The E3 2010 event is underway, and that means the walls of the cavernous Los Angeles Convention Center are lined with all kinds of games. One of those games is Vindictus (known in Asia as Mabinogi Heroes) from Nexon--a free-to-play PC game that combines the bloody hack-and-slash combat of console games, such as Dynasty Warriors and God of War, with the character customization and progression of a free-to-play online game. Having seen a great deal of the game on previous occasions, we were ready to finally dive in and play.
Like in several of Nexon's other free-to-play hack-and-slash games, such as the recently launched Dungeon Fighter Online and the soon-to-launch Dragon Nest, Vindictus has social shared spaces, such as overworld towns in which all players may congregate, trade crafted goods, and use goofy dancing emote animations. But the majority of the gameplay takes place in segmented instances that spawn groups of enemies that must be defeated to move on to the next leg. However, unlike any of the studio's other games--and unlike every other free-to-play online game out there--Vindictus uses Valve Software's Source engine (which powered the acclaimed shooter Half-Life 2) to model physics for objects and environments. As a result, the game has very interactive environmental objects that can not only be smashed to bits, but can also be picked up and used as weapons.
The E3 demo currently includes only two characters, Lann (our pick), a fast-moving male fighter who wields a sword in each hand and uses speedy dodges (by pressing the space bar) as his best defense, and Fiona, a slightly slower female fighter who carries a sword in one hand and a shield in the other (which can be used to block by pressing the space bar). In addition to using the W, A, S, and D keys to move like in any first-person shooter, Vindictus binds your character's weak melee attack to the left mouse button and your character's strong melee attack to the right mouse button. Each character class will also have various attack combinations, such as three weak attacks followed by a strong attack. Putting together chains of attacks is as easy as pounding your mouse buttons, but the game currently doesn't have a targeting reticle, so zeroing in on an individual enemy when attacked by a group is still a bit imprecise--a Nexon staffer acknowledged this issue and assured us that Nexon is working on it.