That brings me to my choice for this week: Vindictus. Each week, I express my fondness for RIFT, EverQuest II, and various kid-friendly MMOs, but about a year ago, I began to do an MMO walkabout and sampled a bunch of games, many of which I livestreamed with Massively's Jeremy Stratton. I really enjoyed most of the MMOs we played, but one that stood out for me was Vindictus. There's something about the game that makes it my favorite game away from gaming, and I'll attempt to explain why in this week's Why I Play.
Spear in the head
It all began so innocently. Jeremy and I had done a well-received livestream of Dragon Nest, a Nexon title that had just launched. (We even gave out Poochum pets during the show, thanks to Nexon!) A few weeks later, we decided to go back to the well, this time with Vindictus. This physics-based, arcade-style MMO had been on my "to play" list for a while, so the livestream was the perfect opportunity to check it out. Even though I'm not a huge fan of pre-set characters, I found one that I was fairly happy with, and we made our way over to the boat, where we chucked pumpkins and smacked the quacking duck target. It was time to show those gnolls who was boss!
I love running instances in Vindictus. There's something oddly relaxing about being able to pick up a huge clay jar or a gigantic piece of lumber and smack it squarely in a gnoll's face. In fact, Jeremy and I had several laughs about all the things that we could pick up and wield during the course of the instance. But we also learned the hard way that what was good for the goose was good for the gander, and if we missed our intended target, that meant danger for all. We had the boss gnoll cornered, and I was doing my best to demo the ability to throw spears in Vindictus. Next thing you know, I had missed the gnoll but hit Jeremy square in the side! He wore that spear for the duration of the fight, a mocking message of how bad a shot I was, and I couldn't stop laughing.
Arcade-style combat always poses the temptation to mouse-button mash, as if the fast twitch clicks could make you the best player. But I like the combination of mouse and keyboard combinations that create special combat attacks, and I eventually learned to settle into a groove. If I'm soloing, I move, dodge, and roll my way around the most devastating attacks and time mine to generate the biggest bang for my buck. Meanwhile, when I'm in a group, I can charge up and practice some of the new combinations I learn after spending my AP. I love that I don't have to stare at a hotbar or a list of player names in a UI and that I'm free to focus on the action and the combat animation instead. It's a nice pace for combat, and that, combined with the ability to pick up all sorts of objects and wield them, is like a triple-scoop, double-chocolate sundae with extra whipped cream and a cherry: a fantastic indulgence.
Choke a gnoll
By far, one of the things I enjoy most is the ability to run up, put a Gnoll in a headlock, wield him as a weapon, and then slam him down to the ground. Maybe it's lingering trauma from Fippy in EverQuest, but any chance I get to tangle with a Gnoll, I'm all over it. Overall, there are lots of fun physics-based twists and turns in the instances. I always love chopping down a rope bridge and sending down a party of gnolls to their doom or wrestling a Gnoll and pushing him under a giant rolling stone, as Jeremy did during our livestream.
Vindictus doesn't have a mentoring or sidekick system, but it is fairly inclusive. Back during the Halloween event, I joined the pumpkin raid a few times, and even at level 14, I was partied up with level-capped players, and we were all working together to fight off the Halloween-themed enemies. More recently, I rolled up Kai, the new mercenary, and was able to call on a high-level player to join me in a low-level instance to offer assistance and answer questions. I appreciated his help and enjoy how easy it is to meet and play with others.
One of the things that surprised me about Vindictus is that it provides some fun activities for downtime between instance runs. I like to plunk down by the campfire for a few minutes to get buffed up before perusing the bulletin boards by the dock. And fishing is a fun social activity in game. I've popped into fishing parties a few times and got to chat with players as we waited for the next school of fish to swim by. I like how fishing's done because it's sort of like baseball: Everyone's on his toes waiting for the fish, and when they arrive, it's a quick burst of intense fishing followed by a few minutes of relaxed socializing.
Casual in a hard world
I play Vindictus differently from some of the games I regularly play. I don't sweat things like loot, progression, and questlines, although I know that they're there and that there are plenty of loyal, serious players in game who participate in that. But for me, Vindictus is a game that lets me pop in every now and then, get into an instance almost immediately with other players, have fun tearing things up, and get to bed on time. I don't have to mash a series of keys and macros, I don't have to ask for permission to join a group, and I don't have to play for two or three hours in order to complete something. It's a great game for me to play when I want to play without all the "serious" stuff that's sometimes required from MMOs. That's why I play Vindictus.
There's an MMO born every day, and every game is someone's favorite. Why I Play is a column in which the Massively staff members kick back and reminisce about all their favorite MMOs. Whether it's the new hotness or an old fan favorite loaded with nostalgia, each title we cover here tugs at our heartstrings and keeps us coming back for more.