The best word to describe Realm of the Mad God is ‘chaos’. Everything about the game is chaotic, from the fighting, the loot collecting and even down to the world hub. It isn’t the serious, God of War-style ‘there will be only chaos’ type, though, it’s the silly and fun ‘oh god there’s so much going on this is crazy’ chaos.
RotMG is a cooperative shmup MMO that features permadeath. That means that when you die, you lose the character you’re playing and there’s no way to get it back. Don’t let that worry you, though, the focus here is on bullet-dodging and monster-killing rather than levelling up your character. When you level up there’s nothing to distract you from the action, no stats to assign or skills to unlock; just an automatic stat upgrade that is tailored to your class and a health/mana refill.[drop]Indeed, perhaps the only thing to distract from the fighting itself is the loot that will most likely occupy your few quiet moments. As you plunder the drops left behind by the fallen before once again delving into battle, you’ll find weapons (which are all ranged, even the swords), armour, magic items and rings, one of each of which can be equipped by your character. However, some items are only equipable by certain classes – so only a wizard can use a staff, only a rogue can use a dagger, etc.
The magic item is the skill your class possesses. It costs mana and is activated by pressing space – the wizard, for example, can cause a ring of fire to erupt from your mouse pointer, whilst the rogue can turn invisible for a period of time. These skills can be upgraded when you find an appropriate upgrade in your looting adventure (a spell tome for a wizard, for example, or a cloak of shadows for a rogue).
The loot is shown on the ground as a bag and you need merely stand over it to see what it contains (which will appear at the bottom of the HUD on the right). You’d better grab what you want quickly, however, as once it drops loot is fair game to all other players. They can and will take it, so some quick movement is required if you’re in a group.
That may present a problem, as you really should be in a group. It’s pretty fun just taking on the world alone, but eventually you’ll hit an impassable wall of difficulty that you will not be able to climb alone. Besides, as fun as the game is alone, when you’re in a group, it adds a whole other dimension. Being part of an army of player characters swarming through the world is incredibly good fun, and the developers are aware of this.
You don’t need to arrange to meet up with people (though you can), you just need to follow someone in-game. People who are nearby are listed on the HUD, with arrows pointing to them around the edge of the screen to help you keep up with them.
Short of cooperative Left 4 Dead, I’ve never spent so much time with with someone inside a game world who I didn’t already know. These people featured in my cyber-life for a good 25 minutes. We faced horrors unimaginable as our allies fell around us, yet still we pushed on into the unknown, battling against the minions of the mad god until, eventually, I perished. Then I never saw them again. And it was great fun.[drop2]As you play, you unlock more classes. There are 13 in total, all of which are unlocked by meeting certain requirements, usually reaching a certain level with one or more classes. The wizard is the starting character, reaching level 5 with him will unlock the priest, who, at level 5, will unlock the archer, and so on. After the first 4 classes you unlock, the requirements suddenly get steeper, the required level being 20, and after that you need to reach level 20 with two classes to unlock more to play around with
Dying, I suspect, is not frustrating because, provided you get to the correct level, you unlock a new class. Whether or not getting to level 20 with the later classes is too challenging may affect how frustrating deaths become later on, but you can always stick with other players to gain an edge. Plus, it’s free to play, so what have you got to lose?
Realm of the Mad God is a free to play game. It can be played on the official website, or you can download it via Steam if you’d rather not use your browser. Please note that it is an MMO, so an internet connection it required to play.