The first game for the Rune Factory series released back in 2006 on the Nintendo DS. It's called Rune Factory: A Fantasy Harvest Moon, and the name alone was enough to spark my interest. We all know how incredibly popular games like Harvest Moon and Animal Crossing are, but this one came with a twist.
It has monsters, fighting abilities, a leveling system, and gear to improve.
Instead of raising adorable cows, chickens, and sheep, you could raise monsters. You still had a farm that needed tending, bodies of water to fish, caves to explore, treasures to collect, and people to meet.
The above video is from the Rune Factory 4 HD trailer.
The initial release date for Rune Factory 5, the latest installment to the series, has been set for sometime in 2020, and I'm here to start the hype. Four months into the year, we still haven't gotten any news as to when this game might drop, nor have we gotten any hard details as to what the new installment might entail. But we've been waiting long enough that the news could appear any day now.
Never heard of Rune Factory before? Well, strap in, friend. I'm about to take you on a wild adventure into the unknown!
What is Rune Factory?
Think about popular role play-farming games like Harvest Moon or Stardew Valley. In games like those, you have a farm you're responsible for and an interactive town. This town is full of people to meet, potential love interests to romance or marry, and drama. It's so much more than "water the turnips in the morning and pet the cows at night," but the social aspects of the game aren't a requirement. I've seen plenty of successful playthroughs without entertaining the aspect of social life, but you are definitely missing out on what makes these games unique if you do.
Rune Factory follows this same concept. You have a farm, there are townsfolk to befriend, love interests to swoon, and a social life to manage. But, there are also monsters hidden in the many caves surrounding the town. There's a blacksmith at his forge ready to make you the sharpest weapons, a witch running the bathhouse, demons living in the vacant homes, wizards coming and going as they please, and a tyrant empire trying to take over your small town. So much is going on!
Rune Factory has a story— and it has a lot more than the usual "Harvest Moon Goddess is in trouble... again. Someone save her... again." There's an entire village on your shoulders, and whether it's a legendary dragon or a greedy king, it's up to you to save the day (and manage your farm).
Rune Factory is a game, no matter the edition, that I will play over and over and never feel bored with it. Even the 2006 edition is STILL playable here in 2020. Sure, the graphics may be a little disappointing for this day and age, but the game is still so captivating.
Home improvement in Rune Factory
Upgrading your home in Rune Factory costs lumber, stone, and money. Collect lumber by cutting branches and tree stumps, collect stone by smashing rocks, and collect money by selling your crops and resources.
Increasing the size of your home allows you to unlock a decent amount of benefits like:
A double bed: Required if you want to get married!
Children's bed: Required for you to have kids!
A kitchen: To use for cooking your crops into meals. This way, you can eat to replenish your health and Rune Points.
A forge: For crafting and upgrading weapons and tools.
A workbench/crafting table: For crafting and upgrading weapons.
Laboratory: For crafting potions, fertilizer, and stat boosters.
How does the leveling system work in Rune Factory?
In the Rune Factory games, there are multiple ways to level up. You have the level of your character, skills, relationships, weapons, tools, monsters, and crops. I'll break down how each of these systems works below.
"RP" in this guide refers to Rune Points. This is the blue bar on your screen that refers to the number of action points your character has. Almost everything you do costs action points. If you overspend action points, it will start taking from your health points. When you run out of both, your character will pass out and wake up in their bed, sick.
Weapons and Armor Upgrading weapons help increase their special abilities, damage modifiers, and item levels. Doing this makes fighting the monsters easier as you progress through the caves.
Upgrading weapons and armor goes right along with the home improvement system explained above. Once you have a forge in your home, you'll be able to start upgrading your weapons. Once you have a crafting table, you'll be able to upgrade your armor. Each time you upgrade an item, it will cost a resource from your inventory. Using the same type of resource to upgrade an item multiple times will have a lower effect, and eventually, it will do nothing at all. You can only upgrade an item to level 10, so make sure you progress in item rarity as you go!
Tools Upgrading tools help increase the number of squares they affect on your farm, such as watering six plots of land at once as opposed to only one.
You'll need to upgrade your house and install a forge to upgrade your tools. Once you have your forge, you can open the upgrade option from the forge's menu, choose which tool you want to upgrade, and decide what resource you're going to expend. The same upgrade limitations apply.
Skills The more you upgrade your skills, the better you get at doing those tasks. For instance, if you have a higher forging skill, you'll have a higher success rate when crafting and upgrading your items.
Each Rune Factory game has a mostly familiar skill set— as you can see from the picture above. Each skill is tracked like a leveling system where you earn points as you do those specific tasks. The more you use an ax, spear, hammer, or sword, the higher your Swordsmanship skill goes up.
The higher your Swordsmanship skill, the less RP it takes to wield your weapons. It also increases damage and effects. Forging increases your ability to craft and upgrade. Mining decreases the amount of RP needed to mine. Farming decreases the amount of RP needed to use a hoe, watering can, and sickle. Communication increases the amount and item level of resources gathered by monsters (milk, wool, etc.).
Camping increases the HP recovery rate when sleeping in dungeons. Pharmacy increases your ability to craft potions, fertilizer, and stat boosters. Decoration increases your ability to make accessories. Logging reduces the amount of RP it costs to collect lumber. Cooking increases your ability to cook and decreases the amount of RP it takes to cook. Fishing decreases the amount of RP needed to fish.
Relationships Increasing the friendship on townsfolks will unlock quests and cutscenes, so you to experience more of the story in the game.
Each person in the town has a relationship meter to show your level of friendship and/or love with them. You can find this meter in the main menu of the game under PPL, People, or anything alike (it's different for every game). In Rune Factory games, there are only a certain number of characters that you can romance. Increase friendship and love levels by talking to the characters each day, giving them gifts that they love, and completing tasks given to you.
Monsters As you increase friendship levels, you'll be able to get better resources from them— such as small eggs upgrading to medium eggs and medium eggs upgrading to large eggs.
Every monster you tame lives in one of the monster shacks you build on your farm. You can increase the relationship level with your monsters by petting and caring for them daily. You can check the friendship levels of your monsters from the main menu under Mon, Monsters, or anything alike (it's different for every game).
Crops Upgrading crop levels allow the crops to sell for higher prices, make higher-level food and medicine, and have better effects when fed to monsters.
The specific instructions of how to increase crop levels and make giant crops are the same throughout each Rune Factory game. As soon as Rune Factory 5 releases, we will update this section if there are any changes.
You have to make seeds from your crops to increase the crop level. Plant a crop and use a sickle to cut it down after it fully grows to receive seeds that are one level higher than the previous crop. Rinse and repeat until you have level 10 seeds (you can't exceed level 10). You can increase the rate that your crops increase in level by using the items Greenifier or Greenifier+ on them, and by planting on the same plot of land each time. If you're trying to grow Giant Crops for a competition, you'll need to plant four of the same crop in a perfect 2x2 square and apply the item Gantizer on each plot. A day or two after the crops fully grow, they'll merge into one big crop!
Character Leveling your character increases the overall stats of your character. Increase the level of your character by increasing your above skills, killing monsters, and playing the game. As your character increases in levels, you'll receive higher bonuses for magic attacks, defense against magic, physical attacks, physical defense, strength, vitality, and intelligence.
When is Rune Factory 5 going to release?
As of right now, all we know is that Rune Factory 5 is in the process of being made and will release sometime in 2020. As soon as we hear any news, we'll be sure to update you here with all the latest information!