Some time ago I gave Vindictus a try as a game to play casually when I needed a change of pace. I’ve had a request to review the game so here goes. Vindictus is an action cooperative RPG published by Nexon, with the following basic characteristics:
- Limited selection of pre-generated characters
- Shared hub + instanced missions just like Guild Wars 1
- Action combat, active dodging, combo moves a bit like a console martial arts/fighting game
You start are based in a village with various buildings which you visit to interact with NPCs. These characters all have stories to tell, and at various times will give you missions to accomplish. They can also help you by selling or crafting better equipment for you. The story interactions are all of a certain style, the dialogue reminds me of a Final Fantasy game, it’s well enough written in English but the text does lean towards pathos (since you see static pictures of NPCs and not 3D character models they are robbed of the chance to strike dramatic poses during this dialogue). Despite my issues with the text, I do find the stories can be engaging, it’s nice that Nexon have bothered with backstory and dialogue between the NPCs to give the setting some life beyond dungeon crawling.
Most of the game will be spent in missions of course, you setup a new party or join an existing one for the given mission you want to persue. A mission can help you towards completing multiple quests however as they either involve killing things or they require you to obtain items dropped from boss-creatures when they are killed. Often you will need to repeat the same mission multiple times, either to obtain a certain quantity of items or because repetition is needed to unlock variations within the mission. These variations are usually small, e.g. on the second run a different boss-mob will spawn mid way through, but they do help to keep the game interesting for longer.
The pre-generated characters are one of the issues I have with the game, since you have no initial visual customisation options at all. Underneath the gawdy costumes (more on that later) you can give to your Evie character the model is the same for all of them. So the base village is full of weird clones of the various characters all dressed slightly differently but all standing in the same poses. In the end for an action combat oriented game this probably isn’t such a big issue. I doubt many people play Vindictus to roleplay in the village!
The characters available are as follows:
Fiona – sword & board warrior, slower more defensive fighting style
Lann – dual wield fury-style warrior, fast and active combat
Evie – wizard, wield either staff for extra defensive and curative spells or scythe for closer combat abilities
Karok – powerful warrior who either wields a tree trunk (!!) or fights with fists
More details available on this Wikipedia page.
I tried Lann first, and he does have some good fun attacks, but in the end I have continued to play Evie the longest as I love playing caster DPS characters. Some characters at least have a couple of different ‘specs’ as I have noted above, so Evie can be a caster DPS character with some support skills when she wields a staff. But equip a scythe instead and she becomes a teleporting close-range melee DPS character instead.
Although there is no visual customisation of characters beyond the clothing options, there is a fairly deep skill system. You unlock new skills generally through story quests from the village NPCs. For the quest to be available you have to have reached a certain level, a few basic skills are unlocked with money only. Skills cover a wide variety of upgrades to your character; including new abilities in combat, better damage, improved defence and even passive bonuses like reducing the effective weight of certain items (e.g. equipped light armour). It’s a moderately complex system with so many options it can be bewildering. I doubt however it’s possible to easily ‘gimp’ your character as you can in DDO. You can easily earn the AP points that you spend on skills by repeating missions, this isn’t as final or restrictive as level-based advancement such as talent trees. The longer you play your character in Vindictus, the more honed he or she becomes. As a side note your character does have a level as well skills. But level is more the barrier to learning new skills and unlocking certain missions rather than the direct limit on how many points you can earn to upgrade skills further.
Combat itself is fast and fun. Waves of monsters spawn and attack you according to their particular style. So spiders simply swarm at you; fomors (kobold like creatures) however, have a variety of tactics depending if they wield bows, axes or clubs.
The characters feel powerful, since you have a much wider variety of moves than the creatures you face. But it is easy to overcommit especially if surrounded by foes. Timing of skill use if pretty important in this game – if you spam the attacks you will be punished because attack animations play out in turn, all of them. So if you hammer that mouse button your character will stand executing that number of attacks and will probably be blind-sided by other foes while you continue to beat the dead corpse of the first opponent (overkill damage is gleefully displayed for you by the game). The graphics are impressive, with plenty of over-the-top spell effects and ability animations. When an end boss dies you even get a slideshow of “I’m so awesome” screenshots of the killing blow from different angles – very reminiscent of Tekken!
Evie is pretty good at taking on groups with her spells but you do have to time the ability use and, in her case anyway, powerful abilities have an induction time making the timing of abilities that bit more tactical.
My wordpress account doesn’t allow embedded video, but here’s a Youtube video (no sound) I’ve uploaded, which shows some of the spells and the ones with a cast time delay.
I haven’t grouped much in the game, the village reflects the game’s free-to-play nature with many characters having ‘XXLégolásXX’ style names. I’ve watched a friend playing in pugs before and it’s not for me, as with most online games, but that’s more a reflection of my own playstyle than a fault of the game. Regardless the normal missions can be played solo or with up to 4 players, I’m not aware whether there is any group size scaling but there are three difficulty modes (normal, hard, heroic) to make things more challenging. There are also larger group raids though I haven’t seen one.
The game has a very wide variety of armour styles and costumes to equip, most of them involve grinding missions to get the requisite amount of gnoll leather, cloth or some other material so that an NPC can craft the armour for you. Creatures do not drop actual items in this game, rather they drop appropriate pieces (e.g. Gnolls drop gnoll leather). This gives the game longevity although it also, personally, is the reason why I stopped last time as it has less mission variety than say DDO, another game built on repeating dungeons. Also the drops are often semi-randomised so you can quickly become frustrated that runs result in no progress on the gear-upgrade front. There is an auction house system, though of course like with any well established game it is wildly over priced due to veteran players having more money than a starting player can imagine earning. There is also an in-game store (this is a free to play title remember) so I guess you can take a short cut to buy armour as an alternative.
Since I’ve been on a break for quite a while, replaying this game to do the review gave me a fresh perspective on the game. It reminded that the combat is great fun, and pretty tactical. I quickly remembered how grindy the mission and gearing system is though, hardly surprising given the style of game it is. I was also rewarded as a ‘returning veteran’ with a time limited suit of super powered armour, a rather snazzy uniform that I really like the look of. In the end I wouldn’t start buying such items myself, I’d rather craft stuff even if it takes a lot longer. It’s a good diversion game, a backup when my MMO of choice is down for maintenance of if I need a break, but I don’t consider it a long-term ‘main game’ to play as it lacks depth.