Preview: Mount Up, Over and Over - Riders of Icarus
Let's get a few things out of the way regarding Riders of Icarus, the upcoming free-to-play MMORPG published by Nexon. I've played in the most recent Closed Beta phase and was able to participate in a press preview last week. I plan to play in the upcoming beta test in early June and when the game moves into open beta/launch in late June/early July (depending on if you've purchased a Founder's Pack to gain Early Launch Access.)
So you may now be asking, "What did you see that you liked so much that you know you're going to play it in the future?" Well, it's hard to say. Riders of Icarus features very traditional questing, a traditional hotbar mentality, tab targeting combat (the recently revealed more "action combat" based system wasn't in the preview or the previous beta so I don't have experience with it yet, but is something I think the game VERY much needed and am glad to see it already implemented) traditional creatures, a somewhat generic storyline (at least so far), and basically a conglomeration of very typical MMORPG features. With all that said though, I STILL can't wait to spend some more time in game.
You've probably heard by now that Riders of Icarus places a focus on mounts. Whether that's the "collection" aspect of taming many, many creatures in the game's world (flying and otherwise are all up for grabs) or because you've heard of the game having mounted combat. What you may NOT know if you haven't looked into the game that much (and it may be hard to have done so with the NDA still in effect until the next beta phase) is just how important the idea of mounts is to the entire gameplay experience in Riders of Icarus.
Starting off, yes. You can sneak up behind creatures in the world, jump on their back, and play a taming "mini-game" to try and tame them. Succeed and you earn yourself that creature as a mount. Creatures even come in varying difficulty (Elite, Hero, and Legendary) and mounts may vary in their combat abilities and buffs. This, however, is just the beginning. From a collection standpoint, collecting all of a certain type of creature in an area could actually net you a reward in the form of a totally different mount. Your collection journal will show you what you need to catch and where to complete certain sets. Even then, we aren't even close to being done yet.
Taming creatures won't always be as easy as completing a little mini-game. More difficult creatures could require special items to even attempt a taming and some creatures may require special tactics. Provided you have the taming points available (a daily resetting currency designed to keep you from rampaging through the collections in a day), you have to be smart about how you go about capturing your prey. In my preview, I attempted (and successfully captured) Trutan, an elite named bear. The catch? Sneaking up behind him to start taming wouldn't work. Climbing up a cliff and waiting for him to patrol below me and jumping on him from way above did work...but it's all in the timing. Flying mounts work in a similar fashion. You'll have to ditch your flying mount to fall from above onto a creature to even try to tame them...just be careful you don't miss, it's a long way down.
Sound intriguing? Wait, there's still more to this system. What if you don't want a mount? What if you want that creature to fight WITH you as a companion? You can do that. Tame the creature then find the necessary seals and convert that mount into a companion pet. You lose the mount though so guess what....go tame that beast again and have both the companion AND the mount version.
"Ok, so I'm going to want to catch things twice as a completionist, right?" Nope. Probably more than that for many creatures. Why? Riders of Icarus features a "Seal" system on your gear that works like most "gemming" systems in MMORPGs. However, you won't be getting gems at a store and socketing them. Just the same way you converted your mount into a companion, a different item lets you convert that beast into a Seal you can put on your gear that will grant various stat increases.
Oh, don't forget that using creatures as mounts or companions levels them individually and yes...leveling them up makes their stats as a Seal for your gear even better.
With multiple classes to choose from and a TON of beasts to capture, level, and work with, Riders of Icarus looks to have a lot of grind opportunity. However, with questing, dungeons, raids (the first of which I played featured a flying combat based boss) there should be plenty to break up some of that grind.
While flying combat felt ok in my demo, it wasn't perfect. Spears or bows cause you to have different ability sets, but the tab targeting felt off a bit. I'm hopeful that the new action combat update makes the in air combat a bit more exciting.
I'm impressed with Riders of Icarus so far. Yeah, the game will have more than its fair share of grind, but I really can't wait to get in and try it when it matters after launch. We'll just have to see how long it can hold player attention once that time comes.
My thanks to the dev team behind Riders of Icarus for their time during my preview and if you want to score access to the game's upcoming test and head start, check out the available Founder's Packs.
About the Author
Mike “Magicman” Byrne has been a part of the MMOBomb family for years and serves as the site’s current Editor-in-Chief. His love for MMOs and gaming in general has led him to covering games for numerous websites including Gamebreaker TV and XIV Nation where he proudly displays his fanboy flag for FFXIV:ARR.
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