Quality RPG gaming on the iPad is a little thin on the ground (although with the Unreal engine coming to Apple devices, the future looks much more promising) but there are a few promising candidates on the iTunes store if you’re prepared to do a little hunting.
One example is Pocket Legends – the largest MMORPG currently available for mobile platforms and has clients for iPhone, iPod, iPad and Android devices. It’s free to play, although it is possible to purchase platinum to buy premium content such as extra dungeon campaigns, weapons and vanity items. It’s not essential to pay to play though – it’s possible to enjoy the game without spending anything.
As in all MMORPGs, you begin by creating your character – there are three classes you can choose from: warrior (tank), archer (dps) or enchantress (mage). That appears to be the full extent of customising your character’s appearance, though. You are then transported into an introductory tutorial area, giving a safe look at the basic interface and questing before going out into the wider world with other player characters.
The graphics are 3D with a cartoony style and the characters walk with a bizarre skipping gait. Moving and looking around takes a little practice, but you soon get used to it – simply touch the part of the ground where you’d like to move to and swipe to change the direction of view. Access to your inventory, spell bank and auto attack is all done by touching the relevant part of the screen – if you forget what the icons are, tapping the question mark will overlay help text for your current screen.
Once you reach the wider game world, the mobile platform’s limitations become more apparent. It’s just not that easy to type long sentences quickly into a mobile device. The game attempts to circumvent this by providing short cuts for the most common talking points plus some emotes, but I suspect most social MMORPG players will find this unsatisfactory. While playing, I saw superficial conversation in the village (non-fighting/shopping) area, but hardly anything in the dungeons where communication is most needed.
Grouping can also be problematic as it appears to be done automatically on entering a zone. As such, there is no sense of the group helping each other out or banding together and people drop in and out of the group without saying a word. It’s down to luck if you have a large enough party for the zone and mobs respawn behind you quickly – it’s very easy to get out of your depth.
Is Pocket Legends more suitable for casual players? Possibly. Be aware, though, that logging off in the middle of a dungeon sends you back to the village zone when you return – you’ll have to fight through all previous dungeon levels again before being able to carry on where you left off. It’s not a game you can realistically play for a few minutes at a time.
In conclusion, this is a fun game to play for the novelty value, but I suspect true MMORPG fans will still be reaching for the desktop versions for a little while longer.
Read more of Pewari’s work on Pewari’s Prattle — Writer, Fighter, Geek! -Tay