Mortal Online Review: First Impressions

Posted by on September 5, 2011 - 46 Comments »

The last time I set foot in the lands of Mortal Online was back during its open beta testing phase where I was ultimately disappointed with the progress of the game and lack of content so near to launch. A little over a year later and after the release of its first expansion, Dawn, I return to see how the game has changed and evolved in our Mortal Online first impressions review.

Starting off with character creation, which has remained relatively unchanged from what I saw in open beta, I created my character selecting a mix of two of the four races available, creating a bit of a hybrid character. After I distributed my stat points, I selected a starting location and logged in. There I was presented with a game intro help menu and a few NPCs standing next to me to help me get started on my journey.

The Dawn expansion was supposed to revamp the intro help menu and provide newbies, like myself, with a lower initial learning curve to get started, however the new tutorial system really gave me no extra info then the old one, which is also still available in game. The new system does however give you pop-up “tips” as you progress, so it’s a little better.

After reading through the tutorial tips, I walked up to the various NPC standing in front of me to see what they have to offer. One was a tutor, so I was able to learn my first crafting skill, teaching me how to use my pick axe to mine and chop trees for wood. One was a “helpful man”, that was actually his title, and basically regurgitated some of the same info from the tutorials, then there were two vendors, which were of no use to me as I had no money.

That was all the guidance I got, so the next move was for me to figure out what I wanted to do. Since my only equipment was a old rusty short sword, a pick axe and rags, I decided I needed to get some money so I can buy some respectable gear to wear. Since my skills were non-existent I knew going out to kill things was out of the picture so I decided to go look for more tutors around the city and acquire additional crafting skills.

As I began to walk around, I quickly noticed my character was slow as if I stepped in gum with both feet and when I tried using my endurance to run, I would only be able to for about 10 feet before becoming completely exhausted. And forget about jumping, even though my guy wasn’t white, I was only able to get about 2 inches off the ground and after two jumps in a row my endurance would be completely drained. I was having issues jumping onto stairs, I could walk on them, but I couldn’t jump up them.  Even a minor bump that was 6 inches I couldn’t jump over and would have to find stairs or another entrance to get around.

My character now has about 150 skill points in walking, sprinting, endurance, athletics and jumping, so it’s not that bad anymore, however it’s just a horrible first impression for new players.

Mortal Online contains no archetypes such as a Mage, Paladin, Rogue, etc so players can build their characters anyway they like by simply using those skills. The more often a skill is used, the more it builds up gaining skill points, so as I ran and jumped around, those skill points naturally went up. Players are also able to stop certain skills from progressing and can even subtract skill points from one skill to open up those points for another.

Because of my character’s walking/running speed, it took me about two hours just to explore the city and find where things were, so I got to take in the views. One of Mortal Online’s biggest strengths is its graphics, which run on the Unreal Engine. The game is stunningly beautiful and has tremendous views. The above image isn’t even on the game’s highest settings.

While beautiful, the city was a ghost town in terms of NPCs. There were barely any, maybe around 15-20 in the entire city, so it made it difficult to find useful NPCs. While I don’t expect there to be hundreds, it just gave off a feeling that the city was empty.  I would look around, see a huge building in the distance only to see an empty room when I got there. With the game being over a year old, I wasn’t expecting to see as many empty buildings as I did in beta.

As I explored the city I found a extractionist tutor and learned a new crafting skill. I ended up taking the few pieces of rock I had mined earlier and turned it into a powder, which I then sold to a vendor. I couldn’t just sell the mined rock because raw materials are valueless to vendors, so I first had to do something to it such as refine or extract it to give it some value.

I then realized I’m going to have to do a crap load of crafting to get enough money to buy anything, so I decided it was time to head out of the city and see if there was anything near by that was more valuable. I saw a signpost that said “Graveyard” so I figured why not go there. This lead me out of the city by the way of a massive wooden step structure that ran along the cliff, again with a breathtaking view.

As I made my way down, I crossed a bridge where I saw some pigs running around. So I thought it was time to test out my combat skills.  I whipped out my short sword and began chasing the pigs around swiping at them, but only connecting one out of three times on average.  I ended up killing two of them, which gave me quite a bit of meat. I saw someone approach me, decked out in armor, and since I didn’t want them to kill me and steal my hard earned pig meat, I ran back up the stairs and into the city where I would be protected by the city guards.

I found a storage vendor, placed my items in there, and went back out of the city for more. This time I noticed a fog and saw a skeleton walking around. I hesitated for a momemt, but decided to attack and see if I could kill it. It turns out it was a big mistake as I barely got any health off of it before it killed me.

When you die in Mortal Online, your corpse remains on the ground, lootable by anyone, and you enter the neither world.  To get back, you need to find a priest which is marked by a giant glowing light from the sky to the ground. There was one in front of me in the distance, so I starting running towards it and as I got near, I fell off a massive cliff and landed next to the priest and into another small city. Since I had nothing on my corpse except a short sword and pick axe, I didn’t need to go back to retrieve anything as you can’t lose those items.

In the new city I found a thief tutor, which taught me some skills to steal from people, but overall it was the same as the previous city. A lot of empty building with only a few NPCs here and there.

Mortal Online still has no map and probably never will, but with the Dawn expansion, they finally added the first piece of navigation to the game, a compass which you can see in the top right. While it’s something, I’d still love to see a rudimentary map that just lays out where the cities, rivers and mountains are. Really anything just to give you an idea of where the major areas of the game are.  At lease sign posts to point people in the right direction.

While there have been some improvements since open beta and some noticeable new content, it’s still not what I was expecting from a game that’s over a year old and released their first expansion almost 3 months ago. And it’s definitely not any friendlier to beginners. Between the slow movement speed and the complete lack of navigation, I would suspect most people would quit within the first hour due to frustration. I know that Mortal Online is supposed to be a pure sandbox MMORPG,  but that doesn’t mean it has to be difficult for beginners.