As someone who has played MMO’s since before I can even remember I am always on the hunt for a new one to play. So imagine my surprise when I hear about a new F2P one (that is Free-To-Play, kids) that is also on Steam, I felt more than excited to give it a shot. Was I wrong or was it actually worth my time?
Well to be honest I’m not totally regretting it but I’m also not sold by what I’ve played so far either. The funny thing about F2P games is even if you don’t spend a dime on them you are still making a payment, a payment of your free time. Most of us work 9-5 jobs or go to school so in our downtime of eating, sleeping and uh, other human related functions (wink, wink, nudge, nudge), and we also need some entertainment in our lives. For many of us this means video games and more importantly to this article, MMOs. So when you’re playing an MMO, I would imagine that fun is the main thing on your agenda and not work. The problem with many MMO’s (especially F2P ones) is that you’re essentially “grinding” your way to the highest level in the game. You’re grinding for new gear, for quest items and for experience. The funny thing about grinding is that it can grow tedious fast, almost like work, so doesn’t that defeat the whole purpose of playing a game? My main problem with Dragon’s Nest is that for the first 15 levels or so it seemed like; I got a quest, skipped through pages of text, ran to the gateway, ran through to the next gateway, killed a bunch of monsters, then a boss, then collected my reward before teleporting back to the town to turn in the quest, accept that reward and repeat. If that previous run-on sentence sounded horrible to you then I have bad news for you; this is probably it for you from noob to vet levels. Sure there will be some variation along the way, but the basic formula of get quest > run to quest area > finish quest > turn in quest is mostly going to remain the same all through out. That being said though, if you want a nice casual game to pick up and play every now and then without serious dedication it definitely has some shining points to it.
Combat is fun. It is fast and action based, almost like a console beat-em up in a 3D world. You have a basic attack, special attack, skills and combos at your disposal. It definitely keeps game play from being a simple point and click/wait affair. My only gripe with combat is there is no way to lock on to your target, so if you’re like me you’ll probably end up missing with your skills that need you to be a certain distance away from the target in order to hit them. You aren’t purely offensive though, you can jump, dodge, roll, and dash and depending on the class you are, you can even learn a recovery attack where if you get knocked down (and you will), you can get in a surprise attack. Boss fights in particular can be interesting but they can also just end up being nothing more than HP sponges with little to no actual strategy involved.
Even the class system is such a by the numbers thing I feel it is barely worth mentioning. Let’s see you got the melee class (warrior), the ranged fighter (archer), the healer class (cleric), the mage (sorceress) and the tinkerer (pet class). What irks me the most though is that the classes are gender specific, meaning I can’t have a male magic user or a female warrior for example. To be fair though, they’re just avatars, but it still would have been nice seeing how you only get like 4 hairstyles for each class.
Unless I’m totally wrong, and if I am I apologize, but this game is like a ghost town right now. Maybe I just haven’t hit the higher areas yet where the meat of the players are, but I would think that the lower end starter areas would be more lively, but alas, they are not.
Aside from the visuals and for the most part the audio (the voice acting is awful), the surprising stand out is the story. Word bubbles are filled with wit, humor, story elements and important info. There are in-game cutscenes for major story elements that really help push the game along and for a brief second make your remember that you’re progressing toward something not just running random dungeon runs, so I think that helps.
Dragon’s Nest is kind of a mixed bag. On the one hand it’s kind of basic with cool combat action with decent visuals. On the other hand though it’s free so even if you don’t like it, it’s not like you lost any money on it and heck, you could always come back to it later. I feel it is a good game in small doses, but if you play it for too long you’ll feel the grind and it’ll really dampen your enjoyment. At the end of the day, I have only this to say; play until at least level 15, if you don’t find yourself enjoying things as much as you think you should, you should probably get your MMO fix someplace else. Not bad, but not great either.
[Written by contributor Shane Peltzer]