In October I got and invite from NCsoft for the closed beta of Dungon Runners:
I signed up and received my codes, but for some reason thought that the beta was going to be at a later date, so I shelved and pretty much forgot about it. Turns out the beta has been going on since mid october, and the NDA has been lifted and although the game is still in closed beta, they have started a refer a friend program (see site for details).
Anyway downloaded the client (just under 400 megs) and logged in. Imagine Diablo style skills and loot with Guild Wars type common areas and instancing with cartoony WoW like stylings with an engine that feels like the first NWN. Cool thing is that the dungeons are randomly generated every time you log back into the game.
Like ‘Spaceward Ho’ did for the 4x stategy game (yeah, I’m dating myself) so Dungeon Runners does for the MMO. Simple yet addictive gameplay with the tongue lodged firmly in cheek. From the NPC voices and diaglogue to the loot system (imagine looting the 'filth encrusted cleaver of the Manatee), you can’t stop grinning from ear to ear. Quests are abundant and standard for this type of game and instead of just ‘one more turn’ you will be saying ‘just one more quest’.
The game still has a few rough edges and the movement and camera system definately needs some tweaking. Drops are too plentiful and need to be balanced, but overall the challenge ratio appears to be just right.
The game will be free to download and play, but for $4.99 a month you will get certain perks (detailed on the website) like access to higher tiered gear, game access priority.
While the game will definately appeal to a younger audience, I think it is perfectly suited for MMO and RPG veterans who might not have the time to invest in a full blown mmorpg or even complement a current mmo subscription when one doesn’t want to engage in such time consuming pursuits as raiding and the like. Like Diablo, the hook in the game is the gear and the drops. Each piece of gear is distinctive and exagerated in a WoW like way. Gaming nirvana for the ‘e-peen set’; you’ve got helmets with wings, humungous axes gigantic spatula-like mega swords and cool looking armour pieces (boots, chestpieces, pauldrons etc).
One of the things I really like about Dungeon Runners is the the ‘fun’ is instantly accessable. Whether you have half an hour or many hours you will feel you have accomplished something, though there are greater challenges in the game like the 10 level ‘Horrific Dungeon of Legend’ that apparently take many hours to complete.
So far the game is extremely solo friendly, and I am pretty sure that it throughout, if the the official forums are any indication.
Finally I do have one ‘friend referal’ available. Anyone from QT3 that’s genuinely interested PM me.