Is Dragon Nest Worth Playing in 2021?

Is Dragon Nest Worth Playing in 2021?

Dragon Nest in 2021… but why?
That’s what you guys are thinking. While streaming this, I saw people continue to come into the stream and state the same thing: “I thought this game was dead.”
No, no it definitely isn’t. Sure, I might have had more viewers watching than the game has active players, but that isn’t the fault of the game. That’s the fault of the team behind it.

Now welcome back to another episode of “Is it worth playing” – where we sift through every MMORPG available right now in an attempt to find the best MMORPG in 2021. Today, we’re taking a look at what is arguably one of the best free to play Anime MMORPGs available: Dragon Nest.
Because… well, it deserves an honest look in 2021.

Dragon Nest is over a decade old. It has long since passed its expiration date, yet players still remain determined to play it for as long as it remains online.
And even after having released well over a decade ago, players still cling to the opinion that not only does this game feature some of the best action combat in an MMO, but also has some of the best PvP.

So let’s start this off by talking about what kind of game this even is. I’ve covered hub-MMOs before. PSO2, Dungeon Fighter, SoulWorker, Vindictus. Yet Dragon Nest is.. a different title all together.
On the one hand, it is first and foremost a hub-MMO. There are a plethora of different “hubs” situated around the world. Each hub has its own selection of instances connected to it with their own set of level-appropriate dungeons to run.
Yet the instances are more.. open than what you typically find in a hub-MMO. Meaning you have more to explore. You have additional players to meet. It feels much more like a traditional MMO, in essence, then its competition.
Yet the core of the game is centralized around running dungeons. There isn’t really any purpose to exploring.


Thankfully, dungeons are… well, there are quite a few of them. Although occasionally they reuse a lot of assets, so you’re left with the feeling that you’re not really making much in terms of progression. Until you reach a new map, with new dungeons, new monsters and new bosses.
As there are a sizeable number of them, they’re varied quite significantly. Each map is made up of several different instances, that all share aesthetic similarities with one another, and are typically unlocked via the story.
The story plays a pivotal role in Dragon Nest. The game is absolutely filled with lore – admittedly, too much even for me. While I read through some of it, and watched all the cutscenes, I often found myself overwhelmed and subsequently skipping parts of it.
Although I do want to note… holy crap some of these cutscenes were ridiculously buggy. The narrative isn’t bad. The voice acting is atrocious, but the story itself? Easily passable.


But if that’s all the game had going for it, I daresay it wouldn’t have had nearly the same impact it ultimately ended up having in the genre. People regale me with stories of their hard earned victories over their enemies in PvP even to this day.
Admittedly, and I’m actually kinda disappointed to admit this, I never got to participate in the PvP. Either recently, or when Dragon Nest was a relevant title. I tried queueing for PvP in the past, but it just never popped.
I don’t know if this is due to the active PvP players being a fraction of what is already a very small playerbase, or that they just don’t participate in whatever it was that I was queueing for.

Either way, while I never got to participate in PvP, what I did get to experience was the combat. Which as I noted back at the beginning of all of this, many players rate as being one of the best combat systems in the entire genre.
And I hate to disappoint you all, but – and don’t get me wrong, for an Anime MMO, the combat was pretty good – but in terms of quality, comparing this to TERA, PSO2 New Genesis, Blade & Soul, Vindictus, Black Desert. It just doesn’t feel remotely as good.
These are games that have truly taken action combat in the MMO genre to a whole ‘nother level. Sure, for an MMO made back over a decade ago, the combat is pretty damn good. But making the bold claim that it is still capable of competing with these gargantuan titans? No.
The combat looks good – feels good. Abilities look good without seeming overly flashy. Animations fit and don’t feel overexaggerated like in some MMOs. And the combat flows well.
Everything fits together perfectly. I might even say that this is better than most other Anime titles out there.


One thing I didn’t like, though, was that at lower levels you’re given a ring that gives you 50,000 attack.. meaning I spent, what, 10 hours? 12 hours moving through the game with no challenge at all. I leveled all the way to level 70 before encountering an enemy or boss I couldn’t 1-shot.
Sure, I could 2-shot them, but seeing them survive a hit for the first time in days playing the game… was a thrilling experience. I almost had to do a double-take as I couldn’t believe something survived a hit from me.
I’m aware you’re not forced to equip items like this, and the higher in level you continue to get the more difficult enemies become. But by the time I finished streaming the game, I was already level 87? 88? And bosses still continued to take only a few hits to down successfully. And that was.. after 15 hours of playing? More?
How overpowered they make you feels ridiculous, but at the same time I completely understand why they choose this route. The low-level experience is atrocious, and the developers have no way of either speeding this up, or overhauling it to make it relevant.
So instead, they try and power you through it as quickly as possible. And while that’s definitely one way of handling it, I do believe that is killing the low-level experience. People love challenge in their games. The absence of any challenge whatsoever is damaging to player retention. Who wants to stick around to see if it gets any better?


✔️ Dragon Nest has great action combat for an Anime MMORPG.

✔️ There are plenty of unique hubs to explore with a large variety of different instances to run.

✔️ The game has a compelling narrative.

✔️ It also looks absolutely adorable. Sure, it shows its age, but man it still has that.. old-school charm to it.


❎ Yet unfortunately at times there feels like there is far too much clutter in the story that could easily by removed without consequence.

❎ The voice acting is atrocious. Like, really bad.

❎ As it is a hub-MMO it likely won’t appeal to everyone.

❎ You spend most your time grinding instanced content either solo or in a group. But there is little open-world content to participate in.

❎ The leveling process is far too fast in the early levels, resulting in a boring leveling experience that really should be overhauled.

❎ The playerbase is almost empty, and the game receives very little in terms of updates.

Ultimately, Dragon Nest is a pretty unique MMORPG. A lot of the game takes place within instanced areas, having you grind away endlessly. Yet the gameplay makes it a much more enjoyable experience.
The leveling can get old very fast, and I feel like I barely scratched the surface of the game in the 15 to 20 hours I spent casually playing through it.
This is a grindy game, but I feel as though at the end of the day, the grind might well be worth the time invested, especially if this is a type of game you genuinely enjoy.

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