Since Mortal Online 2 launched, it has dealt with several launch woes typical of new MMORPGs. For an ambitious re-imagining and improvement to Star Vault’s previous Mortal Online that launched back in 2010, the team had their work cut out for them. But with an almost zealous fanbase and catering to a niche genre focusing on open-world PvP and full-loot, it seemed like Mortal Online 2 had a generally favorable following leading up to its launch. In my review in progress leading up to the launch, I had a lot of hope for what MO2 was stacking up to be. So a month after launch, how have things been going? Here’s our final review for Mortal Online 2.
When Mortal Online 2 officially launched back on January 25, I was excited to start my journey as an archer specializing in bow crafting and horseback archery. My impressions from the week leading up to launch were generally favorable, even if I was unmatched and outclassed in the world’s open PvP. Unfortunately, I was only able to play for the first two days before the server issues impacted me to the point where it was entirely unplayable. After leaving the starting tutorial zone of Haven, anyone logging into the Myrland server was met with a queue. The queue had no indication of the wait position or even a time estimate for how long until you could join.
I spent literal days logging in and sitting there in the queue for 20+ hours at a time, with no success. Compounding this issue were the almost nightly server resets, meaning that even when I left the queue running overnight to log in by the morning, hopefully, I would be kicked out sometime in the night. When I woke up and tried logging in again, anyone that could had already logged in and everyone else was forced to, yet again, sit in a queue. If you weren’t there when the servers went live again, it was impossible to join.
These server issues lasted for two weeks, until the February 10 update when the team at Star Vault decided to add alternate servers for Myrland. The reason as explained to the community that this took so long to implement was because first, they had to hire outside network engineers to help them, and second, their login queue system was undeveloped and they had to completely rebuild how logins were processed. There was no queue wait timer or queue position, because they never thought they would need one. Thankfully, after the additional servers were added, I was able to finally login again and continue my journey in the world of Nave.
These additional servers act much the same way as the tutorial zone of Haven does. When logging in, you’re able to choose which server you want to log into so as to avoid the queue of the primary server, at least up until they figure out whatever bottleneck issue is causing it to lock up. The caveat is that only the main server has access to trade, manage guilds, use the pet broker, establish houses, or use the mail. But at least you’re able to log in and play, which hasn’t been the case up until then at least.
After the additional servers opened up, the queue went from ~infinite to around ~15 mins whenever I tried logging in. Even with such a small queue time, you have to ask yourself: why would you not play on the main server now? Why miss out on having access to certain features? Some probably insist on playing on the main server, but it has been beneficial at least to me to choose one of the alternative servers that are less populated. This means less of a chance to be ganked while out in the wild and fewer players to compete for hunting spaces at bandit camps. Horse spawn locations are typically less populated by players camping out, meaning there’s an easier time taming wild horses and taking them back to your own stable.
Unfortunately, this also means fewer eyes are watching if a rogue player or heathen decides to PK you and steal your loot. What’s especially annoying have been the horse griefers – players that only target players’ pets, especially their horses, just to grief without the consequences. A practice that started due to a missed observation from the developer team: killing a pet originally did not flag a player for criminal actions. Thankfully, that has since been fixed, so any player that scores a hit on your beloved steed is open game for revenge. This still doesn’t mark them as murderers unless they kill you too, but at least you might be able to protect your horse before it gets taken down. Rest in peace, my level 120 desert horse ButtStallion.
There’s also an upright player dedicated to justice and the eradication of heathen players for every griefer. That’s why I joined one of the most prolific defenders of justice guilds in the town of Fabernum, the ODINsSEED guild, which also happened to also be very into RPing. All I had to do to join was remove my helmet in-game, look up into the sky, and receive Odin’s blessing. There may have been more meaning behind it, but it was fun to actually perform a ritual of sorts in-game instead of just receiving a random text box to click “ok” to. And that’s where the community in Mortal Online 2 really shines; it’s the level of immersion and RP that regular players will get into just because the world inspires that. There’s no voice-work from NPCs, no story at all, so the players often take it upon themselves to flesh out the world of Nave.
Combat can be a mixed bag sometimes. Depending on the time of day you’re playing, or even the location in-game, your latency can be vastly different. I noticed in higher population areas, like outside of large cities, I would have noticeably higher latency. This became an issue whenever I would try to engage in PvP outside of town or even when hunting zombies at nearby graveyards. For the most part, however, latency hasn’t been nearly as much of an issue as I had feared, given that the central servers for Mortal Online 2 are located in Europe. Charging up attacks does seem to require an extra half-second or so compared to what’s shown on-screen in order for full damage, but besides the occasional cheap shot, blocking attacks and parrying still feel in-sync with what’s happening on-screen.
My personal take on the combat is that it still feels unpolished overall, and a lot of that has to do with the directional input system. There are a few ways to customize the combat to cater to different input styles, but none of the systems feel as intuitive as other like-systems I’ve played in the past, such as For Honor and Kingdom Come: Deliverance. You can either click and move the mouse to one of the four directions for attacking or blocking, or you can move the direction you want to swing and then click. Additionally, there’s a way you can customize some keybinds, such as low thrusting attacks or overhead attacks, to specific keys. You can cancel out attacks to feint by pressing Ctrl by default, but it just feels clunky and obtrusive to use in combat - even after re-keybinding it. When facing bandit NPCs, they were rarely caught off-guard by these feints anyways, so it was a skill I rarely practiced.Most enemies can be taken down solo, but it’s always safer to challenge bandit and Risar camps with some friends, where group play becomes essential. Sadly, there’s no actual group or party system in Mortal Online 2. It would be nice to at least have some kind of party system in place where it would differentiate players’ names, like when in a guild. Guild members’ names will appear in green text, denoting their affiliation, but the guild name is also displayed under their name (which is helpful when identifying players from rival guilds as well). As an added bonus, you’re unable to accidentally friendly-fire your guildmates, even when criminal actions may be turned on, meaning no one can “accidentally” grief their own mates. Thank goodness for that.
For an MMO that seemingly thrives on inter-player connections, whether it be hunting razorbacks together or banding together to hunt other players, the absence of a party or grouping system feels like a huge miss. There is proximity-based VOIP for voice chat, but I often had difficulty hearing coherent conversations if I was any further than 5 feet away. That doesn’t really help when, for example, you’re deep into an enemy encampment trying to communicate that there are archers in the far towers. For any coordinated group, it is essential to have Discord or a similar service up in the background where you can freely talk to your party members.
It would be even more helpful if there was a way to group up in-game without such a service though that could possibly extend the VOIP’s range. It would also be extremely beneficial to have some way to designate friendly party members that might not be affiliated with your guild, that way you can spot them in a crowd as well as be protected from accidentally hitting them - and potentially becoming a criminal for it.
Unlike traditional MMOs, Mortal Online 2 does not have any threat or aggro management systems. During my experience in group play, mobs seemed to target whoever was dealing the most damage to it at the time. This can be nice, since the enemy AI is pretty simple, so two players can make quick work of the tougher veteran bandits by taking turns focusing solely on blocking attacks when its aggro is turned towards one while the other attacks from behind. It does get messier in larger groups, especially when tackling tougher opponents like the minotaurs in the Mino dungeon. But even then, with enough players you can often kill the minotaurs with a barrage of arrows before they can even reach you. Those lucrative experiences are a major reason why joining a guild can be beneficial, especially early on when trying to amass wealth fresh out of Haven.
I would have preferred an evolution to Mortal Online 2’s combat system rather than the copy/paste we got from the original Mortal Online. A more fluid combat system, like the one in Chivalry 2 for example, could have matured the swordplay so much more. Having the animation lock-in MO2 after choosing a direction when attacking makes the swordplay feel slow. Personally, I prefer the combat system from Kingdom Come: Deliverance the best and think that its 5-point directional system would have translated perfectly to Mortal Online 2, while removing the animation lock and still offering a robust parry and blocking options.
But it’s not just the combat that feels lacking, it’s also the entire open world of Nave. The world is just so barren. While certain areas, like the mountain range south of the city Fabernum with the beautiful trees and dense forested areas, are absolutely astonishing to gaze at, overall they feel lifeless. There are specific spawning grounds for specific mobs, and that’s it. There’s no natural feel to the world you explore. Even the horses have preordained spawn points that players often camp. It makes the world feel more scripted and less dynamic. I wanted to enjoy hunting out in the wild, but instead, I had to settle for hunting out in the specified boar hunting grounds about 2km west where, hopefully, no one else is hunting and,also hopefully, no groups of PKing heathens are camping out between here and there.
To add to this lifelessness, there is a severe lack of enemy diversity. There are bandits, wolves, Risers, spiders, zombies, razorbacks, and minotaurs which seem to be located only in the Mino dungeon. Outside of the bandits and Risars, which are both humanoid, there’s no real diversity to any of the enemy types – all of the minotaurs are the same, for example. At least the bandits have archers, mages, and healers amidst their ranks, which makes hunting their camps more engaging and fulfilling.
It would be nice just to have more dynamic spawns in the open world, where maybe I could find patrolling NPCs or maybe horse spawns that weren’t statically tied to one area. This isn’t helped by how far apart these enemies seem, causing Nave to feel as if it truly isn’t “lived in.” I’m sure over time, with players building their own houses and making small communities, the world can feel a bit more lived in, but for right now it’s mostly empty space.
There’s also no real driving force behind character progression in Mortal Online 2 outside of amassing wealth. One of the defining features of Mortal Online 2, the PvP territory control, isn’t even implemented yet. As a result, it feels like there is little that players can engage in on a grander scale other than large-scale PvP. And even then the only reason I feel to participate is simply just that: for something to do.
Mortal Online 2 doesn’t exactly have end-game progression either, like you would expect in a traditional MMO, because there’s no real reason to. It would be pointless to have gear you found while running a dungeon, for instance, because there’s a high possibility that the gear you’re wearing is going to be taken from your cold, lifeless corpse eventually. That also is less incentive for crafters to always utilize the best materials for gear, often opting instead for more practical gear with good-enough stats from easier to acquire materials. I’ve lost so many sets of gear, from either being PK’d or being overwhelmed at a bandit camp, that anytime I would have to buy or craft a new set I would go for the more practical approach. My best gear stayed in the bank at all times, for no other reason than to just collect dust.
Which is a shame because the crafting system in Mortal Online 2 is probably my favorite out of any MMORPG from the past decade. I love the detail when it comes to finding the right proportions in smelting materials to get the most resources extracted. I love the in-depth skills system that ties into crafting, where you can improve skills not only in the actual crafting techniques but also the knowledge behind certain materials; the complexity of combining the appropriate materials and weapon pieces together in order to make particular adjustments, such as using a different material to improve durability or choosing a certain mace head for slashing damage at the cost of raw blunt damage.
The crafting system is something I could get lost in for days, and have. It’s unfortunate then that the skill cap for professions is set so low, which requires you to specialize in a very limiting manner. You can’t master extraction processes and also be a master bowyer, for example. One of them would have to take some sacrifices. Nor can you be a general all-purpose weapon smith – it’s about all you can do to learn a weapon type like 2-handed greatswords and learn its prerequisites and the material lore behind whatever resources you’re using. The nice thing is that profession skills are easy to redistribute if you need to adjust at any time, but it’d be nicer just to have more options available as a crafter on the whole. Maybe there could be a set of skills under Action skills that would increase the available profession skills at the cost of less action ones? More for crafting, less for fighting.
If there was more of a reason to be motivated to progress as an individual character, I might feel more invested in my time spent in Mortal Online 2. Instead, it feels like there’s no attachment to anything because anything and everything could be taken away at any time. Why even bother renaming my horse anything or than “Horse” if it’s just going to die? Why bother crafting the best armor, when the good-enough armor offers just a little bit less defense and is easier to make? Why even PvP when there’s nothing to gain, besides just more gold? I’d rather farm minotaurs for gold, personally, and even then bandits and Risars are more exciting to fight and don’t require as many players to take on.
Mortal Online 2 just feels, on the whole, like an unfinished game. Which largely it is. Between the lack of large-scale PvP and guild objectives like Territory Control, missing features such as cartography and the thieving system, as well as whole schools of magic like Necromancy – there’s so much that has been promised to players without seeing actual progress. The only progress I’ve seen is getting the servers up and running, which still isn’t working as intended since they haven’t merged the servers back to being only one yet. There have been minor updates since launch, including expanding and adding new areas to the Haven tutorial as well as introducing a duel mode. Hopefully, they will have the promised server where up to 100,000 players can log in simultaneously, giving players the single-sharded Nave players were promised.
Mortal Online 2 is not a complete game. This feels like an early access title in disguise, just waiting to start charging its players a $15 monthly subscription fee in order to keep development on track. The fact that its first two and a half weeks after launch was unplayable by the majority of the playerbase is the most telling of all, but in tandem with too many missing systems and features it’s not hard to think of it as an unfinished product. Thankfully, at least for now, the subscription charges are postponed until the server issue is completely resolved. But even for $39.99, I would not recommend Mortal Online 2 to anyone unless you are absolutely dying for a full loot open PvP MMORPG to play. And dying you will get – a lot.