One thing that’s tough for any developer, no matter how accomplished, is making a follow up game to a successful title. Whether it is a sequel or a prequel - or even an offshoot - developers are often expected to both recreate the magic of the first game and amplify it and improve it at the same time. If those two goals sound contradictory to you, that is because they are; yet, all too often, that is what gamers want, especially when it comes to massively multiplayer online role-playing games.
When you think of a game genre that requires a huge commitment, MMORPGs is probably one of the first to come to mind, and for a good reason. Sometimes it takes hundreds of hours to level a character, or obtain a certain piece of gear, or even accomplish some in-game feat of some kind or the other. This is to say that when people play MMORPGs, they become intensely dedicated to both the game, its world, and their accomplishments. Convincing such a dedicated crowd to move over to a new game, even a sequel, is often a tough proposition. Why do you think Blizzard continues to milk World of Warcraft to this day, some 15 years after the game’s original release? But, for some brave developers, working with a decade-and-a-half old platform doesn’t cut it. Such is the case with Mu Online’s follow up game, Mu Legend.
For its part, Mu Online predates even WoW, which came out in 2004, with a release in 2001 from Webzen. An isometric medieval fantasy MMORPG, Mu Online developed a huge following in Korea, China, and Japan. Hugely competitive gaming markets, to be sure, and probably part of the reason why Webzen first started talking about it all the way back in 2004.
Though it wouldn’t make it to the market until 2017, Mu Legend was an eagerly anticipated sequel to a hugely popular MMORPG. In fact, Mu Online was receiving updates up to and including the week prior to Mu Legend’s official launch - it is that strong of a title.
The structure of Mu Legens is rather cliche. As a fledgling warrior, you are immediately pitted against the great evil of the game before losing and having to be transported back in time by a wizard in order to level up and take on the bad guy on your own terms. The premise won’t inspire, and, really, we shouldn’t expect it to do that. Mu Legend is about action, and that’s clear from the beginning.
That is to say the story won’t be what grabs you and, despite its cinematic presentation, Mu Legend is just not a gripping yarn. Combat, however, is some of the most compelling action in an MMORPG. Fast-paced, frantic, and chaotic at times, Mu Legend shines when it comes to killing demons, goblins, and errant enemies. Open-world combat and instanced dungeons feel distinct and have their own tactics and strategies you will want to deploy in order to wipe out the mobs that come your way.
Here, also, your skills and armor truly show off their stuff with flashy animations, bright explosions, and more gore than a slasher film, Mu Legend is a feast for the eyes and ears when it gets going. Add a friend or two and it becomes all that much more of a spectacle.
Just as Diablo III, Mu Legend takes advantage of its fast paced gameplay that turns the players into an almost arcade-like trance of sound and fury. Yet fighting stuff isn’t everything in a game and it is here the Mu Legends disappoints yet again. Since you don’t have a story to connect with you should probably have a compelling character creation option, right?
Most games these days have overly complex character creation segments, but Mu Legend has one that is so barebones and basic that it almost feels sad.
You have five classes to choose from with some customization options like hair style, etc.
You can tat them up as well but the variety of options you have in this area are just woefully inadequate. It wouldn’t be a big deal if the story were interesting, but it isn’t.
And, while customization doesn’t guarantee a connection with your toon, it does help. That’s why so many MMORPGs have robust character creation systems. Just a note for Webzen.
Thankfully, the game does allow you to differentiate your character from the horde through the choice of one of two weapons styles that then branches out into three weapon skills to unlock as you advance.
Past that, you have 14 class skills with a variety of benefits and then more minor buffs to unlock after that. If you see the trend here, the treadmill of grinding and leveling in Mu Legend is very real. As far as in active skills, you can have 7 at your fingertips in the skill bar with each class having 26 skills total.
All in all, MU Legend resembles Diablo III and is meant to be it's competitor, except being F2P.
Yet it is a bit off when compared to Mu Online. Why is that exactly? What is different between the two games that might make a fan of the first not so keen on the second game? Well, one of the biggest complaints is that the armor went from being epic in Mu Online to disappointing and bland in Mu Legend. That’s a small gripe, for sure, but, when compared to the first game, this is noticeable. Gear is a reward for achievement and an incentive to keep playing. Making it boring and aesthetically dull doesn’t help Webzen’s case that Mu Legend is a sequel to a legendary game.
Another major change that has irked some classic players is the new player-versus-player system. Now, in Mu Legend, players have to accept or decline challenges to engage in PvP. In Mu Online, there was an open PvP system that a lot of players enjoyed. Naturally, in such a system, veteran players tend to have an edge over newer players and we can only assume that Webzen was looking to make the sequel more beginner friendly with this change.
Also some players just don’t like PvP, but we can understand why this change was disheartening from the standpoint of a player of the original game. What Mu Legend does offer in PvP is balanced and consensual which might be a turn off for some players. Team battles are popular but, again, not the same as the kind of PvP found in Mu Online.
Further, while combat is compelling, a lot of players are complaining about what they feel are “corridor-like” maps that Mu Legend uses. This means that a player (or players) walks and battles along a somewhat linear path with limited options for exploration and interacting with the environment. While this was not a big feature in Mu Online, the former game’s maps seemed to be more fun to play than some of those found in Mu Legend.
On another note, the game is plagued by bots farming and lots of in-game chat spamming. This not only has a negative effect on the quality of the servers but also makes it difficult to communicate with other players. Bots and tons of crap going on is to be expected when the game uses a free-to-play model, but you can’t help but feel like no one is home when it comes to customer service and maintaining a quality environment. How dedicated can you expect a player to be if they’re surrounded by people gaming the system? It’s just a bad look overall.
Mu Legend emphasizes fast action against hordes of enemies, but this is dampered by an invisible flood of molasses as the server lags.
The lack of a compelling story is also a mixed-bag complaint. Some veteran players will tell you that the first game didn’t really have that great of a narrative and that what really made it a lot of fun was high-quality loot and a grind that never stopped.
A lot of players of MMORPGs made by developers in East Asia actually enjoy grinding and see anything out of that as a hindrance to the game. Some players like a narrative, others could care less about it.
So, what’s the verdict on Mu Legend?
Gamers that are looking to continue their experience from the first game might be disappointed by the sequel. It’s just a different game.
From the way it looks and plays to its overall incentive structure, Mu Legend is a sequel in the purest sense. It also has not enjoyed nearly the lengthy history and incremental improvements that its forebear has enjoyed. It’s possible that, if given time, Mu Legend might become comparable to its predecessor.
The only question for veterans or newcomers is how much patience they have for that day to arrive. But it also matters as to what players are looking for in a game.
Some people want a more polished experience, while others are willing to put up with a few issues here and there.