It seems many games these days are seeking to hearken back to a golden era of open PvP that many of us first knew in Ultima Online. Not satisfied with "carebear" servers that provide no player to player risk, or do so but with incredible cushioning to the victim, many games in recent years have sought to rekindle the flame of open-world PvP where no one is safe. R.O.H.A.N.: Blood Feud is one of these games; seeking to provide inspiring PvP combat without padded walls. Whether that has been achieved, however, is up for significant debate.
Story and Immersion
The story behind R.O.H.A.N. is one of many races, abandoned by their creators and fighting for control of the precious resources of the world. As it seems is the fate of many other MMOs, this story unfortunately serves only a faint backdrop for the game world itself; it's a way of explaining the origin and conflict between races in a PvP game. There is little of the way of story-telling in the game itself. There is no epic storyline to follow through quests or events. Just as it seems the gods abandoned the races of R.O.H.A.N., so too it seems the game's lore has abandoned the play field.
Indeed, the role-playing element of this MMORPG seems to be sorely lacking. Quests are mostly just errands based on the small whims of the NPCs that give them. Even as you progress into later ranks, there are no heroic moments or moods that make the character feel more than a fantasy-style machine gun in the player's hands.
R.O.H.A.N.'s interface is familiar for those who have played MMORPGs before. A typical character status HUD with health, mana, and experience lingers in the upper left. A minimap can be found in the upper right, and a skill bar in the lower-right. Along both the bottom-left and right side of the screen can be found a literal two dozen menu buttons, allowing players to pull up various interface screens from character and PvP status, to messaging systems and the item mall. There are, quite honestly, more buttons on the screen than any player would ever need; at least half could be removed and replaced with keyboard shortcuts.
Both WASD and click-to-move can be used to direct your character around the battlefield, but what's truly nice is that the mouse has more use than simply clicking buttons on the screen. Mouse controls include being able to attack or follow a target, enter PvP with a target, autorun, and manipulating the camera. All hotkeys can also be remapped, except for the basic WASD/QE movement keys. The controls are rather intuitive for a gamer and don't ever become too clunky.
Combat & Gameplay
There is no denying that the purpose behind R.O.H.A.N. is PvP. The first thirty levels of a character's life, however, must be spent leveling so that they can participate in world PvP and Township battles (where guilds can combat for territory). This means, of course, that the only way to get there is via the typical RPG experience - quests and grinding.
Unfortunately, you could compare questing in R.O.H.A.N. to walking out of a forest - the closer you get to the edge, the thinner the trees get. Before level 10, on three separate characters, I found myself forced to grind to another level for the possibility to complete another quest. In fact, the recommended leveling method from the community is group grinding - gathering together a group and killing monsters of a high enough level that there is little downtime matched with high experience gain. Contemplate this just for a moment: in order to get to the intended content of the game, you must spend not only hours, but days, grinding with interspersed quests to get there.
So is it worth getting there? That's debatable. Almost any PvP is going to give an adrenaline rush, and each class has its own special niche in battle. R.O.H.A.N.'s PvP system is open, and death may result in loss of experience and equipment. It also follows the "red death" penalty system familiar to us since Ultima Online, e.g. players who PK too often will not penalize another player if they are killed, and risk the chance of dropping an equipped item, instead of one from the inventory.
What can be worse is the Hit List system. This system allows players to look at a list of those who have recently killed them, and teleport instantly to their location, along with any party members. Sweet, they say, is revenge. However, in a PvP game, when you're as likely to be the killer as the victim, the possibility that an irate opponent will bring a beat-down team on you at any time is, well, a little disconcerting and bears a lot of potential for abuse.
Ultimately, the PvP is nothing to write home about: there are class imbalances, and the action can sometimes lack the kind of intensity that gets the heart pumping. In fact, many fights are not only boring to watch, they're boring to partake in. For its main selling point, R.O.H.A.N. provides the right environment, but the wrong tools, to make a good PvP game.