V4 Review - Full MMO Experience In The Palm Of Your Hand?
Korean game studios are no strangers to creating MMORPG games. The newest addition to publisher Nexon’s portfolio is the Mobile/PC cross platform V4, short for Victory Four, developed by Nat Games. Promising to bring a full featured MMORPG experience to high end smartphones, V4 strives to be the best of the best in its genre -- but did their promise come true?
To answer that question, it depends on how you view the evolution of games to account for time and your ability to dedicate said time to them. Because there isn’t a way to simply give a yes or no answer here, hopefully you’ll be able to decide the answer for yourself by the end of this review. The only MMORPG I’ve spent any real amount of time over the past few years (aside from doing a few reviews) is Final Fantasy XIV, which V4 most certainly doesn’t even come close to competing with. That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s not on-par with their ideas, because V4 is surprisingly robust for a mobile game.
Upon initially logging into the game, V4 greets you with a vibrant video of different scenery points that are found within the game’s world. I figured for sure that these stock locations would have been highly polished for that intro loop, but to my surprise, V4’s world is actually very pretty and looks great on my iPhone 11 Pro Max. Even with the settings cranked all the way up, the only limitation the game seems to have issues with are some slowdown in highly populated areas or a bit of lag when cellular coverage isn’t the best.
V4 has several different classes that you can choose from. Ranged classes include the Gunslinger and the Enchantress (with an Archer coming soon), while Melee classes feature the much tankier Warlord and Knight, and the high damage but squishy Slayer and Boomblade. I tried out several of these classes, but ultimately, my Enchantress seems to be able to survive much better than my Slayer or my Boomblade do. If you ask around, everyone seems to be saying the ranged classes have far higher damage than the melee characters. I guess that’s true, since I’ve seen a ton of Gunslingers and very few Warlords or Knights. Though perhaps that’s because tanking in this game doesn’t really work as you would expect it to in other MMORPGs.
Each class has a nice variety of skills, and each skill has different options that unlock as you progress and find skill books. This allows you to customize your skills however you’d like them to be, and there’s also a talent tree that you can start putting points in at level 51 which allows for even further character customization. Speaking of customization, there’s a lot of skin tones and hair colors/styles to choose from, but the classes are limited to whichever gender the developers saw fit to make them -- so naturally almost every class is female.
Actual gameplay is where V4 starts to become questionable. Pretty much everything in the game is set on an auto-play loop. You tap on the screen to start a quest, you tap the quest, your character runs to where the person/item/mob you need to kill is, combat is automatically triggered, and you run back to the quest giver. This makes V4 feel more like a hero simulator than an actual MMORPG per se, but the option to not use the auto-play is there and the game feels more like an experience you’d expect when you pilot the characters yourself. Gameplay between devices is fairly seamless as well, as I would play for a bit on my phone and then log out and jump onto my PC so I could let my character farm for crafting materials all night, and in the morning, I would log off on my PC so I could play on my phone later in the day if I had time.
Swapping between devices is actually very easy, since the PC client is pretty much an exact port of the mobile app. I was hoping that the PC client would have more options, such as better chat filters or better options to interact with the actions, but nope - it’s simply an exact copy. You can even see the movement wheel and the speed slider for the mounts visibly on screen. If you’re playing on a device that can support a mouse, such as a Chromebook, the mouse is completely ignored if there’s a touchscreen available. Hopefully the PC client gets an upgrade soon, but for now it’s at least manageable - and certainly makes the decision easier to allow auto-play to do all the work for you.
While not everyone is going to love the automated gameplay option, I found myself a lot more invested in spending time with V4 since I can simply set it to run while I go and do something else. That’s a good thing in my opinion for this game, since everything you do is tied to your Combat Power. Your CP is what dictates how well geared you are for each area, and you gain CP by not only finding better weapons and gear, but also by completing research, gathering materials, upping your crafting abilities, and finding better pet companions and mounts. There’s a lot of stuff going on, and it all contributes directly to how strong your character is. Unfortunately, V4’s biggest strength is also its biggest weakness. Because of the fact that everything you do determines how strong you ultimately are, there’s a very high incentive for people to pay to win.
PVP is enabled by default and can’t be turned off, as Nat Games wants people to experience their world in chaos (you know, the “you’re never really safe unless you’re in a city” type of aspect) and it’s extremely frustrating since you’re only really safe in the first area of the game. This means it’s not uncommon for someone who’s level 60+ to come by and one shot you while you’re trying to work on the main quest. PVP kills count as full kills no matter how weak or easy the target is, so if someone wants to be a jerk and camp you for free kill counts, then I’m sorry about your luck. As you gain levels and get to stronger areas, if people attack you and you can actually fight back, the fight becomes less about what your class can do and more about who’s got the bigger stack of healing potions on them.
Ultimately, I like what V4 is trying to do here. The idea of a full featured and really pretty MMORPG that’s easily accessible and tries to respect your time is welcoming to the genre, but if you’re someone who’s highly competitive, you’re not going to hit the top of any charts unless you sink thousands of hours (or hundreds of dollars) into V4 due to the obscene nature of everything being based on RNG. Your gear can be upgraded to a certain point, but if you want to push it even further, you take a chance that your gear will break if the upgrade fails. If it fails, you’re screwed until you can find a new piece of gear for the slot. It’s really bummer that you can’t recover broken gear to the base level and just reattempt the upgrades. On the upgrades where you don’t lose the gear, the RNG can be absolutely brutal. I went through 57 upgrade scrolls trying to upgrade a rare piece of gear from +6 to +7, and then got +8 on the very next attempt.
I think your enjoyment of V4 will greatly depend on what you want out of it. For being more than a simple match three or a gatcha with the same basic gameplay loops, I appreciate V4 for being something more closely resembling a “real” game on my phone. I like that everything you do increases your ability, so there’s a reason to not completely ignore research or crafting, even if it ultimately feels kind of useless. Even as someone who considers themselves a “core” gamer, there’s enough here to keep me interested which means “casual” gamers are likely going to have a lot of fun. If you’re looking for a super deep experience with actual grouping and dungeon running, epic world boss fights, and intricate PVP or crafting experiences, V4 is probably going to disappoint you rather quickly.
Full disclosure: While V4 is free to play on iOS, Android and PC, reviewer was supplied in game items by developer for the purposes of this review.