So….Mabinogi. I stumbled onto it while looking for F2P games on Steam because I am one cheap bastard. Description seemed interesting enough, and it had pretty good reviews, considering this is a Nexon game. So I DLed, and promptly lost about 80 hours of my life. Here are my thoughts.
Classes? What’s That?
The first thing I should probably get out of the way is THERE ARE NO SET CLASSES. NONE. NIL. NADA. And that’s what I like about the game. My main is currently a hybrid warrior/bard that can hold his own in melee combat, but can belt out the tunes to buff party members (or just irritate players in towns). The closest thing to classes Mabinogi has is ‘Talents”, which basically gives you 2x EXP in the skills that fall under a particular Talent. For example, choosing the Tailor Talent would give x2 EXP when training the Tailoring, Weaving, or Sheep Shearing skills, all skills related to the Tailor Talent. But having the Tailor Talent wouldn’t detriment leveling combat skills or other non-Tailor related skills in anyway. You’d just level them a bit slower than your Tailor talents. Hell, most of the time you won’t even notice the difference between leveling your chosen Talent skills and the other skills. I just Rebirthed into the Bard Talent (More on Rebirths later), and I’ve still been leveling up my Close Combat skills at a healthy rate.
Leveling Up and the Rebirth System
Levels in this game are a fickle thing, as you level up at an exponential rate which only starts to peter off at around Level 50. EXP can be found everywhere, from killing mobs to doing quests that rain from the sky by owls. You receive both quests and quest rewards by owl (assuming you’re aboveground) which is a cool touch. Hell, even doing stuff like tailoring clothes or commercing from one town to another can give a player a hefty amount of EXP.
Increasing levels also ties in with what age your character currently is. When you first create a character, you can make him/her anywhere from 10 to 17 years old. Age affects how much your stats increase when you level up, as well as the bonuses you get when you age a year. You gain one year every week on Saturday, which gives you a small increase in stats and AP.
To Rebirth is to switch from your old body to a new body, or at least that’s how Nao (the chick you’re greeted with during character creation and rebirths) puts it. When you do Rebirth, you have the option to reset to a younger or older age (Provided you’ve been that age in at least one point of time), reset your level to one, change your specialized Talent if you want to try something new, and change your appearance if you invested NX for a Premium Character card.
While resetting your level to 1 may seem stupid, it is extremely beneficial because of the AP system. Skills do not automatically level up like in most other RPGs. To advance a certain skill, for example Smash, you must use the skill enough times as well as proc a critical hit or finish a monster off with the skill to increase the EXP bar of the skill. Once the bar has been filled to a minimum level (100 exp if I recall correctly), you have the option of leveling the skill one Rank using your accumulated AP. Combined with the exponential rate of level gain, it is recommended to rebirth as often as possible to acquire as much AP as possible. The skills in Mabinogi start off at Novice, than ascends from Ranks F to A, then from 9 to 1 for a total of 16 Ranks. The system may seem confusing at a glance, it’s relatively simple. It also helps make Mabinogi more unique compared to the other MMORPGs out there.
So you want to kill things eh? Let me start off by saying that the combat system of Mabinogi is certainly…different. It’s real-time, but it isn’t a button masher. The combat emphasizes strategic use of skills, as you (the player) and the monsters have various skills that can be used to attack or counter against an attack. For monsters, a small bubble will appear on top of them that’ll show what skill they’ll use next. From there, it’s up to you to decide whether to strike before it can attack or defend and wait for a counter.
Usage of skills also depend on whether the monsters can multi-aggro. My issue with Mabinogi’s combat system is that it makes it difficult to even take on one monster at a time. Some monsters have the ability to aggro a player more than once, like having a Goblin and a Goblin Archer attack you at the same time in a dungeon. It’s difficult to fight two monsters at once because the combat skills usually only attack/defend against one monster. So say you have a Counterattack prepped up with two Wolves after you, you’d Counter the first wolf to attack, but leave yourself vulnerable to attack by the second wold. But I guess this is to encourage partying up for dungeons and whatnot. Not that I like it of course. This is my one major quibble of the game. Well that, and how Archers and Mages can’t handle more than one target at a time.
You know what, just watch this so you can see what combat looks like in action. Notice the squishiness and pattern of how dungeon works.
(Watch in Full-Screen)
Why Learn Real Skills When You Can Learn Virtual Skills!
Pacifist? Too lazy to lift a sword? Then eschew the combat Talents and pick something exciting like TAILORING or BLACKSMITHING or MERCANTILE! The thing I like about Life Skills in Mabinogi is that using skills pertaining to production gives you EXP as well. So it’s a nice alternative to beating stuff up for leveling up.
Cooking food, Tailoring clothes, Smithing weaponry, among other skills, all net pretty big amounts of EXP. The skill I was actually surprised with is Commerce. It’s basically buying low at a town and running ON FOOT to another town and hoping to sell high. No teleports or mounts allowed!…well at least until you get the money to afford it. Should probably mention that Commerce items involve another form of currency that isn’t Gold, so you can’t cheat your way up.
Of course, to actually produce said items, you’ll need raw materials. There are a bunch of skills that correspond to a specific talent, such as Sheep Shearing and Weaving for Tailors, and Mining and Metallurgy for Blacksmiths, etc. etc. Those skills are relatively easy to level up, although some have hitches such as ore for Mining being found ONLY in dungeons. So Blacksmiths might want to have a combat side job for clearing out dungeons. Well I guess all production skillers should have some AP invested in combat skills. There are some things you can only acquire through combat.
Unfortunately, I mainly shove swords and spiky mandolins up monsters’ asses, so I can’t comment too much on production. I CAN say that if you have the Mercantile Talent with zero combat experience, travel in a group. Bandits are tough cookies.
Other Tiny Details
If you haven’t noticed by now, the UI is pretty minimal. Nothing’s really in your way. Good thing, really. Only problem is that when windows pop up, they pop up in random spots. Have yet to figure out a fix for that. Apparently the devs based the UI after Windows, even including the Windows button in the hotkeys (It opens up the Menu tab).
Also, the placement of the map window, clock, quest window, and pretty much anything that’s on the screen can be rearranged to suit your liking. I prefer my map on the upper-right corner, but if you’re weird you could place it in any of the other corners of the screen, or even in the middle if you have severe mental problems!
The 3D stuff kinda sucks, but then again, this was a game released in 2004, and the engine hasn’t really aged well over time. But still the graphics are pretty cute. Now the NPC sprites, those are pretty good. And their facial expressions change based on your level of intimacy with them! Which is a nice touch.
OK, I have to commend devCAT (Developers) for the OST of this game. Most of the NPCs have their own theme to go along with their sprite, and for the most part the theme suits the character. Words can’t really describe it, so I recorded a small clip of what you’re greeted when you create a character (Actually, the clip is from me asking Nao for a rebirth, but the music and Nao’s appearance is the same).
Dragged it out a wee bit to let the music play.
The Mabinogi community is actually pretty good towards noobs, well at least on the Alexina server. As long as you’re not stupid about it, asking politely for help with quests, dungeons, or spare gear will usually garner a response. Players are also social as well, and there are many opportunities to talk to them, ranging from sitting in the town square and listening to bards or simply having the same Commerce destination. Sure, there are the usual arrogant ‘pros’ and whatnot, but for the most part the Mabinogi in-game community far surpasses any other MMORPG I’ve played so far.
Despite some issues with combat, class imbalance and a horrible market economy, Mabinogi is overall a damn good MMO. And it’s free! So you have no reason to not try it! Obviously, since it’s a Nexon game, there are the obvious tactics to try to get players to buy NX like limiting the amount of inventory and bank space F2P players have and whatnot, but it’s manageable. Game’s also capable of being run on the crappier end of the computer spectrum, thanks to the fact that the engine is pretty old. If you do find yourself wanting to journey into the land of Erinn, make your characters in the Alexina server!
Nerubian Assassin, The Writer
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