 25 levels of the game. Regardless of your class or race, you’ll spend most of your time mindlessly slaying RF Online’s wildlife. Quests with rewards of varying quality pop up from time to time, but all involve murdering X number of creature Y. While this sort of gameplay is par for the course for the MMORPG genre, RF Online’s take on the material is especially monotonous, as the game really doesn’t provide any other activities to break up the level grind.
While there is a light at the end of the lengthy leveling tunnel, it’s hard to justify the large time investment required to get there. The PvP is uniquely entertaining, but the monster grinding preceding it could be perceived as borderline torture. RF Online won’t pull diehard fans away from World of Warcraft or Everquest, but for those curious of what the genre has to offer, it’s a good enough point to start. With a cost measured only in hard drive space, it’s worth at least the initial download.