MortalOnline 2012-12-04 16-39-11-29

Mortal Online: Free to Play Review

Mortal Online is a fantasy sandbox MMORPG that recently made the jump from a subscription-based MMO to a free-to-play model. As MMOGames’ resident sandbox nut, I couldn’t resist the call and had to dive once again in to the world of Nave where almost anything goes.

Most MMORPGs begin with the creation of a character, a clean slate in which you can mould the looks, history, and details of your own virtual hero. Mortal Online is no different, although players will find themselves not only selecting from one of the ten available races, but creating their own unique bloodline which can hold ancestry from several races.

Different races have different perks – skills in which they are slightly more adept than other races – making your bloodline somewhat important to the type of character being created. Although appearances don’t come with much variety, character creation is simple, yet extremely flexible for those looking to tweak their character down to the very last stat.

One thing that remains absent from character creation is class selection, and that’s because Mortal Online features a skill-based progression system, you perform a task and you get better at it. In the style of Elder Scrolls, players can have a set of primary and secondary skills, with only a certain amount of skills capable of becoming primary skills.

Skills can be trained from 0 to 100, some skills are primary skills which can only be learned if you have enough room in your feeble little mind to store it. Characters can have a maximum of 1100 primary skill points before they must begin forgetting old skills to make room for others. Secondary skills have no limits, although aren’t quite as useful as primary skills.

The game continent of Myrland is quite large, scaling in at around 64 square kilometres it features a wide variety of geographical locations for the player to explore freely. New players must choose from one of several starting locations in the world, each location offering a different benefit such as protection or easy access to crafting resources.

From this point, players are given a tutorial on the basic mechanics of the game and then set off in to the world to live however they choose. This isn’t your traditional MMO, endgame isn’t defined by having the top gear or completing the most difficult dungeon – players define their own endgame, whether that be mighty warrior or humble farmer.

It’s not all smoke and mirrors either, players truly can decide exactly what they want their experience to be without the game pre-defining certain ways the game must be played. Mortal Online sits in a strange place halfway between hardcore PvP MMO and virtual life sim, players have a set of tools available that truly let them live a virtual fantasy life.

There’s a huge focus on immersion and realism that helps bring the world to life and allows players to build a virtual society with its own economy and politics. Things like no global chat, local chat that can only be heard within a certain distance, no global auction house, and a mail system that requires players to deliver the mail contributes to this immersion.

Living in one world, on one server means that you and the guild you associate yourself with gain a reputation, you become a part of this virtual society and will have a constant influence on its evolution and the events that are marked down in its history. Whether you and your friends decide to walk the path of  violence or peace, you will be met with a unique reaction that never ceases to amaze – the beauty of emergent gameplay.

Those who care little for the laws of the world and slay anyone for a small profit may log in one morning, walk out to the walls of their fortified village and find an army of raiding parties waiting with boulders and catapults ready to engage in all-out siege warfare. On the other hand a guild that contributes more positively to society may be met with prosperous trade and alliances with other guilds. You reap what you sow, as some might say.

How you make your way through each day can come down to your behaviour and the way you interact with others. You have to fight for everything in Mortal Online, through violence or hard work – a goal of many is to claim a piece of this continent to call their own, the ultimate goal. But as the example above, just because it’s yours doesn’t mean that others can’t take it all away from you. A good player knows the power of friendship.

That’s one of the fascinating things about Mortal Online, it possesses all the sandbox features you could want, player housing and villages, open world PvP, full-loot, and more but isn’t afraid to force you to deal with some of the struggles that come with this sort of freedom. Your house may be reduced to rubble, your village plundered, all your gear stolen and you just have to accept that – or get revenge on those assh*les., you do your own dirty work.

If it’s the life of living off of other people’s hard work you’re after, Mortal Online has an interesting take on the thief – offering several thievery based skills for players to master. Starting with snooping in peoples pockets, players can soon learn how to swipe items straight out of people’s backpacks, or break in to houses and steal from private stashes using an elaborate lockpicking system. Life as a thief generally means often deaths at the hands of guards and unhappy victims, but all it takes is to hit the jackpot once to keep you rich.

Those looking to pick on monsters rather than innocent players have a different feature waiting for them. PvE minded players haven’t been left out, and in-fact get to participate in some of the coolest parts of the game – unique events. Mortal Online has an actual timeline, and in this timeline events take place that go down in history – big battles against a previously unknown enemy or the discovery of a new animal never before seen.

These events aren’t like other MMOs however, they only happen once. Take part in a big battle against monsters, then months later tell the tale knowing that only you and your friends were there and perhaps were the one to stop the threat. The accomplishments of those within the world are recognised, because they have meaning – you aren’t doing the same things that everyone else has done, the game evolves and changes.

Mortal Online does have a few downfalls, its graphics definitely won’t be winning any awards, it’s controls can feel a little clunky until you work out its kinks, and there are some annoying bugs in the game. For some this will be enough to turn them away, however if graphics aren’t that important to you and you don’t mind looking pass a few bumps, there’s a truly addictive game waiting for you that provides a deep sandbox experience.

As a free-to-play sandbox MMORPG, Mortal Online offers you the ability to check out the game at your own leisure, only locking away thievery skills, capping all skills to 60 and disabling some rare and expensive items. No cash shop, no greedy tricks, just a free game that lets you play until you decide you are ready to finally subscribe and unlock the rest of your characters potential, or not – that’s why it’s free to play, and awesome.

As one last remark as to why I can easily praise this game – as I am sure there are those that are still skeptical – Mortal Online has a great team of developers behind it. Players can jump on the official IRC and will probably find the CEO of StarVault online and chatting with the community, freely discussing upcoming changes while also listening to the communities feedback and ideas. It’s hard to find companies that care that much about their game and its players. If you would like to try it out for yourself, don’t hesitate – head on over to the official site, register, and download the client - it may be just what you always wanted.