Mortal Online

Reviewed by inoshiro | 22 August 2011
Genre: MMORPG | Publisher: Star Vault | Developer: Star Vault
TOG Score
Members (av.)
The Good
  • A refreshing change from the ‘standard’ current gen MMOs.
  • Very casual friendly and comparatively grind free.
  • A dev team that listens to and works closely with its players.
The Bad
  • A small dev team with limited resources (and it shows).
  • A bit buggy. It does require a bit of patience to enjoy.
  • A steep learning curve that can be daunting without assistance.

Reviewed by Justin Kace
This is Mortal Online! A sandbox fantasy MMO with a strong focus on open world PvP.

South of Meduli a young man, arms extended and muttering soothing nonsense-words, edges closer to one of the beautiful desert horses. Sweat trickles down his dark brown, sun-baked skin, dripping off into the dusty sands of the ever-thirsting desert. His focus is complete. The noble animal stares at him warily, liquid brown intelligent eyes beneath long thick lashes. The young man stretches out an arm. Hot breath huffs out of flared nostrils and soft lips brush his fingertips. Then with a shiver and a toss of it’s head it dances away, throwing a teasing look back over it’s shoulder. The young man straightens his body and stretches, grinning ruefully. He knows the game. This is the life of a tamer.

In the foothills west of Fabernum a thickly muscled miner is lost in the rhythm of metal on rock. It is cold. It is always cold in the mountains. But his arms and back burn and his legs ache as he devotes his entire body to the process of wresting precious ores from an earth reluctant to give them up. This day he has toiled for hours, his mind lost to the peace that comes with hard work. Four sacks of ore-laden stone chips are already secured to his faithful donkey. He stops and lowers his pick to the ground, breathing heavily from his exertion. His breath rises visibly before him as he stoops and begins to shovel stone shards into the last of his sacks. A twig snaps behind him and he turns sharply. His eyes widen with fear as a grim man with a vile smile approaches, weapon in hand. The miner glances at his donkey, but another bandit is already covering the unwitting creature. There is nowhere to run… Snow starts to fall and steam rises from holes hacked into a twisted body. He knew the risks. This is the death of a miner.

In a forested valley south of Moh-Ki, a tawny woman slices an arrow from the carcass of a bear. She snaps off and discards the ruined shaft, stowing the broadhead in one of her pouches before returning to the bloody work of gutting her kill. Loading it onto her already over-burdened animal, she pats her mount’s wearily hanging head and scratches behind it’s ears. Time to go back to town.

She leads her mount along the river that slices the valley in half. In no hurry, she absorbs the beauty of the area and takes pleasure in the joyous song of the skylark. Sunlight lances through the branches of tall, slender trees, warming her skin and lightening her mood. At the entrance to Moh-Ki she pauses to scoop a mouthful of water from the river while she allows her horse to slake it’s thirst, slurping noisily. Following the well-worn path to the butchery table, she calls out to a pale man, greeting him by name. He stabs his knife into the workbench as he turns to her with a smile. The pair make small talk as he rinses off arms bloody to the elbows. He appraises the carcasses as she hauls them off her mount. They haggle briefly before coming to an agreement. He offers a gory hand and laughs as she refuses to shake it. He returns to his work as she leads her horse out of Moh-Ki and back to her hunting grounds. They both know the deal. This is business. But also a friendship.

On the central steppes a grizzled veteran horseman rises from a squat. A path of crushed and bent grass leads northward. A child or blind man could follow this trail. He looks back and can still see a smear of smoke from his village, dirtying the otherwise clear blue sky. The raiders are not far ahead. His mount shakes it’s mane and snorts as the veteran vaults smoothly into his saddle. Horses whicker and tack jingles as the hunting party moves on.

Soon the raiders are visible ahead. The veteran stands in his stirrups and gestures with his hands. Half of his riders spur their mounts to a canter and break off to the left while he leads his remaining men around to the right. The raiders are not taken unawares, but that makes no difference to the outcome. On the steppes, the horse archer rules. Vengeance will not bring back their dead, but the corpses left behind to feed the scavengers will trouble them no more. They know what is coming. This is only one battle.

In Gaul’Kor, a refiner leans back from the hellish heat of a blast furnace and mops dirty tears from her eyes with a filthy rag held in blistered hands. Acrid smoke belches from the furnace and into an already smog filled and polluted sky. Night fell hours ago but no stars are visible here. She takes a furtive look around her; none of the guards are watching. Even stretching the cramps out of her muscles would likely earn her a bloody beating. One more bruise. One more scar. No-one will notice… Looking back up the scaffolding and ramps she watches the endless shuffle of slaves hauling the ore that fuels the only reason for her continued existence. Without her natural affinity for milking metals from the ore, she’d probably be a whore. Or dead.

She glances around the chaos of the ruined Tindremic town. On one side the ringing of hammers marks the anvils of the smiths. She’ll go to sleep to their music eventually. The appetite of the war, for arms and armour, is insatiable. Off on the far side a crude corral contains too many of the mighty bull horses. She can hear their neighing faintly as the tamers introduce another to the already crowded herd. From the center of the encampment there is shouting, swearing and anger, as skilled but ill-disciplined troops spar furiously, honing their skills for the coming battles. Snapping from her reverie she looks around guiltily. No-one has noticed her lapse. She sighs as she bends her back again and mixes another load for the furnace. She knows the rules. This is preparation.

Somewhere south of Morin Khur and east of Moh-Ki a great arm leaps into the air to smash against a sturdy cross-bar. An old white-bearded engineer watches with satisfaction as a stone half the weight of a full-grown man races toward it’s target. It smashes into the already weakened house, and with a roar like a herd of shore prowlers and billowing cloud of dust, the structure collapses into a pile of broken logs and rubble. The old man slaps his thigh and cackles out a wheezing laugh. He straightens and bends the cricks out of his back. Around him are the footmen standing guard over the siege engine. Further north, outside the demolished palisade gate, he can hear faint cries of fury and pain. The skirmishing has been constant since shortly after dawn, but the line holds strong. Lightning cracks as the mages unleash arcane blasts, and the chanting of the battle priests floats back to him on the smoke tinged wind. His sparsely toothed mouth cracks into a grin as another rider approaches with a load of boulders. The arm has already been cranked back into position and he directs his apprentices to turn the Manganon to face a new target. He knows the cycle. There has been peace. But now, this is war.

This is Mortal Online! A sandbox fantasy MMO with a strong focus on open world PvP.

In brief…
Name: Mortal Online
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Star Vault
Developer: Star Vault
Overall Score: 4 stars

The Good:

  • A refreshing change from the ‘standard’ current gen MMOs.
  • Very casual friendly and comparatively grind free.
  • A dev team that listens to and works closely with its players.

The Bad:

  • A small dev team with limited resources (and it shows).
  • A bit buggy. It does require a bit of patience to enjoy.
  • A steep learning curve that can be daunting without assistance.

Where to buy it: Home | Mortal Online

Combat Style: Skill based.
Melee with blocking and counter-attacks. Twitch FPS archery and casting. Combat is lag-lenient. Hit detection is client side so if you see yourself hit your target, you hit.
Learning Curve: Complex
MO’s game mechanics are deep and confusing. Information in game is scarce, intentionally so to encourage player interaction. Talk to people. People in game are generally generous with information and your guildies will be a very valuable source of information.
Crafting: Complex
Crafting is deep compared to other MMOs. A large variety of available materials to play with and multiple different slots as part of the crafting process leads to a vast range of possibilities when crafting. Material type, density, crafting related skill and material related skill all contribute to the quality of a finished item.
PVP: Forced
Open world free for all PvP outside limited guarded zones.
Leveling style: Skill based
Open style levelling, train up only the skills you want. 1100 primary points are available to all characters. Many skills have secondary sub-skills that can be trained without eating into your primary points.
Server Pop: Light
Stability: Regular reboots (a few a day) but the server is always back up fast.

Immersion: 5/5
Graphic Quality: 5/5
Sound Quality: 3/5
Content Quality: 3/5
Overall Rating: 4/5

Subjective Comments: The game is one of a kind. It’s a little of Eve, a lot of classic UO. But a lot of its own. The strict FPS viewpoint can take some getting used to but really adds to the immersion. The game does not hold your hand in any way. It’s an almost completely un-directed style of play which many current gen MMO players may find very daunting. It’s also quite obviously the work of a small dev team that are struggling with the workload.
That said, there is nothing else quite like it on the market. It is absolutely a gem in the rough, and Star Vault have an extraordinary vision that they are faithfully plodding their way towards.
The best succinct advice I could give would be don’t get attached to your stuff. Stuff is easy to replace. Don’t get put off early. It is daunting. Stick with it for the full duration of the trial. Put in a couple of hours a night. Talk to people in game. And you will grow to love it.
Payment options: Free 14 day trial. 23.96 Euro to purchase. 11.40 Euro per month subscription
Download Size: About 10gig

Less brief…

Mortal Online is a not a gentle game. It’s an un-polished gem-in-the-rough, but it’s also unique, deep, intriguing and very satisfying. The harshness of the game brings with it a sense of excitement and satisfaction that is lacking in many modern MMOs. If your character dies in Mortal, everything you were carrying and wearing is dropped to the ground on your corpse. And death can come anywhere at any time. From the vile thief in the ‘safety’ of the guarded town, to the murderous brigand lurking the routes linking centres of civilisation.

But without such risks, from where would come the thrill of death defied? From where would come the satisfaction of justice dispensed, or vengeance taken? These victories are fleeting and hollow in an MMO where nothing stands to be lost. In Mortal Online, however, these are the stories that persist as you share them with your comrades!

In Mortal Online you are free to create your character in any way you desire. There are professions, but no classes. There are varying degrees of skill, but no levels. You can work your stats to rise or fall depending on what best supports your current interest.
You could be a fully qualified butcher with the skills required to extract every possible possible piece of usable material from every creature in Nave. Hunters will flock to you to have their kills processed, and you’ll take your cut of course. Or you could create a dedicated hunter, capable of moving almost as fast on his feet as he is on his mount. Skilled with bow and spear and able to tackle the toughest creatures in the land, and sell the corpses on to your friend the butcher. Or mix it up and make an archer that can hunt certain types of animals and butcher them competently himself!
Or craft a character for PvP, be it an agile horse archer, steel-clad footsoldier, or a fireball slinging, lightning bolt launching, self healing mage! Take it upon yourself to clean the vermin from the land, or perhaps join their ranks and prey on the weak and defenceless! Or sign on with an army and help to forge an empire.
Or become a skilled and sought after crafter. Use your knowledge of materials and crafting techniques to create the most protective armours, most precise bows, or most dangerous weapons in the land. Experiment with combinations of different materials. But there are no iron shortswords of 2-12 damage here. The effectiveness of your crafts is determined by your skill in crafting them, the materials you chose to use, your knowledge of those materials, and the style, thickness and composition of the parts you put together. And if you want to know exactly what it does, you’ll have to get someone to go test it!

Mortal Online is also uniquely suited to the casual gamer. There is a hard cap to the number of skills you can learn. No one character can come even close to self-sufficiency. What would be the point of playing an MMO if you could do everything? With books that you can use to train your character even while offline, and the relatively rapid rate of skill gain, you can easily have a character ready to be effective in PvP combat. With the limited skill point cap you are not always behind in the never-ending race to catch up with your peers. Sure, you’re not going to want to go one-on-one with the pro PvPers at the start, but character skill is only one part of the mix.
Player skill matters. Between blocking, counter-attacking, stamina management, and client side hit detection (meaning you don’t need to adjust for lag. Aim dead on your target and take joy as your arrows strike home!) your skill is as important as your character’s skills.

So come join us!! TOG has a strong presence in Mortal Online. We’ve just started our second guild. Honourable, just and virtuous, TOG (the Tindremic Olde Guard) is a guild of peaceful crafters, explorers, scholars and gatherers. GOB (Grumpy Old Bastards) is our PvP guild, open to exploring the darker side of Mortal. Be that taking the fight to our enemies, harassing their supply lines, with raiders out of town, and thieves in town. Our friends love us for our loyal support. Our enemies fear us for our unwavering resolve.
Both guilds are allied with powerful friends. TOG maintains a neutral attitude so as best to protect it’s peaceful members. GOB is a vassal of the Kingdom of Wessex and loyally takes the field to defend their homeland and carry the battle to their enemies.

So waste no more time! Download the client and install the game here.

Create your trial account here:

Then get going! Join us in the Mortal Online Division. Sign up on the charter, and join us in Mumble because you WILL have a lot of questions! And we will be more than happy to answer them. 

What do you think of Mortal Online?
Post a review below!

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Member reviews

Mortal Online - simontoad |
| 23 August 2011

Justin's review is a beautiful and imaginative description of what our characters must feel as they live and die in the world of Nave. How could hitting a rock be fun? I don't know, but it is. How can standing at a butcher table be a good use of my time? Search me, but I do it and enjoy it. I too have fought, running with my comrades into an enemy-occupied keep, flailing about wildly as red player-killers run at me from everywhere. I too have died and risen from my corpse, existing in a half life with the ghosts of friends and foe now visible to me. I too have begged a priest to restore me to life, only to be spurned as a foul spirit, undeserving of life. Yesterday we fought, today we rest.

- Asmodai |
| 28 August 2011

I have to admit that while I have enjoyed a relatively direction free sandbox MMO before (SWG) that the learning curve of this game really punched me in the delicate parts. I'd highly recommend that people try it but, much like Eve, most people will either love the challenge or hate it fairly early in their experience. This might be doing the later game an injustice but it's a pretty steep hump to get over.

- Kaideline |
| 22 December 2011

An imaginative review. What game were you playing again? Certainly not the Mortal Online I played. It is truly unique. It has tried hard. I wanted so very badly to live with the game's many, many flaws. In the end, I couldn't. The game has been badly flawed from the beginning and shows no signs of recovering any time soon. As more content gets added the flaws become more significant. It helps to be a player-killer PvP player although that is as broken as everything else in the game. At least you'll be catering to your preference for game mechanics and staff support that seem to favor griefing over all else. If that is your style, enjoy.

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