Sneak peek video and interview for upcoming action-MMO Dragon Nest

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Dragon Nest was a sleeper hit at E3, attracting crowds and long lines with its appealing graphical style and frantic, third-person-shooter combat. After just a few cutthroat PvP matches (chock-full of smacktalk and righteous fury against Josh), the PCG staff is most definitely excited to play more of this fast-paced MMO. Haven't heard about Dragon Nest yet? Our interview with one of the devs will tell you everything you need to know about the fast-paced Korean MMO that's headed our way.

If the above trailer wasn't enough to get you jazzed for the game, know this: you haven't played an MMO like Dragon Nest. The combat was fast and furious, and felt closer to Unreal Tournament's team deathmatch than World of Warcraft's arena. Abilities are all skill-shots using a target reticule, and combos are essential to coming out on top during fights. I derived a certain glee from flip-kicking Josh into the air as an Archer, then filling his airborne-body with arrows while he plummeted to the ground; all the while, Tyler Wilde was backing me up with some sweet lightning attacks and heals as a Cleric. You won't find auto-attacks here—Dragon Nest feels like the marriage of Quake and Street Fighter, and that's enough to hook me to any MMO. All you need to do to join the upcoming Open Beta (which starts next Tuesday, July 26) is visit the Dragon Nest website and create a Nexon account.

Face, meet my mace. Mace, face.

PC Gamer: What inspired the game's art style?
Tyler Chang, Eyedentity Games: With the art style, we wanted to convey a feeling of warmth and easiness, and so we adopted a casual and light color palette that’s easy on the eyes. On top of that, we used cute, feminine lines for our female characters, made the monsters goofy looking, and crafted serious-looking backgrounds which all blend in well with the lighter, casual look of the characters. We feel that the cute graphics style, coupled with the active and dynamic action and effects, makes for a very visually appealing game.

PCG: What did you observe during the game's Closed Beta? Any valuable lessons learned?
Chang: Absolutely, the closed beta test (CBT) was held specifically so we could begin making gameplay and network improvements, paving the way for an even smoother open beta test launch later this month. One area in particular that received a lot of positive feedback was the control scheme and the game’s fast-paced action, so we’ll continue to emphasize content that allows for chaining massive attack combos.

One area that generated a lot of feedback was Dragon Nest’s empowerment system. Our release of Dragon Nest will differ from the Asian version in significant ways, but the biggest distinguishing item is probably the empowerment system. In the Asian version, players receive restrictions on game content when playing for long periods of time. This type of content restriction has proven highly unpopular in the west, so what we’ve done is remove that system entirely and replace it with something that does the exact opposite: players are now rewarded with empowerment points daily, which enables them to receive bonus experience.

It's like fighting the nightmares I had as a kid after watching Fantasia.

PCG: What's in store for people participating in the Open Beta?
Chang: The upcoming Open Beta Test (OBT) on July 26 will launch with significantly more content compared to the CBT. The level cap will be set at level 24, and players will have a slew of new dungeons and bosses to try and defeat. The guild system is also being introduced, which is a major component that expands the social aspects of the game. And as a way of saying thanks to all the players who are helping make Dragon Nest the best game possible, we’re going to reward all OBT participants with in-game currency that can be used to purchase convenience items from the cash shop. We’ll also be rewarding players with cash shop items for leveling up and completing other in-game activities. The currency can be used throughout the OBT to make questing more efficient, improve the look of players’ avatars and the like.

PCG: Are any of the four classes specialists in PvP?
Chang: Each of the different character classes brings a different skill set to the table in PvP, there isn’t one class that we consider “overpowered.” We’ve taken great pains to keep the classes balanced, so it’s our design to make individual player skill and teamwork the primary factors that determine the victor in a PvP match. For example, a round between a warrior and a sorceress will come down to who knows how to best time the use of special abilities and keep or close the distance gap on the battlefield. The warrior obviously has the advantage at close range, whereas the sorceress will dominate from a distance.

The Archer dealing death from above.

PCG: How many PvP options will there be? Will there be goals/ladders for beginners and hardcore players alike?
Chang: Dragon Nest fans can expect to eventually see a wide variety of PvP modes, although the exact name and number that we’ll have at launch is still in the works. We plan to roll out the staples for PvP over time, such as a round based mode, a respawn mode, a “take out the enemy leader” mode and a free-for-all mode, and more. And yes, there will be a ladder system! Nothing encourages friendly competition like a robust ladder and ranking system where players can scope out their own stats and the stats of their friends and peers. Beyond the thrill of going head-to-head against other flesh-and-blood players, there will be plenty of incentives for PvPing as well. Players will collect PvP EXP points in order to increase their rank and also to acquire medals to redeem for high value items at the Arena goods vendor.

PCG: How much customization is allowed for each of the four classes? Can you differentiate yourself from the pack, either visually or skill-wise?
Chang: There is a significant amount of customization for all of the character classes, both in cosmetic appearance and gameplay-wise. Each of the four base character classes can branch off into different specializations at two points while leveling up. The first branch occurs at level 15, and the second level of specialization occurs later.
For example, at level 15, an Archer can choose to branch off to either the path of the Sharpshooter or the path of the Acrobat. The Sharpshooter is the ultimate long-range damage dealer. She uses incredible single target ranged and area-of-effect skills to destroy her foes. The Acrobat by contrast develops close quarters combat skills that she can use to launch foes into the air, stun them, grab them and pummel them down to the ground with a flurry of melee attacks.

Two-player combos: mmm mmm good.

PCG: What's your personal favorite combat combo to pull off? What's the most hits you can get in one combo?
Chang: I love to play the Sharpshooter for combos, as I’m able to combine air strikes together with close-up physical moves to dodge and block enemy attacks. It’s a lot of fun to use the various spaces in the game to my advantage, so whether I’m knocked down on the ground, running towards an enemy or just flying in the air, I can come up with an attack or counterattack to fit my situation. I’ve done up to a 170-hit combo so far, but I have a long way to go to beat the biggest records out there! There are achievements for pulling off different combos in the game, and I look forward to seeing players unlock the 400-hit combo achievement!

PCG: Can you tell us more about The Abyss?
Chang: The Abyss mode is the highest difficulty level for each dungeon, and it’s available only after clearing the four lower difficulties – Easy, Normal, Hard and Master. While the difficulty gradually increases for the five different modes, the Abyss mode also changes the physical environment of the dungeon. When playing on Abyss mode, the dungeon will become darker and sinister in appearance to add to the tension. The gap between Master and Abyss difficulty is also fairly substantial, and players will want to take a party of their bravest friends with them, because the fiends you will face will be incredibly challenging.

PCG: Thanks Tyler! Anything else you'd like to add?
Chang: Open Beta is coming up really soon and we are incredibly excited to showcase Dragon Nest to the widest audience possible. The characters that players create during OBT will remain live throughout the life of a game, meaning that there won’t be any database resets once the servers open July 26. We cannot wait to see players filling in each channel and seeing the massive numbers of players in the villages. We look forward to seeing you online!