Game: Dragon Nest (DN) SEA
The Lens of Economy
Three main types of currencies are available in DN.
- Gold, Silver, Copper – these can be obtained from monster drops, and from selling drops to merchants or to other players.
- Cherry Credits (CC) – these are purchased using real-life currencies, and are used to buy bonus stat-ed equipment, extra storage, fashion equipment and other luxuries available in the cash shop.
- DN Points (DNP) – these can be obtained by direct purchasing using CC, or by selecting the option to sell items to other players for DNP. These can be used in the cash shop to purchase most of the cash items, and is commonly used as a mean for players less inclined to purchase CC to obtain cash items.
The Trading House (TH) is available for players to sell their items for gold or DNP to other players. A fee is required for players to put their items in the TH, which can stay up to a period of 12 or 24 hours. The item can be retrieved by the player if unsold after the designated time limit. Most utility cash item (eg. Upgrade protection) are sold in the TH by players, providing non-cash players to buy such items using Gold, which more or less balances the advantage of the cash players.
Other types of upgrading – suffixing, for one – requires materials that cannot be purchased by any means and must either be hunted from monster drops or through running of daily quests, reducing inclination of the game towards purely cash-based items and purchases.
The Lens of Skill
Rather than the usual click-and-select-1-2-3 PC MMORPGs, DN has a more dynamic combat system that allows players to immerse themselves in the game. Dodging, jumping, and subsequent aiming, timing and positioning of skills as required are all done manually by the player with their own perception, keys and the cross hairs.
As such, real-time decision making, good reaction time, strategizing, planning and also team cooperation are all required by the players, especially in the more difficult Raids and Nests, where the boss and mob mechanisms in each stage are far more complex and any wrong move could potentially wipe out the entire party.
Players can choose to play at different levels of difficulty to suit their own skill level and enjoy the game. However, the difficulty of the instance and the speed and skill at which it is completed do affect the ranking (ranked SSS the highest and F the lowest) – and hence the rewards – that the players receive for completing the instance. Monster drops are also affected by the instance difficulty.
- Normal instances have difficulty levels Easy, Normal, Hard, Master, Abyss
- Nests start from Abyss difficulty and follow up with Hell mode
- Raid Nests have two modes – Normal and Hardcore
The Lens of Heads and Hands
Challenges are posed to the players in different forms within the game. The most common challenge for players is to overcome and adapt to the different battle mechanisms of the different bosses across the instances and nests, which can prove to be quite intellectually challenging, especially in Raid Nests, where there are special attacks that require players to react to in specific ways, or require players to device alternative methods according to their team composition. Strategic planning and coordination with teammates is certainly required in this case, and a certain level of dexterity is also needed to execute such plans.
On a scale of 1 (Physically challenging) to 10 (Mentally challenging), I would personally rate it as a 2 for normal instances whilst at least a 6 or 7 for Raid Nests.
Occasionally, mini puzzle-games are also included in certain dungeons to add a bit of quirk into the usual hack and slash. Also, other than the classic battle instances, players can also relax their minds in the Amusement Park, a special instance where players can enjoy games such as Spartan Goblins (just kill 300 of them) and Horse Racing with their friends.
The Lens of Character Function
While some of the classes in the game do have specific roles that only they can fulfill, most classes do hold two or more roles in the party compositions.
- Eg. Clerics: Guardians and their more DPS-prone counterpart, Crusaders are the only classes that can tank, with greater vitality and defense boosts and corresponding skills. Saint and their DPS counterpart are the only heal classes. All of them too hold a role as a utility class.
This multi-role-assignment of abilities in the classes aid them in finding a role in parties or raids. However, there are still occasions where certain classes are replaced by others, especially in the roles of DPS.
- Eg. Elemental Sorceress classes are preferred to Swordsman classes due to higher DPS, while both having low utility value.
Each of the classes (and their corresponding sub classes) have their own characteristics, play styles and skill sets, making them each a unique and enjoyable experience. In addition to the 5 existing classes (Clerics, Warriors, Sorceress, Archers, Academics), two new classes – Sword Dancer and Assassin – are pending addition to the game.
Characters such as the Academic, a girl who time-travelled from the future, also adds a new perspective to the happenings and plot of the story.
The Lens of Competition versus Cooperation
The joys of winning a faceoff against a fellow player, and those of a shared success with your teammates are all equally enjoyed by players. Hence, a mix of competition and cooperation can be found in DN in both PvE and PvP situations.
Other than the normal teaming up against Bosses and mobs, players can also team up and compete with other teams in the once-per-raid-nest Time Challenge Events, where the team with the shortest time to complete the Raid wins real-life rewards.
Of course, players can also choose to pit their skills directly against other players in both solo and group PvP. Ladder rankings and Tournaments serve to allow players to see where they stand amongst the masses, while different PvP Modes (Ghoul mode, Kill or Fall mode) add interesting variation to these matches. Victors are rewarded with ladder rating points, allowing them access to unique-grade weapons in the shop.
Guild Wars are also held (rather sporadically) to spice up competition between the guilds.