Mabinogi: A Weird Korean MMO I Unfortunately Fell In Love With

You read that right. Unfortunately.

This game is a curse. It’s addictive, to me at least, for absolutely no reason whatsoever. It’s confusing, irritating, buggy, riddled with random crashes, plagued by latency… et cetera. And yet… I find myself returning to it over and over and over again.

But we’ll get back to that. First, I should explain just what it is.

WTF is this

Mabinogi, which borrows its name from the Welsh Mabinogion, is a Korean MMORPG developed by devCAT that runs on the now-ancient Pleione engine. The game’s story is incredibly loosely based on Irish mythology, with characters such as Morrighan, Neamhain, the Fomors, Partholon, Lugh, Nuadha, and so on. You play as a Milletian, who enters the game’s world of Erinn via the Soul Stream.

a lovely shot of "erinn"
“erinn”, behind the scenes.

Because you are considered some sort of otherworldly being, you are able to grow and age your character in the “rapid” span of a few weeks to months, going from age 10 to age 20 in ten weeks’ time. This otherworldly status also allows you to rebirth your character as many times as you wish, allowing you to reset your character’s current level and age while keeping your skill experience and progress.

It’s a very, very slow process. Unless the game gods are feeling generous, and have decided to bless you with extra points, experience, and time to do it all. Only the very dedicated survive. /s

Gotta have the skills, too

this is just a small selection of all the player-available skills.

Mabinogi has dozens upon dozens of skills. There’s a skill for melee combat, ranged combat, magic spells of all kinds, transformations, teleportation, sheep shearing, egg collecting, and firewood chopping, among many, many others.

Each one comes with its own adorable little icon, most of which look so similar it’s hard to tell the difference at a quick glance. Each also has its own training requirements, including how much stronger the mobs must be than you in order for it to count as “practice”.

tl;dr – It’s a Korean grindfest MMO that makes you do the same five clicks and button mashes over and over again to get gud.

But wait, there’s lootboxes

collection of gachapon in the web shop
gotta love dem lootboxes

Or, if working at it isn’t your style, you can pay to play. Yes folks, Nexon North America is more than happy to take your hard-earned real money to pay for fake money, which can get you slightly less hideous hair and eye choices for your character. Which you will be stuck with for at least a week, real-time, or until you buy more fake money.

And don’t get me started on gachapon. Addicting little things. Basically legal gambling. Buy a stack of 11 for about $15 American, and you have yourself 11 chances to not get that really ridiculous set of armor you were hoping for. And there’s no chance you’ll be getting the matching helmet, boots, and gloves required for its “OP AF” set effect to work correctly.

And then there were two.

Originally, the game had three servers: Ruairi, Tarlach, Mari. Each was named for one of the three main protagonists in the first major questline. By the fourth, fifth, and sixth major questlines (which were released simultaneously), a fourth server arrived: Alexina. Along with it came a shiny “NEW!” label, shown to each potential player upon character creation when asked what server they want to be in.

And then it stayed for years. The server was no longer new, really, yet its shiny badge of newness was firmly stuck.

Naturally the best way to keep your game going is to realize you have way too many servers and squish them all together. Under-population surges to over-population overnight, and chaos ensues. Server merge means missing hotkeys, sudden lag spikes, huge amounts of idle avatars all over the place, most with flashy clothes. But that’s precisely what they did. On June 3rd, Ruairi, Tarlach, and Mari merged to become the shiny new Nao server. (sans “NEW!” tag)

Out of nowhere, hundreds of “new” people showed up. At least, that’s how it feels. Truth is they’ve all been there the whole time, running the same dungeons, doing the same missions, separated only by an initial choice. Now there are people considering jumping ship to Alexina. Eventually the chaos will iron itself out, but it’s nice to watch while it lasts.

Why

Honestly, if you’ve made it this far reading this, I applaud you. I’m not 100% sure it makes the best sense. I plan on publishing a few more posts like this eventually… Just ’cause. For whatever reason, I latched on to this game from early, early on. And I keep coming back. I don’t know why. It’s a good way to spend an entire day doing nothing in the same spot. I guess that’s all I’m looking for these days.

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