Vindictus: A one-year retrospective

Screenshot -- Vindictus
It's time for a celebration, y'all. It's been a year since Nexon's popular physics-based hack-'n'-slash title, Vindictus, officially launched, and what a year it's been. Between constant content updates, seasonal events, awards, and more, Vindictus has had a rather successful first year, and it doesn't seem to show any signs of stopping.

So exactly how far has Vindictus come since the title's inception a year go? Well, follow along past the cut and join us as we take a short look at the game's history and find out how it holds up today.

Vindictus made its first public appearance at GDC 2010, and what we saw was a noted departure from everything else that came to mind along with the word "Nexon." While the game was announced to be a loose prequel to Nexon's popular fantasy title Mabinogi, Vindictus shared very little with the cutesy, happy-go-lucky land of Erinn. For those interested in the connection, however, the story goes that the characters of Vindictus are seeking to destroy their enemy the Fomors due to the belief that their goddess Morrighan will whisk them away to the paradisiacal land of Erinn, where Mabinogi takes place.

But Vindictus is not Mabinogi by a long shot. From the get-go, Vindictus was touted as being violent, brutal, and action-packed. It also didn't hurt that it ran on the Source Engine, allowing for a good deal of physics-based mayhem along the way.

Screenshot -- Vindictus
Shortly after the game's reveal, Massively got its first hands-on with the title at E3 2010. The game was praised for its stylish Source-powered graphics, its quick-and-dirty action style of gameplay, and the powerful physics engine, which allowed for a number of dastardly traps and creative kills.

Then, on October 27th, 2010, the game stormed out of beta and into its official launch. Shortly after, Vindictus took home not just one but seven awards from the 2010 Korean Game Awards at the G-Star 2010 convention. Not a bad start, to say the least.

Since then, the game has seen a steady stream of content updates, which included new zones, new bosses, and most recently, a new character known as Karok: Pillar of Strength. Intimidating, no? The game also recently announced its European release, with the EU open beta beginning just last month.

And that short bit of history brings us now to the present day. How is Vindictus holding up a year into its life? I decided to venture back into the game for the first time since its launch to have a look for myself -- a "second impressions" of sorts.

For those unfamiliar with the basic set-up of the title, it goes a little something like this: Players choose between one of four characters. You have Lann, the dual-wielding swordsman, who focuses on quick, precise attacks; Fiona, a heroine armed with a sword and shield, who fights defensively until the enemy is open for attack; Evie, a spellcaster with a scythe, who can assemble nearby environmental objects into a golem to fight for her; and the aforementioned Karok, who -- true to his name -- fights with a gargantuan pillar and who is unique in his ability to grapple with boss monsters to stop them in their tracks.

Screenshot -- Vindictus
Character customization isn't particularly stellar unless you plan to shell out for the cash-shop-only hairstyles, hair colors, and so forth, but it's not exactly awful either. Curiously, there is actually a slider that exists only to adjust the size female characters' busts, though there are no such sliders for facial features, body size, or anything else of the sort, which I found to be somewhat humorous. But I digress.

For the purposes of this article, I decided to roll with Karok, since he's new and this is all about seeing what's changed in the game so far. After a short combat tutorial, I was dropped into the main social hub of the game. The entire game operates out of this social hub. It's where you go to accept and complete quests, buy, sell, trade, and so forth.

In truth, outside of the new character and new bosses/areas, the game hasn't changed too much, at least not for players just beginning their adventures. That's not to say that the game doesn't still manage to be a great load of hack-and-slash fun, however.

I found myself immensely enjoying swaggering into dungeons with Karok and his gargantuan pillar (oh, lawd) and simply laying waste to everything in my path. The new playstyle that Karok brings to the table proved to be quite valuable in group play as well. His ability to go toe-to-toe in a grapple with boss monsters proved particularly useful, as I could take the brunt of a boss' attack in stride, stop him in his path, and allow my teammates a few moments to unleash a flurry of attacks without fear of retribution.

Screenshot -- Vindictus
On that note, one thing I did find refreshing was Vindictus' focus on teamplay. Much like Nexon's other popular beat-'em-up title, Dragon Nest, Vindictus encourages players to group together in order to tackle higher-difficulty dungeons, which in turn rewards them with greater loot and experience. Finding a party is simple thanks to a mission board system that automatically displays available parties for the selected mission. As someone who plays MMOs for the social aspect, I found the ease of finding a group to be very much a plus.

As with many free-to-play titles, however, players will only manage to truly get the most out of Vindictus if they shell out some cash for microtransactions. A number of incredibly useful items such as inventory expansion, experience boosts, and armor sets are available for NX points in the item shop. That aside, however, it's certainly possible to get a very enjoyable play experience without parting with a single red cent. I certainly did.

So congratulations, Vindictus, on your first long year of life. Hopefully there will be many more to come. And remember, to get in on the frenzied Vindictus action for yourself, all you have to do is head on over to the game's official site and sign up.
This article was originally published on Massively.