How To Pass The Time #1

March 18, 2008

I think many WAR-wannabes, myself included, are stuck in a nasty little prison made of time and anticipation and — for some reason — pygmy gingerbread men. While we hotly anticipate the glorious, if not soul-rapturing, moment when WAR releases and businesses shut down for six days straight across the world, we’re stuck with a healthy chunk of gaming time to whittle away between now and then. So, what to do?

In the first of a series (collectible, limited edition, yadda yadda), I’m going to present some options out there to keep you sane, particularly if you’ve burned out or simply quit your previous MMO and are in a “holding pattern” until WAR’s release.

Today? Dungeon Runners.

I spent a bit of time with Dungeon Runners last year when it released, liked it but was too involved in World of Warcraft to devote much time elsewhere. While I’m still playing WoW currently, I’ve scaled back my time in the game to where I’m either casually questing or casually instancing a few nights a week, but nothing else. In a WoW-related burnout panic, I started rooting around for an alternative this past weekend, something to do on the side so I didn’t feel trapped into playing WoW when I didn’t want to. For some reason, I signed back up to play Dungeons and Dragons Online, logged in and instantly remembered why I quit that game in the first place. (You have to read about 500 pages of character-building theorycraft before you even THINK about creating a toon, because there are no respecs and D&D’s mechanics are so obtuse as to be unrecognizable to scholars of the era.)

Then I remembered Dungeon Runners, sighed a happy little sigh, coughed a manly little cough, and reinstalled it. If you’re unfamiliar with DR, it’s basically a Diabloish clone crossbred with WoW’s graphics and a hefty dose of sarcastic humor aimed at the RPG community. It’s a dungeon hack-n-slasher, where you pop off the arms of goblins and hope that you hit the loot jackpot. Rinse and repeat.

Dungeon Runners deserves respect for making a title that’s not only quirky and easily accessible, but also (mostly) free. Free is good. Free is what keeps my wife from questioning my gaming finances. Free is what Braveheart lives for. Sure, you can pay five bucks a month for some extras and a slice of loot that’s unavailable to the freebies, but for us cheapskates, DR offers pretty addicting gameplay and enough options to keep you going for a long time.

Recently, DR instituted ads (on both a loading screen and at the top of your play screen) for freebie characters, a move which I don’t mind so much. Why? Because I completely ignore the ads, and the addition of ads also opened up some goodies (such as bank space, better types of available loot, and so on) that were previously unavailable to the free players.

DR isn’t deep, particularly if you want to compare it to Diablo or the upcoming Mythos (which I also give a thumbs-up to, but I don’t want to play it until it leaves beta and releases for good). You have a total of three character classes, each of which can train any of the other classes’ skills and abilities. It doesn’t make it as muddled as you’d expect; “hybrid” characters are generally less effective than pure class players. However, it’s nice to be able to sample skills cross-class if it works out for your playing style. For instance, my fighter trained the ranger skill “poison cloud” so that I can let out an AOE damage effect while I hack away.

The cross-skills are probably necessary considering how few of them there are. While the developers continue to add new skills to the game, the overall pool is pretty limited for the genre. In addition, you can only ever have a few skills active and available on your toolbar, which includes any passive abilities you want running as you play.

DR fulfills that need to just jump into a dungeon without much forethought and go at it like a badger infiltrating a preschool recess yard. It may not offer thousands of hours of rich, complex gameplay, but it is pretty fun and a great value for the price. Plus, you wield weapons that are almost three stories tall, and that appeals to anyone who might want to overcompensate for anything. You know. Wink wink.

What are your suggestions for passing the wait?


One comment

  1. I’m nearing the point of curling up into the fetal position and waiting it out in a dark quiet room. I’m so very bored.

    A few console games grant me only a brief relief from the boredom. I’ve gone through several seasons of Star Trek DS9, Voyager, and Stargate. If WAR doesn’t come soon I might have to go outside.

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