E3 2012: Ragnarok Odyssey preview

If there's one thing we learned about the PlayStation Vita at this year's E3, it's that the handheld's future is looking prosperous, with several new titles set to launch in the near future, as well as a number of cross-platform games that will be playable across both Sony's current platforms. Ragnarok Odyssey looks to be another Vita title to watch out for, and after seeing it an action for myself, I have to say there's a lot of potential here for RPG fans.

As Ragnarok Odyssey started up, the XSEED rep who was demoing the game was quick to point out that the plot was entirely new for the series despite being loosely based on Ragnarok Online. The citizens of Rune Midgard have banded together to battle an imposing enemy. Giants threaten the land, and it is up to players to take up arms against the massive creatures. The whole thing kind of has a Monster Hunter vibe to it, but given how awesome that series is, it's hard to complain about something like that, and fighting larger-than-life beasts often makes for an epic experience.

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Ragnarok Odyssey has a very accessible play style. The game relies on hack-and-slash combat, and I was told that all players really have to do to get into the game is "just go and kill monsters." Sounds simple enough, and it's this pick-up-and-play gameplay that has drawn so many folks to play MMOs, so I can definitely see Ragnarok Odyssey appealing to that crowd in addition to the gamers who are feeling the lack of RPGs on the Vita.

My XSEED guide mentioned that combat was "where the meat of the game lies." There's a lot of emphasis on fighting baddies, and there are several cool-looking combos that players can pull off. Various hack-and-slash attacks can be executed, and enemies can be launched into the air, where players can perform aerial combos. Bosses are also a huge part of the experience, both figuratively and literally, as they take up a huge chunk of the Vita's screen; and with an online component that supports up to four players, you can probably expect things to get crazy hectic.

In addition to the expected action-RPG tropes, Ragnarok Odyssey will also feature some nuances, a couple of which aren't really seen in RPGs. The first is the game's lives system. That's right, Ragnarok Odyssey features lives, something that's very uncommon in RPGs. I really dig the fact that this is a thing, because it adds a nice spin on the genre and a much-needed sense of urgency. I just stroll along an RPG's world all too often, knowing that if I get killed, the consequences won't be too harsh.

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Another interesting addition in Ragnarok Odyssey is the game's time limit mechanic. Unlike most other RPGs, this title requires players to finish quests before their time expires. This is certain to add to the sense of urgency in the game, and it goes nicely with the lives system.

Ragnarok Odyssey is expected to launch for the Vita this summer. If you're looking for an RPG to fill the void on Sony's handheld, this one certainly has all the makings of a fun game. Ragnarok Odyssey has been available in Japan for some time now, and the developers have even released DLC for it over in the land of the rising sun. With add-on content expected to launch for the North American version (possibly free), it's obvious XSEED wants people playing the game. Watch out for this one within the next few months.

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