Mabinogi is a free to play MMO released by Nexon, a Korean company most famous for the 2D MMo Maple Story. Nexon is one of the pioneers of F2P gaming, and Mabinogi is a somewhat radical departure from the genre. More after the cut:
I started playing it because of Tobold, whose site is on the sidebar. He was into a F2P game called lumniary, and he was debating the merits of it pretty fiercely. I was very much opposed to it, because in my previous game, Final Fantasy XI, players are fiercely meritocratic, and RMT is a sin to most of them. However, I felt I should give the genre a try, and picked Mabinogi. I played for probably about 6 months, maybe more. Here is somewhat of an exit review:
+Very good introduction. You start out in a halfway world between Mabinogi and your old one called the soul stream. Nao, the game’s central character. Lets you ask her as many questions as you like. When she is done, you enter a halfway instance in which you receive a spirit weapon (imagine link’s sword with Navi inside of it.) In one of the most fun introductions I have seen in awhile, you soon come to a field where raccoons and chickens are fighting a perpetual war, which lets you fool around with combat with no risk.
Once you choose a continent to start in, you are led through the basics by a constant stream of quests. In Mabi, quests come to you through Nao’s owls, so the starter experience is one continuous change of quests designed to teach you the game.
They also let you level up the games abilities, more on this later. It’s incredibly addictive, with constant reward in terms of experience and money.
+Nice levelling system. Mabinogi is an odd hybrid of level and skillbased progression. Levelling increases your base stats and gives you AP, which you spend on abilities, which let you craft, use combat skills and magic skills. You also age one year peer real life week, and you get stats and AP that way too. You always feel a sense of progression.
What’s more is that you can also choose to rebirth, and return to level 1. You keep all skill levels and stats from skills, but star out as a more powerful level 1 player. You can do this up to once a week if you pay for it, once every three weeks if you set your age to 17, and use a free rebirth at level 20.
It feels good, because you don’t get a sense of being stuck. You always get AP in to add new abilities, and if levelling gets too bad, rebirth.
+Awesome pets. Mabinogi has some of the best pet A.I I have seen in a game. You can put them on auto attack and they fight and act surprisingly intelligent-they counter, use spells, fight, and charge. You can even make custom AI for them to act in ways you like: A simple one for me was to make my horse use smash each time I did, so we bounced enemies like a tennis ball.
They also have strong abilities: some can be ridden (and let passengers on them!) some generate crafting supplies, some change form, some can make statues of enemies, and more.
+Light hearted. Mabinogi for the most part is light-hearted and fun. It has a very nice anime look that focuses a lot on dying and customizing yourcharacter. While serious missions and aspects exist, its just as often where you can camp out in front of a camp fire, tailor a dress, pan for gold, shear sheep, whack people with sticks, and other things.
There are some serious downsides though.
Zero Endgame:None. There are a few harder dungeons, but there is no real challenge once you get past a certain point. All you can really do is level, raise skills, PvP, and hang out. There are some quasi-endgame activities, but they are few and far between, and the drops are useless in terms of the effort needed to get them.
Bad PvP: Mabinogi has a bad pvp system, because of its combat. There’s really three major schools of combat: meelee, range, and magic. Meelee tends to be good combat over all, providing basic defense and offense which is supplemented by ranged and magic skills.
However, in PvP the balance you find in the PvE encounters breaks down. It gets spammy, impossible to counter with certain builds, tremendously imbalanced in world PvP, with it being possible to be camped hard enough to force a logout, and in general not too much fun.
This would be less of an issue if there was more to do besides it when you get up to a certain point.
-Cost. The big bugbear in this game. You can spend much, much more trying to play this seriously than what it would take for 2 sub MMOs. 15 bucks a month gets you some vital gameplay convieneces, and another ten bucks a month to rebirth more than once every three weeks. Pets range from 3-15 bucks, and you have a lot of things you may want to buy in a cash store.
The problem is that all of these give serious gameplay advantages. You simply cannot catch up to someone who rebirths once each week and spends money buying items, not without spending a lot of real life money. This tends to make most people play Mabinogi sporiadically.
-Boring. This is the final killer for me. Past the introduction, the game just gets too boring to keep playing. Nothing changes-the dungeons are all the same, the missions are dull with dull stories, the crafts are just grinding with an occasional minigame, the world is small and dull, and you lose desire in playing. There’s no real compelling aspect to Mabinogi to keep you going once you hit 3 months.
It wasn’t a bad game, and I enjoyed it, but I don’t think I’ll miss it much.