Mu Online is a 2003 action role-playing game by Webzen for the PC. After we got high-speed internet at home, a whole new world of games opened up to me. I found out that there was a world of free online games with hours of gameplay. One of those games I found was Mu Online. I was a big fan of Diablo II when it came out. Mu Online played almost exactly the same, but in 3D graphics (versus 2D in Diablo II) and with a bigger focus on trading and online play. At the beginning of the game, the player created a hero. They would start in town at level 1 with basic items. The ultimate goal was to get to the highest level and get the best items. It sounds simple, but it was an absolute time sink.
There were a total of four hundred levels in the game. The first one hundred levels or so went pretty fast, but after that it was hours to gain a single level. Levels didn’t improve the character all that much either. The hero just got a few more health points, magic points, or maybe a tiny bit more damage. The character’s power came almost exclusively from items. However, the vendors in town would only sell items up to around level forty. Even then the items that dropped out in the wild were not that great. It was only after a lot of upgrading that items became really powerful. Upgrading had a high failure rate. In cases of failure, the item was completely destroyed. This made upgraded items extremely valuable.
I spent hours collecting enough gold to buy the necessary upgrades. The player just couldn’t get upgrades through regular play. There was one exception: jewels. These were super rare item drops that were used in the upgrading process. Because players were always trying to upgrade items, there was a steady demand for these jewels. Early on, a single jewel could fund an entire new set of armor. The best items, however, would take the equivalent of one hundred jewels just for one item. The prices ramped up super fast.
Overall, the game was very grindy. It was fun for those first one hundred levels, but then it was way too slow for my tastes. I ultimately became bored of it and quit. Diablo II also was grindy, but it didn’t rely on upgrading items. I still needed to trade, but the prices were more accessible. Where Diablo II would take a thousand hours to get the best items, Mu Online would take a hundred thousand hours. Many players in Mu Online worked with a team. There was just no other way to get upgrades in a reasonable time, but I never made any good friends. I was stuck playing solo most times, so it just got too slow eventually. I did come back to the game several times thinking I would get further than before, but I always got bored again.
Despite any problems the game had, it was still pretty impressive for a free game. See, players could pay money every month to get higher drop rates. If I really wanted to progress quickly, paying money was the way to go. I was only playing this game because it was free though. If I had the money, I would have bought and played a regular console or computer game.