MU Online: Surviving and Defying Time

For a game that more than a decade old, MU Online still continues to be relevant in the online game scene.

It’s 1st Quarter of 2004, a handful of college students went on to their favorite net café spot right across their school to hung out for an hour or two up until their next class, they went with their usual ritual; teaming up for a grind session on their favorite MMORPG. However, their eyes glued to someone else’s monitor as they saw a new game but with a familiar feel. Thinking that it was the new Diablo game, then they soon discovered that it’s an entirely different game called MU Online, and it’s an MMORPG. They ditched their planned grind session to register for a new account and started to play, and so began a new gaming chapter for these brave new adventurers.

MU Online feels like a homage to the Diablo franchise as most of its core gameplay was heavily inspired, yet managed to stand out on its own as an online game. Its straightforward gameplay made it an instant hit in the mid-2000s for gamers who wanted to play games with better visuals, as the likes of titles such as Khan Online and Priston Tale were its competitors in the 3D game department and even Ragnarok Online, which started the hype in MMOs a year earlier. Character development was streamlined as players focused more on prioritizing the most powerful skill and completing their highly upgraded gear to withstand the deadly blows from high-level monsters.

MU had its fair share of exciting moments, especially for those who have established Guilds with their friends and fellow players in their respective net cafes. The daily session of attending in-game events like Devil Square and Blood Castle where guild members team up to complete their missions and helping each other in getting the ingredients or exp points needed for their characters. Grinding was one of the gripes in any Korean MMOs, though with the case of MU Online, some players would find creative ways to lessen their wait in leveling their characters. Most players would find a spot in certain levels where monsters spawn more often and players would leave their characters there and have them spam their strongest area of effect skills or spells, then they would jam a coin on the keyboard to allow the attack spell to continuously cast and would stock up with a ton of health and mana potions. They would let it stay for a couple of hours and would attend to their next class in the afternoon, some hardcore players would leave it overnight and would ask someone to check on their characters in case they got killed in the area. The only headache they would experience is if the server would boot them out or there was an internet outage.

There’s also the thrill of the hunt for player killers that roam around the beginner levels and targeting new players that would lay victim on their sights, finding these player killers were an easy feat, as you just need to look for pitch-black characters with their weapons emitting an eerie blood-red glow. Yep, PvP is one of the highlights in the game as you can initiate with a duel or become the rebellious type by attacking unaware players, but it comes with the price of becoming a criminal when killing players. Being marked as killers had its consequences, as players soon discover that they can lose one of their equipped gear if killed by non-criminals who would police the area. This added interaction to the players as some may roleplay as being the bully and some high leveled players would act the role of the vigilant citizens.

MU Online continued to become a mainstay in the MMO scene in the Philippines, though the Philippine server of MU Online under Mobius went offline since 2012. As an alternative, the global server became a haven to those who continued their adventures or start off fresh in hopes for the local server to return. Through the years, MU Online continues to provide updates and new content, from improved quality of life features to new classes to master and new levels to conquer, it already spawned new titles for both mobile and PC, yet the original continues to shine its luster up to this day. Its simplicity made it a good game for anyone new to the genre, along with a straightforward goal; getting stronger.

Fast forward to 2020, Playpark announced that they will be bringing back the game. The trend had mostly changed, as most players would prefer to enjoy a straightforward MMO that is quick and easy to hop in than something that features more complex gameplay, which is a good timing for the game’s comeback. Players still seek competition and MU’s PvP elements will help to keep the game relevant to the adventurous warriors.

It is interesting to see that MU Online is still active, as some other games never made past 10 years or even 5 years of their life span as some lack the impact that MU Online had in the early years.

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