By Darren Henderson (DizzyPW)
Recently I sat down for lunch with the PR crew at Webzen to get a hands-on taste of their upcoming mobile MMORPG launch, Mu Origin. It seems to be the big trend in the industry right now for Asian companies to push their flagship PC MMO title out into the wild world of mobile to capture a new market. Each iteration we’ve come across has found varying levels of success, though the core concept of the game has fallen short. However in the case of the isometric beat em up that is Mu Online, the conversion to mobile is smoother than most. Essentially it is a straight up port, bringing a solid 95% of the original game playability with it in a 1:1 comparison with its predecessor. Let’s dive into Mu Origin.
Mu Origin is not some random mobile game with a skin splashed onto it like Forsaken World Mobile. It’s not a popular mobile game twisted to match the source material like what Snail did with Age of Wushu Mobile being built to near perfectly match Taichi Panda. Honestly Mu Origin feels exactly like Mu Online, just with a sleeker user interface and touch controls. Which is a huge improvement in my book. Combat and navigating menus alike feels much more intuitive with touch controls, and the larger menu items ensured I wasn’t straining my eyes to exhaustion despite dealing with a smaller screen.
Zoom capabilities allow me to appreciate the beauty of my character (not to mention their GM tier overpowered wings, as the Mu wing system is here in all its glory!), their fashion and armor, and their abilities in action. Or I could zoom out plenty far to keep an eye on my party members in the 3 player dungeon run instances being showcased. I have to say that while likely not noticed by most press that go hands-on with the game, the level of zoom offered is likely one of the key make or break points on Mu Origin. The mobile version is bringing all the classic competitive open world PvP and open world battlegrounds with objectives you’d expect of its PC counterpart. So being able to see a rival incoming with enough time to react and counter-attack is absolutely vital to enjoying Mu Origin to the fullest. And they’ve done just that.
Alas with different control schemes and interface comes complex balancing issues. Issues that can also make or break a real-time MMORPG like Mu Origin. So they’re keeping it simple for now with three classes (there were others present on their personal build but I imagine they don’t want me publicly ruining their big reveal!). The Dark Knight and Dark Wizard are present to fill the tanky melee physical and squishy long ranged magic archetypes. Plus there is a sexy Elf to bring in the heavy single target focused damage vital to tactical group PvP as well as major bosses when dungeon running. Furthermore, each class offers a perfect trio of passive buffs to their allies to make partying up very encouraged whenever possible. Which brings me to my last point…
MMORPGs these days are dying out because so many of us (particularly us western worlders) just don’t have the time to sit still for hours on end in front of a PC. Hell that’s what most of us are doing to make a living in the work force, so it isn’t our ideal source of enjoyment during our few hours offline. But now that Mu Origin is bringing the concept of fully fleshed out MMORPGs complete with auction houses, detailed class skill trees, crafting, and the like to the forefront of the free to play mobile market, we’re hard pressed to shun these mobile games as casual cheese any longer.
Now we have the freedom to pick up our phone and connect with friends from around the world while taking a fifteen minute break at a Starbucks. This opens a whole new world of possibilities for the older MMO enthusiasts out there that simply have not had the time to be an MMO enthusiast any longer. MU Online clearly has captured the attention of millions of players around the world over its long history. Mu Origin has already shown the same levels of success in Korea and China. So put aside your bias against mobile and give Mu Origin a shot when it arrives. You can pre-register now to help get the community some sweet goodies come launch as well. http://muorigin.webzen.com/en/events/pre-register It will be available on iOS and Android, so even if your friends are in a bitter phone rivalry with you over the supreme brand, you can still come together to smoke the peace pipe through Mu.
One of our mobile reviewers will be sinking more serious time into Mu Origin in the near future to see at length if it delivers on its promises. Keep an eye out for our full review soon!