Mortal Online – Review
Mortal Online is a first-person, sandbox MMORPG from Star Vault. The game breaks the common restraints associated with regular MMORPG games and replaces it with extensive open world exploration, free-for-all PvP and the highly controversial full looting feature. Sandbox games haven’t had the best of luck over recent years as they often struggle to appeal to the masses and the complex mechanics and game play often leave new players feeling confused. This Mortal Online review will focus on the new player experience, we’ll review character creation and the first few hours of game play you’ll experience as a new player.
Firstly, getting in to the actual game is a total nightmare. I’ve got a stable 50MB connection however the whopping 23GB of download moved at the rather stroppy pace of 120kb/s. This meant it took me a little over 2 days to download the actual client because as well as the ridiculously slow download speeds, it would occasionally just stop downloading and wouldn’t restart unless the launcher was closed. With the client finally downloaded I went to create an account, low and behold another obstacle blocked my path. Despite 3 requests, plus the initial email, it took me forever to receive my confirmation email, and it’s required before you can even log in on the website. So after waiting for roughly 2 hours I created a new account with a different email and yet again, the same problem. If I was just a player wanting to test the game, I probably would have given up here. An hour later the activation email arrived so I was quite excited to finally be able to jump in and get some time with Mortal Online. Oh, but not quite yet. Upon trying to activate my trial period I came across another bug that logged me out every time I tried to click the image. So if you’re looking to play Mortal Online, don’t use Firefox to activate your trial as it won’t work, use another browser such as Internet Explorer.
The character creation involves a few innovative aspects that you won’t find in many other MMO games. There’s a large selection of races, 4 of which are can be chosen as a base race, after selecting your race you can choose your ancestry by selecting the race of your parents and relatives. Each race is known for being better at certain aspects, such as strength or dexterity, but by combining the various races via the ancestry feature, you’re able to create your own sort of race with, changing the base stats of your character based on what you want to do. Although quite in-depth the character creation system doesn’t seem very polished thanks to the poor choice of names such as “Hairstyle_01″, it wouldn’t take much effort to at least put actual names in or remove the underscore, both of which would make it seem a little more finished
It seems to be a habit with MMO sandbox games and Mortal Online is no different, there’s a very minimalistic tutorial, which will most likely leave you totally lost and confused depending on which starter city you choose. My initial choice left me running around a massive city for about 20 minutes before I decided to create a new character and try a different one. The tutorial NPC at the start told me hold to gather wood and other items, also teaching me the associated skills, but in order to do any of the activities I had to find a vendor to sell me some tools, and he was nowhere to be found. The total lack of an in-game map didn’t help at all, and left me feeling a little disappointed as I created a different character.
After creating my second character and choosing Meduli as a starting town, my experience picked up a little bit. I was able to find the appropriate NPC’s a little easier so I could actually start doing something other than running around aimlessly. Sadly I couldn’t afford much but I was able to pick up a sword and I’d already spotted some wildlife on the outskirts of town, so I headed over to try out the combat. This is easily one of the games best selling points, it felt like I was playing an MMO edition of The Elder Scrolls. The first-person view point really adds to the immersion during combat, and the different types of swing and defensive abilities actually adds quite a heavy skill element to the game. I was only fighting pigs and they fled quite often but I’d imagine some of the more vicious enemies could be really great fun to fight against, finally I was beginning to enjoy what Mortal Online has to offer.
I didn’t come across any other players so I had zero opportunity to test the open world PvP, despite running around for hours exploring the wilderness. The game world is absolutely huge, which can be seen both as a benefit and a flaw. As a new player I felt deserted, there was minimal contact with other players and I never once got a reply to any messages in chat. I did come across a number of buildings while roaming around outside of town, but I couldn’t enter the majority of them and the ones I could were empty. The saving grace for such an overlarge game world is the graphics, on the highest settings they are very impressive and almost make it worthwhile just running around.
The skill system is another popular aspect of Mortal Online but yet again, due to poor in-game design, I was unable to sample practically any of it. As you explore, just running around and jumping, you earn skill points in various stats such as Endurance, but other skills require a more complicated process. During my battle with the cowardly pigs I was able to level a few times in combat related skills and after harvesting a lot of Pigs Carcass, I was eager to find the Butchering table and see what I could do. Again 20 minutes of exploring before I found the table but then I discovered I did not have the appropriate skill. I spoke to every nearby NPC and couldn’t find any that would teach me, and the library didn’t offer much either. Just another aspect of the game I found disappointing because of the complete lack of any type of hints whatsoever. I realize this may be some of the appeal for sandbox players but there’s not even signs on buildings to represent the business and the NPC models are reused time and time again. .
Overall Mortal Online could have, and should have been something special. We’ll let you know more after our full review but the new player experience is not the best we’ve had. The combat is great fun and offers a fresh alternative to typical hot-key combat. The graphics are breathtaking in certain areas and the world is absolutely huge. Sadly though it’s sparsely populated, lacks direction completely and dumps players into a game with far more mechanics than most, with little more than a few text popups.
by Blaine Smith