Mortal Online: A Review by an Experienced Player Pt 1
By Jordan Hall (ApocaRUFF), OnRPG Journalist
Editor’s Note: This review was actually completed 2 weeks prior to the announcement that Mortal Online was going F2P. As such there is no mention of it.
Mortal Online is a first-person, fantasy sandbox game attempting to recreate the freedom of Ultima Online and hopefully surpass it. As a sandbox, the tools and mechanics within the game are designed to give you as much freedom as you possibly can. At its core, Mortal Online is a MMORPG where you decide what you can and cannot do. It not only offers exciting combat, but also an in-depth crafting system with many professions that can use an untold number of combinations to create a plethora of items.
It is an ambitious game developed by a small Swedish company named StarVault. Due to the size of the company, development is not as fast as AAA developers such as Blizzard or SOE. Bugs are not squished as fast as they should because of the limited resources available to the team, and it takes a lot longer for new content to be added in. Despite this, Mortal Online has a following of hardcore fans who love the game. Sometimes this is manifested as tough love, but love none-the-less.
Mortal Online takes place on the planet Nave. Nave is a place similar to our own world, with many fantasy elements such as magick and mythical monsters added in. The land is full of dungeons to explore, ancient ruined cities and fantastical creatures to fight, tame, or dominate. You won’t just find mythical monsters, either. You will come across animals quite similar to the ones we find on Earth – such as springboks, wisents and weasels.
You come in to Nave as the remnants of the once-great Tindremic Empire are slowing falling apart. It is a time of shifting power, where new empires are born and bandits roam free. It is the perfect time to begin your own story in this world. Will you be a murderer, out for the thrill of the kill, or maybe a knight in a mighty kingdom? Perhaps you will be a master weapon smith, renowned for your high quality swords? In Nave, it is up to you to decide.
The graphics in Mortal Online are definitely amazing. The world is stunning and offers a lot of stuff to see. Using Unreal Engine 3, Grome and Speedtree, StarVault was able to achieve admirable things. Beautiful cities and towns dot the landscape of Myrland. I won’t go so far as to say the graphics are perfect – a few places in Nave could definitely use a touch-up.
Currently Myrland is the only continent released in Mortal Online, a 64km2 continent. It offers deserts, snowy mountains, dense jungles and open plains. You will find the keeps and homes of players all around the map. Unfortunately, Mortal is quite restrictive in what type of housing you can have. You are stuck with two styles for houses – A log house, or a stone Tindremic house.
As I mentioned, Mortal Online has a few areas that are not up to par with the rest of it, at least in terms of graphics. This is mostly in the area of textures. Finding areas where textures are stretched, or are just low quality, is not uncommon. Broken or thrown together models that just look shabby when up-close can be found. While these problems are not everywhere, I noticed that they were mostly within the walls of Tindrem. When you do come across one, it can kill the immersion. All together – despite a few downfalls, Myrland is a wonderful place to explore.
For the most part, the controls in Mortal Online are perfect. When you are on foot almost everything is fine. One area I felt they really needed to work on was how well the horses control. I just could not get over how bad the horses handled. It was a near constant headache trying to get them to go where I wanted. That is probably the only thing keeping Mortal from getting a good score in the area of controls.
Other than the above, Mortal has your usual MMORPG control scheme. WASD movement, P for character, K for skills and I for inventory. The Z key will release your mouse so you can interact with the user interface. Directional attacking and blocking is done by combining one of the movement keys with either the left or right mouse button. Left for attack, right for block. Sometimes these can feel a bit unresponsive but they are usually smooth. I actually enjoy the combat controls quite a lot.
No one can claim that Mortal Online has a shortage of features. Dozens of them currently in and dozens more planned for the future. In this area, I feel that StarVault has gone above-and-beyond and I have got to congratulate them on giving their players so much to do, no matter how buggy most of it can be.
Plenty of Races. Mortal Online offers ten races to choose from. You are also given the ability to mix bloodlines to create hybrid races. Perhaps you will blend the strength of a Thursar with the agility of a Khurite?
Full Loot FFA PvP. The world is a harsh place and death - while not the end - is unforgiving. You drop everything you have on you when you die and you won’t find protection anywhere except guarded towns – and even then you are not completely safe.
First-Person Real-Time Combat. If you want to do the most damage, aim your swings for the areas your enemy is least protected. That might be the head, or it could be their feet. Player skill determines how good you are at combat.
No Classes. Mortal is a skill-based game. Though a skill cap exists, there are no restrictions on what skills you can learn and train. Skills grow in power either passively – by reading skill books, or actively – by actually using the skill you are training.
Open World. Nave is big, and the only thing restricting you from seeing it all is your own will. You can see as far as the weather will allow, and you can get anywhere if you set your mind to it. No instancing exists within Mortal Online. It is all one big open world.
Near Limitless Crafting Possibilities. From mining the ore, to refining it to a metal, and then crafting it into a weapon or anything else, your imagination is the limit. You can pick herbs and plants, mine ores and minerals, and cut wood. Beyond just harvesting there are plenty of processing skills required to bring those raw materials to full fruition, whether for yourself or to sell to others.
Territory Control. If your guild manages to build a keep and break in to the game of war and politics called Territory Control, you can take control of areas of the world and set taxes and outlaw enemy players and guilds from your towns.
Mortal Online Offers an in-depth Hunger System. While starving your character will be at a serious disadvantage to a well-fed warrior. Food does not just give you an extra buff but it necessary to keep up with your fellow players.
Morality System. All players have a PvP Flag. Good players are marked with an alignment flag. Those who have recently committed a crime are marked as gray, and murderers are marked with red.
The list Goes On. I do not have enough room to talk about all the features, so I will briefly mention them here. Taming, dominating, fishing, siege warfare, player housing, magic, archery, melee, thieving, alchemy, a ghost realm, and more promised to come in the future.
As you might expect, Mortal Online takes customization to heart. When you go to make a new character, you start by choosing the race you want to be. You can mix the bloodlines, so you are not restricted to just the basic races. From there, you can choose looks, age, height, etc. You can then name your character with both a first and surname. Finally, you choose what city you want to start your adventures in.
The races you can choose from are as follows: Thursar, Tindremene, Khurite, Sidoian, Kallard, Sarducaan, Veela, Sheevra, Blainn, and Huergar. These races range from your average human, to elves, and dwarf-like. Each race has its own specialties and strengths. Unfortunately, certain races have dominated areas of game due to being leaps and bounds over other races at certain things. This is bad because it causes other races to be forgotten and takes away from your choices while making a character if you plan to keep up with everyone else.
Skills in Mortal Online play a big role in how you customize your character. Lots of skills are available to learn and more are planned to be added in the future. If you want to be a weapon smith, your skills and knowledge will be centered around the weapons you make and the materials you use. If you want to be a fighter, you will want to make sure your character knows how to run efficiently and how to use his weapon. Specialization is a big part of Mortal – the old saying, “A Jack of all trades, but a master of none, often better than a master of one.” does not apply here. Luckily, you can have three characters per account.
The community is a big part of the Mortal experience, as it is a very social game. You won’t be able to do everything yourself, so you will be relying on other people often. For the most part, the community of Mortal is decent. Definitely a bit of bitterness mixed in, though. And griefers do exist. Despite being in constant conflict, most people are friendly to each other and are welcoming of new players. If you are new, it is likely that you will receive free gear from veterans.
The people that play Mortal, while not the largest group, love their game. Sometimes they can be harsh towards the developers, or very critical of the game, but that is because they love them both and want them to succeed. The community of Mortal Online has stuck with it through thick and thin and deserve a bit of respect.
The community is pretty diverse. You have hard-core explorers, who thrive on discovery. You also have the PvP fanatics – split in to two groups: Random Player Killers and Anti-Random Player Killers. You also have the crafters who spend countless hours providing the citizens of Myrland with armor, weapons, potions, foods and everything else that can be made. Chances are, no matter your play style, you can find people who you fit with.
This is the end of PART 1 of the Mortal Online review. Please check out OnRPG tomorrow for the conclusion including gameplay, the new Mortal Online expansion - Awakening, and my final verdict on the game .