Obligatory Survival Remark
Already we can see a clear picture that this non-linear adventurer is something slightly different from other games on the market. With a precedent set in harking back to genre-staples a decade previous, there is little surprise that the world of Mortal Online, Nave, is a sprawling, unexplored expanse – in other words there is no world map, mini-map, map-with-a-compass, quest-map or any other kind navigational scripture on offer. You enter this fantasy realm in the darkness of unknowing and remain in such a state.
OK, so technically, there is a map for the lands of Nave – it just isn’t in-game, its in-forum, a couple of posts deep and in need of a specific Google search-phrase. There is a real sense of conflicting opinion when approaching certain old-school elements adopted by Star Vault. I for one was brought up on a diet of EverQuest and other such older titles, my preferences for the genre is generally for total immersion, and delving head-first into a virtual world – but this brings its own problems.
You have to question really if in-game help and add-ons such as maps etc are really a terrible thing. It is a dichotomy and on the one hand too much help takes away that magic and energy of excitement that permeates throughout the experience – but on the other, progress is progress, an in-game map isn’t going to cause the veil to drop, it’s just a nice helping hand.
So is having explore the wilds of Nave mapless a bad thing? To be completely honest, yes it is. I don’t think the developers are going to break anything if players simply knew where they were headed. I get the feeling that at times Star Vault are hindered by immersion and realism from implement certain elements – at best sticking dogmatically to their guns is an annoyance, at worst its ruining the game.
The Price of Immersion
Aside from the issues with in-game exploration, the feeling that certain elements have been neglected in favour of realism can be found throughout. Combat can be found to suffer from the fallout the latter. As the experience is essentially skill based, players with a higher skill will always win when it comes to blows even when using the same equipment. So it is odd that the weapons themselves don’t really seem to have an assigned damage rating from x to y assigned to them.
I think this is generally a community complaint but the whole damage and defence system attributed to equipment just feels rather floaty and arbitrary. It’s hard to really ascertain just which items are the best to use and indeed, which items are pretty much useless – which is the case with quite a few things.
I do not think the combat system helps matters with this either. Going for an Oblivion, first-person, slash-and-swipe system of violence, things just don’t seem as solid as they should. Now I don’t want the developer to head in direction of auto-attack – I applaud their attempts to be different, but the current system just doesn’t feel as workable as it should. Attack times can feel a little sluggish, and it is infuriating to chase after enemies as they flee and you slowly trail behind depleting stamina by the second.
But with all the previous stated, I don’t find Mortal Online to be terrible – far from it - I just think that Star Vault need to nod their heads to one or two genre conventions just so certain systems work a little better. As I have said so many times already, this game has so much potential, it would be a terrible thing for it not to develop and grow it something...beautiful.
Looking at the Whole Picture
Regardless of the bugs and slight unfinished feel, Mortal Online is supremely enjoyable. There are enough developed class-types to keep you occupied while more updates roll out and the game is more than stable enough to play. Sifting through community posts would tell a different story at times but I think people are not really taking the game in the spirit of how it is meant.
One example is that there is a constant out-cry against player killers and those who wish to follow the discipline of the bastard. Now you could see any morally devious murderer as what they are: someone sat behind a desk, perhaps with fluid-stained clothing, and a pervert’s grimace – you are entitled to that view. However, as with anything in life, taking PK’ers in the spirit and context of a brutal fantasy world and they become brigands and bandits adding to the fabric and imagination of proceedings. Those that complain that a game is too difficult because of other players’ actions are simply not playing with any imagination.
As many will have seen with my previous Survivor Guy series, throwing yourself into an experience without a constant sigh of annoyance is as essential as owning a PC or Internet connection. The player versus player in Mortal Online is not a conventional arena-controlled affair but instead an endless battle. Guilds will gather outside towns to carry out an onslaught on scared townsfolk. It is a system that I really enjoy and don’t really see to any great effect in any other game (cough WaR cough) so to see it already working well in a game that has some ‘shady’ moments, really excites me for the future of this genre.
Potential, Potential, Po-ten-tial
And so we return once more to that fleeting feeling of excitement and desire for this game to succeed. Mortal Online is, contrary to certain beliefs, the game that we have been waiting for. It is immersive, ambitious, and packs an old-school bang that would keep the eldest amongst us happy. The future is bright for this MMORPG and if it succeeds, having both a ground based and space fairing sandbox MMO is an exciting prospect to say the least.
With my gushing praise and anticipation aside however, it must be said that this game is buggy as all hell, and it is not the game that it should be yet. Sure, there is still a great many hours of fun to be had, but without certain elements such as an Auction House the game falls flat in many directions. Unless you are ready for a brutal and slightly hindered experience, Mortal Online is one to look out for; however, if it meant a few hours of entertainment and supporting a company who truly have the communities best interests at heart – hell I’d recommend this game, us old timers need this game to succeed, we can’t go on complaining about how times are changing forever.
| Appeals to old school MMO players
Interesting class system
| Buggy, glitchy, slightly broken, unfinished
Focus on immersion may break the game
Potential may not be realized