First Impressions: Oberin

Oberin interface

Oberin is a free to play, Mac only fantasy MMORPG with lots of character and quirks. It starts simply enough, you choose a character class from the six available: Cleric, Druid, Wizard, Fighter, Ranger and Rogue, assign up to 10 skill points, create a user name and password and log in.

There are, however, some fun parts. Each class has some special skills that define your character level, some skills that are limited, sometimes to 0, and some special features. Fighters, for example, can't use spells, can't make potions, but get a skill that lets them do critical hits more often than any other class, and do more damage with equivalent weapons. Clerics can't use weapons and armour, but get a huge range of healing spells and ally buffs. Wizards tend to get more damaging spells. Rangers are the only bow users (although wizards get some ranged attacks too).

No real quirks there, save clerics are purely healer types. However, Oberin is also a resource management game for all characters. I've experimented with a fighter, which will let me comment a bit on the ranger and rogue as all three are on the physical side of things, and a wizard, who embodies the strengths, and weaknesses of the magic using classes.

Skeleton attacks!

All the physical types will learn craft skills, probably tailoring and a bit of blacksmithing for a rogue, blacksmithing (which will also boost mining, lumberjacking and woodcrafting) for a fighter, woodcrafting (and probably a bit of blacksmithing) for a ranger. Why? Well you arrive without weapons and armour, and with no money, but with some tools. Tailoring will let the rogue make leather armour, blacksmithing to make daggers, poisoning to make poisoned daggers of course! Woodcrafting to make a bow, blacksmithing to make your weapons and armour. To be a woodcrafter you need to be a lumberjack to get the raw materials. To be a blacksmith you need planks, which in turn requires woodcrafting, which requires lumberjacking, and ferrite, which requires mining to extract from rocks. You will use these skills to gather resources, make sellable items and make your money. This will buy armour (you need blacksmitthing at level 8 to make the best armour, but you can buy it before then), weapons and let you practise you combat skills. Hurrah!

The magic using types have a similar set of constraints. Cleric spells use pieces of coal, Druid spells pieces of amber, Wizard spells one or the other or both. The more powerful spells also use other components, lotus flowers, electric eels, poison glands, dragon's teeth and other exciting things. These are actually consumed by spell casting, each time. This means, of course, that the spell casters also chew through money, in a very immediate way. In fact one of the spell lists contains with it a cost in gp and a cost in mp for each spell.

This is perhaps not the most intriguing of the quirks. There are three more:

Everything, and I do mean everything, has a durability. For weapons and armour, as the durability decreases so does the damage done and the protection granted. This durability is easy to see, and, most unusually it applies to magic equipment you get too. The picture above shows me tackling a skeleton with a Frost Axe I was lucky enough to be given. It's a wonderful weapon granted for completing a quest. After killing about 15 skeletons and 5 zombies it's down to about 60% of starting durability, and is doing appreciably less damage than when new. Soon it will be useless, or will just break. This, of course, makes people keen to rerun quests to get the items replaced. Sometimes, however, it is deeply annoying. When you break 2 hand axes and 2 mining axes before you can gather enough raw materials to even make 2 more of each, that sucks!

There is a pseudo-economy. I'm not 100% sure what it is based on, but if you get a good blacksmith who drops out a few hundred GM Katanas (the katana is the "best" weapon over time - it does the most damage per hour, but it is also rather fragile, GM Katanas far less so, battle axes are the "best" weapon per hit (except for magic ones like the frost axe) but are slow to use.) you will find you can't sell your perfectly serviceable normal katanas to the weapon shop for a while. If you cook and sell 150 steaks to the inn, no one else can sell cooked steaks for a bit. If you buy 150 steaks, you'll make a market very quickly!
Hunger matters. You won't lose hit points, die or anything, it hurts far more than that. If you are at all hungry, any experience you should earn, you don't. Skill advancement is quite slow - in about a week of play I've advanced my main combat skills from level 4 to 5, my blacksmithing from 2 to 6, my ancillary skills by a few points. Wasting experience points is really not recommended.


One last thing. In my post about Dofus I mentioned I didn't really like games where you can heal in combat with potions. Oberin has a different take on that, which I find I also like. You can actually heal in combat, if you're really brave, but to drink a potion and cast the spell you've got to empty your hands. Put your sword and shield away, drink the potion, rearm, start striking again. Better than dying? Sure. Making for tactical battles - absolutely. You fight, you break away, you heal, you return. You'd better make sure you kill anything that moves faster than you first!

Oh, and because I didn't start with an optimised character, 1:1 with a skeleton is a challenge. I'm third level, the skeleton is fourth. Zombies are fifth and too hard for me without significant healing. The fight were I got tag teamed by 2 zombies and a skeleton - well let's just say I ran screaming. Of course, by then I'd been cursed by the zombies (who also tell you how much they want to eat your brains) so actually I ran babbling, but fortunately the guards attacked the undead critters, not me.

[UPDATE] Although on my wizard there are no combat skills showing in the skill sheet, it is, in fact possible for all the spell casters to fight. There are drawbacks - you need empty hands for magic, clerics lose mana whilst tanked up etc. but it is possible for them to fight hand to hand too.