Welcome to the Vindictus XE Beta Review. Originally released in 2009 as Mabinogi Heroes in Korea, then again in 2010 as Vindictus in North America, the European world has waited more than 2 years for their chance to play the smash-hit action MMORPG Vindictus XE, a version specifically designed to cater to the hardcore nature of the European gamer by adding increased difficulty options, enhanced combat mechanics and gameplay features and an overall improved visual style. The question on everybody mind; was it worth the wait?
Speaking for myself and at least a hundred thousand gamers from across Europe that played in the beta this weekend, the prominent answer is a very finite yes. Though technically not a new game, Vindictus EX is definitely a good one and in many ways the best quality version of the 3. It action-packed, fast-paced, highly addictive, completely gorgeous and a ridiculous amount of fun to play. And that just the stuff you already know. What makes Vindictus XE great is buried a little deeper beneath the surface.
BLAST FROM THE PAST
But we’ll get to that a little later. For those of you who haven’t played any of the available versions of Vindictus yet, the basic concept of gameplay is incredibly simple: kill as much of everything as you can as quickly as you can, and look cool doing it. Unlike most MMORPGs, Vindictus doesn’t offer a persistent world. Instead, the bulk of your play time is spent within small instanced dungeons that can be completed with 1-4 players at a time.
These dungeons are split up between various playable areas that offer around 10 stages and, accordingly, last for around 10 levels. So the first area, Perilous Ruins, is broken up into 10 or so pieces, each with their own bosses, quests and challenges that should take a competent gamer somewhere between 5 and 15 minutes each to finish. The second, Hoarfrost Hollow, is the same, albeit with a new coat of environmental paint that while ultimately the same experience, offers new monsters, items and challenges that help the inevitable grind easier to swallow.
Outside of the dungeons is the town of Colhen, a quaint little village that been drowned in a vat of SNES RPG flavour and style, which personally made me feel right at home. It here that you’ll feel most like you’re playing a typical MMORPG, as for the most part, it a capital city that overflowing with other players and small shops and NPC characters that offer story progression and allow you to purchase and craft new items equipment.
It a glorified quest hub for the most part, but it been designed with a little of the magic that so typically missing in MMORPGs of late, and as such, serves as a refreshing reminder of exactly what can be achieved with a little development TLC.
A LITTLE TLC”¦
Getting back to the gameplay, you essentially begin playing once you’ve selected your character. During the EX Beta there were 2 playable characters: Lann, a male protagonist that uses speed and efficiently to dual wield 2 swords or spears, and Fiona, a female tanking class that uses a sword and shield. Both of these characters are unique in both aesthetic and gameplay style, and both can be customised a great deal after completing the prologue campaign.
This prologue is a fantastic beginning to the game that introduces many of the NPC characters, competently sets up the story and adequately educates a new player in the basics of combat and progression. You’re shown how to take down enemies using a combination of slow and fast attacks set to each of the mouse buttons, how to use environmental objects, such as crates, enemies and broken pieces of the level to your advantage, and how to use secondary weapons, such as spears and bombs to inflict maximum damage. You’re even given a small boss battle at the end, perfectly simulating an actual dungeon experience and properly preparing you for the game to come.
Fortunately, most of the game to come — at least, the next 15 levels or so — are incredibly easy to complete. Each dungeon can be played on either Normal or Hard mode (Hero mode isn’t accessible until level 50), and thanks to the overwhelming amount of potions offered in these early stages they’re very easy to finish.
After level 20 things become a little more difficult to manage. Enemies begin to hit harder and attack faster, often appearing in much larger groups, and boss battle require quick reflexes to avoid dangerous attacks that will often break pieces of your armour making the remaining battle much more of a challenge.
HAVE I MISSED ANYTHING?
The problem with reviewing games like Vindictus XE is that no matter how much you discuss, there always more. I’ve covered all of the basic concepts of gameplay and design here today, but there are hundreds of smaller components I haven’t managed to mention at all, such as campfires and armour repair kits, raid dungeons and the finer aspects of level completion. The good thing is, most of these are better experienced first-hand, and I need to save a few things for the full review on release anyway.
Until then, keep an eye on MMOGames.com for all the Vindictus XE review and video coverage you can handle. Stay tuned.Related: Action, F2P, MMORPG, Vindictus