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Dragon Nest thread!

Thu Mar 21, 2013 5:43 pm

Sooo, I realize this isn't going to be any help to my 'kid' reputation here, but ... ┐( ̄ヮ ̄)┌

Dragon Nest!
a review by auxy
Dragon Nest is a free-to-play online action-RPG published by Nexon and developed by Eyedentity Games.
Don't bother looking them up; they haven't done anything else.

Dragon Nest is often called an MMORPG, and while it incorporates a heavy dose of MMORPG elements such as auction houses and busy shared lobby areas, Dragon Nest is really a rare experience in online games: a true high-speed action game in the vein of games like Devil May Cry or God of War. Combat is fast and furious, and you can't stand in one place and leisurely press number keys to perform your abilities: you have to aim your spells, time your blows, roll to evade, and leap out of the way of powerful enemies! There is no lock-on or targeting mechanic, and there is no auto-aim -- even more than your equipment or skills, player skill is the number one deciding factor in determining victor from vanquished in this game.

Players choose from one of five classes (Warrior, Priest, Archer, Sorceress, and Tinkerer) and meet up with other players in the town lobbies (where dozens or even hundreds of players can congregate), and then form parties of up to four players to venture into the instanced wilderness areas and dungeons. The small party size and heavy use of instancing helps keep the action fast and fluid, while allowing enough teamwork and synergy to let players really maximize the destruction. Parties will engage dozens of enemies at once in massive conflicts using powerful spells, techniques, and specialized equipment that's really a blast to use, from the Warrior's swords, axes, hammers, and gauntlets, to the Sorceress's grimoires, orbs, and puppets. Boss encounters are huge and intimidating, with larger-than-life enemies and high stakes on the line thanks to the massive damage output of some boss monsters.

Every class is a blast to play; I've tried them all. Each has several specializations to choose from to advance the character's abilities, and while early on, players are encouraged to try out every ability for their class, later, players will have to pick and choose their upgrades carefully, as there are so many abilities for each class that you don't get enough skill points to buy them all. This is a good thing, however, as it means each character plays a little bit different from the next, and really allows some variety in capabilities. My sorceress, for example, is specialized as an Elementalist, primarily focused on fire magic for really laying the hurt on enemies! However, as a result, her ability to control and debilitate enemies is a bit worse than most.

The game was designed primarily for mouse-and-keyboard play, but with some configuration, supports game controllers as well; the game controller interface was added after launch and has some caveats (most UI windows have to be manipulated using an emulated mouse cursor, rather than a specific gamepad interface), but does work well. Still, the game plays flawlessly using mouse-and-keyboard, and I wouldn't recommend it any other way. A multi-button MMO mouse like the Corsair Vengeance M90/95 really helps a lot here, but is not a requirement to play.

While Dragon Nest excels at the most important part of a game (the gameplay), some players may be put off by the exaggerated anime visual style of the game. Personally, I love it -- characters are cute and visually appealing, colors are bright and vibrant, and the VFX for the characters' special abilities can be quite spectacular (wait until you see a Sorceress use Void Blast!) Technically speaking, the game engine is DX9 and pretty advanced, with nice specular highlights and Bokeh depth-of-field effects, but the resources in use (textures and models) are kept relatively simple to allow players with lower-spec PCs to run the game; I tested it and found it quite playable at low settings an old dual-core Socket 939 machine with a Geforce 9400GT. Players with more powerful hardware can enjoy silky-smooth framerates, however; this is another thing that contributes to the overall fluidity of the game (which is excellent in any case.)

In other areas, the game excels too, though; the sound design is fantastic (the foley work is much better than it needed to be), and while some of the English voice acting is questionable, much of it is acceptable or even good, and the writing itself is fantastic. Much of the dialogue is outright hilarious and while I'm easily amused, I did spend a good portion of the game laughing aloud. If the voice acting does bother you, it's trivial to acquire Korean or Japanese voice packs -- if you would prefer such a thing. As an online game, especially one with fast action, you might worry about network issues, but Nexon runs the game servers, and they have "a little" experience with this -- my relatively modest residential (DOCSIS 2) cable service gave me nary an issue or even a hiccup during play.

Overall, I think Dragon Nest is a fantastic game, but a review of the game wouldn't be complete without mentioning the free-to-play and pay-to-win aspects of the game. Dragon Nest is a free-to-play game in the current style, meaning that while the game and the overwhelming majority of its content are completely free, players can spend real money to acquire "NX", with which they can purchase a wide variety of items. These range from better-than-usual health/mana potions and oils that improve your ability to upgrade your equipment to extravagant cosmetic items and special mounts. These items, controversially, do give you real in-game advantages over players that don't spend real money, thus giving rise to the term "pay-to-win", and there is a large PvP community in the game. However, there's absolutely no NEED to spend money on the game, and regardless, the items on offer are priced well in line with other games' cash shops. Some of the cosmetic items look amazing!

Anyway, I really recommend the game for anyone into action games OR online games (although keep in mind that if you aren't a big action gamer, you may have trouble with the game!) because it serves up a fantastic blend of the two genres and overall is just a blast to play. I'm playing primarily on the Velskud server but I have characters on every server, so post in this thread if you play the game or if you try it; I'd love to hear your feedback on the game!
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