Here in the gaming world, we live for the visceral thrills--backstabbing medics, snapping the necks of unsuspecting guards, and setting off mile-wide explosions are all but necessary to get our adrenaline pumping nowadays. After my interviews and playthrough at E3, I'm convinced that Nexon's embracing humanity's savage instinct in their newest AAA free-to-play MMO, Vindictus.
Based on Celtic lore and developed on the Source engine, Vindictus felt strikingly more accessible to a Westerner like me than their previous games have. The gameplay of Vindictus is easy to get into and hard to let go (I ended up a few minutes late to my next appointment at E3 because I wanted to keep playing). Physics is the heart of this combat experience. Everything can be smashed or shattered and used as a weapon. A marble column toppled during a scuffle I was in with some baddies, so I did what I've seen in all the movies-- I picked up an oversized piece of that smashed column and started bashing my enemies' faces in with it. When I'd knocked bear-man attacking me off balance, I tossed the hunk of marble at him and bum-rushed him, grabbing him by the scruff of his neck. I dragged him kicking and screaming over to the ruined base of the pillar and then in one swift move threw him down on it and stomped his chest on the pointy marble fragments--instant kill.
It was so satisfying that I immediately stopped killing enemies any other way; their whole legion would be curb-stomped into oblivion. Of course, I toyed with the character early in the fight still--throwing spears (the game switches to an over-the-shoulder perspective when you aim the throw) to pin enemies against walls or bashing their faces with anything not nailed to the ground before ending their pitiful existence with a satisfying bone-collapsing crunch. This is the kind of combat that makes me want to listen to AC/DC.
Physics isn't just for smashing faces though: rolling logs and swinging battering ram traps provide another outlet for you to use physics in interesting ways. A levitation spell I saw caused everything in the room (enemies, boxes, rocks) to float up in the air, then come smashing down to the ground for what looked like a very painful landing. And if you're less of a fighter and more of a lover (particularly the kind inclined to panty shots), you're going to be very happy this game has physics as your character's armor gets ripped or battered off their figure during combat. My helmet went flying after the boss got a clean hit on my character's face and my female partner's skirt was definitely the worse for wear by the end of the battle, showing bits of her more delicate (and non-removable) underthings.
Talking with Eun-Seok Yi, Nexon's Director of Vindictus, I was really pleased to hear that they aren't relying entirely on physics to carry their game. "Physics combat can always be used, but it won't always be advantageous" he told me during E3. It might be worthwhile when facing large groups to pick up a log and chuck it at them, but the standard attacks and spell will still make up the core of your offensive abilities. Yi also explained to me that they don't want physics to simply be a gimmick, they want it to be a way of making the entire world feel more realistic and interactive--as seen in little things like collecting burning items and piling them together to start a campfire that will buff and heal nearby party members and the mage summoning a gollem by calling all the loose items in the room together (so that gollems look unique and appropriate for the setting).