My name is Trigger, of the Ruairi server. I'm well known in the community, even across servers, for effectively codifying the proper use of Mabinogi
's Magic skill set with a comprehensive guide that underwent many, many revisions over the years (and which is still referenced and quoted to this day). I played for over six years and sank countless thousands of dollars into the game. Mabinogi
is my most-played video game of all time by a nigh-incomprehensibly-large margin (just not on the Steam version, which will explain the lack of hours logged here). I've shrugged off changes that have made similarly-tenured players quit. And as a relatively respected player whose advice carried significant weight with newbies and old-timers alike, I have one thing to say. Do not play Mabinogi. Mabinogi
's combat was originally, at its core, a rock-paper-scissors system. Normal melee strikes are deflected by the Defense skill. Defense can be broken with Smash. Smash is not as fast as normal melee and will always be trumped by it. This, combined with many different enemy AI patterns, required players to be able to read the enemy's movements well in advance and react with appropriate timing, because all attacks carry some degree of stun and enough consecutive attacks will knock a player backward. In the original release and for some time thereafter, tanking was completely non-viable because player health was vastly outclassed by enemy damage potential, requiring every
combatant to be adept at reading and reacting to enemy movements and encouraging the then-commonly-espoused battle philosophy of "don't get hit".
In the early game, this system is still mostly apparent and functions as intended. But a number of problems have cropped up over the years that make the game's overall combat functionality less strategic and as a result less unique (and if you've not played Mabinogi
, yes, its original combat system literally has not been replicated anywhere else, despite its brilliance). I will attempt to outline what I view as the most egregious of these problems below. Power creep is part of
There is an in-universe justification for the player's rise to near-godlike power, although I won't spoil it on the off chance you disregard my advice and play this game anyway. But despite power creep actually having a treasured position in the lore (and despite its being a damn
good plot point), it has still negatively impacted the game in more ways than one. Nearly every subsequent flaw I list is in some way related to power creep. The difficulty curve is a joke.
The combat system underwent an overhaul back in the summer of 2012, which you may read my at-the-time opinion of here
. It was an inherently good update, and I thought it would force Nexon to consider their poor handling of the difficulty curve more seriously. Sadly, they've done nothing but exacerbate the problem. More and more skills keep getting added to the game with absolutely no substantial increases in content breadth or depth to match. Since almost all skills grant permanent stats when upgraded, and since many skill sets rely on the same stats as other sets (allowing indirect upgrading of already-maxed skills), and since there are so many skills
now, there will come a point at which a player is no longer challenged by anything
the game has to offer. In a game whose combat was originally defined by strategy and skill, and wherein a properly skilled player could take out a far bigger and stronger monster with ease, "difficulty" is now represented by monsters with bigger health bars and higher damage output, and virtually all of them can be laughed at upon reaching a certain power threshold, completely removing all strategy requirements from combat and reducing it to mindless grinding.Enemy AI is a hopeless shambles.
It served its purpose well in the original release -- for instance, bears and goblins were both notorious for using deceptive tactics to bait players into reacting incorrectly. Most enemies can handle melee, magic, and archery attacks with relatively good reaction patterns. Attacking an enemy more than once with a bolt spell or a normal bow shot, for instance, will almost always cause the enemy to charge at you directly, reducing the effectiveness of spamming, especially in the cases of fast and ultra-fast monsters. Once alchemy was added to the game, the original AI crumbled and never recovered. Enemies have never once had their behavior patterns updated to handle new offensive techniques or new skill sets. They are still operating on their original AI, all of them. If you start out focusing on melee skills initially, you'll receive a decent portion of the game's original challenge level. If you choose something like Puppetry or Dual Guns, you will completely outsmart the AI merely by virtue of the weapons and skills you'll be using. It isn't a total slam dunk, as most skills start out with low damage and the AoEs all start with relatively small areas of effect, but the enemy AI will still have no idea how to handle them. The early game has been nerfed to hell and back.
This was unfortunately necessary, as the constant piling on of more and more skill sets left newcomers hopelessly behind the curve of the experienced players (and since this game has no level cap and no class system, there was no way for them to ever catch up). The changes to leveling speed have aided everyone, though, not just the newbies, and thus the problem remains unsolved, having merely shifted in a certain direction. Newcomers can attain a decent power level much more easily and with far less fuss than they could originally, but by the same token the old dogs can effortlessly blaze through new skill sets in a week or less, leaving anyone beyond a certain point utterly content-starved. The endgame has been killed thanks to poor design choices focused on making the early game easier.
In case you didn't catch this in one of the previous paragraphs, there are far too many skills in the game now.
Most of the new skill sets have been added for very little reason other than bigger, badder, flashier attacks (going hand-in-hand with the attempt to shift the game's demographic from fantasy fans over to lovers of everything vapid, flashy, and hollow), and as already mentioned, enemies simply can't handle the newer stuff. Anything designed with previous content in mind is always
outclassed by the next batch of skills.
That about wraps up my deconstruction of Mabinogi
's many current flaws, all of which contributed to my leaving the game and none of which have thus far been addressed. I don't expect any of them to ever be
addressed, either, because Nexon's Korean development team basically just develops for the Korean users, and the players on the North American servers get whatever Korea gets. If you play this game, know that you have absolutely no voice in the game's future direction.
You will exist merely as a cash grab for Nexon.
There are other major gripes I could have laid at Nexon's feet here, including their horrendously
overpriced cash shop, their habit of releasing a bundle of new outfits in gachapon and calling it a "content update", their poor community management, their childish and completely amateur banning practices
(of which the linked blog post is hardly the only example), and much more besides. I tolerated all of the above for over six years because Mabinogi
was once a giant among MMORPGs, schooling the rest with unique mechanics and satisfying gameplay. It's now a shadow of its former self, and it does not deserve your attention.