As gaming technology improves, could Vindictus be the first action MMO that doesn't fall flat? Senior Editor Chris Tom decided to find out by participating in the Early Access Beta, which recently ended.
When I was assigned to check out Nexon's latest free-to-play MMORPG, Vindictus, I'll admit that I was a little bit hesitant out the door. Granted, those trailers looked pretty good, and Nexon is probably one of the best free-to-play MMO developers in the world, but whenever you start throwing around the words "action MMORPG" with "peer-to-peer instance hosting," I tend to get a little pale. On the other hand, with the advent of several next-gen MMORPGs coming out in this year and the next, who's to say that the F2P market hasn't also taken some significant strides forward? At least this is what I was hoping as I set foot into Vindictus's Early Access Beta.
To give a little background information, Vindictus is actually known in areas outside of North America and Europe as "Mabinogi Heroes," since this game takes place several hundred years before the events of Mabinogi, another one of Nexon's F2P MMORPGs. Unfortunately, because Mabinogi is a fairly unknown MMO in the English language markets, Nexon wisely decided to rename this game to "Vindictus," to allow it to stand alone as a fresh, new MMORPG.
Right out the gate, one of the biggest problems I ran into with Vindictus was that there are only two classes to choose from, and those two classes are gender restricted. In other words, players will need to nix their aspirations of ever becoming a female assassin or a sturdy male tank, as the only choice offered is between Fiona, the sword and shield wielding female warrior, or Lann, the dual-sword assassin. This didn't end up being a huge problem for me, as I had already decided to play a "Hammeriona" at later levels (that is, a Fiona who wields a large 1-handed hammer and a shield), but the lack of classes to choose from was a definite disappointment for many of my friends. I hear there are plans to implement the female spell caster, Evie, in a future patch, with two other characters yet to come in the Korean version, but at the time of this article, there was only Fiona and Lann to choose from.
Outside of the class problem, however, Vindictus does do a great job of pulling players into the story with an exciting opening scene where a giant spider has gone berserk, and it falls to the player to defend the village oracle as she tries to reason with the monster. This is definitely an improvement over killing rats and delivering messages. After the adrenaline pumping tutorial, the game then places you in a sleepy little town, complete with your basic quest hub and various item, armor and weapon stores. One benefit I noticed from this very basic setup, however, was just how intuitive this game can be. I've heard some players say that Vindictus can get complicated at times, but anyone who has played a number of MMOs should have little diffictuly getting started. Vindictus really feels like an old-school RPG that's been refreshed with a next-gen combat system. You get quests to explore ruins and fight bosses, and as you fight you gain "AP" which can be used to upgrade your skills. The items you receive in the dungeons can also be "crafted" by the NPCs to create different weapons and armor.