Dragon Nest is probably the kind of game you’d get if Michael Bay had to direct a children’s anime: It’s fast, explosive, and oh so cute. But don’t be fooled by the bulbous eyes and squeaky voices, Dragon Nest is actually a really challenging and fun MMORPG. But, it’s also been out for a number of years now, which means that you might’ve already plundered all the eggs in that Nest. Maybe you’re not a fan of gender-locked classes, or just hate playing a game where your character looks like a 12 year old girl?
Whatever the reason may be, the good news is that Dragon Nest isn’t one of a kind. It’s good, sure, but it’s also not alone in occupying the explosive action MMORPG combat genre. So whether you just hate anime (you monster!) or want a game with that same fast paced action but with a few tweaks to the formula, I’ve rounded up a bunch of great alternatives to Dragon Nest.
It would be a crime to get any deeper into this article without first mentioning Dragon Nest’s sister MMORPG, Vindictus. While the two might look like they share nothing in common, the truth is actually the opposite. Sure, Vindictus has a much more realistic look about it, but once you step past the visuals the two games are almost eerily similar.
For one, both games forsake the tab-targeting combat popularized by World of Warcraft for a more direct third-person shooter setup. If you suck at aiming, you’re going to have a pretty bad time. While this might turn off some MMO fans, the fact is both of these games have incredible combat systems that are a ton of fun to play with. You’ll slice and dice your way through hordes of enemies in spectacular fashion, and the more active combat places a much bigger emphasis on movement and skill. You won’t be watching Netflix on your second monitor while your fingers tap out your beloved hotkey rotation and your pockets fill with gold.
SImilar to Dragon Nest, Vindictus isn’t open world but rather relies on town hubs where characters gather before setting off on instanced missions. If you’re sick of wandering around massive maps completing a bunch of boring side quests, you might enjoy the more focused approach that Vindictus has. You’ll set out on much more bite-sized quests that usually involve separating several groups of monsters from their precious internal organs before heading back to town to claim your rewards and head out on the next quest.
The downside is that, sadly, Vindictus can be highly repetitive. As a free to play game, you’ll also need to contend with the fact that a cash shop exists primarily as a way to take the sting out of the numbing grind. If you’re hoping to play this game every day for hours at a time without dropping any cash, expect to eventually bash your head against your keyboard as you head out on the same quest for the 40th time in hopes of getting that rare loot drop you need.
Overall, Vindictus is really like Dragon Nest’s cousin. And given how similar they are, I’m inclined to think they’re of the kissing variety. That’s not all bad though, as both games feature stellar combat that you can experience without busting out the wallet. Just don’t expect the game to satisfy you the same way a thousand hours into the adventure.
If Dragon Nest is frenetic action meets Saturday morning anime, then Dragomon Hunter is what happens if Pokemon and Monster Hunter are tossed into the mix. While Vindictus looks completely different, Dragomon Hunter looks almost exactly the same. Both feature stunted child-like characters slaying monsters that are, frankly, troublingly large.
Where Dragon Nest only wanted you to kill monsters, Dragomon Hunter adds the extra challenge of taming them for use in other aspects of the game. Every single monster you can find (of which there are about 100) can be enslaved and forced to carry you around as your personal mount. Okay, that’s a bleak way of looking at it but hey, I call them like I see them.
Borrowing from Monster Hunter is also on the agenda, as monsters you do kill drop materials that are required for building better sets of gear. You’re also able to take along a little buddy into combat called a Hoppalong which can aid you in various ways similar to the way companions work in Monster Hunter.
Being in open beta at the time of writing, Dragomon Hunter isn’t finished but it is looking mighty tempting. I recommend you just jump in and give it a spin as people seem to be having a great time with it so far. And I mean, just look how cute it is!
But let’s say that, just for a minute, you’re not really into the whole Pokemon meets Monster Hunter thing. What if you just want a game with really solid action combat that sticks a little closer to the traditional MMORPG structure we’ve all come to know, love, and hate? Then look no further than Tera, a game where you can play as a little girl wielding weapons that probably weigh 30 times more than she does. Incredible.
Tera has been around for a number of years now, but it still remains one of the more popular choices for free to play MMORPGs. It’s big, gorgeous, and a lot of fun—so long as you don’t mind how derivative the leveling experience can be. It’s basically just a World of Warcraft clone with some killer combat layered on top.
Like most of the entries listed so far, Tera is all about aiming your attacks and stringing together your abilities to perform devastating combos. Not being able to rely on auto targeting infuses plenty of the classes with new life, as even playing a healer requires careful timing and proper positioning and aiming. Each of the classes can be a ton of fun to play, and depending on how you like to fight there is probably a class that suits your style perfectly.
As a free to play game, Tera isn’t very aggressive in coaxing you to give it money, but you I’ll never forgive it for how boring the whole leveling process can be. Once you start unlocking the group content, however, you’ll be more inclined to forgive it.
It also bears mentioning that Tera can be kinda weird with its treatment of some of its characters. I’m not one to blow the whistle at every game with breast physics, but you should be aware that the game has turned more than a few away with its salacious depiction of characters.
Guild Wars 2
Of course, the other side of the free to play big-budget MMORPG is Guild Wars 2, which just recently dropped the box price with the launch of its new expansion, Heart of Thorns. While Guild Wars 2 is certainly a large step away from the tightly instanced areas and the combat is more of a half-step between action combat and traditional MMORPG auto targeted combat, it is also such a powerhouse of a game that it’s hard not to recommend it to just about everyone. And hey, if you love Dragon Nest for the cutesy little characters, then you’ll feel right at home with the Asura, who are basically the naked cat version of Yoda from Star Wars. No? What about the Charr, who are basically just big cuddly tigers! Okay fine, Guild Wars 2 isn’t that cute.
But what it lacks in cuteness, Guild Wars 2 makes up for with sheer amount of content. Coupled with the new expansion, there is a staggering amount of things to do and explore and, even better, a lot of it is quite fun. The story that drives you through the grind to level your character is actually pretty decent (if a little corny), and while many lamented the lack of endgame content in the base game, Heart of Thorns takes pages from traditional MMORPGs by including raids that require the “holy trinity” of class types.
There is a lot of enjoy about Guild Wars 2, and now that it is free, you should probably just try it out and see for yourself. It’s not without its flaws, like a pretty aimless crafting system, but it’s also one of the most casual friendly and accessible online experiences of recent years.
Hopefully the games above will give you some solid choices if you’re a fan of Dragon Nest and wanting to try something new, or are just looking for some solid action MMORPGs with various flavors of art or structure. Whether you want something tightly instanced or open world, any of the games above are worth jumping into and messing around for a bit and, even better, all of them are free to play. All you’ll risk wasting is some time and some hard drive space.
That said, if you have any suggestions for your own games that remind you of Dragon Nest, or if you disagree with any of the one I’ve mentioned above, let us know in the comments!Related: Dragomon Hunter, Dragon Nest, Dragon Nest Europe, Guild Wars 2, TERA, Vindictus