I have spent a couple days in the Vindictus open beta. I don’t really do ‘reviews’ but wanted to share some bullet points about the experience. My initial impression is MMO-lite meets Team Fortress 2, but that is meant as a compliment.
1) Currently there are only 2 character classes, a Fiona (sword and board) and a Lann (dual weapons). All Fiona’s are women, all Lann’s are men. While there are appearance customization options, you can’t choose your sex. While traditional MMOists will most likely question mark that design decision, it works. More on that later.
2) There is a small town with shops and quest givers. When you want to go kill stuff you go to the docks, and either board a player boat (who selects what mission, what difficulty, what ‘achievements’ they are working towards in the instance, etc.) The extra achievements are things such as ‘defeat with 2 players or less’, or ‘defeat in under 10 minutes”. There are many different options in this regard, and most make sense to the story line and scope of the dungeon. For example, on one mission where I have to kill 100 gnolls that continously spawn (aside from 2 15 second breaks) you can get bonus points for completing it without using a health potion. When you choose the option, it takes your health potions away, so if you suddenly really need one you don’t even have a choice. Conversely you can launch your own boat, choose level ranges that can play with you, how many party members you want (up to 4) and lock the boat with a password if you are waiting for specific friends.
More bullet points after the break.
3) It is a mix of FPS and Stats, and is action oriented. You attack using your mouse buttons, and create combos with different LMB/RMB combos. LMB, LMB, RMB on the Fiona is slash one way, slash another, then shield slam (with knockback). All of your attacks damage all mobs around you, depending on type and cone of attack. This action type gameplay lends to a lot of fun – there is a particularly challenging boss battle where you need to dodge a lot, and avoid attacks while you whittle him away. You can’t just stand in front of him and chug potions. You and your group will die. A blend of player skill and stats.
4) Your first 10-15 levels will be done grinding one dungeon area, made up of several zones. They mix it up well, as the sections seem to be chosen randomly. You will become familiar with the different areas, but aren’t always sure what areas are up next. The mix and match keeps it not completely boring, but you definitely get practice and familiarity with the environment and what to expect. All instance runs are capped at a one hour finish time (less if you choose the time achievements) which lends to fast and quick gameplay. Most take 20 minutes or less. Good for hopping in, playing a couple, advancing, and then going to face your real life.
5) The environment is both handy and perilous. Depending on your strength, you can pick up pretty much everything and anything and use it as a weapon. Boulders, enemy weapons, jugs – you name it. There are also traps that trigger environmental damage. My favorite one is a tripwire that releases a swinging spiked log overhead. It is my favorite because as I have the requisite blocking skills, I can press ‘block’ and when the spiked tree hits me it shatters in pieces. I like tripping that one.
6) The first 10-15 levels you will fight a total of 5 or 6 mob types. That’s it. Bosses are a bit different, but for the most part, you have a low selection of things to kill. Like in point 1, more on that soon.
7) I like the loot system. While you can pick up anything in a dungeon, useful loot is clearly labelled, in the form of crafting materials. Even good enemy weapons are considered crafting materials. You take them to the town, and if you have enough items of each piece the locals will craft new weapons and armor for you, depending on level and what content you have completed (and how well you have completed it). Through the first 15 levels there are only 3 (obvious) armor sets for your character.
8) Skills are trained through points earned in instances. They all start off at an ‘F’ rating, and cost more points per letter as you advance towards ‘A’. You earn new skill books through quests or through purchasing (in game currency).
9) Achievements are worth fighting for – they give permanent stat increases. Once I realized that killing 10 Kobolds by grabbing them by the neck and punching/throwing them to death, I received the title ‘Neck Grabber’, and auto assigned points to my character. It broke up the monotony of the dungeons while doing so, and it didn’t even hurt my groups. Those CQC attacks are really potent and things die just as fast as with my sword.
10) I haven’t felt the need to ‘buy’ anything from the item shop. Just when I was running out of room in my bag space, and seeing you could buy extra bags, I earned a free bag for completing a story line. There are things I would *like* to buy, but through the first 15 levels there was nothing I *needed*. If the cash shop stays this way I will support it. The only thing so far I could see solo folk would like to buy are self rez options. The game gives you plenty of ‘phoenix feathers’ through quests (which rezzes a party member), but you can’t use them on yourself. As a side bonus, you get free, unlimited self rez’s until you hit level 11. If you play smartly you shouldn’t ever need them,anyway.
Now to the ‘more on this later’ and ‘more on this soon’ comments – because of the limited classes, armor sets and mobs, they are extremely polished. They could have introduced 10 classes with clipping armor and having things unbalanced, but instead they have released it clean and smooth. While I hope they release more, hopefully they do it as well as the launch release classes. I can live with the limited options for the cleanliness of the whole experience.
I just hit a level point where I can take a different boat to a different themed dungeon – maybe more mob types are there.
It’s F2P, and in open Beta (without a wipe) so go check it out. I’s fun, pretty, and has a bit more upstairs then you would expect.