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IGG’s futuristic MMORPG, 2029 Online, is easily one of the best free-to-play MMOs released this year. The game mixes in spurts of real-time strategy with classic MMO grinding, skills and teamwork. Now, in all honesty the game’s name and general theme seems really unappealing but that’s not the case at all once you actually start playing.
Out of all the MMOs I’ve played over the years there has never been one where the player starts out and gets to kick-butt, take names and own up right from the start – that honor is usually reserved for the high levels. In 2029 Online it’s actually the opposite when starting a game; players will pick a character and start in a newbie area accompanied by two NPC mercenaries, a healer and a swordsman.
The mercenaries will help players level, acquire items and (in the case of the healer) keep the team alive. This convenient setup allowed my newly created newbie to jettison from level 1 to level 10 in no time. Add in the fact that the game has a very user-friendly heads-up display, tutorial missions to help get players acquainted with the in-game mechanics and numerous rewards just for playing, and you could basically consider 2029 Online as the perfect MMORPG for newbie gamers, casual players and hardcore gamers alike.
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Between levels 1 and 25 players will mostly spend their timing acquiring level-specific missions and finding themselves getting familiarized with the game’s world and subsequent maps. As mentioned, the interface is standard fare like any other MMORPG and allows players quick and easy access to skills, inventory, social controls and everything else in between.
One of the highlights of the gameplay in 2029 Online is the actual combat. Unlike other MMOs where players click on an enemy, stand there attacking, receiving attacks and either win or lose, 2029 auto-locks on a target after it has been selected and allows players to move around freely while still attacking the intended target(s). I really liked this setup as it allows players to strategically attack, move and organize offensive (or defensive) measures against the enemy...without being jammed in just one position hoping to kill the bad guys before getting killed.
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Other than using a modified targeting and attacking mechanism, 2029 Online’s gameplay is pretty much the same as any other MMORPG with selectable skills, item management and standard-fare interfaces. The game's simplified setup makes it easy to talk to NPCs, interact with other players or pick up and drop items.
There's even the option to auto-move to NPCs, enemies or players by double-clicking on their name. This is especially convenient for teaming with players who aren't in the same area but you need to get to their position; if their name is in the chat box, simply click on their name and request to team, and from their you can move to their position when they appear on the mini-map. It's just that easy.
The entire game seems to have been designed with convenience in mind and to really ensure that gamers were able to pick up and start playing without spending a lot of time trying to figure things out or get adjusted to any complicated gameplay mechanics.
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A peeve of mine in most MMORPGs is that partying with other players is usually a quest in itself. In some games, such as Fly for Fun, trying to get in a party or form one with other players turns into a hassle unless you already know the person and decide to form up. I’m actually glad to say that IGG took a completely different route with 2029 Online by encouraging partying among new players.
While there are no specific quests or missions to form a party, the game is setup so that high level players gain rewards by “mentoring” lower level players, and at the same time the low level players have the ability whiz through quests by helping one another.
What’s also kind of neat is that players in a map together can chat using the “scene” function that allows each player to conveniently ask for help if they’re in a bind. Anyone else within the map can see a player’s text if they’re talking within that map and this feature also makes it easy to party up on the fly.
Many lower levels who have a difficult time finding their way around or defeating an enemy can also easily find someone to party with, usually because most of the players are actually willing to party. Given that players under level 25 have very limited healing skills and attack powers often times a handful players (and their hired mercenaries) join forces to take down bosses or complete difficult quests.
By far, 2029 Online got the partying aspect down to near perfection for new and low-level players and it’s easily one of the game's highlights.
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Even though most MMOs suffer from the “kill ‘X’ amount of monsters” syndrome when it comes to questing, I can’t knock this game for trying a few new things with an old-school quest paradigm. While players will have to kill ‘X’ amount of monsters for a number of particular reasons, these missions are oftentimes interspersed among a variety of other unique activities. Some of these activities include the daily quizzes, which consists of 20 questions that reward players with lots of experience points every time they get an answer right; there's also item retrieval missions, or the adventure quests that see players exploring the game world to find specific NPCs for experience points, items or money.
The monster hunting quests, though repetitive, are handled quite well in conjunction with the partying mechanic, especially for lower level players. If one player is tasked with killing 100 beetles they can do so in the company of a full party and even if they don’t always get the kill it will add to the quest counter, hence cutting down the amount of time a player would usually spend trying to complete the task.
Players can also stack quests and complete them in their own particular order. There's also the option of taking on rare quests such as time-sensitive military operations or event quests that include raiding an enemy base while protecting your own.
This is probably the most streamlined, mission-oriented MMORPG I’ve played in a while and the fact that the quests are actually fun to do – and people are usually willing to help join in on them – makes 2029 Online a real standout in the free-to-play MMO herd.
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2029 Online for starting players between level 1 and 25 will find the game very affording to your time, and a fairly supportive community of players willing to keep the experience painless and comfortable.
The mercenary purchasing option also helps greatly in letting players level in tough areas, but the always present group of like-leveled gamers willing to party makes the process of grinding that much easier. Quests finely tuned for each level of the player’s progress and the continual rewards for just playing the game will make any gamer feel like the experience is well worth it.
Beyond level 25 the game has a few changes to the overall gaming experience that’s suited for a completely different review (including the real-time strategy battlefield maps, city sieges, PVP tournaments and dungeon raids). But as it stands, any new player looking for a fun time, a good soundtrack and a strong community of players for newbies, should definitely check out IGG’s 2029 Online.