As promised, here is the second part of my Cabal Online review.
The HUD or main interface of an MMO is probably one of the more confusing things to deal with when trying a new game; it’s the basics of artistic design in general. Naturally the mind orients itself to any new environment and naturally, over the years, designers have filtered out a template on what the effective game interface and HUD should look like. That said, I’ve had no problems with this game’s HUD whatsoever.
I admit that it does have a few hiccups here and there, but for the most part Cabal Online (CO) utilizes this concept in game design aptly called “these stuff that keep on blinking are the ones you need to focus on” in its tutorial phase quite well. The tutorial phase of CO is paced quite well. Also notice my phrasing of the words ‘tutorial’ and ‘phase’. The game effectively treats the first parts of the game as a separate experience from the actual game; this phase treats you more as a trainee than an actual player – and this is a good thing. This provides a transitional period up until you reach level 52 where the game truly begins.
Levels 51 and below can only give you monsters to kill, not so much real human players at all. This is a good thing as you will probably live longer, and you won’t get frustrated with the game because of people with infinitely higher levels ruining your life all the time. I praise the game’s design so well because that’s logically how MMOs should be. The players are only given little doses of complicated stuff at a time to which the player can learn about the game and its universe at their own pace. Leveling up is also done in its own pace but that’s another interesting game feature that deserves its own paragraph.
Leveling-up, or grinding as it’s more commonly known, doesn’t feel as much of a burden here as in other games. CO, based on my observations, is a more polished version of already existing MMOs with all of the good features and less of the bad ones. Leveling up doesn’t really feel like leveling up per se. The game’s design makes it almost impossible for you to notice that you’re even grinding in that quests are everywhere. You do quests, you finish that quest, you are redirected to another quest, rinse and repeat, and then you glow, and all of a sudden you’ve reached level 20.
The quests already give you insane amounts of experience points for completing them, compared to killing monsters, which presents little experience points no matter which way you see it. Of course if you’re a sadist and enjoy killing monsters and that’s your thing then I’m wrong in my argument. But for every other sane person out there in the world, the game makes an effort to convey progression with leveling-up and not so much evolution or just advancement.
This effectively makes for better story telling as well, in an effort to make the player become connected with the character more – as the game’s quests make you go through tasks that matter rather than just killing monsters. These tasks apparently make ‘killing’ all of these game monsters justifiable at the very least. You aren’t just made to kill them for their innards to be sold in the market. Usually, the quests I’ve encountered make you kill them because an item that can only be attained from the monster is needed as well as there being an infestation of the monsters within a certain area. This makes the quests much more justifiable and much more human and acceptable, as well as having an avenue for the player to bond with their character even in the subconscious or subliminal sense.
Speaking of story, I’m not the type to study a game’s mythology if it’s not needed. In fact, I don’t study anything that’s not needed or that’s not that relevant in day to day existence. Obviously, game mythologies are out of the question unless absolutely necessary but somehow CO makes it work for me, which is why it gets the points that it deserves.
Despite my ignorance and indifference to the game’s lore and storyline in general, I was able to learn how to use the game’s most mythology-centric character, by default in RPGs in general might I add. I was able to do that and somewhat be an effective monster-slaying machine in two days – more or less. One day to get in the hang of things, the next to tear the world apart. Granted, I’ve got more spells to learn and more items to upgrade, but I think I’ve proven my point: this game is VERY beginner-friendly.
Sadly its having user-friendliness only exists in-game. This game is only an MMO by default in its current state. It isn’t that massively-played while still being a multiplayer online game. It may just be that I am in the beginner’s training phase but most of the world in-game is a barren wasteland, devoid of human players. I may just be on the wrong servers but there isn’t much interaction that I can get while inside the game.
Most “human” players I’ve suspected may just be bots; no one interacts even when I message them and they seem to jump around everywhere and lay waste to everything in their paths. Despite CO supposedly being a “Massive Multiplayer Online Game”, there’s not much in here which effectively makes this game for the most part a single player experience. Despite all of these setbacks, the game does seem to have a noticeable online presence in the game’s forums. The threads do have some activity going on here and there but that’s about it. It just is lacking community presence because this is an otherwise good game – and I have high standards for games. This may have something to do with the fact that the game is 6 years old or that a sequel is in the works – which seems to be the case. However it may just be the general interest with the game in general that’s causing it all. This is in fact an old game.
Regardless, this is a good game; it’s a fun game. However, the community presence is just not there; or rather, not quite how it used to be. Maybe this just applies to the North American market, as their client is what I used for this review, but the bottom line is this: Good Game, Superb Battle System, Lacking Community Presence to date. 8/10