A Mir 4 poster reads: “The one who ends the war will take the world.”
When it comes to pricing, luxury fashion and games may not be so different. As long as there are consumers willing to pay extra for a premium experience, it is that perceived value that could determine the price of a product.
WeMade’s Mir 4, despite its notorious pay-to-win system, may prove just that in the local gaming industry. With an intricate storyline and superb graphics, the game is simply irresistible to avid players.
Launched on Nov. 25 in South Korea by local game developer WeMade, the 3D massively multiplayer online role-playing game carries on with the previous success of the company’s Legend of Mir series. It supports both mobile and PC platforms.
The game revolves around the story of an Asian princess of a fallen kingdom who runs away from an ambitious lord trying to kidnap and marry the princess and use the marriage as a legitimate way to become a true king.
In-game combat scene (Mir 4 screenshot)
After selecting a role as a warrior, sorcerer, Taoist or assassin, the mission is to team up with a grandmaster and his two disciples, rescue the princess in distress and unveil the mysteries surrounding her secret powers.
Compared to typical Korean MMORPGs that take place in medieval times of a Western world, Mir 4 exhibits a clear selling point as a rare game based on the Eastern fantastical martial arts.
Yet, its outright pay-to-win system runs the risk of putting off newbie users.
Mir 4 offers items in four different classes -- premium, rare, hero and legend.
Premium items can be purchased directly by paying cash, but those of higher classes have to be forged by collecting raw materials.
The problem is it’s nearly mathematically impossible to acquire the raw materials.
For example, to forge a hero class weapon, users need a hero dragon’s scale. Should players pay 33,000 won ($30.30), they would be given 11 chances to randomly pick dragon scales of different classes. The probability of picking a hero dragon’s scale is 0.0125 percent. To further upgrade a level one hero weapon to the highest level four, it requires a total of eight hero dragon’s scales.
Of course, users with sufficient capital will welcome this hardcore pay-to-win system, as bigger investments will allow them to widen their gap with typical users and take a lead in the game.
However, it’s completely unnecessary to be discouraged by this system, as Mir 4 offers gameplay that is still enjoyable even for free users.
Developed with the Unreal Engine, Mir 4 offers highly sophisticated graphics that depict every blade of grass. Also, realistic combat actions and effects make the game visually pleasing, evoking the same aesthetic satisfaction that comes from playing a console game.
In-game image (Mir 4 screenshot)
Such superb graphics are perhaps why the company sticks to the pay-to-win system. But for ordinary users, this means they can enjoy excellent graphics at the expense of hardcore users -- as long as they stay out of competition.
Aside from the visual effects, Mir 4 distinguishes itself from other MMORPGs with its well-crafted storyline, which is even more intriguing than some films.
The game showcases protagonists and antiheroes who mostly have dark pasts and plausible background stories that help users understand the motives behind their actions and ambitions. The intricate power struggles add depth to the conventional narrative of saving a princess in danger, escaping from a generic and simplistic conflict that boils down to good versus evil.
For example, a main antihero in the game kills his master with his own hands as the master loses control and goes wild with power after the death of his successor. Labeled as a traitor for killing the master, the sorcerer becomes obsessed with his ambitions of creating a peaceful world, even laying his hands on dark magic though he could easily make a great king with his own talents and power.
For players who don’t want to spend anything other than their time, simply following the storyline and quests offers a satisfactory experience.
Quest cut scene (Mir 4 screenshot)
WeMade’s focus on graphics and story has indeed paid off, as Mir 4 ranked as the eighth and 12th most profitable game by revenue on the Apple Store and Google Play Store, respectively, in Korea as of Dec. 7. With revenue from the PC version included, the figure is only expected to grow much higher.
Mir 4 aims to launch in China next year.
By Kim Byung-wook (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Time to Play is a review of new game releases. Kim Byung-wook is a staff reporter at The Korea Herald and a hardcore Fifa Online 4 user with 456 friendly match wins. He has also played StarCraft 2 Zerg and once ranked diamond. He is currently a captain in the first-person shooter game Sudden Attack and the owner of a level 184 Soul Master in role-playing game MapleStory. Kim still plays Football Manager 2017. -- Ed.