You don't pay a monthly fee for access to the game. You just pay for the game itself and that's it but don't buy a used game. Because once the access key has been used by a person, it's no longer valid. Each key is an account and you only get one account per key but you can have anywhere from 4 to 8 characters. Depending on how many expansion packs you have installed. But you can only play one character at a time. You cannot play one character on one computer and have someone play another character at the same time on another computer if both characters are from the same account.
If you and a housemate want to play the game at the same time together or even separately, you'll need two different accounts.
I've never played an online game before and never thought I'd get into any. I didn't know this was an online game when I purchased it but it installed and I soon found out that I was in a world where other, real live people were too. (towns and outposts without inviting them into your party formation)
Everyone talks to each other through a chat window on the bottom of the screen. You can turn it off and just have private conversations with just the people in your party or you can pm or whisper anyone for a totally private conversation.
And then they have Guilds. Guilds are where a group of people are on the same team together. They get their own capes and in some cases they have their own outpost or town where they can hang out and they can have the Guild's alliances to that team come and visit also. These Guilds play against other Guilds in PvP (player against player) challenges. And they'll also help you more readily on quests and missions you may want to do.
You can play against computer animated monsters (PvE) in the explorable areas or you can play against other players through PvP.
I was a little shy when first starting the game. Being use to playing games on my own so I kept to myself. In some of the quests, you really need other people to help you. If you're too shy to ask someone to help you then they have henchmen who are computer animated characters who you can choose inside the town or outpost to go out and help you. Each henchman has a different skill. You choose which skills are most necessary for the adventure you'll be going on. The characters or henchmen are about the same level as you but no more or less than five levels away from you...I don't think. I'm pretty sure how it works itself out but there is a way to be on a level way higher than they are but I don't think you can do the opposite of being on a very low level and the henchmen being on a very high level.
I played with my henchies for most of my character leveling up. You can only level up to 20. I'm not too crazy about that but they have a reason for that to make it fair when you go to play the PvP challenges. You earn or buy skills for your chosen profession and second profession.
By buying, I mean, in game gold coin buying. You're not actually paying any money for the new skills. Your character makes game money or coins through fighting monsters and going on quests and missions. With that money you can upgrade your armor, weapons ( I wouldn't recommend because monsters drop a lot of the weapons they have for sale )
or buy other stuff that will help you break down stuff monsters drop (salvaging kits) and you pick up into materials you can use to make armor or other rarer materials that you can also use for armor or to trade for coins or to collect to better your weapon or upgrade your armor. You can also buy runes to upgrade your armor and attributes.
There are regular skills and then there are elite skills that you steal from bosses with a skill that allows you to capture any bosses skill of the same profession or second profession you are and some of these skills are elite skills. They're better skills than the ones you can buy from the skill merchant.
It came to a point where I was leveled way higher than the henchies at the outposts I had access to but I still wasn't able to fight off certain monsters in the explorable areas. I had to jump in and ask for help. I got a response from someone I never met before, they joined my party and they went out and helped me finish my quest. It was fun because they could "talk" to me as we were walking and they were much different to play with than the henches because the henches just basically follow you around and follow your lead but with other real live people working the characters, interesting things can happen and you learn stuff from them.
Most people are nice, some are rude. Sometimes you get a response for a help request, other times you get crickets chirping. It's also nice to offer your help to anyone who may need it. I like going to places that I've already been to and done all the quests and missions and ask anyone if they need any help.
I enjoy this game because if I want to play alone, I can play alone with my henches or heroes. Heroes are characters who you can have on your team that are not henchmen. You unlock them through doing quests. But you have to upgrade their armor, take care of their skills, decide which ones they're going to use, get new skills for them through merchants who will give them to you if the hero has enough skill points to spend, if not than you'll have to buy them for them. And you also have to get them weapons if you don't want their default weapons, which usually aren't very good ones. You can choose their second profession for them also and change their second profession on a whim in any outpost or town.
I can also play this game with other people. People I don't know or people who I do know. I got my niece the game and we can meet in an outpost or town (as our characters) and we go off and fight monsters together.
I like this game and would recommend it to someone who's never played an online game before. I was a die hard do it yourselfer when it came to my games. In my own little world, living out my pixel fantasies. But this adds something more to the game. It's cool to have someone in an outpost or town set off fireworks or to come up to you and start dancing or start a conversation with you out of nowhere. Some people, every once in awhile, will just follow you around for no reason.
There are towns/outposts and there are explorable areas. You don't "see" anyone you haven't invited in the explorable areas. It's your own game there. You have to invite or be invited into a party to have other live people play with you in your party formation.
And then there's the PvP section where two team fight against each other in battles. I haven't' really gotten into that area yet. I'm still a little unsure of my skills to be playing against other live players even though I've leveled up to 20. It's not something I have to do but it's there if I want to try it. It has it's own set of benefits like unlocking skills, getting tons of money and recognition. But like I said, I don't spend too much time in that area, hardly any time at all, so I really can't go into that and explain it to you like others could who do the PvP all the time.