It’s RPG time again and you know what that means… we’re going to dissect another game and look at it from the inside out. This one is an anime inspired RPG set in a futuristic fantasy world and poses a very interesting question… What does this free to play MMORPG bring to the table that effectively sets it apart from the rest? So without further a due, I give you the good, bad, and in-between of this free-to-play MMO.
Developed by South Korea’s ESTsoft, Cabal Online was published in the United States by OGPlanet on February 1st, 2008 in open beta testing. Cabal Online celebrated its official North American launch on February 28th, 2008. Prior to coming to the US, Cabal Online was released overseas starting in South Korea in late 2005. Cabal Online hit Europe in 2006 while Germany didn’t see it until December of 2009. When negotiations for Cabal Online between ESTsoft and OGPlanet failed, ESTsoft began publishing the game directly to its US gamers on March 31st, 2010.
Gamers Security First
I give kudos to ESTsoft for putting the security of their gamers first. In light of the recent Sony Online Entertainment hack, it seems like these security measures are even more warranted now. While added security measures may seem a bit inconvenient, it definitely pays off. The Captcha System has been implemented in Cabal to combat spammers and botters. When switching between characters, you are required to enter the fun-to-read, seriously annoying captcha code. While taking the time to enter the code may be obnoxious, it keeps the spammers at bay and this is definitely a plus in my book.
The Original Six
If you’ve read any of my reviews, you’ll know that I’m a sucker for a good back-story. Cabal Online really has no story to speak of… at all. It’s a disappointment—especially right from the get go. I mean, come on! Give us something to work with. I need motive; I want a immerse myself in this game for a purpose. But hey, that’s just me. So, as the completely pointless “story” goes, there are 6 combat sktyles which are referred to as the Authentic Six. Here’s a little bit about each one:
Blader – Blader skills are said to have originated from a lost form of martial arts and are called the “second form of force.” This class focuses on maximizing their physical abilities with the use of the force. Bladers are the most comfortable with the single or double edged dual swards and prefer light weight armor. Their weakness is their lack of understanding of the force. Bladers have the ability to summon forth vicious Astral Weapons and are strong PvE characters.
Warrior – As the standard tank/melee character, Warriors possess exceptional physical ability as they utilize physical strength by using force instead of manipulating it. While warriors are strong and dynamic, they lack in IQ. Experienced warriors may be able to become berserker warriors as well as summon Astral Weapons.
Wizard – Wizards are considerably weak and rely on force manipulation during battle—they are your standard offensive spell caster character. Once Wizard’s used an old school type of force controller called Force Stick. The Force Stick method evolved during the time of Core Technology into a more aggressive Force controller referred to as Orb—a one-handed method where Wizard’s may cast multiple spells simultaneously. Wizards operate with great intelligence, however, they lack physical strength. Their choice of armor is the Martial Suit Set.
The remaining 3 combat styles of the Authentic Six don’t share the same origins as their counterparts. These are:
Force Archers – This skill set originated from the Wizard group and is your stereotypical archer. Force Archers possess Crystals which are an advanced version of the Orb. The creation of the Crystal led to the development of the Astral Bow which concentrates on long-range attacks utilizing force control and attack speed simultaneously. The Battle Suit Set is a Force Archer’s armor of choice.
Force Blader – Force Bladers initially battled while wielding a sword in one hand and a Force controller in the other. Over the course of time, the Magic Sword Skills were developed. Now, Force Bladers are known as the Magic Swordsmen and one of the best PvP characters. Force Bladers prefer the Armor Suit Set for armor. Their weapon of choice is an Orb.
Force Shielder – Force Shielders are the typical tank character and specialize in short-range force control with their use of the Astral Shield while wearing heavy armor, such as the Warrior’s Armor Suit. Force Shielders also operate in supportive magic spells and the manipulation of outer forces. This skill set is not capable of long-range attacks but is considered a great PvE character.
These 6 combat styles were established prior to the Nevareth Exodus—the Honorable Age. When Core Technology was at its highest, dozens upon dozens of groups were practicing their own skills. The current 6 styles—the Authentic Six—were developed based on the knowledge of the Nevareth Exodus survivors’ memory and developed by the 1st generation of the 7 Sages. So there is your backstory.
Gameplay, Modes, and Settings
The Basic Battle System allows players to regain Spirit Points as well as utilize their upgraded skills. Spirit Points—otherwise known as SP—are acquired by performing standard attacks using either skills or combos.
When playing Cabal, you may take part in PvP as well as guild battles. The developers have implemented a system that I really like—the Play Killing System. If another player does not give consent for PvP gameplay and you continue to pursue attacking that player, you will be penalized. Initially you will be issued a warning message. There are various levels of penalties; the more you PK, the more severe the consequences.
Cabal comes complete with an auto-attack feature of which I am not particularly a fan. In my opinion, why play the game if you are not really going to play it? If you are not familiar with auto-attack, it’s a system which allows you to click on an enemy and automatically attack them—no strategy needed.
Skills and potions are accessed quickly and easily with function and short keys. While MP Potions are consumed automatically when your MP is short, HP Potions cannot. You are required to assign a shortcut key to each HP Potion. Skills may be registered in the Quick Slot Windows. When using your skills in battle, you can assign number keys as shortcut keys. However, function keys are set as the default.
When utilizing the Combo Battle System, player’s odds of clobbering higher level opponents are increased. Unfortunately, this system is only effective if the monster is in close range. Obviously, to acquire the use of the Combo Battle System, you must meet the level and skill requirements. Combos may be used after level 10. I think this system is great and really shakes up what is otherwise substantially monotonous gameplay.
It’s All About the Honor
The one thing that can affect your character’s stats the most are your honor ranks. Honor is gained when defeating foes in duels as well as PvP arenas. Hunting monsters in particular PvP areas is another way to gain honor. Players with high honor get massive bonuses to damage, resistances, and hit points. While your character can work to gain honor, it may also be lost. PK is one way to lose honor points very quickly. Crafting can also cost you honor.
The Final Word
I’ll just give it to you straight… Cabal is just like every other MMORPG out there. It may be fun to play, but gamers looking for something new definitely won’t find what they are looking for in Cabal. The PvP system is entertaining but the grind just proves to be too much. And while the graphics are nice and the combat animation is entertaining, it’s obvious that the developers strived too hard when going for realism and missed the mark. I give Cabal a 4.0 for lack of originality and depth. Until next time, game on!