Enter a Nightmare World
Vindictus is a brutally violent hack and slash action MMORPG. Play as one of five characters and slaughter your way through dungeon after dungeon, defeating crazed monsters in your quest to keep humanity alive. The landscape is a wasteland, drenched with blood and covered in ruins. Kill because all you have left is hope that one day the black-winged goddess will descend from the heavens and uplift humanity.
Launch trailer gives you a good feel of the game's graphics and tone
The Lore of Vindictus
The current world is a land soaked in blood from countless battles, between humans and Fomor, humans and beasts, humans and humans. Rain falls on earth that will not sprout trees or fields. Humans huddle together in small cities, surrounded by high walls, clinging desperately to life. This is the world you're thrown into when you start Vindictus. One day, it is foretold, the black-winged goddess will descend from the heavens and bring with her the promised land of Erinn.
The black-winged goddess does eventually descend, but not until later -- much later. So much later, in fact, that a whole other game exists to play in the world after her arrival. Mabinogi is that game, and it is a far cry different from Vindictus. In this game, life is harsh and combat is a brutal, beautiful thing.
What is Vindictus?
Vindictus is an action-oriented RPG online. You take the role of one of five characters and help support humanity while you quest to bring the goddess to save everyone. Combat is a third-person action brawler. Step in quickly to attack your enemies, then retreat before they hit you. Hits are punished, as healing is scarce, so it's best to learn your class and how to keep away from the enemies. Learning patterns and counterattacks is essential to living.
Vindictus is based on Valve's Source engine, which gives it a unique degree of high quality graphics and interactive environments. In dungeons, nearly everything is destructible. You can bash down stone columns and use the rocks as projectiles. You can smash a bridge and wield the timbers as spears. Pick up the weapons your enemies throw at you and throw them right back. You can even wield the corpses of your enemies as brutally sadistic weapons to demoralize and demolish your foes. In fact, Nexon themselves describe brutally elegant combat as a selling point.
How would you fare against this boss? The Titan awakes!
Each of the five classes offers a range of different playstyles, from the fast and mobile swordsman to the ranged attacking archer and the magical summoner. Surviving in the Vindictus world means mastering your class and learning to outwit your enemies.
The Cast of Characters
There are five main characters in Vindictus. Each of them can specialize in one of two types of weapons, making a reasonable degree of variety. Because this is a Korean MMO, more content is continually coming to America and being translated and patched into the game. Included in this content is occasionally a new character -- Evie, Kai and Karok were all unavailable when the game was first released. Characters in Vindictus are gender-locked, meaning you can't change the gender upon character creation. In fact, most customization options are limited to cash items.
- Vella is a master of the blade and uses two to deal fast damage. She is a balanced character that does well on offense and defense.
- Lann is a male warrior who has an undying passion for weaponry. He is fast, agile, mobile and strong. He focuses mostly on dealing out the damage, never mind defense. If he is hit, it's because he didn't move when he should have. By default, he uses two swords, one in each hand. His alternate weapons are a pair of spears, which give him longer range, higher damage and more critical hit at the cost of sacrificing some skills.
- Fiona is a female warrior who acts as a counterpart to Lann. She wields a single sword and a shield, which allows her to stand tall in the face of enemy attacks. Her high defenses allow her to take damage and give it right back without flinching. Her alternate weapon is a long hammer, which gives her the ability to do higher damage in bursts, but lowers her attack speed. She can use her shield, small or large, to block incoming enemy attacks and keep her party safe.
- Evie is a female mage, who takes mostly a role of ranged support in Vindictus. Her primary weapon is a staff, which she uses to summon golems of various types to aid her in her fight. She is capable of healing as well, making her essential as a support character in well-rounded parties. Her alternate weapon is a scythe, which eliminates many of her support abilities in favor of a more up close and personal combat style that lays down the damage.
- Karok is a giant of a man, standing several feet taller than his peers and bulging with muscle and barely-restrained power. His primary weapon is literally an entire stone pillar, often with spikes or blades jutting out of it. It is slow but incredibly powerful, allowing Karok to dominate his foes through sheer brutality. For those who prefer a faster fighting style, Karok than throw his pillar aside and take to his foe with his fists, punching them into oblivion. He is even capable of grappling and ripping apart smaller enemies, and holding on to boss enemies other characters cannot hope to drag.
- Kai is a male character and the final of the current five. He is an archer, capable of switching his weapons mid-combat depending on which gives him the most advantage. He can use shortbows for attacking at close range. They give him auto-aiming and the ability to strafe-attack while moving. If his enemies are too far away, he can swap to a longbow, which cuts down his rate of fire but gives him increased range and power to compensate. If enemies get too close, he has a few close-range attacks to deal with them. He can even mount bosses and shoot them from a point-blank range to deal extra damage.
Vella in action with her lethal blades
Playing in Vindictus
The majority of a player's time is spent in combat in Vindictus. You join a boat, which acts as a lobby for a particular dungeon. While on this boat, you are free to roam and practice your attacks while other players join. Once the part is full, the boat sets sail for a dungeon. Players, either solo or in a party, proceed through the dungeon. Beat down monsters as you go, navigate traps and minor platforming challenges and take down the boss at the end. This is how you fight, find loot, make money and level up.
When you're in town, you can accept quests from the various NPCs. Many of them require you to travel to certain dungeons to collect specific items or kill certain enemies. You can also take up crafting to create weapons, armor and potions for your characters or sale on the marketplace. As with many games, the marketplace is a great way to make money if you have the time to watch for deals.
One unique aspect of playing in Vindictus is the AP system. You require a certain amount of AP to upgrade your skills, but you don't get AP just from leveling. In fact, the game rewards a player when they aren't playing as well. One skill, Meditation, grants you a single AP occasionally while you are logged off. This may not sound like much, but it's very helpful for keeping your character growing while you are asleep for the night or away on vacation.
Solo vs. Party Play
As with just about any MMO, the game is playable solo. You can easily play the marketplace, run dungeons and hang out in town without the need to have friends and party members with you. That said, the game is much easier when you have a party. Most bosses and many normal monsters are fearsome to face alone. Enemies will swarm you and they can be quite hard to deal with. Bosses can easily demolish some of the less armored characters, making a Fiona, staff Evie or Karok almost essential to winning.
There are also a handful of player vs. player modes. Dueling allows a direct one on one fight with another player. There is no benefit to winning beyond the glory of combat. In capture the relic, a capture the flag game is set up between two teams. Winners receive items that can be traded in for prizes. Monster brawl is the same, with two teams fighting to protect their own monster and kill the opposing monster.
The Critical Acclaim of Vindictus
For a completely free Korean MMORPG, Vindictus has a lot going for it. Very few other MMOs rival it in terms of graphics and production values. The fluidly brutal combat is a great selling point compared to the cartoonish graphics of most other MMOs. Fully destructible environments are also a source of critical acclaim. Nexon has even proven that they listen to their players with this game, when they completely removed the token system that limited the amount of time a player could play in a single day. Vindictus is more than the average Korean MMO.
Unfortunately, Nexon games are somewhat limited in playability. They are designed for Windows PCs only. However, any enterprising player with a Mac can load up Bootcamp or VMWare to run a virtual copy of Windows, allowing them to play. This isn't guaranteed to be an easy play experience, but it at least allows Mac owners to play the game.
In addition, the English version of Vindictus is not global. It is IP-limited to just North America and Europe. English-speaking natives of other countries will need to route their traffic through proxy servers (with the corresponding decrease in performance) or play a different version of the game.
How Free is Free-to-Play?
Nexon is infamous for their free-to-play games becoming something only the paying players have any fun with. To a slight extent, this is true. Paying gives players advantages over non-paying players. However, in Vindictus this is tastefully limited. Many of the cash shop items are limited to cosmetic enhancements, such as dyes for clothing and armor, hair colors and styles, and tattoos. Many events also come with limited time holiday-themed underwear for the various characters. These items are valueless in combat, and so add nothing but cosmetic changes to the experience.
One of the biggest early sources of cash frustration was the token system, where players were given a limited number of token each week and had to spend them to get into dungeons. Cash items allowed players to use extra tokens each week. However, the token system has been completely removed, and with it went the cash shop tokens.
Cash items can make the game easier, however. Certain pets have abilities in the dungeons that increase your stats. Some cash shop potions are more easily obtainable than normal potions in game, making them a ready source of healing. For the most part, however, cash items are not required to enjoy or play the game.
Vindictus has a lot going for it in terms of a free-to-play Korean MMORPG. The combat is excellent and engaging, and it really rewards learning how to play your character. Potions are hard to come by, so it is better to avoid being hit. The cash shop can help with this, but it operates more as a crutch for bad players than it does a genuine means of advancement over the common free players.
A good look at new content added in season 2 of the game
One thing to note is that Vindictus is an active game in both America and Korea, so it is constantly receiving patches and updated content. New dungeons, new items, new events, new characters and even entire new seasons of content come out on a regular basis. While there is plenty to do to keep a player occupied the way the game stands currently, as time goes on, there will only be more content. Even if Korea were to stop supporting the game today, there would still be an additional year or two worth of updates for North America.