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GDC10: Dragon Nest hands-on


Ever since the Diablo franchise hit it big with gamers across the world, competing companies have attempted to replicate Blizzard's addictive click-and-loot gameplay with varying degrees of success. There's just something satisfying on a primal level when you wipe out entire armies of monsters with a mere 2,142 mouse clicks. Mega-MMO publisher Nexon (Mabinogi, Dungeon Fighter Online) is bringing over another contender in Dragon Nest, a fast and furious dungeon crawler (minus the Vin Diesel, unfortunately).

At GDC 2010, we were fortunate enough to nab a hands-on with Dragon Nest, a title could almost be considered a sibling of Nexon's Vindictus. Both games are action-oriented, twitch-based and include cutting through swaths of enemies for the glory of your inventory. However, while Vindictus is serious in tone and looks, Dragon Nest goes for a "cuter" feel. In markets where Dragon Nest and Vindictus exist simultaneously, such as Korea, each can co-exist peacefully while not undercutting one another.

Of course, Dragon Nest is more than a cute face and a mouse waiting to be worn out -- hit the jump after the gallery to chew through this colorful game with us.

Gallery: Dragon Nest | 29 Photos

Have Huge Honkin' Sword, Will Travel

Dragon Nest is a melting pot of MMO styles. Its gameplay is firmly rooted in the action-RPG setup of its forefathers, yet it goes beyond mere mindless hack-and-slashery to roll out an epic storyline as players progress through the world. Several cutscenes will attempt to engage you in the tale as you meet new characters and travel to distant lands.

After picking up a big sword (or bow and arrow, or staff, or slinky -- whatever floats your armory boat), you'll follow your character in a third-person, over-the-shoulder perspective as you run headlong into combat. And you will engage in some combat, trust us. Learning to best wield your skills and hit precious combos will make a huge difference between who ends up as mincemeat on the ground -- you or your foe.

Show Some Class, Will You?

Dragon Nest sports four classes: the Warrior (2H-weapon user), Archer (bow), Cleric (healing and lightning attacks) and Sorcerer (nuker). These basic classes are customized by players when they level up, offering them the opportunity to pursue several "paths of discipline" in which to specialize.

We got our hands on the Warrior, who didn't mind a little man-handling in the name of gaming journalism. Whatever you might expect from the warrior stereotype, Dragon Nest could surprise you. This barbarian unleashed over-the-top attacks, such as slamming his hammer into the ground to create a gigantic shockwave, charging across the rooms to brutalize foes, and even flipping up into the air to lay the smackdown.

We also peered over the shoulder of MMORPG's Jon Wood to watch him play the Archer class. Truly, this is a first-person shooter's wet dream. He used a targeting reticule to fire on his enemies, calling on abilities such as multi-shots, rapid fire, and various types of arrows to rack up a pile of corpses.

As you can see in the video below, the combat in this game is anything but slow; rapid attacks, chain combos and all life as we know it being demolished in the name of large damage numbers is par for the course.

Riddle Me This, Batman

This isn't to say that combat is the sole activity in Dragon Nest, as players will find their intellects tested by sheer logical madness in the form of diabolical puzzles that have the very power to drive you insane! Okay, maybe that's somewhat of an exaggeration. Actually, the game's puzzles seemed simplistic in the match we played, as they were just switches that sat around the map that needed to be activated -- somewhat like Phantasy Star Online.

Fortunately, the combat is more than satisfying. Nexon promises that geography will factor into the fights, such as being able to knock enemies off ledges and using obstacles to your advantage. And when you do crush your enemy into submission, they explode into gratifying bursts of items and gear. As Min Kim said while we played, "It's like popping loot piñatas."

For advanced players of the game, Dragon Nest will roll out both PvP and dungeon raids as higher-level challenges.

While Dragon Nest was finished before Vindictus, Nexon chose to push Vindictus to the US first, so expect to see Dragon Nest shortly after its action-RPG brother hits the shores.

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