Diaries From Haven Island: Mortal Online 2

The second Mortal Online.

Disclaimer: We received a copy of Mortal Online 2 from Star Vault.

Writing an impressions piece on Mortal Online is a fate I don’t think I’d wish on my worst enemy and it’s not because the game is offensively bad, but because there is a hell of a lot to unpack. Mortal Online 2 is a slow game, like imagine you fed Napoleon Dynamite too many sleeping pills and washed it all down with Nyquil. It’s a hardcore full loot pvp that expects players to provide most of the content, and let’s be fair; a good portion of my audience reading this probably already has no intention of playing it and are just here to see how much I’m going to dunk on Star Vault. Either you’re already familiar with Mortal Online as a game or you were turned off when I said full loot pvp.

Mortal Online 2 is disgustingly complex, to the point where the game is overwhelming right from the character creation screen. When building your character you have to factor in not just their race, but their heritage, their age, their size, and some other sliders that determine your starting base stats and their maximum potential. If you’re the type that wants to specialize your expertise in a specific area, you’re going to have to do a lot of experimentation. Or hope that guide you’re reading is accurate.

I’d like to note for the record that this game will let you do pretty much anything. For poops and giggles I stuck about a thousand pieces of cotton into the cooking pot to see if the game would give me an error, and instead actually cooked the cotton. The end result was 249 pieces of inedible raw cotton and me looking like an absolute moron, although I could still eat the cotton if I wanted to and I’m fairly certain I could cook it better at higher skill levels. I’d still get sick. You can make a sword out of pork parts. It’s about as good as you’d expect a sword made of pork resin would be, but you can do it. I could also theoretically die, butcher my own corpse, and then make a weapon out of my own body parts while consuming a meal of my own flesh. There’s a lot of vomiting in this game.

For what it’s worth the tutorial that exists in Mortal Online 2 is extremely extensive. I learned how to gather materials, how to craft a sword, craft a shield, how to learn skills, how to use a bow, how to fight, how to butcher an animal, and more. The version of Mortal Online 2 that exists now is far more user friendly than its predecessor or even its earlier beta stage. I’d also be allowed to stay on Haven, the tutorial island, as long as I’d like, although only starter materials are on here.

One spot where Mortal Online gets daunting is in its skill system. There are a LOT of skills. Let me explain it with a real example; in killing a deer with my bow, my chat box notified me that I had leveled up in archery, ranged combat, combat manouvering, combat movement, combat technique, sprint, agility, athletics, momentum, footspeed, and endurance. Butchering the deer carcass gave me experience in keratin lore, extraction, caprinomorpha, zoology, flesh lore, horn lore, venison lore, skinning knife, mamalia, butchery, cetatiodactyla, pecora, skeleton lore, dental lore, and probably one or two other things I’m missing. Holy crap.

You have primary and secondary skills, which is very important when skilling your character because primary skills draw from a limited school of skill points where secondary skills do not. So skills like woodcutting and mining can be maxed out, as can breathing, jumping, and diving, without impacting your point pool. Sprinting however is a primary skill, and thus pulls from your pool. You can manually remove skill levels from primary skills to free points as well as locking them or setting other skills to pull from them, this doesn’t cost anything as far as I can see.

Some skills can be learned in the wild, while others require you to buy books. Most of the skills are explained on the skill page and their benefits are self-explanatory. Skill books unlock the skill and if you leave them equipped they will gradually gain residual skill points over time as well as raising your reading skill. I did discover a skill called “taste identification” that didn’t show up anywhere on my action or passive skill lists and I have no idea what it does, just that I level it up when I eat things.

Combat is a complicated song and dance involving direction-based attacks and blocking. It’s an easier system to figure out in PvE where your primary enemies are zombies and dumb animals, but since PvP is the real focus of the game, it makes your movements in combat against other players all the more important. Charged attacks do far more damage than clicking the mouse, and distance is a factor meaning if you hit someone too close you’ll just clock them with the handle of your sword.

For how ridiculously intricate the game is, the folks at Star Vault have put a fair amount of effort into making things more obvious. For example if you’ve seen a video by one Josh Strife Hayes on Mortal Online 2, he notes that the system is obtusely complex and menus don’t explain things. And he’s not wrong about it being obtuse, but the game does explain itself far better than it used to (when he previewed it).

You now start out with one or two crafting styles so the tables aren’t blank off the bat. Books for instance now include tooltips before you buy them letting you know if you’re missing a requisite skill or if the book is useless (as you’ve out-leveled it). An NPC points me toward the library at the north end of Haven to find books.

Star Vault seems more eager to make Mortal Online 2 accessible to a wider group, although the box price plus subscription seems to point to them making sure it is what the base wants first and foremost. The open world PvP and looting is balanced out by the fact that decent gear is rather easy to replace if you lose it, and players have a habit of hunting down random gankers. It’s also a really good looking game.

I’ll have more to say after today’s launch goes up where the game is set to receive a pretty substantial update. These were my impressions from the tail-end of the beta on the tutorial island.

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