First Impressions: Dragon Nest Europe

This weekend I finally found the time to check out Dragon Nest, a game that’s been eluding my radar successfully until I encountered some screenshots over at Bhagpuss. What was initially a very mixed bag of feelings ended in 8 hours of playtime counting today and yesterday, trying out different classes and spending a wee bit of cash on the ingame shop.

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I didn’t like the sorceress but at least she started off in a snowy area!

Dragon Nest was released 2010 in Korea but took another three years to come to Europe. That makes me feel a little less late to the party. My initial reaction to this free-to-play hub/lobby-based MMO (think Vindictus or GW) was rather critical: heavily instanced content and a cross-hair action combat, somewhat similar to Tera, that takes some time adjusting to. The translation seems rather poor in places, with one of the major story NPCs referring to my female character as “he” already in the introductionary questline.

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First hub!

I spent the first 10 levels playing a sorceress and that almost made me quit for good. I did not enjoy the controls at all, maybe the ranged glass cannon just doesn’t lend itself so well to the intended playstyle or I was doing it wrong. Luckily, I tried the hunter and blade dancer from there and that last one made a world of difference. The fast-paced smashy melee combat is loads of fun once you got the hang out of combos (which happens quickly enough). Combat feedback is very satisfying on the blade dancer and so I decided to stick to her. The whole active combat approach against multiple packs of foes reminds me of Mini Ninjas on XBOX 360 (or PC), a game I have fond memories of.

What impressed me from the beginning were graphics. I love the picturesque anime style of Dragon Nest, which looks like a successful fusion between Lime Odyssey and Fable. The game is cute, colorful and hilarious in places but it has its creepy moments too (yikes!). I won’t lie though, I miss a persistent world like crazy – at the same time, all the quest-based dungeon/instance content (which comes in different difficulty levels) is rather quick and rewarding, meaning it lends itself particularly well to casual play. Your standard MMO furniture is present and easily navigated by genre veterans: skill trees and trainers, quest and achievements logs, bank and auction house, mounts and minipets etc. What is somewhat bewildering at first are all the different currencies and marks that have started dropping after level 10 but since I have no lofty goals for Dragon Nest, I feel safe to ignore them.

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Crazy Neko

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They have airships!

As far as the free-to-play factor goes, Dragon Nest is no more intrusive than Allods or LOTRO, in fact I find it a little less annoying. There’s a banner on top of your screen talking about promotions and stuff like extra bag or bank space will need to be purchased, however I’ve not come across any game-breaking or particularly vexing features or money-gates thus far. What is very lackluster is character customization at the initial character screen; there’s little to choose from for eye-colors and hairstyles, no body types and the classes are gender-locked, yes really! That said, there’s more variety on offer on the shop including costumes, which come as “rental” or permanent purchases. I have never encountered an MMO that makes you pay real currency to rent costumes for 7-30 days but there you go. It ain’t cheap either.

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Being a sucker for individual looks I ended up spending a few bucks on some unique class pieces (which I am keeping!) and also some extra bag space for which I received temporary rookie discount. I’ve decided to spend some more time with Dragon Nest in the future (I hear there are expansions), so I’d rather not keep looking at a half-naked character that looks just like everybody else. Cartoony or not, this MMO is still very Asian at its core which means a lot of silly gear and emotes for the ladies. I am kinda cool with my Blade Dancer now in her oriental outfit. I called her Symmetra.

Dragon Nest first look verdict: Better than expected and a nice addition to my standard MMO menu. I’ll be back!

7 comments

  1. Glad to hear you’re enjoying it. I learned about it from Tipa a few years back.

    I must get back to DN soon. I was up to somewhere in the mid-20s. I only seem to be able to keep up with one main and one alt MMO at a time right now. Every time I pick up a new one I drop the one I was following.

    The best part about it is definitely the visuals. The main plot is probably quite interesting but the translations are so appalling it’s hard to tell. My character’s the one with a big gun, whatever that’s called. I haven’t tried any of the other classes. I probably should.

    1. I gotta say, the story is surprisingly sinister which adds some nice flavor to the otherwise jolly setting. The villain characters are all rather creepily designed. I look forward to seeing where this goes.

      And you definitely wanna try other classes, they’re all rather different from one another which really impacts on your fun with the game.

  2. Didn’t like the gender locked classes and the horrible female armour. But apart from that, the visuals and combat are kinda interesting. Glad you’re enjoying it so far.

  3. Ooh, I played this for a little while a few years back. Even went and bought a currency card from the convenience store cuz I needed inventory space. :P

    It was fun while I played it. Is this region-locked, do you know?

  4. I assume it is since there’s different servers for the EU, NA and SEA versions. I can only pick one server myself, there’s no other choice. That said, I’ve not try to install another version of the game, not sure it’s available to me on Steam even.

  5. Yeah. I went and reinstalled it. Just one server available as well. Apparently my unused NX currency expires after a few years. Boohoo.

    It looks like my account has been hacked into as well, since I have a suspicious level 45 char who has done zero quests.

    I was able to start a new “dark” class, though. Plowed through to level 15 on it during my sick day.

    Yup. Action combat is fun.

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