In an interview with Jack Yuan, a Gravity representative, new details about the upcoming open beta update and final version were disclosed.
The final version of Ragnarok Online will feature the six existing cities currently accessible in the beta. While no further cities are planned at this time, their current size will be doubled when Ragnarok Online enters the second stage of beta testing in August 2002.
Included in the beta update will be the introduction of the advanced character classes. These job upgrades are only available to players who have chosen one of the six initial job classes; existing as a linear evolution of the pre-existing professions. For example, a swordsman will be able to become a fully-fledged knight when specific requirements have been met. These prestigious jobs can only be gained once the player character has reached a base class of level 99. Gravity has stated that all abilities and skills learned in the initial job class will transfer over to the new advanced class while giving the player access to even more specialized abilities. These class upgrades will also sport new character graphics and animations.
When asked about the upper limit to character advancement, Mr. Yuan stated that the Base Level maximum will not exceed level 99 and that each Job is capped at level 50. When a player upgrades to an advanced class, the Job class level will reset to zero, though all gained attributes and abilities will carry over automatically.
The Monster Card System will be integrated into the new beta revision and will be an important aspect of the final game. These cards are randomly dropped by monsters and are used to upgrade weapons and equipment. Some of the more rare cards will imbue your items with status-ailment properties such as poison. Mr. Yuan could not comment at this time if these enhancements would affect the in-game graphics, though he stated that these cards would become important trade and collectible items. Specific details on the rumored Monster Card mini-game were unavailable at this time.
Gravity plans to implement player vs. player (PvP) via an arena mode that is also set to debut with the second version beta. Players must mutually agree on combat before being allowed into the Arena. These competitions will include single player versus as well as team combat. At this time, Gravity has no intention of allowing PvP in any of the standard gameplay areas in the Ragnarok Online world.
Another new facet of Ragnarok Online that will begin testing in the new beta is the concept of character alignment and status. The player’s reputation will be graded in 4 categories: righteous, wicked, famed, and vulgar. As the player makes decisions such as stealing another player’s spoils or as he/she wins battles in the Arena, these statistics will increase or decrease. These statistics will be available for all players to see, giving gamers an idea of who may, or may not, be trustworthy. Mr. Yuan also told us that should a character become too wicked, they run the risk of having their character thrown into jail.
When asked about Gravity’s plans to enhance the interaction between players, Mr. Yuan stated that Gravity has plans to release an external messaging client that will allow gamers to communicate with their buddies who are currently playing online, even though they themselves may not be. He described the offline messaging software as being similar to AOL Instant Messenger and will be available for download from Gravity’s website in the near future.
Based on our in-depth discussion with Mr. Yuang, Gravity’s commitment to having a successful US launch is apparent. Gravity recently moved their english server to Los Angeles 3 months ago in hopes of improving the performance of the game in North America. With recent reports of the proliferation of Thai gamers on the english servers, Gravity is currently negotiating a contract for a Chinese server to help with the increasing popularity of Ragnarok Online in Asia. Mr. Kim stated that there were no plans to restrict players from playing on the other servers, but that with the upcoming beta release, the entire GUI would be language specific, encouraging players to play on their native servers.
The Ragnarok Online beta game client is downloadable via their official website. There is no information currently available regarding pricing plans for the final version or an estimated release date.