PAX East 2011: Hands-on with Nexon's Dragon Nest and Vindictus

Nexon spread its wings over much of PAX East's exhibit hall this year, with booths scattered about dedicated to it and its partners' various titles. At the center of the storm lay one of Nexon's hottest new properties, Dragon Nest, which was available for all manner of pokings and proddings.

I sat down to play through a couple of Dragon Nest's dungeons with Dee Lee and Moon Kim, who provided commentary on the various game features we were seeing. At its core, Dragon Nest is a fast-paced dungeon crawler, a mash-up between Dungeon Runners, Diablo and Final Fantasy. Instead of spending time roaming around the world, players will primarily be jumping into multi-stage instances over and over again.

Each dungeon, such as the Forest Sanctuary and the Valley of Mourning, can accommodate between one to four players (or up to eight for raids) as they try to battle their way to the end boss. It's colorful, heavy on clicking, and definitely arcade-like through and through.

Hit the jump to hear the rest of our Dragon Nest impressions as well as a sneak peek at Vindictus' big update coming later this month!

C-c-c-combo breaker!

If you're looking for an MMO with a bit of caffeine it its blood, Dragon Nest might be for you. There's remarkably little downtime as players charge through ruins and valleys, enemies dogging their every step. Left-click on your mouse to attack, and hit your action bar keys for special abilities. Kill, loot, rinse and repeat.

Right now we know of four main classes in Dragon Nest: the Archer, the Sorcerer, the Cleric and the Warrior. Each brings its own unique abilities to the table, although I was a little partial to the Cleric's divine attacks (and nothing comes away from a mace across the face without a severe headache). Leveling up enables you to choose additional skills and abilities for your class.
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While the action is simple enough to pick up, the game rewards players for performing more complex and challenging tasks during each stage, such as racking up high combos or taking little damage. At the end of every stage you'll be given a letter grade, and depending on the grade, you'll have your choice of treasure chests with various goodies inside.

Want better loot? Simply set the difficulty of the dungeon to a higher level (there are five settings) or attempt to run it by yourself. After all, why share that precious loot when you can keep it all to yourself?

While Dragon Nest lacks an overworld, it's certainly feature-rich in most areas MMO fans are craving, such as guilds and guild levels. It's also ridiculously light when it comes to system requirements, which should open the potential market up to the wide base that Nexon likes to pursue.

So why is it called Dragon Nest? I asked the devs, and Moon Kim started to explain the game's lore but then stopped himself and laughed. "It's because they're are dragons. Lots and lots of dragons." Fair enough!

Vindictus vindicated

My next stop was over at the large Vindictus booth, where Producer Jaeho Hwang was happy enough to lead me through the new content patch coming on March 23rd.

Vindictus was the sleeper success story of 2010, as Nexon's adult-themed action MMO swept over a half million players up in its wake during the past six months. The dev team is on the verge of releasing the game's second update following its North American launch, with dreams of many more to come.

The update is Episode Six and has a host of new features in store for hardcore Vindictus players. First up is a rise in the level cap from 60 to 70, which includes several new skills for each character.
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One of the nifty perks that Hwang showed me was the ability for all characters to switch between Paladin and Dark Paladin mode in what he called "transformation." The angelic Paladin sported wings and slashed enemies with bars of pure light.

PvP combat is slated for this update as well, and while Nexon has yet to build PvP-specific arenas (they are on the way), it's worked out a way to allow players to duke it out in existing dungeons.

The update also includes a new town called Rocheste, which has several special NPCs who can train you in expert crafting professions, such as cooking and blacksmithing. Nexon hopes to add another character -- a giant warrior -- in the near future, although it wouldn't give me a date.

So far the reception for Vindictus has been overwhelmingly positive from Nexon's point of view, and the team hopes to continue churning out fun content on a regular basis.



Massively's on the ground in Boston during the weekend of March 11-13, bringing you all the best news from PAX East 2011. Whether you're dying to know more about SWTOR or Guild Wars 2 or any MMO in between, you can bet we'll have it covered!

This article was originally published on Massively.