Mortal Online has recently announced a 14-day trial offer. I followed the game during it’s development and even tested it in the beta, but got turned off by its inaccessibility (and probably by the multitude of other games). I decided to give this sandbox MMO another go and I’ll be trying to keep a regular diary of my exploits. Here is the first installment of what could alternatively be titled “Running, running and more running”.
A bit about the game first. MO is the first game by a small swedish developer Star Vault. It has a small but dedicated playerbase and seems to be doing quite well. The trial coinciding with Rift headstart is a pure coincidence in my opinion, since the players who like Rift most likely won’t be fans of MO, and vice versa. MO is certainly a niche game not for the faint of heart or carebears. It boasts a realistic world with a flagging system that allows PvP anywhere, real-time first person combat, full loot, full frontal nudity, no maps, no taxis, no levels, just a world to explore and fight over.
Star Vault have stated several times that the game is so inaccessible on purpose, that learning is a big part of the game and something that increases the player immersion immensely. And indeed, without a leveling system apart from the skills, the biggest contributing factor to how well you do is how much you know of the world you are in. This isn’t an MMO where you can expect to recognise most of the systems and features immediately upon entering. As a newbie you will be helpless and vulnerable as a kitten, but will gain power every time you learn something new, which is exactly what makes this game special.
It didn’t take me long after entering the game to remember the familiar elements of the game. The plain compass, skill bar, robust but functional looking chatbox and a unitframe that gives you the bare minimum of information. Indeed, being conservative seems to be the name of the game. After a few chats with the nearby NPCs and after finding an axe and a worn shortsword in my inventory I decided it’s time to explore. First order of the day was looking around the village I chose as a starting area. I talked to some more NPCs, noted how many typos there seemed to be in their speech, learned to swing a sword, gather resources and craft, noted the location of the priest (which turned out to be of immense importance later on) and tried to steal a horse. It didn’t work because it was a horse of an NPC and aptly named Sodoff on top of it. At least I didn’t get killed by the guards for trying.
After figuring out that running only really works in combat mode, since that’s when you are actually walking, I creeped out of the village and set my sight on a suitable tree nearby. A few axe swings later and several skill gains I felt like my destiny held more than being a lumberjack. And because I learned how to tame animals from a creepy looking nearby NPC, I decided to get myself a pet. The first animal I encountered was a weasel. The most noble of animals I decided and immediately attempted to tame the nearest one. It turned out that weasels aren’t particular fans of (what they would perceive as) slavery because it attacked me. Convincing him that I will provide him with food and shelter proved futile and despite repeatedly trying to calm it down it kept ravaging my toes. I failed to tame him several times but I figured I can just keep trying since the weasel was barely scratching me and because I could put him down at any time, should I wish to. After several failed attempts I decided that I don’t like the color of its pelt anyway and tried to dispose of him. But because I was incredibly rusty with the old swing-your-weapon-and-hit-the-enemy system and having equipped only an axe crafted for chopping wood I failed to hit him even once. My life draining away from me I slunk to my knees, begged for mercy and surprisingly, the weasel let me live. No doubt it was an act of showing utter superiority rather than mercy, but I was glad I didn’t have to experience dying yet. I kept wondering how many noobs that weasel has killed before me. He was a fine warrior and a worthy opponent, even with that smug look on his face.
Having survived the encounter I was left with barely a sliver of life in me, which meant I needed to rest. This turned out to be an incredibly inefficient way of regaining health, as it took me nearly 10 minutes of sitting down and watching the grass grow to heal up completely. However, resting can be increased in proficiency the more you use it (if that’s so I’m a professional rester irl), a system that works with all skills, even jumping and running. Which meant that resting later turned into a short rest instead of the falling asleep situation that happened the first time.
Fully rested I decided it’s time to go exploring. Having skipped the tutorial on mining I thought that the best way of getting suitable rock to mine was heading into the mountains. This turned out to be surprisingly boring because there was nothing but un-minable rock to be explored every way I turned. Having finally found some suitable rock (that was no different from the one in the valley) I mined my heart out. Which meant that I was mining for a good minute, got bored and wandered off. Since following the plateau I found myself on would most likely get me increasingly further away from the starting village and because of the fact that I couldn’t kill a weasel I got scared and promptly descended back into the valley.
During my descent I noticed an unusual rock formation down in the valley below, which made my mining sense tingle and encouraged me to investigate. It turned out that the rock was surrounded by wolves, which is never a healthy environment to be in for a someone who almost got slain by a weasel. But in a sudden spur of courage (no doubt induced by the promise of shinies from mining) I equipped my shortsword and set on the nearest wolf that was barring my way. I’m sure you can imagine it didn’t go so well. If I had only considered the prospect of someone dressed in rags trying to kill a wolf with only a shitty shortsword, I would have been able to predict the outcome.
It turns out wolves aren’t nearly the good sports the weasels are so I spent the next 20 minutes running back to the village in spirit form, finding a priest, resting and running back to fetch my things (they dropped on the ground for anyone to loot them – presumably the wolf). After a good amount of dodging wolves to get my stone and wood back I saw an opening. The rock could be mined if I was careful. So I creeped over and attempted to do some silent and sneaky mining. It turns out you can’t really mine sneakily, but it also turns out that wolves can’t see very far and can’t smell or hear much either. Success! The mining yielded rocks! I was shocked. The rock was apparently the same rock you can find anywhere, only that it wasn’t covered in moss. Oh dear. To add insult to injury, not one, but two wolves set their sights on me and one very futile display of running away later I was running back to the village as a spirit.
But that didn’t dampen my spirit. Wolves are formidable enemies I learned. I will just need to avoid them for now. While contemplating my next move and resting at the very slope I descended from earlier I noticed another newbie dressed in rags aggro a wolf. Apparently he had help because a guy in proper armor and wielding a warhammer tried to help him. When I say tried, I mean danced around him trying to kill the wolf but not the noob, which can be tricky when both are running in circles. After the veteran got a hit off and got aggro of the wolf they both ran for the hills, literally, as they ran past me the way I came from, up into the mountains. A bit later I saw the wolf running back. Ah, the standard MMO system where the mob disengages after a while and returns to its spawning point, I thought. Only that MO isn’t a standard MMO and the wolf was trekking right past where I was resting. I guess it remembered the taste of my flesh because it stopped returning to where it was originally and decided to eat me instead. Cue running in circles and dying.
At this point the wolf was my mortal enemy. I decided to go make myself a weapon and some armor and exterminate the bastards. After reclaiming my valuables (some stone and wood) I trodded off to the weasel part of the wood because I prefer being given the chance to choose life over death after being shamefully defeated. My initial plan of chopping some more wood to make armor out of was sidetracked by the bitter memories of my first defeat (surely the first of many) as soon as I saw the first weasel. But because I am a hero in making I made a plan to overcome my traumatic experience by taming one of the bastards. I thought that practicing taming on a suitable target might be a good idea. Several minutes spent futilely chasing after rabbits (the damn buggers are faster than a horse, I swear it) I gave up. In anger and frustration I equipped my sword and set on the nearest weasel. I butchered it with ease and looted it’s carcass. What a relief. As an improvised therapy I butchered a few more of the bastards, chopped some wood and set back to the village.
It turns out no one wants to buy weasel carcasses. What a shame. So I tried making something out of the materials I gathered. Apparently, what I had mined was some sort of gravel, rather than stone. And you can’t make a weapon out of gravel, or so the game told me. And neither can you make an armor out of wood. Defeated, I tried one last thing. I tried making a wooden hammer. And it worked! With my new hammer in hand I deposited the weasel carcasses in my vault, along with the gravel no merchant wanted to buy and set out to fulfill my goal of taming a weasel. Hopefully the weasel-kind have forgotten about my slaughtering heaps of their kin.
They didn’t. I tried and tried but the weasels firmly resisted all my charms and all my attempts were in vain. The otherwise peaceful enslaving process turned into another killing spree. I didn’t get killed by them, but it certainly wasn’t for the lack of trying, feisty little bastards. By the time I was attempting my twentieth tame (I swear I tried it at least 30 times in total) it was so dark that I couldn’t even find the weasels in the grass, let alone chase after them. I decided it’s time to call it a day and continue my efforts tomorrow.
I ended the day a cart full of gravel, some wood, a wooden hammer, a heap of weasel remains richer and a lot more experienced. Although still wearing rags I was no longer a helpless newbie, for I had a wooden hammer and I was known far and wide as the slayer of weasels. Not sure how any of that is going to help me tame one, but I will not give up hope. The exploits continue tomorrow.