Friday, August 2, 2013

AU 1 - Mabinogi Noob Review

Where to start? How about back in the day when the MMORPG market was on the verge of exploding. I had just gotten sick of my WoW addiction and had puchased the only other popular "online role playing game" Guild Wars 1. Everyquest was out and a handful of new titles were creeping their way on the market. Nexon had Mabinogi out there. I installed it. PLayed for two days uninstalled. My reasoning back then was "it was not WoW or GW, I needed faster paced rewards!". All this before I ever heard the word "Sandbox" in mmorpgs. In fact the mmorpg market, for me, was defined by WoW (and apparently still is).

Mabinogi fell off my radar and I will be testing several hundred mmorpgs up to this day. I have been in the whirlwind of all these theme parks such as RIFT, TERA, Secret World etc. I tried some more dedicated grinders such as AION, Cabal, etc.. I have been in the world of Anime such as Eden Eternal, "Saga" this and that, Grand Fantasia, etc.. I sort of defined myself as some one that did not like mindless grind (PW, etc.), and or anime, mostly because killing jelly blobs for hours just would not cut it for me in most these games. Rarely did I find an adult anime mmorpg (DN, Rusty hearts, and one other come to mind, but the styles were not fully MMORPG).

That said, I NEVER thought I would return to a game lile Mabinogi. ESPECIALLY after playing games testing out the camera combat like TERA. But that will all change because I had been burned out on all the said titles above. I play TERA to end game and the question is lingering as I read these articles about up coming mmorpgs: "Our's will feature better crafting than your current mmorpg" - "Ours will feature better non tab targeting than your mmorpg" - "our new title will feature full weather systems" - etc etc etc.. All these titles on the verge of OB or CB all promising ONE major point. It is like we have to hop MMORPG's to get fulfilled in one way or another. I play TERA for the combat, AION for the PvP, and RIFT for the housing... This is MADNESS! Why can't any one just put all the good features in one game.
I recently read that Mabinogi was getting two large updates to it's story line. Interested, I went to and looked at the Mabi site. The community all commented: "I have been playing for years, and still new things to discover!" "despite this default of (X X X) this game is so big, really F2P, I am always happy to return". Ok, hell. Right now the market is stale. I have tested and tried almost all the new F2P titles, the old ones are getting allot of updates lately (Cabal, etc.) and now that I am well versed in "sandbox" and other types of mmorpg approaches, why not give this game a try. Worst, I hate it and write a bad review about it.
Before I begin here are the cheap ways to pre-judge this game. I know because I did it for sooo long:
1) There are 100's of trolled reviews out there. Before installing I cross referenced other sites and comments. Allot of people gave it it's due credit, and allot just trolled and whined about features, and over complained about bugs that do not exist; or that existed in OB. So, still on the fence I just dived in.
2) It is anime looking, it is Nexon. The first point is hard to get over and always avoided "cutesie" games. This game definatly presents itself this way. One thing that made me go ahead and install was that with further research and youtube videos, I was seeing dragon fights, zombie fights, and other less cutesie features and more things I could handle.
3) Nexon. It has that reputation of being THAT company. I did research and it seems most of it's worries come from that 1% population that did wierd things like spend 1,000 dollars on items, spread over multiple games characters and accounts, then whine when one game took up credits from another from what he though was a bug, so he sends a ticket in and US Nexon ALWAYS sends it to KOrea fist...And since he did not get a response right away, he QQ'd....yeah...that kind of stuff is what generally creates rumors "of bad company". I will find out it is not that bad. The system works, I already changed my older accounts pass words security, and have a great community welcome. Any game can leave us victim. It is called business. No perfect model exists.
I played this game because it seemed to have so many features that other games were tickeling us with. Was it possible to juggle all these features successfully? Join my noob quest to find out!

(The joy's of being a noob include all your dead pets. Even the flying rug is dead.)

Installation and Character Creation: I throw in installation because it was something that stood out for me. The game installed fine as usual on my windows 7. It is an older game so runs fine on windows xp etc. The game starts up and you log in as normal, then shoots you to a window with another password sign in. If you are returning and forget what this is, it is your second password. IT is explained to new players, but I was returning and had no idea what this window was, and thought it was a bug. I easily reset it on my account profile, and logged in. Just wanted to throw that out there.
Once in, character creation seems very simple. Especially with the anime like faces. You chose round hand drawn looking features, most of them "premium" account. But what you get for free is enough to get going (also it can all be changed in the game..more on that later). I want to note also, I thought for sure this would be a game of clones. I was wrong, and I read this in a forum post also: So much diversity in clothing, accessories, armors, builds, that you will have a hard time finding a clone. I found this to be true and it is a joy to run across other players to see how much different they actually are!
In addition to looks you chose between Humans - Elves - Giants. Humans are a good starting class but have several differnces. Please see here: - Also, see "Cash Shop" below.
You also chose AGE. This is important. But more on that later.
Because of the complexity of the skill and class builds I can not say "you chose class" right away. After making your character you are teleported to brightly white heavenly room where an NPC basically tells you that you are a lost soul about to be reborn on the planet below and before you go, pick a "class" in a very generous list of classes. You can try out all the features and classes in game, but the "MAIN" you specialize in will have power boosts. Do not worry if you pick the wrong one, respec is free. Ready? I chose fighter / Martial artist, and joined the game.

Game Play: Usually game play is a stand alone feature where we say "the point of the game is to level up" and most mmorpgs talk about how to do so and what to expect. I cannot do that here. This game is to dynamic to just lump it into game play. So I will branch off into the other features that make up game play, like combat, etc.. But if I Could summarize it is this: Sandbox - mmorpg - action combat - Skill based game - social - based game.

Let me try and explain. The game does not have level progression per say like other MMORPG's. It has 3 forms of leveling up. As you kill animals, and do quests like in all mmorpgs, you gain character levels and level up that boosts stats, like Str, Stam, Wil, etc... typical.
What is not typical is that skills have their own level up system. First, you have to use the skill to level it up. Most people do not like this, but it is not a Cabal like game where it must be spammed over and over on endless mobs, because the skills are not just combat, but EVERYTHING. Combat can be seen as a "job" basically, but a little more robust, I do not want to say that and have people feeling combat is a second though and just a "cooking" skill. It is not. We can say it is part of what gives this game the sandbox feel. Because you can reach top "level" by never doing combat, and doing other "tasks". Even then, that feels bad to say, but it works in a very SANDBOX type of way. More on that later. Back to leveling up, so as your character levels and your skills level, you will want to UP your skills to unlock the next rank. You need AP points. These are given by special quests and leveling up. So as leveling up slows, so do AP points unless you are actively doing this AP related.

So you can see this games "tasks" are rewarding because no matter what you do, if done seriously, focused, and correctly, it levels up up in either AP or levels. Example; Let's say you wipe in a dungeon because you are too weak and your quests to kill are getting hard. In most mmorpgs this is now a question of either farming to next level, then re running and OP everything, or buying armor. In Mabinogi, this is taken care of in a logical way. Instead of pounding away mindlessly at 500 spiders to up, you can now go back to town and do a job. Cooking, harvesting, fishing, commerce (running goods to and from towns trying fighiting off bandits), building, sewing, on and on and on...What this does is give you a little exp for level, but more importantly, it gives you AP, so you can boost a skill in fighting, and get back to that dungeon.
What that does is keep leveling average progression, and AP trickeling in. Since EVERY task requires a skill / Action (based on ranks Novice, F, D, C, B, A 9, 8, 7, 6 etc..) you will be start to flesh out a "build", or specialization. I know players that busy themelves ONLY in commerce and construction and NEVER run a single dungeon or kill a single animal...I know people, that only do killing and play like a typical MMORPG, only crafting to help their killing. Then there are people like me, that do a little of both... We love to set time down to level up, kill things, dungeon run, hit the wall, perfect our weaknesses by working on a craft. IT IS UP TO YOU! And that, I think, is to complicated for the WoW kid.

But the WoW kid has reason to be upset. This game is hard. Those levels will soon slow out, and so will AP. LEaving your skills mediocre and progression hitting a plateau. How to get around this? Need more AP. How to get it? REBIRTH (the third level up system). Rebirth is where you canchose to re-roll your character going back to base Str, Wil, etc..(level reliance) BUT you keep all your skills (AP reliance). So rebirth is a way to start doing those tasks like a level 1 again and getting the AP for it. So you are a level 1 with LEVEL 50 skills for example. This is a push to do more of the sandboxy like tasks. IT will be easy hunting now that you have a larger skill list. OR easier harvesting. As you do all this, you are getting rewarded with cash and TONS of other sub game items. Rebirth is a process where you get to redo your entire character also. You can keep all your looks, or re-do it...Even coming back as a different race and sex! You can only rebirth to age 10-17. Do it once a day for free until level 99 in your exploration and character levels then it is once every week. Nexon did this so give new players a lil boost. end game means you spend a week using your high skilled AP'ed out skills on your every day tasks. So it is balanced and fair when you do the math...yes folks, you may be forced to do math.

All that said, the game play is not limited to task based game play. There is a HUGE story arc. Each story is called a SAGA, and in the SAGA are "Generations" or large parts of the story that you must quest through. Miss the Final Fantasy drama? Come get your story fix here. I have not even begun a single Saga yet, but the normal quest I am on is engaging enough! I had to save two women from bandits, then I found out one is in love with a dude from another town and asked me to deliver something. I went to do it, and found out there is a blond girl as his student. Possible love interes, not sure, he is shy, she is suggestive, but she is pushy and a little to flirty with every one. Attention whore! But the sister of the other girl in love things this guy is a greasy creep, so I have to please, aide, and help fix this bizarre love triangle between the student, girl saved from other town, and the sister of said girl who wants her little sister to have nothing to do with it. The conclusion *spoiler* comes at his birthday party I had been questing to help organize, where he drops a piece of food (I help prepare in questing). And the blond flips out. Making her seem silly. It is during this party rumors of another towns folk talked about an evil by the lake. Next quest line starts! 
You also have choices like in Star Wars, on the outcomes of dialog and story... Story is key. The game is currently on its 5th Saga. Some players still have not finished the 3rd is that deep, rich, and involving. ALL of that as a sort of "existing as your playing" feel. Meaning between all the thousands of other things to do to enhance your self and your cash and your friends...There is story going on. Makes for a GREAT living world. 

I have not even had time, as a noob, to start my home stead. All I know is that you get seeds to plant there and you can soon use your home stead as a way to grow and sell goods. This game is like several games all fused into one.

I give it 4/5 Game play. It is EXACTLY what I was waiting for. Great story (if you are sick of "boars attacking the kingdom" questing). Great game features. Not "mini gmaes" but "Crafting / Sandboxy" almost Minecraftish (inventory is space x square minecraft like) sort of hybrid. And just feels alive. I want more adult things and blood in this game, so I do not give it 5/5, also, I have not reached end game, but even if end game continues on thee noob experiences, it is worth it, because it is constantly fun.

But how do the other elements stand up?

Combat and Crafting: This is tricky. This is not Tab targeting. It is open action "Camera" based targeting, like TERA, Never Winter etc... The difference here is although the combat is open ended and no targeting, it is not "spam skill on the hit box" like the other action games. This is more "counter, hit, didge," etc... It is it's own thing. I would call it, Skill based Action combat. That is, you have to read the enemy, and then learn what skill to respond to, if the enemy is about to swing, BLOCK, block holds you in place, you take the hit, now you can counter attack, or move out of the way. There are behind the scene dice rolls as far as power and landing the hit, etc, but it is up to you to place that hit, and block, and counter, etc. IT is a great system. I can honostly say one of the few systems that makes noobs stand out amungs the skilled. No more "everyone wins" hand holding so many theme parks offer. I practiced virtually on wolves and racoons. When I got the hang of how to do basic moves, I went on to kill bandits. I gor beat down. But I learned...No, I did not need to farm armor, or gain levels to go back and win that fight. I had to be skillfull! The next time I went back, I DODGED that punchs, countered that assault, upper cut that fool, threw down the boss and his henchmen...Just that little fight was SOOO rewarding! I can'r explain. Mabinogi combat will make a man out of you. For me it is a game changer. I have been so bored spamming skills in games while watching the television just waiting for the fight to end. In Mabanogi, it is ENGAGING combat. Neither tab, nor fully spam Action, it is Skill based action packed combat.
IT does have it's hiccups. It is not perfect. It is not eye popping things exploding everywhere. But it is rewarding and appropriate in it's world. The animations are unique for each skill. I give combat 5/5. There is no game I have played to compare it too. I can not say "oh it is like X" because it is nothing like other games. It is it's own thing. And if you do not like it, you can level up without ever fighting.

There is a enhancing and enchant system. I am way to noob to understand. From the wiki I looks tough, a sort of "focus on later" perhaps...I don't know. And that is mabinogi. If you want to be in the know, and stand out. Read up, test it out. Get to work! And if successful. It is like looking back at your Minecraft tower thinking: "AWWWW YAAAAAA".

Another thing. I am not to familiar with, there is a music playing talent. Pick up a guitar, make music, play it in game. I heard several modern songs so far. I believe you craft these music on a player and load up into the game. There is a huge wiki on it...again, just another huge crafting aspect I have not even touched, only experienced by other players results.

(Combat tutorial has icons when to attack and block. Last time you will ever see that.
The "real" world is about reading the enemy)

Class and Skills: Very complicated to explain. Here is the list:
These are just to start. You can mix and match. Tired of the current market trying tell you their game is "special" and different because it has "3 skill trees" and "class changes on the go" (*glares at RIFT*); then stop wasting time there. Try out Mabinogi. You will like that getting involved in a new class requires fulfiling quest lines, and doing rewarding things. You want to have a heal, as a warrior? No problem, it is a question of managing AP. How much will you rank up that heal vs. the fighting Vs the crafting??? Balancing all 3 will decide what kind of player you are... As a fighter I can dabble in knight, warrior, martial artist, etc.. In fact, even though I chose martial artist, the only thing it did was give me "knuckles" to start off as; but as of now, in my noob stage, I am just a "fighter". Under the fighter umbrella are all those classes I mentioned. I have to "unlock" my martial art skills later in the game through questing. This means planning AP correctly now! 
Did not like your class? Don't worry, at re-birth, you can change your class!
I was lost a little as a noob because I thought "Where is the class trainer!" There is none really. There is only "living" in the game. Meaning, as you run around town, accept jobs, etc...skills "Magically" appear in your menu tab. That is, at NPC's in the world have a chat box. You have multiple dialog choices to chose from. If you chose: "Let's chat about Skills and Talents" The NPC may say "Oh, you are interested are you? I can teach you..." and then in your menu tab, there is the skill...but it is logical. If you ask a baker about skills, he could give you the baking skill and perhaps even a quest to reward you for testing it out. Some times a magical Owl drops quests in your log to help you along to certain NPC's to get skills etc. 
It is advised to PLAY and ive the game. Just got a new harvesting skill? Test it out. Gather a bunch of goods. Keep a stockage in teh bank. You will probably need it in a STORY ARC!

Also, IF you apply AP points in certain skills/jobs, like Gathering, there are character bonuses. For example, if I harvest wheat, each time I click and harvest the skill gets EXP, once it is maxed and ready to gain next rank, the next rank: "25% success on harvesting" AND +2Will. - THAT IS KEY, certain skills, when ranked up, give stat boosts to your character. Remeber Rebirth? Your character goes back to base stats, but keeps all his skills??? So now you see the trick. PArticipate in the world, do things, craft, and raise a skill that corresponds to your class. So if Harvesting raises will, as a martial artist, I need will, I will harvest allot. So when I run out of AP, and rebirth, my +10 bonus to Will stays the same, but I rebirth back to a level 1 so I have 5wil +10 bonus...this raises every time you are actively upping... See the balance? Returnign to a noob state is not necessarily a bad thing. It does not mean regression, but progression...HARDEST thing to describe in mabanogi. Hardest thing for a noob from these theme park games to explain. But it works, and it is REWARDING! 
5/5 - unique Leveling system. I am so enjoying this! Fresh and new is good! This also means you are important at ANY LEVEL in the game...but of course, end game offers ALLOT and there is a difference in content.

The World Graphics: The world is HUGE! Allot of end gamers have never experience all there is to offer! The map has several continents, and several starting zones. There are cut scenes and quests to get you around. Warning, some level 1 quests, like "visit the dragon" are not for level 1. The will hang out in your log book at level 1, but if you do it, you will be ported to instant death XD, I did not like this and it is one of the harsh learning of mabanogi as a noob. I wish the owl gave it to you later on. It really messes whit noobs minds.
The game is ALIVE! Lots of events. Things to explore and visit. There is jousting, castles have timed banquets. The game evolves around real time calendar and time. Every Sunday you AGE. So if you started at age 10, you will be 11 years old after the weekend. Aging is an important part of leveling up, etc..Things evolve around time of day. These events are not just for show but a place to get buffs and rewards.
In addition there is in game time too. It works a little fast so day and night cycles come and go. Traveling is slow so you have this calm enjoy the scenery feel to the game. Need to get some where? Drop that theme park MMORPG mentality and just be patient. This is how I roll: I have a quest to travel to other side of map to talk to some one. I know that takes forever and boring wihtout a mount (which is free in game). So I reward and level up by harvesting for about 30 min in game (enough for at least 1 night cycle to appear). Now that it is night, each village has a "Moon ston" or a teleport system only activated at night by the moon. USe it free to instantly teleport to the other towns. Boom, you harvested, gained points all "day", and now doing your quest instantly. Patients is rewarding. Thinking is rewarding. Approach this world like a "real world". If you are stuck or have a question, some times the answer is "Stay calm, and live it out". All questions I ever had are anwsered by NPC's, and books in the game library...Wiki helps, but not always.
It is good to note the game is built on it's own engine. It was not a borrowed engine. So this leaves the developers VERY hands on. The evens are awesome! I am noob and have participated already in a sand castle event. Sounds silly, but it was easy and interesting to see how they can manipulate the engine easily. Every 20 min or so and log in you get "Sand" Collect around 20 sand and you click on a feather thing given for the even to teleport to an island (and the feather tells you it will return you RIGHT back where you were when done). The island is the event place. You talk to the NPC, he gives you 3 scupltures you can create. You chose one, then run around the beach building it with sand. I loved finding some one AFK, and building a castle over their body LOL, you just click on the sand, and use the collected sand and the sculpture starts to form slowly until it is a giant sand sculpture. A cool way to show off the graphics and manipulation of the engine. I really liked this ineraction early on and made me want to participate in further events. A thing I RARELY do in any other MMORPG.

Also, allot of trolls cry this game has bugs. 1) What game doesn't 2) I have never ran into any. In all other games I ran into bugs. Rift was plagued, TERA was bugged. One time I got stuck in the fire pit in TERA...had to hearth out. RIFT had broken quests and items...I mean, allot of new games are suffering. Star Trek is suffering from 3 hour maintenance EVERY DAY since the last content patch. In MAbinogi, so far so good. I am sure they exist. But that is the least concern for now.

Also on Graphics. I ranted about hos Vindictus had 3D models but 2D NPCS... I also learned Vindictus is originally called MAbinogi HEROES! Now I know why, this game is based on that anime style, but unlike vindictus, Mabinogi has both 3D characters to click on, and then dialog with a 2D enhanced character model. A good thing. I like both.

I give the world 4/5 - Large enough to keep us all involved. Generous enough to feel alive. Interesting transport methods. LOTS OF MOUNTS in game. LOTS of CUSTOMIZATION both on player and developer end. My biggest complaint is so far, dungeons are not really exciting. Perhaps this changes later on.

(Spoiler alert...There are Pedo Bear moments in this game. Allot of "her hand is warm to the touch" and a hair style called "Tied up young girl"...All very suggestive or coincidental...)

Cash Shop: YAY! As bad as NExon rep may be, this is their title not bent on greed. I notice the fans agree that there are other Nexon titles that abuse the system a little, but not in Mabinogi. YOu get free mount and one character. IF you chose Human, you have the possibility to get 2 other game cards for those storage alts. They do this because if you start out as an Elf or Giant, you will exceed in certain areas that others do not. A sort of "specialized" race assuming you are aware with the game mechanics. That is why they prefer you play Human up to the first rebirth to get a feel for the game and make a good first choice. So, as a human, play it out. To unlock the the other character slots you talk to the Elf chief. Side with the Elves, and poof. You get an Elf Card. Then you just retalk and UNSIDE with the elves. Do the same with the Giants, and POOF. Giant Card. You now have all classes and character slots. Cash shop offers more if this is not enough for is more than enough for me XD.
Pets and mounts. You get 1 for free in game and you can level it up. The cash shop offers variety that is all.
Costumes of course and other msic. Items in cash shop. None needed to experience the game in full. Since the world is HUGE and so much to do. People forge paths and routine commerce ways. Cash shop has things like "instant teleport" to here and there. etc. Those "make life easier" things. But not like other cash shops where it is to limit the grind. It is just usually to hop around the map or rez choices etc...
Last but not least, everything cash shop can be resold for in game gold. So all is purchasble by in game vendors. And the community is active so there is ALLOT of vendors.

I give it a 4/5. I wish some items were NPC purchasable. Since some NPC items are = value in gold any ways...

Community: Mixed bunch. But this is due to the nature of the game. In fact, when you scroll the guild list to apply for a guild, the list includes: Members, title, leader, and TYPE: Social - Combat - Adventure..etc. So there is that already... I started in the forums and have 5 friends through a nice forum chat that helped me out ALLOT. One girl took me to the elf side, got my elf card, then took me exploring in the desert where we fell to an underground cavern and then she showed me how to make bucks doing commerce runs. The next day she told me she prefers to level up by crafting rafts and taking them on rides...I have yet to discover this..I am going to take her up on the invite. This might make me interested in Did I mention most mounts can be have 2 riders??
As you travel the land there are these stone pillars with names on them. They are guild names and clicking on them gives a brief blurp about the guild, guild leader and instant access to apply to the guild. (basically same feature as guild search in the menu but physcally on the road, and you return to a stone to donate things to the guild). I joined one,sent out my in. They were kind of MEH. Mostly AFK, mostly talking end game. I was just there. As soon as I entered, I got greeted by a "WHO INVITED YOU" I respond: "Problem?" - "Oh it is how I speak to all newbies"...annoying...then another guy came on and said straight up: "You, you are new. Just a sec. I will help you."...So mixed...Really mixed. I met so many random people on the road that help me...some rezed me...Add to friends list...always saying "Ask me anytime for help". There is a reason. This game has that sandboxy feel and other people are needed sometimes and this creates social bonds.

I give community 4/5 - Wish a global chat was installed.

Conclusion. I feel bad writing this article. I have NOT EVEN TOUCHED the SURFACE. I mean, in some games. I can be noob, up to mid level. And honostly the game never really changes and I can do a review that basically holds true wether or not I experienced holding end game armor or not. It is just level up, get into a dungeon etc. All those people that claim AION and RIFT have this "it's a total different game end game" based on the fact that your armor is now a huge threat to once was a little threat...Please, those are just big numbers that got bigger.
In Mabanogi, the game is a like a new game at EVERY step of the way. That scares people off. I understand. And hey, sometimes the pace of mabinogi can burn me out, in which I hop into TERA or Dragon Nest and tear up bad guys at a fast pace...with that as the only goal of the game with a taste of crafting to tear up MORE bad guys. But if you are looking for that game that offers allot, for free, try it out! Yes, it is anime style graphics, but the armor models and other features make that "child" like approach disappear VERY fast. I see all these games trying to add a feature Mabinogi already has and market it as "NEW" and OH BOY, YOU HAVE TO TRY IT! Pffftt. My Novice Fighter is already solving love triangles in interactive dialog. Making cash, dungeon running, crafting with a purpose, and exploring new territories. That said as busy as I am in is that. I am busy. I can not turn the brain off and bash through mindless mobs. For that, I play some of my other titles. But I see myself accepting the challenge and having Mabinogi installed now for a long time.

Allot I did not cover like dungeon systems, etc..but if this article got you interested enough feel free to check out the official website, forums, and wiki. And Discussions on the mmorpg community websites.

Total 4/5 (possibly 5/5 since not allot to compare it too. It is it's own beast)
Pros: Unique features. Large world, lots of things to do. Offers what other games only hint at. Great customizable UI. Lots of armor models.
Cons: Noob experience requires reading advice on forums, or at least NPC text and or NPC books (but really not that much) - Graphics. You hate it or love it. - Movement and combat can get a little ...wonky -

Have you experienced it? What was your experience.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Stop fucking posting.