Physics, Rocks and Urns – Oh My
At first look, Vindictus, a “Free to Play” MMO looks like absolutely gorgeous. You pick a character from three available – Evie, a mage who uses magic and a staff, Lann who dual-wields and Fiona, who uses sword and shield – and are immediately dropped into a cut-scene, a movie introduction that Vindictus calls a Prologue. A giant spider, the town guardian has gone wild and is threatening the town folk and climbing up the bell tower, crumbling the stonework with its weight. You, the rookie are joined with a mercenary band, the Crimson Blades to stop it. Aodhan, the Captain calls for ballistae, but Tieve, the town Oracle puts herself in the way, begging for a chance to speak to it to calm it down and so a small party, you included, escort her into the bell tower.
The Prologue acts as a tutorial. With voice-overs and UI overlays, you are shown how to move, to attack, to pick up items (Tieve, actually when she is struck down) but not to put them down. I actually tried to throw her and clicking attack, kneed several gnolls in the jewels before I chanced to hit the space bar (I could have sworn that was dodge!) and laid her down.
The Prologue is a grand play through. It acts as tutorial, introduces you to several characters, and lays the groundwork for the backstory all at once. When you’re through, the game takes you to character creation where you customize your character, and you’re shown the free customization variations as well as the other available “pay” options which include some really nifty and outlandish outfits.
Controls, UI and the World
Controls and the UI will be familiar with most MMO players. There are three physical interface options. Keyboard only, Keyboard and Mouse, and Game Pad. Take a look at Options before you start the game, the game defaults to Keyboard and Mouse – WASD movement scheme, and the Advanced camera options – which is basically mouse control, and there are quite a few options you may wish to have, such as having the camera automatically aligning on your character when moving.
The world is instanced. The town of Colhen is small but structures are detailed as are the few models - a couple of horses, NPC, dogs, the two puppies actually approach you if you stand around. You do run around but entering buildings brings you to a 2-D HUD for NPCs.
Combat, Training, Crafting
Battles are attained via quests or stories as they are known in Vindictus, and most require you attain a certain number of points by killing or assisting in the killing of mobs and bosses, so sometimes you may have to run the battle more than once. Battles are launched at the dock where you can party-up first, join a battle that has been launched, or launch one of your own.
Skills are gained as quest rewards and purchases and then are trained. Crafting done by NPCs through the Crafting HUD with drops, and not a feature I explored in the first few hours of the game. There’s also fishing which is a skill and intrigued me (yeah, yeah… I fished too danged much in FFXIV…) but I did not get to that either.
Combat is fast. Fast, brutal and quite a bit of fun with the Physics engine that’s in the game as you can start off by throwing a humongous rock you just happened to pick up, at the mobs. You can also run into objects thrown at you and rolling traps of spiked logs that you can either dodge or destroy. Destroy a large number of urns and you could earn an achievement. The achievements are plentiful and rather fun as they show up unexpectedly – like the “Urn Breaker” one I gained.
Each battle-field is a randomized map, but unfortunately after you’ve seen them the first few times, they get repetitive. It isn’t “the same five tiles” as a fellow game journalist disparaged, as there really *are* more than five tiles, but you get the picture. After you’ve run up the same flight of stairs with barrels falling down or dodged the same spikey rolling log five times, it begins to feel the same.
Vindictus is free to play and the game monetizes by renting various cosmetic looks at the Avatar Shop and useful items like potions and single and party Phoenix Feathers for instant resurrection at the Supply Depot Avatarshop.jpg
The game is fun and starts out like a champ. At this time, there are three characters out of what looks like five available. It was possible to party with characters 20 levels higher than mine and still gain decent xp and loot. In the few hours I played, I leveled my mage to level 9 but hardly stopped to breathe or examine all the loot I picked up. I even forgot to collect my leveling rewards as the early levels really made you feel like a hero.
Verdict – Try It Out
It’s an amusing afternoon of play and I can totally see continuing to play this game casually. Besides, when I look at the big picture, I think of the hours upon hours I spent in the same dungeon in EverQuest and the battlegrounds of WoW, at least the dungeon maps in Vindictus are randomized.
I waffled between “Try it Out” and “Wait for it” but you know… I want to log back in and play, as despite the repetitive battle maps, I have not yet explored the crafting, the trading, the fishing, nor visited the new town of Ainle which was added a couple of weeks back, and it’s a pretty, pretty world. So try it out.