Massively on the Go: Previewing Orna’s 3.1 story update and quality-of-life improvements

    
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Looking for a mobile MMO that doesn’t ask for personal information, encourages getting out of the house, but doesn’t want you to walk and play? Well, that’s basically what I’ve concluded about Orna: The GPS RPG. It’s been a fun but different game when compared to Pokemon GO that’s rich in features MMO players are used to but with a nice GPS spin.

And it’s about to get even more accessible. While patch 3.1’s been announced for March 28, I was given alpha access to explore the patch in advance on a separate test server. Northern Forge Studios says further changes to specific details probably won’t happen before the patch is publicly released, but they may happen in the future. With that in mind, let’s talk about some of the more palpable changes I noticed as a tier 7/8 player on the live version of the game.

The main new aspect will be the main story questline and quest dialogue. As current players can see from the header, the new dialogue comes front and center, no longer buried behind a menu where most players may not even notice it, leading them to outlevel the content almost immediately, making it more difficult to complete the quests. The new story/tutorial explains the game a bit better than the old one too. While I was offered a scaled-down account to see all the content, I wanted to know what live players would experience.

The first thing to note is that live players will not get the new quests unless they essentially give up the current questline. That’s hard not only because you won’t be able to switch back but because it may be very difficult to do the new quests. You can always change the Gauntlet setting to the tier of your quest, but that can feel like a waste of a key/cooldown. The Seeker’s Candle (which increases quest mobs) did help with the basic mobs on the test server, but combining it with 10 monster remains (which spawn world bosses) didn’t bring me the boss mob I needed. In short, the new story quests mostly feel like they’re for new players.

One thing to note: I was told that no matter which system you use – current or revamped quests – “you will be able to access new story/side missions as they are released.” This is nice because the game has many different races and characters, but the highly recommended Orna.guide and in-game Codex give little information on the lore backgrounds. Admittedly, I don’t often read the full quest texts, but perhaps the new system will encourage me to do so, at least until there might be time for an updated Codex to give us more lore.

That being said, the system does seem more useful, especially because unlike the current story quests, these ensure you’re followed by the NPCs and prompted to complete the quests whenever you log in, making them harder to ignore. While high-level players may struggle to find the right mobs to complete the quests, the tutorial aspect of the revamp works well. For example, in the live game, I just reached tier 8, only to find that the new pets I can purchase no longer cost gold but orns, the secondary currency used to unlock your classes and specializations and pay for other items. I nearly bought something I would have regretted, but only because I feel like the game’s tricked me (and my friend) before.

Logging into the test realm and building up a bestiary to test my future purchase, I saw the new tutorial popped up and notified my level 225 test character of the currency swap for the pets at my “new” level. So even if current players may not get a lot out of the new quests, those of us who haven’t hit the endgame content should get some helpful notes along the way.

New costs and image of the Refinery building, used to recycle materials into random different materials.

Beyond some new sprites for buildings that make for a nice change of scenery, the big news for power players (and stingy people like yours truly) is that certain buildings will no longer cost orns. Here are the new costs (just in orns and gold, not supplies like wood):

Building Previous Cost Beta Cost
Shop 2,500 orns 100,000 gold
Bestiary 5,000 orns 250,000 gold
Blacksmith 10,000 orns 250,000 gold
Refinery 50,000 orns 2,500,000 gold
Jeweler 50,000 orns 500,000 gold

 

Let me put that into perspective: Most tier 10 classes cost 15M orns. The Refinery and Jeweler combined are as much as the tier 4 class, which is the last tier a player can pay $9.99 for certain classes. It’s not a ton of orns for most players, but especially for a newer player, it’ll help. The gold costs, on the other hand, seem steep but not impossible. I passively make about a million gold per day from my fully upgraded Town Hall and a fully loaded tier 10 Keep. In addition, many of those structures can be shared with partymates, who may even have multiples, so essentially the new system promotes grouping even more and potentially makes buildings more of a gold sink.

The only building I’m slightly concerned with is the Bestiary for solo players, as gaining pets early on gives you a big advantage. That being said, Orna is more MMO than most ARGs in my opinion and makes getting into a Kingdom (guilds) incredibly easy and rewarding. The community also often is on the lookout to party with other players, and as it’s currently not possibly to determine another player’s real-world location, very safe.

Finally, the new potion-crafting mechanic that allows for multiple crafts with a single button is in, and it’s a godsend. While the early levels allow you to skate by with storebought potions, I felt like around level 150 I simply needed the higher crafted/reward potions, especially in combat. However, most took so long to craft that I would simply buy the potions when they appeared as rare spawns in player-upgraded stores just so I could actually play the game instead of get stuck with jamming a button to mindlessly “craft.”

Obviously, this isn’t the end of new quality-of-life features. For example, I’ve always been frustrated with trying to go through my Equip screen as you can’t fine-tune the search there as you can in the Inventory screen, which would especially be useful when you change classes and get locked out of or open up new equipment types. I brought this up and PR asked the developers about it, who told me It’s already being worked on: “It won’t make it out for patch 3.1 but it will certainly be in the game in the coming month(s).”

Massively OP’s Andrew Ross is an admitted Pokemon geek and expert ARG-watcher. Nobody knows Niantic and Nintendo like he does! His Massively on the Go column covers Pokemon Go as well as other mobile MMOs and augmented reality titles!
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