Cabal Online: Not Doing Much, But Doing it Right

With Cabal Online, Chris "Pwyff" Tom discovered that even if your MMO is entirely focused on killing monsters and not much else... if you do it right, it's not so bad!

For the past little while now I've taken a break from looking for that MMORPG to 'settle down' with, and these days I am merely on the prowl for a fun little MMO to keep me distracted while I wait for closed beta play sessions to pop up and Dragonica Online to finally hit open beta on June 10th. In this way, when MMOABC announced that they would be giving away promotional 'bonus exp packages' to the first couple thousand that sign up for new Cabal Online accounts, you can imagine how quickly I managed to decide upon my next 'MMO distraction.'

Interestingly, Cabal Online feels like an old-school Asian 'grindy' MMO - reminiscent of the original wave of Korean Pay to Play MMORPGs that hit the market in the early 2000's, and then eventually converted themselves to the more common (these days) micro-transaction Free to Play model. The game was originally released in South Korea in 2005, but didn't really see the North American market (thanks to OGPlanet) until 2008. For those of you who have no idea what I mean when I say old-school Asian 'grindy' MMO, I mean MMORPGs that are typified by ultra high level caps and experience curves, with almost 90% of the game play stemming from 'grinding' monsters for EXP and getting shinier weapons to kill more monsters.

Cabal Online offers players a set of 6 oddly named character classes in the form of the 'Blader,' the 'Warrior,' the 'Wizard,' (this is where it gets weird) the 'Force Archer,' the 'Force Blader' and the 'Force Shielder.' To give these titles a little bit more utility, think of the Blader as being a Thief - Ninja infusion and look at the Force Blader as a kind of Magic Knight. The Force Shielder is really just the tank of the game (think futuristic Paladin!) and the Force Archer... well... just knock off that 'Force' prefix, and you get the idea. In reality, while I didn't initially mind the bizarre ambiguity in some of these class archetypes, Cabal Online does suffer from a lot of translation errors and vague descriptions. While I can say that I'm entirely too used to broken English in quest text, it's still frustrating to figure out character progression via guessing and testing. On the other hand, this also means you'll get textual gems like "tired of being violated by the Desert Foxes!?"

I mentioned earlier that Cabal Online is a very traditional 'grindy' MMORPG, so when I assess the playability of the game, I'm really just assessing the implementation of combat in Cabal Online. Luckily, the Cabal team has clearly put a lot of effort into their combat system. Fighting feels very smooth in this game, much like a sped up Lord of the Rings Online, where once players find that quick-paced 'rhythm' to using their abilities, the game starts to feel like you're seamlessly chaining your attacks rather than mashing the '1' key in between auto attacks. Not only this, but once a player hits level 10 and beyond, they can engage in 'combo' attacks, where a little metre appears above your head and fills up rapidly - it's up to the player to use a skill (any skill!) when the meter is in a specific position. If a player is successful in executing an attack at the proper time, the meter will reset and fill up again so that the player must use another skill in that moment to keep the combos going. By engaging in combos, players can deal much more damage to enemies effectively, and if you get really good at using the combo system, you can move quickly from enemy to enemy comboing as many abilities together as you possibly can before you mess up the timing.

Now, to be honest, the game really doesn't do that much outside of combat than involve more and more skills the higher you go. And yet… For some reason this game has charmed me with its unapologetic style. Sure, you kill more and more monsters with each level, and the quests are really just more grinding disguised as collecting Toadstools, but the graphics are fairly nice, and the game just plays so smoothly that it actually gets to be fun. A lot of players will get grumpy at the fact that it's just one long grind to get nowhere, but I really don't mind this as long as it's done well. I wasn't a particular fan of some other shallow grindy games, but it was because the one concept I was looking for - fun combat - was either too sluggish, or it just wasn't very much fun. I make no excuse for Cabal Online when I say that this game is just a big 'ol work-and-reward-with-bigger-sword type of deal, but I'm also being honest when I say that sometimes I don't mind that if it's done well. Perhaps this will get exceedingly boring when I hit level 60 or 70, but for now, I'm actually enjoying myself in a weird way. At least... until this promotional experience package runs out.

Chris "Pwyff" Tom


Post Comment
Post Comment

Free account required to post

You must log in or create an account to post messages.