Ah, Dragon Nest -- you are one of my favorite action MMOs. Truth be told, you're currently ranked aboveVindictus in this household. I know, I know... but don't judge me until you have played through the new content that is being released today and until you watch my embedded video. It shows just how dramatic, well-scripted, and fun dungeons in Dragon Nest can be.
I was given a level 45 character, a Lunar Knight, one of the new classes coming with this patch, to try out on the test server. The saddest part is that I haven't reached anywhere near level 45 on my current Warrior, even though I have learned his abilities well and enjoyed the heck out of him during my 24-hour stream. Unfortunately I didn't utilize the powerset from the Lunar Knight in the video much, instead using my familiar Warrior abilities. I was also given a nice set of Sea Dragon Armor, a mount, and a killer sword -- after all, a naked level 45 character would be sad.
I loaded up and jumped in, and here's what I found.
The main thing I love about Dragon Nest has got to be its stylized graphics. I have always preferred stylized over realistic graphics, although Dragon Nest fills in its virtual world with more "realistic" stylized graphics. Plants push aside as you walk through them; lights cast an eerie glow. Dragon Nest looks great, and the new town of Lotus Marsh is no exception.
This town is the next step for players who have reached the end of chapter five. The town acts as a quest hub, filled to the brim with new content. I grabbed a few quests and a bunch of screenshots, noting the Halloween decorations. In fact, all of Dragon Nest had been kitted out in the best holiday of the year, pumpkins and ghosts hanging out everywhere. As you can see from the screenshots, Lotus Marsh is a fantastic-looking place. It's a little damp for my tastes, and the humidity is a monster on my 'do, but otherwise, it's lovely in the evenings.
I had to travel to the Garden of Eternity Nexus off of Saints Haven to access both the Titan Nest (in the video) and the Archbishop Nest, both epic fights that challenged me every time. My armor and buffs helped me more than I can measure, but I was finally able to defeat the boss monsters throughout. I love the Aztec-themed areas and marvel at some of the details that make up each creature. There are wonderful scripted events, and every time I found myself confused or lost, I just had to slow down and make sure to watch the screen. Even if I missed instructions, the dungeons are laid out in a way that helped me figure out what to do.
The boss fight at the end of each of these new areas is so much fun but occasionally a little frustrating. The secrets are there, however, like climbing onto a massive golem's back to attack its rider, similar to combat in the fantastic Shadow of the Colossus. I felt very small in all of these new areas but also very powerful. When attacks are timed correctly and they fire off a big hit, the gamedelivers a feeling of incredible power. Enemies are tossed aside; minibosses crumble under sword. If smashing things into powder is your thing, Dragon Nest is the perfect choice. This new content pushes those violent boundaries even further.
Don't worry; a new character feels powerful as well. Dragon Nest is all about big fights, large combos, and destroying monsters. It can become repetitive, especially if you need to return to a dungeon for a mission or want to go back to increase the loot you receive. A lot of players have reported running into a leveling wall while grinding through dungeons, but I have found that following the main questline usually leads to non-stop linear advancement with few repeats. It's very possible that things become much more repetitive between those lower levels on my main and the level 45 that I was given for this test.
My character also came equipped with a cool mount. Mounts do get your character around town more quickly than going by foot, but you can also instantly teleport. If status is your thing, then get a mount. The one I have is adorable. It's too bad there were not more players on the test server to show it off to!
I'm surprised at how standard the zoning or teleporting feels to me now. At first, Dragon Nest can throw players off with its constant zoning. I might be in an open area, similar to a city in Guild Wars, and will zone into a new hub and then into another to access my particular dungeon. I might zone within that dungeon a few times as well. I imagine it's easier or plain necessary to use zoning or phasing for the scripted events that players frequently come across in game, but they become less of a nuisance over time. Some of the zoning works to separate content into chapters and helps to give gameplay an ebb and flow that I normally would not get in open-world content.
As I played through some of the newer areas, for example, the game would pause to show me a new cutscene. I use a zone to go to the next area, but it feels natural because the pacing of the game is already set up for zoning. I kill a baddie, get some loot, and move on the next baddie in the next zone. Sure, it could work in an open-world, non-instanced way, but I imagine the game would not feel as scripted and players would not feel as powerful. Using an ancient device to gun down dozens of monsters might not work if other players were able to fight me for access to that device.
On top of the new areas, bosses, and loot introduced with this new patch, there's also a level cap raise from 50 to 60 and a few new class specializations that can be accessed at level 45, including:
Gladiator - A merciless killing machine with only one goal... to eliminate the enemy swiftly and effectively.
Lunar Knight - He launches his attack from afar before moving in for the kill.
Barbarian - A force to be reckoned with. His unyielding strength knows no bounds as he relentlessly pummels his opponents, breaking spirit and bone with each blow.
Destroyer - Renders the heaviest armor about as useful as a raincoat. He manipulates the surrounding energy field to draw foes to him then pounds and pounds until only dust remains.
Sniper - Nobody escapes her watchful eye as she fires arrows into the hearts of her opponents with deadly precision. As a parting gift, she often delivers explosive flowers to enemies who have truly inspired her.
Warden - She takes solace in the small things: the smell of gunpowder, the thunderous echo of an explosion, and the sting of red hot shrapnel cutting through the air. She fires magical arrows that seek out her enemies and ignite with a fiery eruption on impact. Boom!
War Mage - She celebrates an enemy's death by summoning a laser from the sky to deal damage to anything in her path. The more she gets to use her lasers, the happier she is.
For a full list of all of the new classes, keep an eye out for the patch notes.
There's simply too much goodness in this patch to cover in one article. I am a bit spoiled now that I have been able to try it out on a level 45 character, but it only gives me a goal for my teen character to go for. Will I actually be able to get to the higher levels, defeat the bosses along the way, and avoid going bankrupt due to cash-shop spending? It's possible. But if I don't do it, at least I can say that for a few hours I was able to kick the tail of some of the most powerful bosses in the game!
Each week, Free for All brings you ideas, news, and reviews from the world of free-to-play, indie, and import games -- a world that is often overlooked by gamers. Leave it to Beau Hindman to talk about the games you didn't know you wanted! Have an idea for a subject or a killer new game that no one has heard of? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org!