Move Along, Nothing To See Here.

Disclaimer: This is not a review. If you like Mortal Online, please feel free to stop reading right now. Really. You won’t hurt my feelings. I promise. Also, this is not a “Leslee Plays” type of post. I’m not attempting to write a story about the game from my avatar’s point of view. Instead, this is an actual account of what happened to me during the first 2 hours of play.

Trust me, I couldn’t make this stuff up if I tried.

Mortal Online is a new MMO by Swedish developer Star Vault. It is a first-person, open-world, sandbox-style game that uses the Unreal Engine. The “Unreal” part means your avatar is guaranteed to be uglier than a half-orc with a bad haircut and a Botox addiction.

Want proof? Here ya go…

During the character creation process your avatar is naked. This lack of clothing might make more sense if it wasn’t for the fact that the only customizable features besides hair style/color and skin tone are cheeks, eyes, mouth, ears, and 2 separate sliders for the nose and eyebrows. Yeah. My character’s junk is swinging in the breeze while I’m fiddling with the slider for his nose bridge? Must be a Swedish thing…

Once you’ve finished the creation process and selected your character’s ‘background’ (which determines what professions you have access to), you are unceremoniously deposited into the game world.

Did I say “deposited”? Make that dropped on your ass in the dark with nothing but a half-written owner’s manual and a rusty sword that you can’t figure out how to use. The game has realistic day and night cycles. If you are unlucky enough to enter the game during a night cycle, you must stumble around in the dark until you find a lit area. Or you fall and break your neck. Whichever comes first.

I eventually met a friendly German player who was willing to help me rather than using me for target practice. (Did I mention that this game is PvP-centric with corpse looting? Yeah, it’s one of those.) He kindly offered to show me the way to the nearest city where I could purchase a torch from an NPC. There was only one problem with this plan:

I never did find the city or the torch-selling NPC. Instead, I walked, and walked, and walked until the virtual sun finally began to show over a horizon. With no in-game map or compass I had no way of knowing from which direction the sun rose. Could have been north, for all I knew. There were also no road signs or points of reference. Eventually I couldn’t even find any fellow players – friendly or otherwise.

After digging around through several layers of poorly labeled interface windows, I discovered that my character had the ability to tame wild animals. This led to Gary the Attack Gazelle.

Gary was supposed to be able to attack or defend on command. Unfortunately, due to server lag or AI pathing issues, he couldn’t go more than 100 yards before resetting to his original position. I suppose I should have named him Gary the Boomerang Gazelle.

After a couple of hours of this torture masquerading as a game, I finally gave up. Although I can appreciate the concept of a class-less, level-less, build-you-own-destiny type of game, the complete lack of objectives, goals or narrative is incredibly unrewarding to me. Yes, I’ve heard the argument that this type of game allows the player to construct their own story. But without a more defined framework and set of tools for the player to use, the ‘story’ becomes more Homer Simpson than Homer’s Iliad.

I never did find a torch. D’oh!


6 Responses to “Move Along, Nothing To See Here.”

  1. […] and I savaged Champions Online, they are nowhere near the bottom of the MMO barrel. Check out this visit to Mortal Online via Serial MMOgamy. Actually, read the last few entries. Leslee plays a lot of esoteric MMO games and it’s […]

  2. Yeesh… sounds like a particularly strong brand of stupid. This kind of reminds me of the coverage of Wurms online at RockPaperShotgun… it’s worth checking out (or at least reading RPS’ coverage) if you have yet to visit that particular brand of stupid (though based on the RPS report, it’s far less bozo the clown and far more lord of the flies).

  3. acronix says:

    I wonder if the game was named “Mortal” to express the possibilities of players killing theirselves after banging their heads on the keyboard if played for too long.

  4. The Magnificent Zhang says:

    Waaaaay back in the days of EverQuest, the day/night cycle and lighting effects added a nice layer of realism to the game. If you were human or another race that lacked some type of night-time vision, you better plan your cross-county trip accordingly or else you would find yourself in the Plains of Karana in utter darkness. And the cheaper the lightsource, the smaller the pool of light in which you could see. So you could not see that charging griffin coming at your character until it was just toooo late! Good times. 🙂

  5. […] be fair, Face of Mankind is a sandbox game, which I have been known to struggle with before. Unlike my previous experiences, at least FOM has a tutorial section that teaches you the […]

  6. […] games enforcing a certain level of modesty on character customization, otherwise you end up with something like this. But the difference in body coverage seen in Champions’ character models is egregiously […]

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