Mortal Online Analysed

Star Vault, developer of upcoming MMO ‘Mortal Online’, has released a presentation revealing some key facts about the game, highlighting the main differences between it and other well-known MMOs such as World of Warcraft.

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The aim of the lengthy presentation is set out right at the beginning: to make it perfectly clear that Mortal Online is no generic MMORPG:

“We would like you to please forget your preconceptions of MMORPGs. Mortal Online deviates from most modern fantasy MMO’s, and although it contains a lot of elements from let’s say World of Warcraft or Age of Conan, the playing experience is very, very different from those games.”

We’ve heard this claim from plenty of other game developers in the past, and sometimes we’ve even believed it, until we find ourselves in the game looking at the same UI, same mini map, same taskbar and so on. However, as the presentation goes on it becomes clear that Star Vault isn’t just full of hot air. For instance, Mortal Online has no levels, no experience points, no quests, no 3rd person view, no global chat, no minimap, no instances and no dragons that drop swords.

What does that leave  for the game then? Player housing, for one thing. The Mortal Online world, Nave, doesn’t have instances so these houses will spring up wherever players chose to build them, in true sandbox style. Star Vault state that Nave will be a very barren place to begin with, but it will populate over time as villages are formed by the community. Houses can be extended and even turned into shops with the addition of a vendor, or a guild headquarters and later a castle, if there is enough space in the surrounding area.

Star Vault hopes this dynamic environment will encourage player interaction. Trade will be a huge part of the game, as every single usable item in Mortal Online can be crafted. The crafting system is huge, and recipes or plans can be learnt by finding the items in the world, or researching, not just by training from an NPC. 

An example of the crafting system is given; To make a sword, players need to first make a head –  there are about 50 heads, 20 of them are sword type blades. Players must then choose from up to 40 materials such as iron, copper, bone etc. to make the blade from. Then for the hilt –  there are around 30 different handle shapes, allowing the creation of glaives, halberds or polearms as well as swords. Some of these handles can be used on their own as a staff or club. Handles have a core and a grip, so players need to chose from 20 materials for each of those. The quality of the finished weapon also depends on many variable factors, such as the quality of the materials and the skill of the crafter. Are you wondering roughly how many  possible weapon combinations that makes? 142,662,744, according to the presentation.
Specialisation in crafting and other skills allows players to see greater information about certain items. For example, anyone will be able pick a flower they find, but to the untrained, the flower may simply appear as a “Red Flower” in their inventory. To someone who is trained in botany though, the correct name and properties of the plant will be shown. The greater their skill, the more properties they will see. The same goes for weapons. A sword will show as ? damage to a character with no skill in swordsmanship, but a high skill will provide much greater information such as damage types and speed.

PvP and combat is a major part of Mortal Online too, and a number of features should make it a new experience for many people. The fixed first person view will make combat more realistic, claim Star Vault, accompanied by other effects. Combat will certainly be more of a challenge in this game than others; there is collision detection, no targeting, and characters have several hitboxes which must be aimed for. A hit to an arm may make a character drop their weapon, a hit to the head may make them fall. A strike to certain hitboxes will also affect the armor in that area. Shields may be used to block attacks, but they must also be aimed – it does a player no good to simply have a shield equipped.

The ability to attack anyone anywhere in Mortal Online also makes friendly fire an issue. If an axe is swung in a tight group of players, friends may well take damage along with the enemy. At this point, many of you may be thinking Mortal Online sounds like a haven for ‘griefers’, however, anyone planning to go around killing innocents will soon find themselves flagged as a murderer, resulting in guard NPCs attacking them on sight. That’s nothing new of course, anyone who has played an MMO has probably been on the receiving end of a guard bashing at some point, but death in Mortal Online isn’t a simple matter of a trip through black and white land to your corpse. If a character dies, anyone can loot their corpse, relieving them of everything; armour, weapons and loot.

Items are handled in a different way to most MMOs too. There are no levels, so armour and weapons have no level restrictions, but a character must train skills to be able to use items efficiently. There are over 100 primary action skills to chose from such as swordsmanship and magic types, and almost 1,000 sub-skills connected to these. These sub-skills do no affect combat directly like the primary skills, but they allow a character to be better at things such as repairing armour or certain weapons, or enabling them to use of a wider range of a weapon type. The sub-skills are improved by practice and training over a long period.

Characters can only have a certain number of primary skills active at a time. Players can swap these whenever they like, and any sub skills connected to the previous primary skills will be retained if the player wants to change back again.

Another fairly unique feature in Mortal Online is the blood mix system. When creating a character, players may choose to mix different races from one species. In addition to this, there will be the usual character customisation choices, which include picking a face, hair, beard, tattoos and skin color, as well as manipulation of different facial features. Players will also have to decide on an age and body size; these, alongside the race, will have an impact on the character’s attributes.
Mortal Online differs from other games when it comes to mounts too. The game will not feature any ‘pocketable’ horses, instead, they will be creatures in their own right and can be stolen or killed, or simply wander off by themselves. On the plus side, mounts can be trained and outfitted to make them more efficient in battle. An important feature of the game is that characters will be able to carry out all normal combat abilities within reason while mounted, such as firing a bow or swinging a sword. This means players can enjoy the speed and added damage of a warhorse under them during a fight, however they should also remember these creatures are vulnerable, and can be harmed by others.

Players will be able to buy mounts from vendor NPCs, or hunt down wild animals to train themselves. The taming process is challenging, but it can also be another way to make money.

The world of Nave is seamless, and players are not blocked from any areas. The continent,  Myrland, is 64Km squared not including caves, mines and dungeons. As mentioned before, there is no minimap in the game, so it is quite possible to get lost. Map making is a profession though, so maps can be bought from other players for a price.

Star Vault warns players not to expect the usual end game grind found in other MMOs. Instead of killing the same boss 100 times and perhaps dying once or twice, players should find these statistics reversed. Mortal Online will feature no re-spawning bosses, but there will be one-time encounters that will really challenge players; all notable NPCs and creatures in the game can be controlled by GMs and developers. Players are also told not to expect enemy NPCs to act as they do in other games. Dynamic behaviour means that if mobs are outnumbered or are timid creatures, they may flee instead of attacking.

After sitting through the full presentation, it’s clear to see that if Star Vault can pull this off, Mortal Online will truly be a unique experience. The game won’t be for everybody, that’s for sure. The “attack anyone anywhere” format will put some casual players off, but hardcore PvPers and anyone who enjoys a real challenge from their MMO should find something to amuse themselves.

Mortal Online will be subscription based, and is currently in the closed beta stage of testing. It is expected to go on sale this summer. The presentation described in this article can be downloaded from the official Mortal Online site. Be sure to check back here at IncGamers for a hands-on report in the coming weeks.

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Paul Younger
Founder and Editor of PC Invasion. Founder of the world's first gaming cafe and Veteran PC gamer of over 22 years.