First Look at Dragon Nest

This MMO was first brought to my attention by Rho. I had intially heard of it, but didn't look too deeply into it at the time. I assumed it was like many other Korean MMOs that haven't entered the NA market. Rho pitched the game as an anime-ish Vindictus, which caught my attention. I soon learned that there was an English patch for the CN/KR version, so I could try it out.

The hard part was making the account on either server, since they need identification that you're actually there. Luckily for us, Rho is back in China at the moment, so we were able to make accounts on the CN server and then patch it to English.

So, I guess I'll start with some general info about the game. The KR version has a lvl cap of 50, while the CN is at lv40. At lv50, there is another job change to split the tree into 16 separate classes. The CB for the NA version was supposed to start on May 17th, but then it got delayed to some time in June. A global version will start CB sometime in July.

I didn't level too far (about lv7 or so), but I did get a gist of the game. I didn't want to level too far since the NA CB is close and they will probably wipe that after they are done. I probably won't stick around a game where my character got wiped twice.

So, now for some real review-ish stuff about the game. Here are some of the points of interest (don't mind the game quality; I have the settings on lowest, 'cause my laptop sucks):

The Interface. Crisp, clean, and easy to find things. The map is well-labelled to find the NPC you need; you can open up a larger version to see things more clearly if needed. On the side, it points to where the NPC needed to continue or finish a quest actually is. It's nice and easy when you don't know your way around the town yet.

The Combat. It feels exactly like Vindictus, being the new action MMO genre that things are moving toward. Think of it more like a slower-paced FPS game, so more skill is required, but combined with the MMO backbone of levelling and questing, amongst other things. I think this emerging genre is amazing, being a nice combination of many things.

The Graphics/Engine. Now, this is more of a personal taste, but I love anime-ish characters for my MMOs. To me, it does factor in hugely when picking a new game to play. I don't like to make a big deal about the engine a game runs on, but Rho does. For me, as long as you get a real jump that can actually jump over things, I am happy. Rho claims that this engine is designed in a way to make the gameplay feel solid, and said a bunch of things why; I don't care as much though, as long as it is aesthetically pleasing.

Chests are rewarded at the end of every instance.

The Grind. Now, I didn't level very far in Dragon Nest, but it seemed very mild. The EXP is gained through quests in instanced areas. This removes the problems of waiting for spawns and such. It also opens up the possibility of botters, which shouldn't be too big of a problem since mobs don't respawn and the majority of EXP is gained for finishing the instance. It's much harder to write a bot for.

The PVP. I am a PVP freak, so this is a huge thing for me when picking an MMO to play. Before even playing, I looked at the PVP videos on YouTube, and I was impressed. I haven't had the chance to try it myself, but watching it made me want to play badly. You could clearly see the difference in skill playing a huge part in winning, rather than your average MMO PVP, where the outcome is decided on gear and build. Adding in the skill factor does help make this game more appealing.

The Customization. This probably the biggest pillar for any MMO I pick. What I mean by customization is skill builds. The more options they provide to create your own build, the better. It gives you a chance to be unique even amongst your own class. This is also the area where your ingenuity can shine the brightest, something I pride greatly. I enjoy creating new builds that revolutionize the server, so much so that I spend hours upon hours mulling over small details to make things perfect. This game seems to have plently of customization with the skill tree, which is a huge positive for me.

The Party Size. This is a more of a personal thing that I enjoy. The party size is 4 people, with raids being 8. This makes teaming much smaller than in your general MMO setting. I actually prefer this, since it gives you more of a chance to shine as an individual rather than focusing on zerging a boss.

The Item Mall. This is a huge issue that many F2P games face: how to balance it. Great games come crashing down with poorly-done item malls that end up breaking the game. This is one of those games that are threatened by it. With so many positive things about it, this one negative factor is a huge issue. In the CN Item Mall, they sell armours. This is a huge issue, considering these armours are better than the ones that can be obtained in-game; thus, it means you can buy your way to End Game. Rho said that the stats on the armours seemed insignificant, but it is really hard to say without seeing it in action. Selling armour and weapons is a slippery slope; once you step onto this path, things can change very drastically and very fast. This will probably be the single largest hindrance to this game.

Overall, I think this game looks pretty strong and I definitely have high hopes for it once CB is opened for the NA servers. You can check it out here if you're interested, thought it is probably to late to guarantee a spot in their CB when it happens.