I have a few vices, and one of them is a mild to moderate obsession with game pets and mounts. I am pretty sure there’s a drug coming through the FDA pipeline for people like me, but in the meantime, there’s Riders of Icarus. It’s a free-to-play Nexon MMO that can be played through the Nexon launcher or via Steam. I have played it via both platforms and don’t really have a preference; you get to the same destination either way. And that destination is full of critters to tame with a variety of ways to get and use them.
I play on Baellas, one of the North American servers. I have four characters, the maximum I could have without spending money on character slots, in which I have a Priest, an Assassin, a Trickster, and a Magician. Coincidentally, that list is from the lowest level to the highest. The Trickster and the Magician are the only gender-locked and non-human classes; they are female fairies. (Technically, they’re “Shalings.”) Additionally, Tricksters and Magicians, the two most recently added classes, have a shortened tutorial that places you in the city directly. Other classes have a more story-based tour before arriving at the city, where the quest lines merge.
There are transit shrines for easy travel within regions, with world shrines available for travel between regions. The catch is that you have to go to them to activate them for use. That means that all those mounts come in handy for running around, or flying around, as the case may be.
The game also boasts mounted combat, both on the ground and in the air using crossbows and lances, depending on the range you’re fighting at. At some point, a flying mount is necessary. The Sea of Hakanas, for instance, is an ocean region with floating sky islands and platforms where a flying mount is necessary for both navigating the region and for completing quest objectives. Luckily, you should have one at that point, either from taming one in a previous region or from the surprisingly generous login rewards system.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Taming creatures to be your “familiars” (i.e., mounts and pets) is the primary gameplay hook in Riders of Icarus. Most tamed creatures are mounts to ride but can be converted into pets or “sealed” to add to your equipment to add stats or effects. Sealed familiars can also be converted into talent points that you can spend to unlock improvements as you level up.
Apart from the taming hook, it is a generic Eastern-style MMO with an unremarkable story about trying to find a kidnapped princess. Or something. I stopped following the story early on because I just didn’t care.
In other words, if you can’t get into collecting pets and mounts, this game might not be for you. I’ve been playing for many months at the point, so I guess the hook worked on me.
Crafting is another important part of this MMO. Taming named creatures often requires a crafted item, for instance. Items are crafted from gathered and looted components, with some recipes also being drops or quest rewards. Gathering and crafting play a part in event quests much of the time, and it seems that there’s always some kind of event going on.
Before you get to the aforementioned Sea of Hakanas with your flying mount, you will have fought your way through Brakarr Forest (prior to getting to the city if you play most classes, and optionally for those adorable winged ones) and Hakanas Highlands, where you’ll find yourself fighting werewolves, vampires, and plenty of various animals that want to eat you. You’ll also have been through few story instances and a couple of dungeons, in story mode at least, and possibly in other, harder, more rewarding modes.
Dungeon-delvers should know there’s a cross-server dungeon lobby if you need help putting together a group for a dungeon. Lavalight Cave is full of the undead and various lava monsters; there’s a tamable magma hound on heroic difficulty that requires a crafted item to tame. Carleon Manor has vampires, bats, and some tamable horses. There are bosses at the end of these dungeons, of course. When you’re victorious at the end, a victory shrine appears and drops you outside the entrance.
You will also reach a point when you’ll have the opportunity to learn to fish. Fishing is limited to certain areas, such as Divinity Shores Fishery in Hakanas Highlands or Coral Fishery in the Sea of Hakanas. There is both active and automated fishing, which gives you an opportunity to get not only fish but potions and random reward boxes. (AFK fishing is another of my vices.)
After level 40, you’ll be able to go to trade in 10 Flowerhorn fish to go to a place called Paradise Island, where you have a limited time to fish manually for a variety of rewards. You can do Paradise Island twice a day.
There are plenty of items in the cash shop that can be bought with Ellun, one of the in-game currencies that is used for many other things in the game as well, such as instant revival when you die, opening additional slots in your collection of familiars, and additional storage space at the storage master. You can get Ellun as log-in rewards and from completing various achievements, but you can also buy them with NX, Nexon’s cash shop currency.
Personally, I have bought outfits for a couple of my characters using Ellun I got for free in the game, which seems more than fair to me. On the other hand, some of the items in the shop are 7-day or 30-day items, and I have a hard time spending money, or even in-game currency, for anything that will disappear on me after a while. Some other items are sold for NX only. Additional character slots would be one of those things, which is why I haven’t added any yet; I blew my gaming budget elsewhere this month.
Alternate currencies are a recurring theme in Riders of Icarus. There are different kinds of vendors in Victory Plaza in Hakain’s Crossing that take a variety of currencies that can be obtained in various ways. For instance, you can collect up to four monthly writs from the daily login reward and then spend them at the vendor for that month’s writs. Vendors for the current month and the previous month are standing there, waiting to exchange those writs for a variety of things, including some nifty pets and mounts.
You might find yourself a little lonely at the low end of the game, but it isn’t devoid of all player activity, and judging by the system announcements when people have various kinds of achievements and people advertising for party members in global chat, I’d say the high end probably has a pretty good population. As I level, I feel as if I am seeing more people in the areas I am going into. The community seems to be relatively friendly and helpful, at least on Baellas. I have no idea what the other servers are like, and I am out of character slots to create new characters to find out. I used one of the megaphones I got free from the daily rewards to ask in server chat about a guild and got several responses, so I think it would be fair to say that it isn’t too hard to find a guild.
Should I be further along in the game given the ridiculous number of hours I have put into it? Probably. I am just very slow at leveling, thanks to all the obligations of everyday life and the time I spend in other games. And did I mention alts? I have started to make faster progress since I narrowed my focus to my Magician, instead of trying to spread out my gameplay among all four characters. There’s a lesson to take with me into the next MMO…