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Much Fun Beneath the Surface

Lori May Posted:
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Innovation: 5/10

Dragon Nest is one of the few recent MMOs to implement gender-specific classes. This practice feels both entirely unnecessary and outdated, not to mention it puts far too much limitation on the players. Archers and Sorceresses are all female, and Clerics and Warriors are exclusively male; at least one magic damage and one physical damage option (and I am greatly summarizing here, there’s a little more flexibility than that but bear with me) are available for each gender, but it still means 50% of the classes are limited to each gender. I’ve yet to hear any video game developer have a legitimate, solid excuse for using this method of class association, and Nexon offers nothing for convincing me this was a wise choice. Not to mention four classes is pretty limited, even in F2P terms…

Unfortunately, on top of that throw-back feeling element, there really isn’t anything in Dragon Nest to make it feeling cutting-edge or revolutionary. Most times, this MMO simply feels like your run-of-the-mill F2P online RPG; in fact, it often feels and sounds like Final Fantasy’s generic alternative. But excluding the issue with gender-specific classes, Dragon Nest has managed to be at least middle-ground on the innovation score spectrum; nothing too impressive, but nothing wholly condemning, either.

Polish:  7/10

Nexon is one of those middle-road companies when it comes to satisfaction with customer support. I do appreciate that, for being a F2P company, Nexon has implemented several safeguard features in an attempt to protect the integrity of accounts; this is especially nice with some of the younger players. In the past, I’ve had a good track record with having any issues resolved by customer support, though Dragon Nest isn’t alone in being plagued by some fairly persistent bugs which seem to linger a bit too long. Being F2P, you’ll also encounter your fair share of hackers and gold farmers or sellers, but that really is par for the course in the F2P MMO category.

Longevity: 6/10

With so many F2P video games available, it’s hard to see Dragon Nest stealing many players away from some of the other power-house options; even Vindictus, another Nexon title, is likely to hold its own against the lure of Dragon Nest. Although the look of this MMO often makes it feel appropriate for a younger crowd, I’m afraid this one is going to have to compete for adult players as well if there’s any hope of it lasting several more years. Considering Dragon Nest only emerged from beta this fall, it’s early to tell whether or not Nexon will continue with enough updates, improvements and community events to keep players hooked.

However, the News & Events section of the website is frequently updated, and the social network pages for this game are well maintained. There’s even a costume contest for Halloween, in which players are encouraged to dress-up like characters from their favorite Nexon game and submit photos for judging. While this may seem silly and overrated to some players, it does show a degree of commitment on the part of Nexon and the Dragon Nest public relations staff to keep players intrigued and returning to the website—a good sign, for sure.

Social: 6/10

The chat system within Dragon Nest is adequate compared to other F2P MMOs, but it certainly isn’t anything to write home about. The ability to create a chat room, whether public or private, aside from regional chat, guild chat and private messages is a nice feature, and the friends list can be sorted into individual categories to help you better track your real-life friends, MMO frenemies and whatever additional groups you may have. As far as guild support, the system in place is pretty simplistic, and the looking-for-group feature is even more bare-bones than the chat system.

Each time you go to leave town and enter an instance, you are reminded that looking for a group might be a wise choice. This means either opening a group yourself – which is, by default, public for some reason – or looking in the chat system for the other groups in your area. Occasionally, players will actually specify what instances their group intends to do, and what levels are required for the endeavor. Most of the time, players find groups by using the region chat window or the world chat if they feel inclined to purchase a world chat ticket from the Nexon Cash shop.

Even with the limited chat systems in place, I found Dragon Nest to be an MMO better played with friends. Considering the questing and instance system is rather repetitious, having some partners going through the madness with you makes the level grind go much faster. Not to mention I consistently found equipment suitable for the other class from my starting zone – that is, on my Archer I found for my Warrior, and on my Sorceress I scored loot for my Cleric – so the whole process works a lot better with some friends or guild mates.

Value:  7/10

Like most F2P titles, Dragon Nest has a cash mall full of items, boosts and other perks available in exchange for your hard-earned, real-life dollars. In comparison to other F2P MMO options out there, the items within the Nexon Cash store are pretty standard in prices, though I would argue too much of the stock is cosmetic without enough worthwhile, useful items. I would have appreciated an opportunity to spend even real-life dollars to have some more modest clothing (though I believe one outfit with pants is available for the Archer in the mall at this time) or an XP boost potion and things of that nature, but other than the highly popular wings many players opt to purchase for the speed boost – and appearance, I imagine – there wasn’t a lot in the shop to tempt me into spending real-life funds for cost.

As with Nexon’s other MMOs, many of the items in the “Dragon Vault” cash mall are rentals rather than purchase prices. The in-game storage and backpack slots are painfully minimal, to help encourage players to spend real-life funds for an Adventurer’s Bag (30 slots) and things of that nature. You also need a Marketplace Pass in order to sell on the in-game auction house. Considering Dragon Nest is F2P, and at this time players don’t require huge amounts of Dragon Vault items to compete in PvP or succeed in the high level instances, I can’t fault Nexon for resorting to an item mall as income for the game.

When compared to the other highly rated MMOs we have reviewed here on MMORPG in the last few years, Dragon Nest is certainly worth sampling—hell, folks, it’s F2P—but it isn’t without flaws. But this is a young video game, barely out of the beta phase, and I believe it’s worth keeping an eye on for future updates, tweaks and improvements. Now, as long as Nexon tries to listen to the community and implement the most crucial of the improvements called-for by the player base, Dragon Nest is off to a sure start as far as potential enjoyment is concerned.

This is one MMO which lends itself well to casual players, and will work well for gamers who prefer questing – whether solo or with a group – to other methods of leveling. The end rewards could certainly use a boost, but I can’t honestly say I was hurting for funds after level 15. If PvP is terribly important to you, I suggest looking elsewhere; similarly, if you want a top-notch chat system, Dragon Nest will probably annoy you in the social game. But I was pleasantly surprised with how much fun is beneath the surface here, especially when this MMO seems pretty simplistic at first glance. The multiple specializations make the four classes feel more like eight, though losing the gender restrictions would be a great improvement. And at the bargain price of free it’s hardly a poor investment.

  • Easy to learn
  • Frequent updates
  • Fun combat moves
  • Mutiple specializations
  • Solo friendly
  • Gender-specific classes
  • Heavily instanced
  • Limited classes
  • Repetitive
  • Weak PvP

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Lori May