Nexon’s newest MMORPG, V4, launched worldwide on July 23, 2020 for mobile devices and PC, developed by Nat Games. Powered by Unreal Engine 4, V4 is a cross-platform free-to-play fantasy MMORPG that gives players the ability to customise their heroes as they defend a breathtaking world from the forces of darkness. Set in the vibrant open world of Syllunas, the game looks amazing on both PC and my iPhone 11.
V4 features six offense-focused classes including Enchantress, Slayer, Gunslinger, Knight, Boomblade and Warlord. Each class has the opportunity to deal maximum damage and destruction as they navigate through the adventure-packed environment. However each class has been designed with specific genders in mind. I almost always play a male character, but sometimes I feel specific classes are good to play as a female, such as a healer or support class. However in this game, the gender is locked to the class. I like playing paladin-type characters, and the closest I found in V4 was the Knight class. You can only play Knights as female characters, and out of the six classes available, two are male and the rest female. I have no real issue with this other than my history of playing majority male characters.
I was really impressed with the visuals and performance of V4 on the iPhone. Characters are incredibly detailed with numerous customisation options available. Some of the starting zones were arguably the best mobile graphics I’ve seen, though admittedly I don’t play that many mobile games so don’t have much to compare. Given V4 is an MMORPG I knew there would be a lot of controls to manage. V4 handles this well with the left side of the screen showing a minimap that can be minimised, icons for daily login rewards, a chat/system messages box and then left thumb controls for movement. On the right are icons for inventory, shop and system options, quest log and then 6 skill icons, as well as an autoplay button (more on that later).
Despite the size of my iPhone screen, the game felt a little bit cramped for space, and initially the camera is set up directly behind and level with the character. I thought the game was going to have that view permanently, but then I found a camera icon in the bottom left of the screen that gives you multiple options. I found one that gave me a zoomed out and above perspective which is how I play on PC, and now it really did feel like I was playing a proper MMO. I figured the PC version would have a more traditional MMO UI so I downloaded the Nexon launcher and logged in. Being cross-platform it was easy to login to my character, however the first thing you notice is it says “Tap to start your journey”, and the UI was exactly the same as on my phone. Where you use your left thumb for movement has the same wheel and holding the mouse in this area moves your character, and it has the same skill bar layout on the right. It’s as if the game was developed for iOS first and then ported to PC which was a little disappointing.
I also found that autoplay was present on this PC version, so I’ll dive into this topic now. Playing games infers the player is interacting with the game. You know, press buttons to move your character, click on a skill in the taskbar or a corresponding keybind to use a skill. Autoplay isn’t a new concept, but it’s also not once I’ve used previously myself. I’ve played another MMORPG called Astellia, and in that game I can click a quest and it will run me there automatically, but once there I jump off my mount and then need to fight the monsters and talk to npcs myself.
However to my surprise in V4, autoplay means the game will play itself about 95% of the time. You need to click to talk to a new quest NPC or grab a job off the town’s request board. Initially I watched the npc conversations, which some are voice acted, and I clicked through the conversations. Then I watched the game run me to the quest location – ok this is just like Astellia. But when my character found the right monsters to kill, it rushed forward into battle swinging my sword and using my character skills. I watched the game kill the mob, use a healing potion, loot the items that dropped, run over to the next monster, killed that, and killed as many as it needed for the quest. My character then ran back to the NPC, spoke with them, got the next quest in the chain, and then ran across town to the new destination, all automatically!
This had me scratching my head. Why is there even an option to automatically play the game for you … like what’s the point? I told a couple of my friends that have played a lot of MMORPGs and their response was exactly the same, “what’s the point of that?” Well, I think I’ve figured it out. If I played 20 hours in an MMORPG like The Elder Scrolls Online, being a gamer dad playing 2 hours a night (if that), it’d take me 10 days to achieve that amount of gameplay. Well with V4, it took me just 2 days. I left it autoplaying itself while I was at work and once I get home, I’m busy playing with my girls, preparing their dinner, bathing them and putting them to bed. So I left my mobile on charge and autoplaying the game. After just 4 days I was level 51 which is where you start to unlock talents for your character. It would take me weeks to a month of playing ESO to achieve that same character level.
I mentioned V4 plays itself automatically 95% of the time. At the end of quest chains, you must manually click to complete the quest, and then accept the next one. There are also daily and timed login rewards that you can click to receive. Also, the major story quests have items that reward your progress such as XP, health and mana potions. Then there is loot you need to sort out and equip. I was doing equipment and skill management myself initially, but then I saw you could auto-equip the best items, and also auto-manage the skill usage. Skill upgrades need to be done manually and with rare items found. There’s also a number of sub-systems within the game’s main menu such as crafting, enchanting, research, companion and mount management, among others and these all require you to think about and interact with.
The beauty of the game autolevelling my character was I was then able to focus on crafting, the item upgrade system, enchanting, sending companions on resource collection or hunting missions, combining mounts to create better ones, and so on. It allowed me to read through the stories of the major quest lines because for 8 hours while I worked, I didn’t pay attention to anything that was going on in the game. Effectively, autoplay allowed me to better understand the story of the game as well as dive into the many side activities available to players.
I imagine this is the perfect game for either a student or a worker who spends time on a train or bus commuting to school/uni/work and then home again. You can set the game to autoplay and then put your phone away, knowing it will majority play the game by itself. The next time you check your phone, your character will have gained a few levels and got better gear, all by itself. In the past, this was only possible if you paid a nefarious company to ‘power level’ a character for you, which used to be a frowned upon and often goes against the EULA for most MMORPGs. However this autoplay feature is becoming more popular, particularly in alot of eastern mobile MMOs like Lineage 2: Revolution or Black Desert Mobile.
There are downsides to autoplay. A big one is PvP (player versus player) is enabled by default and can’t be turned off. There were times where I hadn’t checked my phone in a while, and I occasionally found my character standing still in the middle of a town. On inspection, a PvP report was flashing saying I had been killed by another player. It tells you who the player was and their clan so you can then get your revenge if you so desire. Later that day the same thing happened again by the same player. I watched my character run back to the quest she was completing and saw that some of the area of effect (AOE) skills were hitting other players near me. Noone was reacting to getting hit so I presumed they were auto-players too. It was then difficult to know if the players running around were people at their computers or on their phones playing, or if they were all just autoplayers.
The global chat box was filled with players conversing with one another, as well as the usual gold spamming bots which are rife in many MMOs. On my direct game screen however, there were numbers of players running around but the thought that all of them could be autoplayers was a bit deflating. There is the vast and wondrous world and epic stories that have been crafted in the game, and that can all be autoplayed through. I actually don’t remember anything noteworthy happening in the story of the game. Sure I can read about it in the games story log, but I have no war stories to tell my mates, or funny things that happened along my journey.
Everything you do in the game is tied to your character’s Combat Power (CP), or gear score. Your CP is what dictates how well you can handle foes in game, both PvE and PvP. On the world map, you can see the CP requirements for the various zones so if you are manually playing the game and plotting your next destination, you can eyeball potential areas. CP also applies to your companions and the missions they can undertake. You gain CP by not only finding better weapons and gear for your character, but also gathering resources, crafting and upgrading your companions and mounts. Every time you upgrade something, you’re gaining CP, even researching monsters you’ve been killing will increase CP.
Armour and weapons can be upgraded, and initially this is a simple process of collecting resources and using upgrade scrolls earned through quest and story completion. Blue items can be upgraded to +5 easily, however if you want to push your gear further, there is risk of destruction involved in upgrades. You will need more powerful upgrade scrolls which are rare, but also there’s a chance you can destroy the item completely if the upgrade fails. At level 52, I found it quite rare to find an upgrade better than what I was wearing. So if I was to destroy a piece of armour, it would be quite difficult to replace. This meant I didn’t bother to attempt any upgrades unless I had looted a backup option for that piece, just in case.
V4 is free-to-play, however there are numerous things that can be purchased in the cash shop. There is a modest subscription option of AUD14.99/month which provides you with 100% XP earned, 10% gold, 5% more attack power and 10% more attack speed. This ultimately swings V4 into pay-to-win territory which may turn players off from playing higher levels and PvP. In particular, the grind it can take to complete kill quests and to complete the zone bosses, considering full PvP without penanlty, could turn off the casual player. This is where most MMOs featuring full PvP suffer the most, the hardcore almost always triumph over casuals.
Overall, for a mobile MMORPG, V4 is a very good offering. Depending on when and where you play it, the autoplay feature may or may not be a benefit to your gameplay, however the overall story is unfortunately overlooked and easily forgotten. For seasoned MMO players, V4 doesn’t do too much different to the plethora of other options on the market but it is very easy to play on mobile devices, and autoplay does allow you to delve into crafting, upgrades and a number of other gameplay elements with ease. It was disappointing to see the PC game client was a direct port from the mobile version and I’d wish for the PC client to be updated in the future to look, feel and play more like a traditional PC MMO. If you don’t mind grinding for progress in MMOs then V4 is worth looking at, especially as it’s free-to-play and looks great on mobiles, but for me playing it on PC unfortunately falls short.
V4 is available globally with the exception of Korea, China, Japan and Taiwan on mobiles and PC. Visit the website and follow @V4Global on Twitter for the latest updates and information.
Written by: @ChrisJInglis