While they used to once be a niche, there are now MMORPG games by the dozen on mobile devices. They feature full-sized worlds split into different regions and maps. Most have all the things you would expect to find in these games. Large amounts of enemies to farm, towns with quest givers, large grandiose stories, and unique characters. With Talion we find all of this and a few PvP modes on top of it. With everything that they put into this game, it’s surprising how lackluster it all feels. This is probably because, for everything Talion does, it doesn’t do anything that hasn’t been done before, and better, by other mobile MMO games.
After playing a large number of hours, and hitting level 30, I sat back and remembered none of it. From the outset, you find yourself as a traveler on an airship that finds itself being showered by meteors, one of them seems to contain the form of a woman, which you glimpse before your ship crashes. It’s told in a pretty well put together cinematic that looks to use the in-game engine. After this stellar intro, you are strung along with a very cookie-cutter set of quests for the next 10+ hours of gameplay. The game teaches you how to play by having your click buttons and auto-quest for at least the first ten levels. It takes so little care to teach you anything important, and often when it was highlighting buttons for me to hit it darkened the rest of the screen so much it was hard to tell what screen I was actually even interacting with.
The quests continue for nearly 30 levels, which I achieved in roughly 8 hours of “gameplay”. I say it as such because the game basically played itself, and after about the first hour I lost so much interest in the story, and poor translation work, that I simply started skipping all the cut scenes and dialogue. I’m not sure if it is positive or negative that I don’t feel like I really lost or gained anything by skipping an entire story that developers created for this game. After the first few chapters of the game, it feels like the over-the-top cutscenes also dwindled. It felt like once they got passed the pop-up asking you to review the game on the iOS store that they decided it wasn’t really worth the effort anymore.
After auto-piloting all this time I finally died on a fairly routine mission. I was able to let my health regenerate and keep auto-questing for maybe another hour until I died on a mission almost every time. A round of hitting every “auto improve” button I could find led me to another chunk of mission clears and it was time I realized I would have to venture out on my own to really power-up and “git gud” so to speak. This is where it all fell apart for me. The game had made quite the point to never teach me anything important or how to manually play the game. So striking out left me lost and trying to wrestle a combat system that seemed only designed to be run automatically.
Even the placement of buttons on the screen was uncomfortable and clunky. While almost every other mobile MMO has adopted a very certain key layout on the right side that has a large attack button ringed by special abilities, easily navigable by thumb, Talion decides to have very small buttons crammed down in the corner underneath a large quest log that can’t be hidden and a text chat window that also would remain on screen. There were no options to customize the layout or have a better control scheme. There was also no way to scale the UI size to make it usable.
Talion seems to want to rest on its looks. Showing their detailed cutscenes upfront, and making every ability over-the-top flashy. Unfortunately, all the flash comes at the expense of any depth in the game, and at your battery life. I would recommend playing the game plugged in if you want to play for more than just a few minutes at a time. There was a battery saver option but it only blanked out the screen, which seemed counter-productive to both saving battery and playing at the same time.
There are added PvP modes for deathmatch, team deathmatch, and guilds can even participate in larger skirmish matches that see each team working to capture areas of a map to dominate a battlefield. These could have been a huge draw for me, but even at level 30 I was greatly outweighed in combat power and had no chance if I didn’t start leveling faster. Which means a heavy pay-to-win aspect hits multiplayer mode. On top of this, every multiplayer mode operated on rolling timed windows of availability. Despite wanting to play a ton of the larger-scale area modes I seldom could line up availability to play them when they were around. There were no modes I could join into all the time. Once I hit the hard grind-wall the best I could do was either sit in a field with enemies and auto-fight on, which yielded abysmal XP returns or try some of the available repeatable dungeons which also didn’t return very well.
On top of the steep grind, Talion does something I had seen before in Lineage II on mobile. It offers an item that is consumable and gives a percentage damage boost per attack. Every one attack consumes one of the items. This quickly made me realize the game would expect me to always have a large quantity of these to stay competitive with the world or other players. It’s a literal damage tax on the player who doesn’t want to grind even longer. It’s a mechanic that feels entirely sleazy as it serves no other purpose other than just improving the damage output of players who can pay to keep these items topped up.
Overall the more I played of Talion the more average it seemed. Talion isn’t a bad game. It does what other popular MMO games on mobile do. That’s the problem. After a large number of hours, I found my time with Talion almost indistinguishable from the time I spent playing Heroes of Incredible Tales, or Lineage II, or Flyff Legacy. It’s just another drop in the bucket in a very flooded market on mobile. It does very little to stand out and doesn’t seem to value much of the time spent trying to reach the end-game activities.
Lots of content
Pay-to-win multiplayer balancing
Damage tax items ruin gameplay
Throw away story