Free Realms is having a tough weekend. Yesterday the website (and the game has to be launched from a website) was up and down (or just really really slow) all day, and this morning I’m seeing the same issue.
The geek in me wonders if it’s the game’s login servers or the web servers that are the hold up. If you can get in, the game runs fine (at least this was my experience yesterday…I managed to log in and was playing normally, while Angela couldn’t get the login pages to kick through to the game).
I’ve read a rumor that a stand-alone exe file is planned so we won’t have to launch from a browser. I hope that is the case. Might fix the problem with getting XFire to recognize the game under Vista, too.
On the positive side, when things stabilized last night, we found there were now 8 servers running. I believe there were 4 at launch, then they went to 6, and now 8. And all were a Medium capacity (which is typical of evenings). So it would seem the game is gaining traction. Anecdotally I’ll say it is becoming a lot harder to find ‘shinies’ now, due to more players running around. To me, that’s a good thing; I find myself really wanting the game to be a success so the devs can continue to add to it (the map has several “coming soon” areas on it).
I continue to putter around, doing a little of everything and not getting much in the way of levels, and not caring a whit. Which I continue to think is the ‘right’ way to play Free Realms, if an MMO can have a right way to play.
Angela was struggling with trying to do a 3-pip mission solo last night. I was on the other side of the world hunting for archeological items when she said “I might need help.” I finished my ‘dig’ (mini-game) and teleported to her. It’s been said before but I’ll say it again, getting to a friend in need is so easy in this game…it’s a really nice feature.
We had to try her mission a few times. Wait, let me back up for those who haven’t played. When you enter a combat mission instance, you’ll get a set number of Knockouts to use in order to successfully complete the mission. Most of the time you get 3 or 5. This means you can “die” 3 (or 5) times and Recover (jump up with full health and power), keep on fighting, and still “Win” the encounter. Enemies do not regain health, at all, so you can brute-force your way through some boss encounters by, say, getting him to 50% health before you get knocked out, then Recovering and taking off his other 50%.
Before you snort, I remind you once again the primary demographic targeted is younger kids. The game is designed around not being frustrating.
Anyway back to Angela’s mission. It turns out when a party goes into a mission, the number of Knockouts is for the whole party. So in this case we had 3 Knockouts between the two of us. So the first thing we learned was that if one person gets knocked out and the other is about to join him/her in a dirt nap, the first person should stay down and wait, so both characters can jump back with full health at the same time.
The first time we tried it, we went in as Brawlers since we both had the highest level in Brawling. I had 7 and she was I think 10. We just went into it spamming keys and things did not go too well. Then we tried it with me as a level 3 Ninja and her as a level 3 Warrior. That went even worse, though I think that was my fault. I couldn’t resist flinging shurikens at the oncoming waves of baddies (this mission sent several waves of 3 angry ogres at you) and so I got all the aggro, and I’m thinking ninjas don’t have the best armor… owie! Also, even though encounters scale, before level 5 you only have 1 special power, so fewer tools at your disposal.
At this point we decided maybe we needed a plan. 🙂 We decided to go back to the Brawlers since they have leg sweep, which is an AOE, and Throw Rock, which gives a brief stun at range. Then we headed to a nearby town and bought some health potions. While I was adding the health pots to my consumables bar I remembered I had won some “Root” balls in another encounter (consumables that you throw at baddies to root them) so I readied those.
When the first wave came in, I threw my rocks (the stun from these is really brief) and hit 2 of the 3 charging ogres. Angela waited a few seconds, then threw hers, extending the stun. Then I threw a root ball (that’s not the actual name of the item, btw) and halted 1 of them for a longer duration. In this way the ogres got to us 1..2…..3 and we took them down as they approached without too much trouble. The 2nd and 3rd waves weren’t quite as choreographed (no battle plan survives first contact with the enemy!) but we got through to the boss fight without a single Knockout. And he wound up being not too big of a challenge. Success!
Lots of verbiage to describe one encounter. But I just wanted to demonstrate that some of the 3-pip fights do take a bit more thought and planning than the straight-up button mashing that can get you through the 1 & 2 pip fights.
We’re still enjoying the heck out of the game. I’m certainly getting a lot of value out of the $5.00 I threw down for a month’s membership (and Angela is playing “free” since she has a Station Pass).