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NovaRO - Extended Review

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serany:
Disclaimer: I was reached out to and asked to submit an honest review by a GM and 500 characters wasn't enough to do so. I consume these more than I write, but here's my contribution.

Hello,

I'm Serany and am sharing my experience and how I ended up on NovaRO. I've not reached "end game", but have several alts with my highest being about a 170~ Rune Knight. I exclusively play PvM and stay away from WoE.

I played Rangarok Online in its greatest days (late 2002) and always find myself coming back to play for awhile because of the music. It's great and I love losing myself to hours of grinding with the art style this game has. I can't interest my IRL friends in this game because of the aged mechanics, but nostalgia is something else, so I return and tend to play solo.

I've tried to chase this dream on various private servers, but usually have a personal issue with one of the servers and end up finding something else. In no way am I attempting to defame anyone, but here's where I've been:

- TalonRO: Love the low rates, but the cash shop wasn't for me. Being able to purchase your way through the grind this game is known for was a turn off.
- ROTravels: Joined for the low rates after talking to a streamer that plays on this server via Twitch, but something was off. After some digging, there was a lot of drama around how the GM handles the server and I didn't want to be a part of it. I'm not going into details, but I moved on rather quickly.
- OathRO: Another low rate server. I'd probably give this one more of a shot, but I dislike that they've baked in the infamous HD damage font into their custom GRF and editing this out is illegal for this server. The GM (Oathkeeper) does feel genuine and the Discord was very friendly, but don't mess with my visuals! (or at least allow me to toggle the original back on)

This brings me to where I'm at now -- NovaRO. This server has been around awhile and I'm just another review on top of the stack, but here's my take.

> Rates

The server boasts 25x/25x/10x, but ratemyserver lists this as "low". I don't agree with this classification and would put this in the "mid" category for sure. As a new player, you can reach 99/50 in a few solid hours of play (especially following the wonderful leveling guide they have on their wiki). As with most renewal servers, they have "Gramps" implemented and leveling can be quick, but of course you aren't forced to level this way and can grind on other maps.

One big feature to point out is that there's an NPC in the Main Office? that allows you to change the rate at which you gain experience. If you aren't keen on gaining 25x/25x, change it to your liking.

> Stability/Availability

I play for a few hours at a time and there hasn't been a time that I've logged on that the server wasn't online. I've never experienced lag, but I do infrequently experience client crashes from time to time when navigating between zones (sometimes multiple times before I can finally zone in). It doesn't bother me enough to go through seeking support, but calling this out.

> Community/Population

I currently see 2679 players online, but this number doesn't seem right. As with most servers, this number is extremely inflated with AFK players in town, multiboxers and vendors. You could scream "deceptive", but it would be nice to have this population broken down by vending and unique players. The data is certainly there and I've seen smaller servers like OathRO be a bit more transparent about the population on their home page.

Prontera has players idly standing by most of the time, but I've never had a player respond to me. It feels full, but empty at the same time. This isn't unique to NovaRO, but it's sad to see. I observed a new player just yesterday try to ask a question in local chat with 50~ players around only to be ignored and they just left.

What is great is the global chat channels they've implemented though. On top of being able to communicate with the server, they've also implemented a bi-directional Discord bridge that allows Discord users to talk to in-game players. I wish more servers did this as it significantly increases player interactions. I've never seen a question go unanswered in global chat.

> GMs

I can't speak on this topic much as I don't come in contact with the GMs here, but activity seems high. I commonly see GMs in global chat talking with the players and running events when I'm online. I don't participate in these events as I do my own thing, but I know this is a big deal for some players and is cool to see. I haven't really noticed anything corrupt going on, but I also am not trying to dig up dirt on anyone. It has felt fair and no one has used their powers to mess with me or give me loot - so I have nothing negative to say here.

> Economy

Prices seem a little high, but this is expected with how long this server has been around. Although high, I started on the server with nothing and had no handouts. Simply looking at what people are buying items for, grinding and selling these items to player has me stocked up on potions and obtainable gear. People tend to have unreal expectations on why they can't buy BiS gear in their first week and call the economy broken. You'll need to grind to get what you want.

I've briefly looked at the cash shop, but haven't been too interested in what it contains. Yes, you can buy a large assortment of hats and items with real money, but you can also log in and do your dailies to obtain in-game currency that allows you to buy these as well. You could scream P2W, but it feels more like "P2 progress faster" and "P2 fashion". Being a DevOps Engineer for several years, I'm aware of the overhead costs of hosting servers, power, bandwidth, storage, maintaining backups, DDOS mitigation, managing player complaints, development on a 20 year old game as well as all of the staff that's involved to make this happen. This takes a significant amount of a team's free time to create and upkeep, so I'm not against a cash shop - as long as what can be purchased isn't allowing players to run around and one-shot MVPs. Personally, I haven't seen this, so I'm happy with what's there.

On a side note, I think it's really cool that they offer the ability to change your job sprite for "Nova points". I've been saving up enough coins by logging in for an hour each day and can change the way my RK looks soon.

> Wiki

Very impressed with what's gathered on the wiki. This server has contributors and it shows. Very thorough guides on classes, leveling up, explanation of the different systems, etc. I don't consider myself an expert on the game and heavily lean on class guides. I've followed a few and have been happy with what's there.

> Account Dashboard / Client

You're able to log into your account dashboard on the website and view all of your player data (classes, levels, zenny, items in storage, equipped items on each character, stats, etc) in a central location outside of the game, as well as browse market data. Awesome feature to have if you play a lot of characters.

The game launcher also feels well polished. All of the links work and the game has a custom extension called "NovaExt" that allows you to customize things others usually have to make modifications to their game files for. You can set "turbo" keys to spam a button so you don't have to mash potions, have buff timers over your head and customize the text/color that shows up (biggest quality of life feature IMO) and set up skill ranges. It's great that this exists and makes it to where people don't have to risk getting in trouble making their own modifications to the game or using scripts to try to implement these features themselves.

Overall, I'm happy at NovaRO and will continue coming back every time I get that RO itch. Thanks for reading.

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