Is Riders of Icarus Worth Playing in 2022?
Riders of Icarus is what you’d get if you propositioned GameFreak with an idea for a Pokemon MMO and they decided to give complete creative control to a Korean game developer with a history of failed micro-transaction riddled mobile games.
Oh wait, I just described Nexon. Hahahah, ahhh. Nevermind.
Now welcome back to another episode of “Is it worth playing” – where we sift through every MMORPG available right now in an attempt to find the best MMORPG in 2021. Today, we’re taking a look at one of the more unique MMOs out there: Riders of Icarus.
This was an MMO with a lot of potential to bring something new and innovative to the market, but ultimately ended up failing due to the incompetence of Nexon and its developer. To the surprise of nobody.
Let me preface this by stating that Riders of Icarus isn’t a terrible game. It has many terrible aspects, but at the same time provides players some unique features that either aren’t present in other MMOs, or just aren’t nearly as fleshed out.
So, at its core this is your traditional MMORPG.
The game has a large world for players to explore, either on foot, via land mount or aerial mount.
As I noted, this is a very Pokemon-esque title. Its unique selling point was that you could capture, in essence, every monster you saw. Normal monsters, elite monsters, rare monsters. I mean I wouldn’t say it’s a stretch for you to be able to tame boss monsters at one point either.
These included land mounts like horses, wolves, tigers. Or flying mounts like gryphons, dragons and unicorns. Monsters you tame have individual stats, skills and levels. In essence, they act like a secondary player – a companion. Well, some of them do. Others are just.. there.
Riders of Icarus isn’t the first MMO to implement flying, but it’s rare to come across as a feature. What’s more, even MMOs like World of Warcraft and Final Fantasy XIV – the 2 largest MMOs that both have a functional flight system offer only the most basic of features.
Riders of Icarus allows for you to fully engage enemies while mounted in the air, providing the option for mounted combat. Mounted combat is something that I personally think is largely missing in the genre and a feature that should be present in most modern titles.
It shouldn’t be too difficult to implement, and would provide for some much more interesting PvP skirmishes. Imagine being on a tiny little bunny and fighting someone on a massive dragon. Yeah, that’d be sick.
Zones are segregated, meaning that you’re required to move through loading screens to explore new areas.
Now I did mention aerial combat being a thing in-game, so I’d like to take a minute to discuss the combat specifically.
Interestingly, Riders of Icarus utilizes somewhat of a hybrid combat system. Note: “somewhat.” For the most part, this is a tab-target game. You require a target for 90% of your abilities, and for the most part are unable to freely aim.
There are exceptions: AoEs that allow for you to place down large telegraphed circles on the ground, abilities that propel you in a certain direction.
Special effects looked pretty good on the elemental mage that I opted to play. I’ve always been drawn to magic classes in games, mainly due to the fact that they’re annoying to deal with in PvP. Kiting, crowd control and the ability to fight on the fly makes for the perfect DPS.
Character creation was pretty detailed. There were an exorbitant number of sliders to utilize to create that image of perfection players so often seek. And then fail to achieve. And then delete their character and try again. At least, like, 20 times.
You know you do it, don’t act like you don’t. I can feel you nodding your head in disagreement.
I’m quite a large fan of customization in my games. I feel like offering players not only an extensive creator, but also a large number of costumes is key to a successful business model. Players will buy outfits. They’ll buy items to reset what they look like.
Although speaking of business model, that’s where this begins to fall apart as a game.
While Riders of Icarus is a free MMO, there are a number of pay to win items in the cash shop. What’s worse, there are a number of cosmetic items available that actually increase statistics across the board. Meaning that you can, in essence, pay to have a statistical advantage over other players.
Which is a detestable thing to do. Players should never be capable of purchasing actual advantages over players that can’t afford to. Every achievement, every upgrade should be earnable in-game. On your own merit.
Pay to win ruins games, both in the short-term and in the long-term. Look at Final Fantasy XIV, World of Warcraft, Guild Wars 2, heck, even games like RuneScape. No pay to win present, and all averaging hundreds of thousands of players per month.
You can have a successful game that makes a butt-load of cash without resorting to pay to win. Pay to win will actually prevent you from ever having a successful game, which will damage your longevity as a title.
Now I played through… quite a few hours. And honestly, I was pretty bored. Sure, the Pokemon aspect of the game was pretty cool. In theory. Actually capturing monsters however was a tedious process that was entirely reliant on luck.
Some monsters required items to capture, items that were rare to come across and you could lose the battle to RNG. Which was disheartening, and ridiculous. This left me not wanting to attempt captures because I couldn’t be bothered investing time into farming the items required to even engage the monster.
✔️ Overall, Riders of Icarus is a pretty good looking game.
✔️ It has some decent combat, abilities and special effects.
✔️ Being able to engage enemies in the air – mounted combat, specifically, is sick.
✔️ The Pokemon aspect of the game – creature taming, leveling, collecting, was actually a very cool feature to have.
❎ But that was it. The story was poorly written and absolutely pointless.
❎ The world, while large and filled with monsters was often barren and didn’t provide much in terms of exploration or content.
❎ Dungeons were filled with ridiculous numbers of monsters, and given there’s almost no playerbase left, running dungeons by yourself, especially as a squishy mage clearing small groups at a time was a chore.
❎ The business model, pay to win cosmetics and items are an atrocious addition to the game.
❎ I hate stamina for my flying mounts, just FYI. I wanna fly without needing to land and rest for 30 minutes straight, man.
Ultimately, Riders of Icarus isn’t a terrible game. At its core, as an actual game. How it was handled by Nexon though? How it is currently handled by VALOFE? Yeah, it’s a bad game.
The few facets of the game that are legitimately interesting and innovative are drowned out by all the poor design choices they made.
I wouldn’t play this. Ever. Not unless drastic changes are made. And honestly? I don’t foresee this lasting much longer with how few people log in and play it.