Previewing the Shadow
Continent of the Ninth Seal (C9) from Webzen launched globally in July 11th and MMORPG was invited to Korea for the launch presentation. While there, we had the chance to get some hands-on time with the new Shadow class, one of the choices of the advanced class of the Hunter which was released July 18th.
C9 is an action MMORPG. Combat is non-targeted but directional, hence you are using the mouse quite a bit as you turn and move, directing your attacks, combos and skills. You strike every creature within range of your weapon or skill. The action is fast and furious therefore, with over the top animation and reminiscent of the combat in TERA or Nexon’s Vindictus.
The Shadow wields two swords and of all the classes, it has the fastest attack speed and an air-combo specialization. The latter means that he’s got some flashy moves which he performs by jumping and then spinning, kicking, slashing, etc. in the air. My character even spun on his head for one of the moves!
C9 was in open beta before my trip to Webzen, but I could not get it to run (more on that later) so this was my first time with hands-on the game. I had not been able to get familiar with the game controls, but for a seasoned gamer, they are intuitive. Skills as well as potions and scrolls can be hot-slotted and clicked or the associated key on the key board depressed to use them. Mousing over them gives you a tool-tip and I quickly learned what they did and picked a few favorites.
The characters provided were level 50 Shadows and possessed the Ultimate Fury skill – a showy, powerful skill used mainly for finishing off bosses when you had them down to a certain amount of health. To get us familiar with the class, we entered Old Luid – Fallen Luned Castle via the map and proceeded to lay waste to the castle solo. Clearing mobs in a level before a gate would open; a map in the UI provided direction and location of mobs in little red dots– with the ultimate goal being that little golden dot over there, the boss of the castle. The preview characters could not die, but were super buffed and tricked out with the best armor, and had a potion to restore all health and mana. Nice way to explore a dungeon, even if it was indicative of the real difficulty.
As mentioned, the combat was action based and intuitive. There’s no tab targeting and hitting auto-attack then going for a sandwich here. However, it isn’t a click fest either as you can hold down the mouse button and continue swinging and until you go into the basic combos. I tried out the various skills, trying to keep an eye on the action as well as trying to figure out the cool-downs. The bigger and nastier the skill, the longer the cool-down of course, and there were some pretty awesome ones. Ones that I used to clear the trash mobs with quickly to move onto their hardier (and bigger) colleagues – that seems to be the “tell” these days – the bigger they are, the nastier they are.
Finally, I reached the boss mob, with a full fury meter. Ready to unleash the Ultimate Fury once the timing was right. The Dev behind me had been quiet once he saw I caught on quick, he’d not said a thing besides pointing out the various parts of the UI and telling me that sometimes mobs were immobile (yeah, whack the healing statue. Good idea.) Now, he said quietly, “Hit it.” I did and we cut into a cinematic sequence. “Direct the attack.” He reminded me. I did. I had hit the holy whoop-ass button. When I stopped dancing in the air with my blades and the light and sound effects stopped, all that was left was the results of the carnage: the inert corpses, piles of loot and me. In my mind’s eye, I saw a hardened warrior, after battle. Chest heaving, sweat sliding down his face, blood dripping off his blades. That was what I felt like and it was really quite a feeling of epic awesomeness (that’s a real thing, look it up). I could see why level 50 and obtaining the skill would be rewarding, and I can imagine the first time a player uses it and the triumph he or she will feel. I didn’t earn this skill, but I still got the effect.
Yeah, that was quite a hands-on preview of the Shadow, but more was to come as we went into a PvP arena against four members of the QA team. Oh right, a Taoist, we know who we need to hit first, don’t we? Interestingly enough, although the Taoist is a healer, in PvP it was all out offense for everyone.
We were five Shadows against a team of QA guys playing different classes. Team vs Team and I think it was best out of seven matches (I lost count). Were we smoked? Not quite. I certainly thought we would be. I decided to concentrate on one character – the Taoist, my thought being I’ll learn what her skills are and the better to counter them with my own. They are… something else, as she kept me immobilized with combo after combo, dealing damage until I managed to back out of the way and charge back into the fray, dealing the same to her. She managed to evade, leaping backwards out of the way. “Wait, how did she do that?” The answer, “Oh, there are evade and escape skills, and well, you guys didn’t go through the PvP tutorial.”
That brought some good natured grumbling and the next match, I forced the Taoist against the wall until she managed to escape again. Yes, positioning is important in PvP, as well as timing. After being slaughtered in the first match, I didn’t make it easy in the following and although I didn’t make any kills, I was able to hold my own and as a team we did win a couple of the matches. Amazing or perhaps they were being kind?
The same PvE skills are used in PvP, but mousing over them shows their PvP effect – mostly less damage as player characters have less HP than boss mobs. It also looks like evade skills are not simply useful but necessary in PvP as the correct combination of well-timed combos can have your opponent stunned and unable to react until he gets out of range and can rally.
So that was the hands-on preview of the Shadow class and PvP. As a first time experience, I could see that combat in C9 works and works well. It was intuitive, fast, furious and fun. Worth a shot for any action gaming fan.
I am running Win7 64-bit machine and could not get C9 to run. It kept crashing when I hit the log-in or play button. Normally, when running a new program that requires internet access, a window pops up and I allow the program through the firewall. It seems that a small percentage of players are experiencing a crash. If C9 crashes when you first try to play, you will have to manually allow it access through your firewall. Go to Control Panel / Windows Firewall and add C9 to the list of programs allowed through the firewall.