Looking Back: RF Online.
But never before has an MMO generate much hatred over another fictional race. Talk about racism. And it is not only integral in the game's story but also in the gameplay as well. It's the driving force of the game.
Aside from the usual quests and level/skill grinding, you can participate in a massive war, vying for territorial conquest. This event usually happens almost everyday(I played in the Phl servers). It's usually about destroying a faction's beacon. The losers don't get mining rights in Novus' rich mining fields. If that's not your thing, you can organize raiding parties just to harass some lower level players from another race. Essentially, disrupting them from leveling up.
It sounds kinda lame-vying for a mining spot. It doesn't really hamper down the game but instead reinforces the main concept which is, three factions in constant war with each other. You can't help but root for your chosen race. It's like Dawn of War, do you want to serve for mankind or be a heretic?
MMO mechanics really shined in this game. It's not all about the premise of three factions always hating each other. It's also up to the game's community as well. I still remember the time when gamers in real life offered a truce to gamers playing another race so that they could concentrate on pounding the other one. There's a lot of forging alliances, truces, and betrayals going on. It's really political. It was really awesome on a grander scale, when all of the players in servers really participated in any way. There were the leaders(the so-called Archons,representatives of their respective race), the grunts, the oblivious citizens and the I-don't-care-I-just-want-to-level-up kinda guys.
Plus, if you manage to bump into another race and try to chat with him/her all he/she'd get would be random symbols. The same could be said if he/she tries to chat with you. It really gives you the idea that the other race are not meant to be understand and as far as you are concerned, there's only you and/or your race that matters. There was a lot of taunting around but even if we knew that it was a game we can't help but feel like where really a part of that race.
RF concept is great but sadly the gameplay falls short. RF Online is a grindfest. If you love grinding so much then you might have liked it. And it's mostly what you'll do. And with lots of grinding, it will take time for you to be strong and really be a significant contribution to your race. The first profession you'd get is when you'll reach lvl 30. And when you thought that you have a chance another race which has a higher level than you mows you down in a matter of second(s). The only solution is to grind some more and reach lvl 40 to open up tier 2 profession.
But RF's leveling is much more than that. Instead of the traditional level-up mechanics and points allocation system, RF's main char. level is separated from skill leveling. Your offensive, defensive, supportive, active, and passive skills will only level up if you keep using them and by other special means. The advantage of this kind of system is that you can create a hybrid character. It is still limited but at least you'll have, let's just say, a fast melee runner. And trust me, you'll really need to run fast in this game, especially when you're being raided. Dying will result in a lost of those hard-earned exp. And exp. in this game is hard to accumulate.
It's an interesting system but if you'd already guessed it, yep, that means you have LOTS more of grinding to do.
RF Online would never be an all time great but it could've been a decently enjoyable experience almost to all if it weren't for the grinding. I've watched players dropped-out because of this style of gameplay. And on a more personal note, I've only stayed for a year and a couple of months. The first half was awesome. I mean, three factions at war and in an MMO, the idea is there or to be more precise - was there.