A next generation ARPG with MMO elements, Mu Legend focuses on Combat, Character Growth and Partying.
Fun Combat & Gameplay
Solid Character Growth
Community Issues (Chat, Language barriers)
Server Instability & Lag/Desync
One year ago, I wrote a review on the Closed Beta Test of Mu Legend. I was thoroughly impressed with the game in its closed beta state. Mu Legend (MuL) has now released as open beta, and there are numerous changes and enhancements that have been made over the past year. Now that the game is in open beta, there are no more character wipes, and Webzen is taking money for subscriptions and selling in-game merchandise. This has become the new norm; to “soft launch” a game while calling it Beta and selling the game/services/items to players, claiming any glitches or issues relative to the state of the game are associated with being in beta.
Even though MuL has great potential, the OBT of MuL has been a royal disaster. The core of the game is solid, combat is fun, and character development is enjoyable. The problem is Webzen. The company is completely disconnected from the US market and has dropped the ball on so many common sense factors tied to bug fixes, performance, economy and community issues that it’s outright embarrassing and reflects sheer incompetence. Their inability to use proper English (showing they don’t have an established American team handling the US announcements) is even more indicative of their laziness in hiring the right people to properly manage the US region. Botting and gold farming ruined the game within the first two weeks, and one quick glance at Reddit or the Mu Legend Forums paired with the decreasing player base on the servers shows there is a growing discontent for MuL by the players; namely at how Webzen completely failed to anticipate these issues and refused to fix key bugs reported in CBT1; all of which I will cover within this review. Below is a timeline of recent events:
Nov 7, 2017: Release of OBT.
Nov 14, 2017: Disabled Player Trading and in-game Mail.
Nov 14,2017: Added a Captcha both in the launcher and in pop-up version in the game.
Nov 21, 2017: Disabled the Trade Broker.
Nov 23, 2017: Redesigned the Captcha for the launcher. Potentially removed the in-game Captcha (haven’t seen it in a few days).
Nov 24, 2017: When logging in this morning I received a “fail to get auth key” message from the launcher. Found out my account has been blocked. I’ve done some research and apparently Webzen has blocked numerous legitimate player accounts.
Nov 27, 2017: Webzen unblocked my account (without notification or explanation).
Nov 28, 2017: Webzen posts an Open Letter to Users including statements like “We have been very pleased with the success of MU Legend’s launch” and “we won’t let those annoyances waste our common pleasure to play and to produce MU Legend”. They also say they don’t know when trading will be reactivated. So, they are very pleased with the disastrous launch of MuL, and believe their love of the IP will make everything ok, all while admitting to no mistakes. They also blame the connection issues to their Florida servers on players and ISPs. I couldn’t make this stuff up. Webzen isn’t just a bad company, they’re delusional.
These changes show Webzen merely reacting to the very problems they created while restricting the majority of players (probably 98%) while trying to address the 2% problem (which they should have known would happen prior to launch). The servers are still unstable nearly three weeks after release, actively hanging and disconnecting players while providing a 200+ ping for most players in America. Yesterday morning, I couldn’t even log in because the Launcher CAPTCHA tells me I can’t authenticate; researching this reveals that my account has been temporarily blocked. I’ve never had that happen before, and my guess is it’s due to the use of PingZapper, which simply re-routes the packets in a more efficient manner (it took my average 200ms ping and lowered it to 65ms). PingZapper does nothing to breach the Webzen Terms of Service, so the block associated with this is completely uncalled for; but the fact I have to use PingZapper when running Gigabit fiber reveals an even more flawed infrastructure and server hosting mistake on Webzen’s part. Ultimately, this is a Korean game by a Korean company that is using Korean standards that do not work here in the United States. But it doesn’t mean that MuL isn’t worth playing (when you can play it). There is still a long way to go until the game is in “full release” mode; 3 more continents, the new Spellbinder class, open-world farming content and bosses, new items, and max level pushed to 100. That is all coming, but who knows when. The big question is can this extra content save the game?
The original Mu Online was released in October of 2003. It had millions of players and became one of the most popular ARPGs in the world. Rumor of Mu2 began as early as 2004, but development of the next Mu title didn’t really begin until 2009. Mu Legend was first showcased in 2011. It uses the Unreal 3 engine and entered Global Closed Beta Teast 1 (CBT1) on October 25, 2016, and Open Beta (OBT) on November 7, 2017.
Webzen launched CBT2 roughly 6 months ago, and while I was excited to try the game after my great experience with CBT1, I was stunned to find they only made localization changes. No bug fixes or any real enhancements from CBT1 were included. This was very disappointing, and I (along with many others who played CBT1) did not participate in CBT2.
I played multiple classes to end-game (Level 65) during CBT1 and achieved a top-50 rank in OBT within the first week. I’ve played through all of the content including the Mythic dungeons, Epic dungeons, and acquired end-game gear.
Unfortunately, Mu Legend has become a warning for all other game development companies on what not to do when you release a game to the public.
Content, Characters & Classes
MuL doesn’t offer any revolutionary or ground breaking features. Instead, the game has refined and evolved many of the core features that make ARPGs enjoyable. The game feels like an evolved mix of Torchlight 2, Diablo 3 and Marvel Heroes. This is a good thing. On top of that, MuL takes place in a shard-based mini-MMOG world. It is nice to run around and see other players on quests and forming parties in order to run dungeons on higher difficulties. This is something missing from the current ARPG kings like D3 and Path of Exile.
The Story is about being sent back in time to save the world, evil energy, demons, portals, wars and alliances. But the reality is most players grind past it and don’t really pay attention to the story line; but it can be quite enjoyable as your character and the NPCs swear and think aloud to figure things out. The story also drives the leveling experience throughout multiple regions, which is actually well-done. The player will stop the undead summoning of a witch queen, destroy a titan, invade a sky temple, and enter a gooey underworld of life-sucking energy all while facing numerous bosses with custom mechanics.
The World consists of 7 continents (Evova, Duelden, Ohrdor, Litenberg | Noria, Lorencia, Alhard) with the last 3 currently being unavailable in OBT. As with other ARPGs, the zone types range from grassy plains to rocky mountains and snowy encampments. I like the diversity of the different areas and the nasty creatures that inhabit them, and I really like the design of the different regions; the monsters blend in nicely, the environments flow well, and it’s a lot of fun to see other players adventuring through the world with you.
The game has a total of 5 Classes. First we have the Dark Lord, which is essentially a tank support class. The Blader is a barbarian-like class with the traditional “spin to win” cyclone skill. War Mages are fire and elemental ranged attackers. Whisperers are the rangers (bows or guns), and the Spellbinder is a telekinetic mind-controller (but is not yet playable in Open Beta). The classes seem fairly well balanced and the top characters area good mix, showing each class is capable of competing for the top rankings.
Max Level in OBT is 65. Rumor has it they will change this to 100 soon (once the new continents are released). The game also has a Soul Level, which is similar to the Paragon system of Diablo 3. 80% of your experience from combat goes to raise your Soul Level. It is not currently known what the soul level cap (if any) is, but numerous players are quickly approaching 200. For each Soul Level you obtain, you get a point to spend in the Soul Box. The different categories are: Attack (Attack, Penetration, Critical Rate, Critical Damage), Defense (Defense, Evasion, Health and CC Reduction), Support (HP Recovery, MP Recovery, Cooldown Reduction and MP Cost Reduction), and Misc (Movement Speed, Money, Exp, and Magic Sight). Magic Sight is Item Find %. Leveling your character is fun and the progression flows very well.
During CBT1, MuL endorsed playing and leveling multiple characters through the Account Level bonuses (combined soul levels), but it appears this feature has been removed in OBT. Not sure why as it provides incentive to level up multiple characters.
The Stats in MuL haven been simplified since CBT1, broken down into Attack and Defense. This includes Attack speed, accuracy, critical rate, damage and defense penetration. Defense is Max HP, evasion, Shield block, CC time reduction and all damage reduction. There is also MP and secondary (such as cool-down reduction). Resistances were removed from CBT and replaced with type damage and reduction; the different types are: Plant, Insect, Beast, Humanoid, Undead, Demon, Mutant, Magic and Building.
MuL has a core stat called Combat Power (CP) which is a numeric representation of your character’s overall combat prowess. Think of it as a derivative DPS value. I like the system because you truly see your character’s power growing as you progress, even when you’re at max level. CP is also used when looking for parties and trying to find others who are strong enough to handle the content you’re pursuing. In CBT1 a fresh level 65 had around 100k-120k, and the top players in the game had around 220k. The difference between 100k and 200k is staggering, so growing your CP just by 5k makes a difference you can really feel when playing the game. In OBT a fresh level 65 only has around 90k CP, and obtaining 140k or higher takes a lot longer than it did in CBT, but I think that’s a good thing. The difference between 110k-120k is quite noticeable. A little more than two weeks after launch, some of the most powerful characters have more than 200k CP.
Each class has 14 class-specific Skills. This includes 6 weapon skills (3 for 1h weapons and 3 for 2h weapons) and 14 class skills. There are also 9 expert skills (which can be put into 3 unlocked slots) that provide strong passive bonuses and include devastating skill attacks. When a character is created, the player is presented with one of two “Class Tactics” they can choose from; this can be confusing as a player may think this is a static choice that will provide a different outcome of skills. It does not. It just determines what weapon your new character will start with (1h vs 2h) and you can switch weapon types at any time. As skills are used, Crest Sockets unlock. Players can then equip crests within the skill sockets for benefits such as cooldown time -5% or extra attack damage +3%. Players can also find and use custom crest drops that can provide additional enhancements beyond the normal crests, such as attack damage +6%. This is a good design because it allows the game to augment and enhance core skills beyond their standard template.
Quests in MuL lead the player through the storyline and world content while also serving as the core method of leveling up. They come in three flavors: Gold (story), Blue (side) and Pink (timed for the zone). There really isn’t anything special or different about the quests in MuL compared to other ARPGs; most are “Go here” and “Kill 12 of X” or “Pick up # Urns”. But, the quest markers, flow, rewards, and overall questing experience feels solid, fun and smooth.
There are also Daily Quests once you reach max level, which involve running the mythic version of dungeons. If you complete these quests, you are rewarded with daily quest tokens. 25 tokens can be traded for a single piece of mythic gear. Technically, dailies also include the Duty Room instances (such as the Labyrinth or Garden – defined below). Dailies reset at 11pm PST.
A feature called Subjugation is also available, something very few players are aware of. When you press ESC and go to the Growth Guide, you can click on a daily entry and pay either Redzen or Bound Redzen to auto-complete a specific dungeon or mission (not epics though) with 60% of the reward. This is interesting and allows players to auto-complete these missions and/or dungeons (including rifts). This does not provide any experience, but it provides 60% of the rewards. This is useful if you log in 5 minutes prior to the daily reset and don’t have time to run everything; better to get 60% rewards than 0%.
Items follow the norm for other ARPGs. Each character has 3 inventory tabs (up to 5 with platinum subscription) with 24 slots on each tab. Each item takes up 1 slot. I like how much space is given at the start so a character doesn’t have to worry about an overflowing inventory until later. Items come in six flavors: Common (white), Uncommon (green), Rare (blue), Legendary (green blue), Ancient (yellow), Mythical (orange), and Set (purple). There is also indication of a Unique item type (higher than Set), but I don’t think it’s currently in OBT. The game allows the player to socket items, place gems in those sockets, and enchant items to a + stage (e.g. +7 chest armor). Character equipment follows the traditional Helmet, Chest, Pants, 1H, 2H, Earring, Necklace, Ring, etc. There is also a slot for wings (discussed below) and a costume (which provides visual aesthetics and bonuses). When you find a Rare or higher item, it’s Unidentified. You must spend money and gems to identify it (which rolls the stats), and it will always sell to a vendor for more Zen than the ID cost. The advantage to selling non-ID’d items on the Trade Broker (usually Legendary or higher) is players can ID it to roll the stats. It would be nice to have an “identify all” option within inventory since right now you have to manually click on each item.
Consumables usually come in the form of potions to regenerate health. There are also damage and resistance potions that can be consumed and crafted as well (some last 5m, others 30m). There are also XP and other bonus potions that can be purchased from the Legend shop.
Item Repair is a part of the game and more of a minor annoyance money sink than anything else. Equipped items have durability and cost Zen to repair once the durability gets low. The game would have been perfectly fine without gear durability.
Each town/city has a Storage container the player can use and pay Zen to expand in size. Items in storage are shared between all characters on an account, but players cannot put currency into storage; only items. This means currency is not shared between characters, but you can mail currency to other characters.
The Crafting system is very similar to Diablo 3 and it is critically important at end-game. Characters automatically receive access to crafting recipes as they level up, unlike in CBT where recipes dropped (it appears all dropped recipes have been removed from the game). Weapons, Armor, Jewels, Soul Stones, Items can be dismantled (salvaged) to obtain materials such as Ore, Dust and Newk. Many recipes also require Gems and unique crafting materials only dropped by bosses. Players can craft two types of items: Equipment and Consumables. End-game gear requires unique crafting drops from the epic dungeons. I found the crafting system to work well while leveling up and was able to craft a number of legendary items at 65 that were quite helpful. The only issue is it’s far too difficult to get the materials to craft a single mythic item (one will often get a drop or buy from the Auction House before they have enough materials to craft their own mythic item). And even if you do craft one, you can often get stats that are so bad, another is required.
Players can Enchant items, which allows for changing (for example) a base chest piece to a +1 chest piece. This process uses Jewels of Bliss and Zen. Up to +3 there’s no chance of failure, but after +3 you can lose a level if it’s not successful, and after +7 the item can be destroyed. I am not a fan of systems like this,which ensure players will lose time, energy and money all to RNG. Black Desert Online (which is also a Korean game) has a similar system, and many people quit the game out of frustration of not being able to upgrade their gear. Characters can also reroll one implicit value of an item at the enchanter in a fashion similar to Diablo 3. This allows characters to replace stats (such as HP recovery) with something more useful, such as attack or cooldown reduction.
Artifacts are similar to skill gems from Diablo 3. You craft them and grow them by running Lupa’s Labyrinth (covered below). There are three core categories: Round, Pentagonal and Shield. There are 10 of each, and only one of each type can be equipped (currently in OBT only one from the round category can be equipped, and the other 2 slots will be opened in the future). Equipped Artifacts enhance your characters through bonuses such as increased attack speed per level (stacking), increased defense, auras and more. Players can swap artifacts at any time, which allows for switching from one artifact to another before a boss fight. Artifacts are raised in level by running Lupa’s Labyrinth (covered below). Players can also use the Alchemy Merchant to dismantle high level artifacts for soul stones (which can be used to craft unique jewels to socket in items).
Wings are a big part of the game. They provide bonuses to the character, visually change how the character looks, and also give an indication of how powerful the character is. Wings are evolved through the enchanter and require stones that can be acquired through drops from the Endless Tower (discussed below).
MuL has Pets and they come in two flavors: Summoned and Comrade. Summoned pets won’t fight for you, but they visually follow you around and provide bonuses associated with combat (such as mutant damage, hit points, etc. depending on the level and pet type). Comrade pets act like Summoned pets except they aren’t visually seen and have bonuses associated with drops (such as more Zen), but the player can register up to 4 of them (the slots are unlocked with Zen). Pets are leveled up by registering (consuming) a pet as a material and then using evolution stones. In CBT1 pets had a max level of 5; we don’t know the max level on OBT. The pet system is very confusing to new players because the only way to receive points (used to level up a pet) is to release other pets (get rid of them). This is a counter-intuitive and poorly designed system. Additionally, pet drops are ultra rare (requiring most people to buy them with Redzen). I’ve had one pet drop between two level 65 characters with soul levels in the 80’s.
Rifts are random dungeons similar to rifts from D3. They can contain pylons (augmenting attack, defense, lightning bolts, etc.), treasure goblins/pixies (that can drop extra loot), and random elite/boss mobs. A rift always matches the level of the character (or highest level in a party), so as a player progresses through the world, they enter the rifts they stumble across to get extra experience, currency, and items. The limiting factor is a character can only enter rifts a total of 7 times each day (as a Platinum subscriber). As players complete rifts on the different continents, the rifts can go into Overdrive for 10 minutes. When rifts are in overdrive on a continent, players can enter those rifts without their 10 a day counter decreasing (e.g. they become free rifts) and the player that triggers the overdrive receives double attack and defense for the 10-minute window. At the end of a rift, characters get to roll on one of four cards that provide item rewards that can include legendary gear. I like this system because during leveling, if the boss doesn’t drop anything good, the character still has a chance to get something really good depending on their card of choice and final rift clearing score (based on speed, etc). Once overdrive is complete, an Invasion begins. When an invasion starts, a portal appears somewhere on the continent where the invasion was triggered. A timer counts down and three pillars must be defended by all players that can make it. If at least one of the pillars survives the time (10 minutes, I believe), the invasion boss appears, and it takes a lot of players to take it down. Once dead, the player is rewarded with up to four chests depending on their participation level. These chests can provide end-game loot, including mythical items.
Transportation between cities, towns and continents is easy. The player has a town portal device which allows instant transportation to the main town on the current continent or the central town for the game world (Ohrdor). There are also a number of Mounts in the game including wolves, horses and full-scale dragons. Players are awarded their first mount through the quest line, providing a 50% movement bonus, but must buy other mounts through the legacy store.
There are two Subscription levels: Gold and Platinum. For a 30-day subscription, Gold costs 500 Redzen ($5) and Platinum costs 1000 Redzen ($10). Gold provides additional inventory, remote teleport, mail, and storage, and increases trade broker item registration and lowers the selling fee. Platinum allows for remote dismantlement, remote shop (sell/repair), and numerous enhancements such as additional inventory, attack, soul exp gain, uncommon item drop rift entries and more. It’s my opinion that playing this game as a Platinum subscriber is the only way to go, and well worth the $10/mo fee for those who plan on sticking around.
There are three types of Currency. Zen (Gold), Magic Gems, and Guild Contribution points. Zen is the core currency used across the board. Magic gems are used to ID items, Craft items, Enchant items, and Add Jewel Slots. There is not a vendor or use for Guild Contribution points as of yet, but rumor has it when the harbor is introduced, there will be guild vendors where you can spend the points.
There are also Daily Rewards for logging in and playing, usually in the form of Gems and Bound Redzen.
MuL features Trade Brokers (Auction House) that allow players to buy and sell items using either Zen or Redzen, a currency that can be purchased with real money. Items sold for Zen have a surcharge, so it’s important to define a value that has a high probability of selling the item since the surcharge is not refunded if the item doesn’t sell. The auction system currently feels a bit like the old Diablo 3 auction house (which was a complete failure). It will be interesting to see if Webzen can balance the trader to the point where MuL doesn’t fall into the same trading pit of failure that D3 did.
The game also has a Bound Redzen currency, but it is very misleading as the mouseover information states “Can be used at Redzen shop just like normal Redzen” but you quickly find out you can use it only for very limited purchases. Webzen wants people to spend real money on this game.
The Legacy Store is where players can purchase in-game items for real money (Redzen). This includes costumes, wings, mounts, resurrection stones, pets and more. The problem with item purchases in the store is many of the good things people would like to buy are all timed purchases, so the player is forced to re-purchase (and re-spend) the money again and again. In essence, people spend real money to rent costumes. This approach will not work well at all in the United States. I certainly won’t be spending money to rent a costume for 3, 7 or 30 days.
Now it’s time to talk about the Founder Packs (which were only available before OBT) and the complete disaster Webzen created by using obscure 3rd party payment gateways that hardly anyone here in the US uses (even going so far as to driving people to retailers to purchase a game card!). On top of that, the items we got in the Founder’s pack were 1-time use items! So those awesome wings can only be put on one character. I regret my purchase and will certainly never buy any founder’s pack from Webzen again.
One question many people ask is Mu Legend Pay to Win? Yes. Because you cause use real money to buy end-game items from the Trade Broker. A brand new 65 could spend $100 and buy top tier gear using Redzen whereas it would take weeks (or longer) for a player to acquire the Zen (or direct drops) by focusing solely on internal gameplay (even with a subscription). Yes, players must first sell these end-game items via the Broker, and no, the items aren’t available for sale through the Legacy Store, but it does give an unfair advantage to anyone willing to shell out money. Also, Set (and Unique, which are not in the game yet) items cannot currently be sold on the Broker; they must be ground in epic dungeons. But even with this limitation, a player can spend real money to obtain a full set of Mythic gear (which can be better than set depending on a character’s class and configuration). Once OBT releases the new PvP content, this is going to be an even bigger issue where those who spend $1000 can afford to buy the most expensive gear in the game, giving them a distinct advantage over others.
The Combat of MuL is fluid and fun. Damage numbers (with crits), flying bodies (with physics) and telegraphed boss attacks make for an interactive experience. There is a big problem with the boss attack telegraphs inaccurately representing the area of attack, often resulting in hard hits to the character when they should not (usually tied to latency). This issue is probably the most serious gameplay bug in the game (next to disconnects), and it existed a year ago in CBT. Ultimately, it is a lot of fun to gather dozens of targets together and destroy them with hard-hitting attacks only to send bodies flying through the air. The combat is quite satisfying and the character leveling experience is one of the best parts of the game. Orbs also drop during combat, especially with bosses. These can provide temporary mini buffs (such as +5% attack speed) when a character runs over and automatically consumes them.
Death causes items to lose durability, but there is no experience loss (which I think is a very good thing). There are Resurrection Stones of Life that allow one to resurrect on the spot at full health; these can be found in treasure cubes, or purchased through the Legacy Store (100 for 3,000 Redzen, or $30) . Certain dungeons and mechanics don’t allow for non-stone resurrection (or the character will lose an entry instance). In the Labyrinth, if the character dies, unless they use a stone, they are ejected (but can run it an unlimited amount of times). One can always resurrect at point in a Mythic dungeon (even at the boss). For Epic dungeons, point resurrection isn’t allowed at the final boss (but prior to that it’s allowed) and characters can only use a stone up to 5 times before they are ejected. For daily dungeons like the Garden, it’s similar to the Labyrinth; if you die, you can only resurrect outside of the instance, losing the entry point.
Monsters come in three flavors: Normal, Elite and Boss. Rumor has it there will be Open World Bosses with the release of the remaining continents (although we have Invasion bosses now). Mob density is very good and there is no limit to the number of mobs you can gather up or hit at once. Monsters that are “pulled” too far from their spawn point will return to their point of origin, but only in the open world whereas monsters in dungeons will follow you nonstop. Monster Auras are a key part to the game and combat. There are 40 in total including Cold, Skin, Swamp Ghost, Fiery Chain, Meteor, Attack and Healing. Auras directly impact all of the mobs within their radius. Some of the auras (such as Swamp Ghost and Skin) either last too long or take too long to punch though. Players must be especially careful when running the lab as a large group of Water Ghost (inflicts damage on its killer) mobs can 1-shot a character.
Treasure drops are well-balanced during leveling. Zen (gold) mixed with items for dismantling and progression along with unique drops and Jewels of Bless (the core enchantment currency) make for good loot. But once you get to end-game and have all ancient gear, obtaining Mythical and Set items turns into a royal nightmare because you can only get them (with a reasonable chance) from epic dungeons (which you can only run 2 of each day). This becomes very repetitive and in my opinion boring very quickly (forcing players to raid in groups, an old mechanic that newer games have learned they shouldn’t require). MuL needs some means of obtaining Mythic and Set gear outside of Epic dungeons; I hope they fix this with the release of the new content. Dungeon bosses drop Treasure Cubes, which can be opened once for free, or up to 2 additional times for the price of Zen. This is a reasonable money sink and can often provide good gear. Yes, mythic boss cubes can drop Mythic items (not set), but the probability is so low, players can easily go through more than 100 cubes and never see a mythic item; but you can sure buy them for Redzen! And in the rare instance a mythic or set item drops, it’s often for another class. So the drop system up to ancient is solid, but after that, it’s tedious.
I like the Ranking system, which shows the top players in the game by the following categories: Character (Combat Power, Soul Level, Zen, and Magic Gems), Mythic and Epic dungeon clear speeds, and Mission Maps (Endless Tower, AI Arena, etc.). At the time of writing this review, on my server (Anilata) the highest CP is roughly 200 and the highest completed floor for the tower (solo) is 50.
The game currently has 286 Achievements available including categories for Character, Item, Each Continent, Room of Duty, Combat, and Quests. They are very standard, such as reach soul level 100, or equip a mythic item. Some of these achievements allowed for specific Titles to be displayed over a character’s name. Others offered rewards delivered through mail.
OBT features 4 US/Americas Servers, and they are hosted by Quadranet in Miami, Florida.I average ~200ms to the servers with my Gigabit Fiber, where I get 15-20ms pings to the Path of Exile servers. Every other game I play in the US is well under 100ms in ping (usually ~30ms). However when I use PingZapper, latency issues nearly disappear and I average around 65ms. This shows the default tunneling to the American server hosting location is very poor for west coast players (and most others as I’ve discovered). On top of that, we have the critical problem where the Americas servers are a melting pot of multiple cultures; as such, many players can’t even communicate due to language barriers. This is another key issue showing very little foresight by Webzen to properly plan and launch servers for specific regions (keeping in mind the language and culture differences). Another issue is when you receive a disconnect in a dungeon with limited runs, it kicks you out and you lose access. This is especially bad in Epic dungeons, which can only be run once per day. And it’s still happening left and right.
The game has been plagued with Server Stability Issues since launch, and even now, more than two weeks after OBT went live, I’ll often hang (without a disconnect message) and need to manually exit the game. A large percentage of bug reports and subreddit posts relate to the constant disconnection problems. I regularly run daily epic dungeons and lose connection (or lag out) only to lose my daily access. Failing to implement a “reconnect” option for people who get kicked out to daily epics was a huge oversight that has screwed many players in OBT.
Lag is a big problem, especially when fighting bosses. I regularly encounter rubber banding and insta-death tied to the game having desync issues; and it’s even worse in groups.
The Graphics of MuL are good; WebZen did a great job with the textures, colors, environmentals and combination of region themes and strange critters. Shadows, Water, Ice (with multiple layers), Reflections and Depth of region bring the world to life in a very well-balanced display of immersion. The only thing missing from this game is a day/night cycle, but the reason for omitting such a feature may be to ensure zones consistently have the same look and feel when players are in them. The ragdoll physics are solid as the broken bodies of your slain enemies fly through the air and even impact on world objects or fall off cliffs. Animations are smooth and fluid while particles are average.
I was very surprised to find I really liked the Music. While it’s not at the same level as the timeless pieces from Diablo, I would say MuL has the best ARPG music I’ve heard next to Diablo (and some pieces from Path of Exile). The Sound FX are pretty much average for an ARPG.
Webzen screwed up the Friends list by not sharing it on an account, so when you create a new character, you have to manually rebuild the list. Another disappointing factor is back in CBT when a friend found an awesome item (such as a mythic), it would broadcast that find to all of their friends. This was a great community notification system that enticed communication and congratulations. They removed this from OBT. Not sure why as it brought people together.
Guilds cost $5M zen to form and allow the creation of emblems from a collection of merged templates. There is a built-in search feature where players can apply for guilds that are accepting applications. The interface is clean and easy to use (good design). When looking for members, guilds can present themselves as focused on one of four categories: Social, Monster Hunt, PvP and Character Growth. Players can have up to 10 applications “active” at any one time. Guilds grow in level through contribution and offer a number of enhancement features through Shrines. The Guild Master can build these shrine expansions with the right amount of materials and Zen, which can be deposited into guild storage. Members can also donate Zen to the guild to help build the shrine expansions. The guild system revolves around shrines, which provide benefits to members. Shrines can be built by the guild master and cost a large amount of zen and have high item requirements. Some shrines increase the soul experience while others will increase the overall drop of Zen. Guilds also acquire a percentage of Zen for each drop and level up (the current max level is 15) based on members gaining experience. Members can find and donate Trophy Coins, which awards a box of magic gems; but it doesn’t do anything for the guild. Guilds also have shared storage which can be used to share items between members.
The Party system is fairly standard, but functions well relative to zoning and waiting for other members. The biggest problem is the inability to kick party members, so if somebody goes AFK, the whole party needs to be disbanded and reformed; of course this doesn’t work in an epic dungeon, and numerous players quickly find their epic dungeon run a bust because one or more players go AFK in the middle of the run. Webzen really needs to add a vote kick and/or party leader kick feature. Another issue is players die a lot more to lag issues in parties than not, enticing players to run solo.
Bots were rampant, which was apparent by the top clear dungeon times, 3rd party sites selling Zen and other factors. This shows the Guardian system doesn’t work – just like it didn’t in Closed Beta. Gold Spammers also took over chat channels, and reporting them didn’t have any impact (I saw many spammers standing in the same place doing their thing all day long). One would think a $250M+ company with previous experience dealing with these issues would have some back-end systems put into place to address and solve these problems. But instead of planning for these issues, Webzen reacted by disabling key features (such as in-game mail, trading, and the trade broker) for all players. They also added a CAPTCHA to the launcher and even had an in-game CAPTCHA pop up during gameplay (which was insane). And all of this was done right before Thanksgiving weekend (a prime gaming time in the US). A move like this hurts the average player much more than it does gold sellers. I’ve never known any game to implement such invasive and restrictive features to solve a problem like this, only showing further the the team at Webzen didn’t properly plan on addressing the botting/gold selling problems any intelligent gamer knew would happen; and this makes no sense given the company has been building and running online games for more than a decade. There’s some seriously stupid people at Webzen in charge of the design and launch of MuL.
The Chat System is fairly standard, allowing for guild, zone, trade, party and other generalized system chat including tab customization to control which channels are displayed. The problem is chat completely broken in the US. You can’t use numerous standard characters (such as +,-,*, :, etc.), and the game will often just “eat” a message, forcing players to re-type their message, or speak with only letters and basic ?/!, etc. Another point is this chat system forces players to speak “stupid” and without punctuation. Try typing like this for a week or two you’ll see it impacts your overall grammatical typing habits. Webzen is truly creating dumb poorly communicating players by enforcing the chat system as it stands. The fact this issue has been in the game since CBT1 shows how completely incompetent and oblivious Webzen is relative to addressing the most basic yet critical features of community and communication. Shame on them. There is no excuse for this at all, and the restrictive chat system is reason enough to quit this game.
There is also a Ticketing system built into the game, but many players (myself included) waited more than a week for simple ticket submissions to be addressed; and you can’t respond or re-open tickets once they are “handled”. I had a ticket that should have easily been addressed, yet a Webzen rep lazily blew it off with no real explanation, and there was nothing I could do (no response, no re-open request, etc.). Once again, Webzen is failing to support the paying players or have the staff necessary to support the game; and while one may argue “it’s open beta”, when a company sells services and takes money from players, there’s a certain level of support expected. At this time, it is not provided.
End game is the most important part of any ARPG, and it begins when a player hits max level (65 in OBT). It’s all about raising soul level and acquiring better gear, including wing upgrades and enchantments, and the Hall of Duty becomes a second home to a max-level character. While there’s talk of open-world bosses in future releases, the Hall really is where all the end-game action is (save Mythic dungeon runs, covered below). First, we have Fabrice’s Garden, an instanced garden-like dungeon where pets drop. Next we have the Endless Tower, a rising platform that refills with monsters with each level of progression, getting harder and harder the higher it goes. This is where players get get the crystals to exchange for wing growth stones. The Blood Castle is where you get Jewels of Bless and Magic Gems by killing a boss that rises from a coffin; the reward being better the quicker it can be completed. The Magic Gem Mine is full of Magic Gems, and Luery’s Secret Vault is packed full of Zen (gold). And finally, Lupa’s Labyrinth is where you level up Artifacts. Lupas is also held as the best place to farm for soul experience. Competitive players who are looking to quickly grow their soul level at max level often put all of their skill points into experience bonuses and run the labyrinth nonstop. Ace of Spades made a good video explaining the most efficient way to run the Labyrinth.
Mythic Dungeons are the current end-game farming zones that can be run an unlimited number of times. There’s Heath Mine, Sky Temple and Pit of Nightmares. These dungeons are where players want to go to farm Zen, Jewels and Ancient gear (Mythic is possible, but ultra rare). Farming on Mythic 1 is usually the quickest and most efficient, but more powerful characters can farm on higher settings to get more Zen and Ancient (with potential mythic) item drops.
There are two Epic Dungeons, and each can be run once a day. The first is Dragon’s Haven, which is the easier of the two. It features three bosses and fairly standard mechanics; the end-boss isn’t too bad as long as the party knows to jump through the purple wall of death. Next we have Sanctum of the Dragon Knights, and the end-game boss is much more difficult than Dragon’s Haven, featuring a shared damage and instant-death mechanic. Epic dungeons have 5 difficulty levels, however the first level is already quite difficult for players even with 120k-140k CP. The issue with epic dungeons is they are really old-school raids, and forced upon the players if they want to pursue set gear. I’m already bored of the Epic dungeons as it’s always the same fights again and again. Some people like this, but I’ve never been a fan of static raids. Webzen had the opportunity to do something different here, and they missed the mark. Another issue is bosses (at least in Epic dungeons) will continue to target and attack dead characters. This often makes it impossible to resurrect key party members.
The game does become quite Repetitive in its current state. Once you hit 65, you do dailies, and either run Mythics (Mine, Sky, or Pit), or the Labyrinth… again… and again… and again. That’s about all there is to do right now. Some people really enjoy the repetition (players are already 180+ soul level) but I personally find it tedious. Another issue is you can’t really farm end-game gear; you can only really get mythic and set items from epic dungeons (which you can run once a day), and the statistical chance of a mythic dropping from a mythic dungeon is so low, it’s just not enticing (one player opened 200 mythic dungeon cubes and didn’t get a single mythic item). I’ve seen only one mythic item drop from a mythic dungeon and I’ve run them hundreds of times. It’s fairly easy to get ancient gear, but after that, it becomes tedious. I believe the game is missing the “fun item farming” aspect that so many others have (such as PoE, D3, Grim Dawn) where amazing items can drop just by playing the game; in MuL, the amazing items only in forced raiding.
There are currently a number of bugs and issues with OBT, which I’ve outlined below.
Enemy telegraph hitboxes can be very inaccurate (latency delayed), resulting in 1-shot deaths (especially with bosses). It gets worse in parties.
Chat is completely broken in the US (can’t use characters like +, -, (, ), ;). Additionally, the filter is far too aggressive, showing “Class” as “Cl***”.
Cannot re-enter limited daily dungeons (epics, vault, etc) after disconnect. This ensures numerous players lose access to important daily runs, especially with the terrible server hosting issues. Additionally, if players leave party, go AFK or disconnect in the middle of an epic run, the entire party loses the run.
Servers are packed with people who don’t speak the same language. This is a big localization mistake by Webzen, also showing they don’t have a clue about “The Americas” (which is filled with people from north, central and south america each region speaking a different language).
Legitimate player accounts who use tools like PingZapper to try and get around the terribly high pings due to bad hosting decisions made by Webzen are being blocked.
The Pet system is very confusing and poorly designed. It’s also nearly impossible to upgrade your pets without spending real money.
Webzen runs server maintenance at 11pm PST (which is prime time for many gamers in the US).
The Launcher does not remember username or password, and requires Captcha confirmation every time you log in now. Captcha can also pop up in the middle of gameplay (but I admit I haven’t seen this over the past week; it may have been removed).
Can’t right-click on a name and block spammers (the game forces you to manually enter a name like “dsadasjrioweord” into your block list). Also cannot right-click on guild member names and send tell.
Each character has its own friends list. This means when you create a new character, you no longer have access to your friends list. Friends should be account-wide.
Game is packed full of AFK folks while others sit in a queue to play.
Cosmetic purchases have a time limit which means you don’t buy them, you rent them. This is probably one of the dumbest marketing decisions I’ve ever seen, and I certainly won’t spend money on a system like this – ever.
Founder pack rewards (wings, mounts, pets) are usable only on one character. This is very misleading, and most people I know who purchased their founder packs regret their decision due to this limitation.
Many of these issues are unforgivable, obvious results of incompetence, poor planning, cultural disconnects, or simple laziness. It’s unfortunate that a game with such a great potential is plagued with so many issues that could easily be fixed and addressed.
While the closed beta for MuL was one of the best I’ve played, the number of enhancements made to the game over the past year doesn’t make up for the volume of problems that are currently being experienced in open beta. Make no mistake, the core feel of the game is very good; the graphics, combat, character progression, class skills, dailies, rifts and monsters — it all flows and comes together very well. The UI is smooth, the music is surprisingly good and the boss fights are interactive and fun but not overwhelming. Leveling is enjoyable, and the ability to lay out different skill setups (with F1/F2 page swapping) is also a very good thing. Traveling throughout the world is easy, and loot drops are balanced until end-game.
But Webzen began alienating their players with the founder’s packs (only allowing obscure 3rd party gateways that hardly anyone in America uses) and then making the cosmetics from those purchases (Mounts, Pets, etc) bound to a single character. The ensures a “founder” can only experience their benefits on one character, and if they want to build another character, it’ll be just like any other player. Bots and spammers were so rampant they had to shut down all trading, and that’s mixed with the fact Webzen put multiple cultures on the same server who cannot communicate with each other. So if you’re from Seattle and speak English and choose an Americas server, you’ll quickly find yourself buried in Portuguese. Pair that with broken systems like Chat, terrible hosting choices ensuring high ping rates, and bans of legitimate players because they use tools like PingZapper, and you have a complete mess on top of a good core game.