Posted Thu, Mar 18, 2010 by Sardu
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As MMO gamers, we've come to take many things for granted when first embarking on a journey through a new title. But what happens if you were to remove some of the more commonplace things like an XP bar, character classes or even the option to play in third person? I discovered the answers to these questions and many more during my recent time spent in Mortal Online, a game which in many ways is like stepping into an MMOG for the first time again. We'll take a look at this plus links to the latest and greatest Ten Ton Hammer exclusives today in Loading... A Change in Perspective
You vote with what you view at Ten Ton Hammer, and the result is the Ten Ton Pulse (What is The Pulse?).
Here are today's top 5 Pulse results over the last week:
Biggest movers in the last seven days :
"What's the object of the game?"
"It's a mystery. It's almost like figuring out the object of the game IS the object of the game."
If you've been following Caprica, SyFy's newest excursion into the Battlestar Galactica universe, then the above quote may sound familiar to you. It comes from a recent episode when one of the principle characters makes her first trip to a place called New Cap City, which is a game of sorts that can be accessed through the series' virtual reality world, known simply as V-world.
While we're still a good few years away from that type of fully immersive massively multiplayer experience, some of the concepts present in New Cap City should be fairly familiar with most MMO gamers. For starters, it's a fully PvP world, and while no one seems to really know the exact object of the game they do, however, understand one key gameplay element: survival. You see, in New Cap City the death penalty can be pretty harsh. If your avatar dies there you're forced into a permadeath of sorts, never able to return so it's game over if you die.
Taking my first awkward steps into the Mortal Online open beta recently, many of these things sprang instantly to mind. Okay, maybe not the permadeath and fancy holographic world setting, but the idea of not really being sure what the object of the game is paired with a potentially harsh PvP environment were certainly present.
Character creation in Mortal Online offers players plenty of familiar elements such as the ability to make minor tweaks and adjustments to get your eyebrows looking just right. However, rather than picking a race or class and pressing a shiny red play button to dive into the game, instead you're able to customize your race by making a number of selections for your character's ancestry. Each of your decisions here will have some direct impact on your starting stats, as will the background you select. Background selection also helps determine which skills your character starts out with, though this is by no means locking you into any kind of predefined class role.
Logging into the game with my freshly minted Sarduccan character, I found myself stumbling around on a hillside just outside of one of the numerous starting villages. Unlike many MMOGs where hand-holding tutorials and breadcrumb quest lines are the rule, Mortal Online is very much a throwback to an earlier point in the industry's history where your first task wasn't to look for the closest yellow exclamation point on your minimap, but rather trying to figure out the basics. How do I fight? How do I interact with NPCs? Do I have any abilities, and if so where can I find them?
Thankfully the game does at least offer a small help section which is made obvious via an on screen prompt upon logging in. It only covers the basics like movement, combat and interaction controls, but it's enough for you to at least learn the essentials.
The game is also played entirely in first person, which is no doubt a help later on once you're more comfortable with the manual combat targeting, but it can be a bit disorienting at first if you're used to watching your character gracefully swing a sword from a bird's eye view. Well, that plus it ultimately doesn't matter how well you placed your eyebrows at character creation, since you're likely never going to personally see them while playing. And if another character is close enough to see them, they're no doubt trying to pick your pockets and steal what little you've managed to scrape up in the surrounding environments.
Because I like to explore a bit straight out of the gates to get a better sense of my environment, I ended up accidentally falling off of a small cliff which left me with only a few hitpoints. This wouldn't have been a huge deal, and was an important lesson of sorts, because that's when I learned that health doesn't automatically regenerate, but rather you need to use one of the healing skills tucked neatly away in your skill book. All fine and good, only you need specific reagents in your inventory to use any of your abilities and since you begin the game with little more than a cheap sword and rags on your back, that also means you'll need to find a means of either gathering the necessary reagents or purchasing them from a local vendor.
This is where the comedy relief of my awkward first attempts at combat comes in. Approaching a nearby weasel I drew my sword to attack, only the thing sprung into a tree and proceeded to bite me in the head which forced me into submission. In this state you're immobilized and basically on the brink of death, but after a short wait you're able to move again though you have to be careful as you'll only regain the bare minimum of hitpoints. I repeated this process of attack, submit, attack, submit until finally offing the offending weasel and scooping up the loot it was kind enough to offer me in a gore covered bag.
While my journey didn't end here, I should probably wrap things up for now. The main things I took away from my time in the Mortal Online open beta so far were enough for me to want to explore the game further. It's a very challenging game in many ways, and not one for the faint of heart. It also is very much in the realm of being an M rated game, complete with plenty of gore and nudity. But if you can manage to survive your initial experiences and learn the basics of skill progression, crafting and general survival in a harsh environment, there are plenty of cool concepts present in Mortal Online that make it worth a return trip.
Have you been playing Mortal Online? If so, be sure to share your own impressions of the open beta right here in the Loading… forums!
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- Reuben "Sardu" Waters
Ten Ton Hammer team