Closed Beta Impressions of Webzen’s Latest
MU Legend has had a long development path. Originally the game was called MU 2, and its development started way back in 2009. Based on Unreal Engine 3, MU Legend aims to bring one of the most popular global Action MMOs into the current generation of gaming. But can Webzen, who’s had a bit of a rough road replicating the success of MU Online, make lightning strike twice?
There’s a stigma in the West among the mainstream when it comes to Eastern-made F2P MMORPGs. For whatever reason you point to, titles like MU Online, Lineage, Ragnarok, and the like have never been as big in the West as they are in their countries of origin. One of the chief reasons I will personally point out when people ask me “why” is that the games rarely if ever seem as polished or sharp in terms of presentation and UI as their western contemporaries.
The same cannot be said of MU Legend. Even though it was made using the now outdated Unreal Engine 3, MU Legend is a very pretty Action MMORPG. And fans of the original game, or fans of ARPG style combat in general will likely be very pleased. As a friend on Twitter pointed out when I showed off some screens, the setup of the UI for MU Legend is very familiar. Even so, it’s done cleanly and with its own panache by Webzen. The aesthetic isn’t something unique. Indeed, many a Korean MMOs seems to share the same art inspiration in much the same way Western fantasy games have orcs, dwarves, and a European Medieval aesthetic. You’ll be forgiven if you think MU Legend looks a lot like TERA, Devilian, and so forth. Even the upcoming Revelation Online, though made in China, shares a similar style.
There are five classes, and yes they are gender locked, I’m sorry to say. Though not preferable, I can at least happily report there’s no lolli class. The males get Dark Lord (think Tank), Blader (melee DPS), and the War Mage (ranged or melee caster). The females get Whisperer (ranger) and the Emphasizer (ranged DPS and control). For my part I’ve been dabbling with the War Mage, as the idea of a sword and grimoire wielding mage always gets my motor running.
The closed beta for MU Legend hasn’t been without issue. Namely it seems that Webzen was unaware just how many people would want to try the game, as the sole server on the US side seems completely overloaded. Oddly, though it can take 5-10 minutes for characters and NPCs to load in, once they do the game plays fine enough minus a few seconds UI lag for looting and changing options in the UI. That said, if you’d like to try the game in a more stable setting, I’d recommend waiting a day or two to see how things shake out. The beta runs until November 8th, after which all progress will be wiped before Open Beta.
Like Guardians of Ember, which I wrote about on Tuesday, MU Legend allows for a lot of customization in the progression of your character. While character creation is somewhat limited, you’ll level up in two different ways as you play allowing you to tweak the stats and playstyle of your character. Regular levels gain you new skills and allow the use of new gear, while Soul Levels get you SP and allow you to further customize a whole slew of stats from Spell Power to Movement Speed, Physical Defense, Magic Defense, and so forth. It seems Webzen’s not afraid to let you toy with your character’s stats – a refreshing thing in an ARPG in modern times.
There seems to be a load of content, though I’ve only managed to climb to level 7/6 so far (Level/Soul Level). The game’s experiencing a ton of server lag, and it’s frankly been unplayable into the evening, so I had to cut my session short a bit earlier than anticipated. That said, I did manage to stumble into the Interdimensional Rift – essentially a fully randomized dungeon that you can enter solo or in a group and the content within is scaled to your level. You can try it on higher difficulty levels to get better loot and XP and it looks like it can be done up to 10 times a day. Think of this as MU Legend’s “instant adventure” for those who don’t want to play the main story every time they log in.
The game’s combat is on point, but a little easy so far. I think I only had to heal myself once or twice. I assume, like any ARPG, that the difficulty will spike as you play more. I also find it nice that you get a battle pet for testing early on (mine is an adorable chibi headed skeleton). It’d be nice if we got mounts too, but unlike Ember I haven’t found travel to be too laborious in MU. There is no WASD control method though, as all movement is handled via the mouse, and skills are deployed with QWERT and the numbers are reserved for potions and the like.
The UI is sharp with a ton of functionality, even if it can’t be customized or moved around to suit your liking. There’s even a DPS/Heals tracker for dungeons to see who pulled their weight and who didn’t. The game uses the familiar eastern Combat Power score to track how powerful you are, which I assume will come into play with PVP and higher level dungeons much like WoW’s Item Level. Speaking of PVP, while I know there’s 5v5, 10v10 matches they can’t be accessed until the later game at level 65. Unlike MU Online there doesn’t seem to be any PK-ing in MU Legend. That’s a good thing in my eyes, though I hope Guild Battles and Sieges may be planned for a later date.
This is going to sound like a cop out descriptor, but let’s tell it like it is: MU Legend seems a lot like a more refined or shinier version of Devilian at this early stage. And as my review of Devilian will tell you I greatly enjoyed my first several hours with that game… it’s when time wore on that I grew disenfranchised and found the game lacking in lasting appeal. Right now I can definitely say that MU Legend is a fun game to play, but whether or not it can hold my attention for weeks or months on end is something we’ll have to see when the Open Beta launches.