It’s been the normal mode of business for free to play MMOs to have an Open Beta that’s essentially a soft launch. Most of the time things are pretty much done by the time Open Beta rolls around and the devs are just polishing and making sure their infrastructure can handle everything. This is not the case for Revelation Online. Their Open Beta has been the roughest Open Beta I've seen in a long time. There are a lot of positive aspects of Revelation Online but everything is still in a rough state.
The first stop in a new MMO is character creation and it is sort of the first look at what the player will have to look forward to in the rest of the game. Character creation in Revelation Online succeeds in the same way the rest of the game succeeds, meaning the amount of options given are plentiful and are interesting. Not only are there a ton of options but there's also a lot of leeway for tweaking the various options. There are different body type options for each sex, but some types are locked to certain classes. For example, I couldn't make a beefcake spellcaster. You can't do anything you could possibly imagine but there are a lot of options.
While I'm on the topic of RO giving good options, the options for how you control the character in game are top notch and are presented clearly and concisely. The first option is WASD control which also has the option to use the mouse to move around. In game they describe this movement as being similar to Blade & Soul/Tera but I'd say it is much closer to how movement works in World of Warcraft. There's also a click to move option which is like movement in Diablo 3. Lastly there is a no target camera rotation style which is a standard action combat style you see in Blade & Soul, Tera, or Neverwinter Nights Online.
After selecting one of these options there's a brief tutorial about how to make the most of the selected movement style. Many MMOs offer different control schemes as options but RO makes switching between these styles very easy. Additionally, no matter at what point in the game I switched to a different control type if it was my first time using that control type it gave a small tutorial about how to use it. Now that might be annoying for players very familiar with these movement styles but it's extremely useful for anyone who doesn't have a whole lot of experience with them.
From level 1 to 6 I gained a level on the completion of every quest, which was surprising. After that point though the level gaining slowed down quickly. There’s also a second slowdown of level gaining which happens after level 40 but at that point there are more options for leveling up so it helps to balance it out a bit. For me the roughest part of leveling was going from level 10 to level 25, it just felt like it took forever.
Unfortunately for RO the main thing I enjoy about leveling in MMOs is going through the story and experiencing it for the first time. In the case of this game the story is horribly boring. Not very far into the game one of the main characters who I had been doing things with died and I didn't even remember who they were until the game specifically said who they were. This is particularly bad because my bar for caring about characters in games is set at “does the character exist in game? Yes? Ok then I care about them on some level.” So, it’s astonishing to think about the fact I didn’t care at all about any of the characters.
One thing I specifically liked about the quest dialogue boxes is they have a back button which was handy a couple of times when I got a bit overzealous with the button pressing. Unfortunately, many dialogues are chopped up in weird ways and can be difficult to follow. Often a conversation would be obviously unfinished, but in the middle of it I would need to turn in a quest. Then I would have to restart the conversation with the same character to get the next quest. Even worse there are whole quests where I would literally talk to one person who I was already talking to. Honestly most of my play time before level 20 was just having these weird and boring conversations and it was really frustrating.
One big roadblock to the story having any coherent form also stems from the fact there are a few cutscenes where I could clearly see characters talking but there was no VO and no subtitles. The worst offender of this happened after doing one of the dungeons I learned a secret about what happened in the past and caused the current issues for the characters in game. In the cutscene shortly after, the first real “big bad” shows up and appears to give a big speech. I can only guess he was explaining who he was and why he was attacking, but since there was no VO or subtitles he very well could have been explaining the rules of cricket.
Thankfully at level 20 dungeons open as an option and offer some of the best ways to level and increase the tier level of gear. Scour dungeons are one example and are some of the best ways to do this. They function like daily quests in that players can only kill a limited number of mobs in scour dungeons a day. There are ways in game to increase this limit, but you only earn back 180 a day. A big upside scour dungeons is xp isn’t split between party members. Each player earns the full xp value on completion of the dungeon. Honestly, I had my first moment of pure enjoyment in RO while running the dungeons for the first time with other players.
The LFG tool does seem to only pair people based on the content they want to do not by level they are. As a result, the first time I used the LFG tool I ended up in a group with people 20+ levels ahead of me. It wasn’t an issue, but it is worth being aware of. With the daily quests system rewarding doing dungeons of varying difficulty there’s always people looking to do something so mixing of levels in a group is quite common.
One other issue I had with the game early on is there’s a tutorial for flying which happens quite early in the game. It was a lot of fun and did a good job of introducing how players can move about in the air and what options are available. The problem is I didn’t get my first pair of wings until level 33 and by that point I had forgotten everything which had been covered in the flying tutorial. I know the intention of the early tutorial is to make the player excited to keep leveling. For me it just made me more frustrated than I already was.
On the upside, there are a lot of systems and features in game which are smart and work well. One of the best systems is every time I learned a new skill a text box would popup explaining how the skill worked. This text box also has a tab on it called “tips” which would go into more detail about optimal ways to use various abilities and what other skills are good to pair together. It was helpful having all of this information right in game and readily accessible at any time in case I forgot anything and was a huge help to me in figuring out how to best use my abilities.
The first mount was obtained at about level 12 which is quite early in comparison to many other MMOs. A particularly nice feature of the mount system is I didn't have to be standing still to summon the mount. Occasionally I'd start heading somewhere and realize the place I was head was further away than I thought. Being able to hop on my mount without stopping was awesome. Additionally, being mounted didn’t block me from interacting with NPCs, which is a personal pet peeve of mine. Though I do have to admit sitting on a horse in the middle of a tavern talking to people was a bit weird.
Auto pathing is, of course, a thing in Revelation Online and it's particularly robust here. Not only will it take you where you need to go but it also will mount you up if needed or take you right through a portal. Once you’re on the other side of the portal you start running right away again. If when you arrive at the quest location and you need to interact with something the auto pathing will do that too. Just about the only thing auto pathing won’t do for you is fight things.
The last system which I love in RO is the system for handling gear that’s too high level for your character. During some of my dungeon running I acquired some gear which was too high level for me when I received it, so I left it in my bags and didn’t really think twice about it. To my surprise when I gained the level appropriate to wear the gear a window popped up comparing the item in my bag to what I was currently wearing so I could decide if I wanted to equip it or not. There’s even a button on the window to equip the item if I wanted to without opening my bags or character panel. This happened automatically and without prompt from me and it’s one of my favorite features.
If you get past the initial leveling experience there’s a lot of potential for longevity in Revelation Online. The combat system is deep and offers a lot of options for combos and learning interesting ways to use your skills both with other players and against other players. There’s dungeons with varying difficulties and raids not to mention the whole wide world to roam for random PvE entertainment. On the PvP side of things once you hit level 40 you can take part in open world PvP, and there’s also arenas, battlegrounds, and large scale “guild wars”. There’s also a whole housing system and guilds are integrating into the game much more deeply than any MMO I’ve ever played. There’s really nothing to fear in terms of running out of things to do.
Visually Revelation Online looks great; everything is very stylized but nothing feels out of place. Even the characters running around with pandas on their heads and cats hitching a ride don't feel out of place. There's also a lot of beautiful scenery, which I didn't really pay attention to until I started flying around. I did sadly notice the background sometimes flickers a bit was aside from being annoying is also really headache inducing. Hopefully the flickering will get fixed in an upcoming patch.
The value of Revelation Online really depends on what you want to do. They offer a lot of the standard freemium perks like faster leveling and cosmetics through their store, but they also offer some other items which do cause concern. For instance, there is an item on sale in the store to get T6 PvP stones. These can be obtained through gameplay but obviously, they are much easier to get through the store. Since this affects player gear it is really easy to view that as selling power in the store. Overall the cash shop is a real mixed bag.
Really the bottom line with Revelation Online is there’s a lot going on in it and it takes some time to fully grasp everything. The early leveling experience is rough but if you can power through that there’s the makings of a great game here. Revelation Online is getting regular maintenance and patched often, and each time improvements are noticeable. Because of these frequent updates, I do think Revelation Online will become a solid game despite it currently being fairly rough.