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E3 2009: Dungeon Fighter Online impressions


Nexon's upcoming free to play title Dungeon Fighter Online isn't quite like anything we've seen before -- and at the same time, it's a lot like things we've seen before. At first glance, DFO mimics old-school, style-arcade action-adventure games, the sort of thing you might have been pumping quarters into a decade ago.

Not so old-school, however, are the game's MMO features: a persistent, shared world, character advancement, quests, and loot. These aren't features we'd have ever thought of putting together, but we can assure you that the resulting low-rez adventure is fast-paced and fun. Best of all? You won't need a pocket full of quarters to enjoy it.

Gallery: E3 2009: Dungeon Fighter Online | 19 Photos

DFO was initially described to us as, "everything we love about arcade games, but with the advantages of online interaction" which is a tempting notion, no doubt. Its inspiration comes from classic 2d side-scrollers with lots of chaotic action, and the music harkens back to old-school arcade, but with a more modern orchestration. The music will change as you battle your way through each area of the game. It's entirely possible to button mash your way through if you want, but mastering combos will be key to success.

DFO classes:

  • Fighter: Hand to hand melee.
  • Gunner: Obviously... lots of guns
  • Mage: Classic magic
  • Priest: Faith, healer and smiting
  • Slayer: A demon has possessed his arm, which is where his powers come from
Each of the game's characters has come to the game world of Arad from elsewhere, so they're very different. Every class has specialized skills pertaining to their archetype, and at levels 18 and 48 you're allowed to choose a subclass. You earn skill points as your character levels, which can be used to -- you guessed it, buy skills. But you have fewer points than there are skills, so you need to make tough choices as you advance.

NPCs do all the standard stuff: give quests, sell skills and additionally are quite colorful. DFO's non-player characters are also designed to be fun and all have dialog. In fact, the English voice recording sessions for many of them begin next week. This colorful design philosophy translates to the levels as well, they're all very beautiful.

Overall, the controls are designed to be simple and thus fast, it's all about the action. You're able to play solo, but being an online game the advantage is with party play and PvP. As for what to expect for PvP, think Street Fighter or Mortal Combat games -- it's all about the duel.

The world is highly instanced -- all dungeons (four players max) are instanced. Towns and cities are open on the other hand. Every dungeon has four difficulty levels and the dungeons are modulated (i.e. Diablo, a little different each time you run them) At the end of a dungeon, players are ranked for their style/technicality and rewarded based on their given score. Rewards are random and are based more or less on the level of the dungeon. This works by the game letting you pick a card, your reward is whatever loot lies behind the chosen card. Additionally, loot does drop from defeated monsters.

You can have up to 12 characters on your account. The design team haven't decided what exactly will go in their item shop yet. Each character class has the same default look, but there are lots of outfits that you can customize your look with and nine costume slots total. As for guilds, since the game features a small party structure, guilds are very important for socialization.

Surprisingly, in China DFO is doing much better than World of Warcraft. Being an import, it's already playable in Korea, which means the content of the game is very much finished. Nexon's work is primarily on translation and localization. Nothing is known yet regarding release or details on the final feature set -- so keep an eye out for that news in the future.
Massively is on the ground in Los Angeles this week and covering all the latest E3 MMO news coming from the convention. Check out our breaking coverage (or all the Joystiq network E3 reporting) and keep your eye on Massively's front page for the latest developments.

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