On June 13, 2013, the North American Dungeon Fighter Online (DFO) service closed down â€œforeverâ€. It“s a very unfortunate turn of events, but sometimes all good things must come to an end. It was only the second MMO that I played, but I very much enjoyed this game.
DFO grabbed my attention while I was playing Maplestory. DFO was a more action-oriented game with its arcade style beat em up 2D gameplay. The 2D work in an age of 3D helped grab my attention, as it was reminiscent e of the old beat em up games such as Final Fight and Streets of Rage. I was instantly hooked once I found this out, as it was a far cry from the playstyle of Maplestory. DFO was a fast paced game that allowed for quick twitchy gameplay similar to the likes of Devil May Cry for example. Once I found out about the game, I did my research as to what classes specialize in what, and had already picked out the slayer to be my first and main character before I could even play the game.
Once you fire up the game, you get to choose your character and you are treated to a comic that introduces your character“s story before being transported to the land of Arad. This was something that I found to be great. More games should do something like this.
The Priest prepares for his journey.
The dungeons were varied, from open forests, to caverns, to fighting in the streets and supply bases. The dungeons contained all manner of different monsters. You had classic zombies, goblins, skeletons, to giant walking minotaurs (Taus), and octopus like cyclops creatures called He“etako. The dungeons were completely separate from the towns and surrounding areas. You didn“t go into town, and then traverse a field to enter a cave. You just hit a border of town, and then a menu would pop up, prompting you to select a dungeon and difficulty level. Just click the dungeon and hit OK, and you“re there. This allowed for the player to dive right into the actionâ€¦
The original Sky Tower dungeon selection screen.
The latest version of the Sky Tower map, minus the dungeon selection.
â€¦And the gameplay didn“t disappoint. It was fast and frantic, as promised, allowing for combos and are juggles, which are heavily emphasized to the point that your dungeon score depends on them. Back attacks and counterattacks led to dealing more damage. Certain classes and skills could be cancelled into from regular attacks, a function akin to fighting games. Another feature brought over from fighting games was that inputting directions and button presses could also use special moves, because every skill could not be placed on a hotkey. Certain classes effectively had more cancels to expand on this aspect. Simply put, it was an action RPG that had a great foundation as for gameplay and controls.
I found the music to be very enjoyable as well. One of the early tracks catered to suspense, the player venturing into the (supposedly) unknown. Other tracks felt ominous,
The classes were diverse at first, and only grew once a player hit a certain level. Each basic class (slayer, gunner, priest, mage, and fighter were the original cast) could then specialize and was divided into 4 subclasses. The Fighter for example, could become:
- A Striker, who keeps practicing his/her martial arts and learns powerful precision strikes,
- A Brawler, who fights dirty by throwing objects and causes status effects,
- A Nen Master, who learns magic in order to fight offensively with projectiles and defensively with shields,
- A Grappler, who specializes in grabbing enemies and throwing them around the area.
A more detailed version of the 4 different subclasses can be found here.
The Male Fighter, with the Brawler subclass to the left, and Nen Master subclass on the right.
The subclasses are where the different styles of gameplay really shined. Players would only look for certain equipment or learn certain skills, and each class had a certain NPC that would teach their skills. People would carefully plan their skill trees in order to learn the more powerful skills, or upgrade the most used skill. It was also great seeing the different play styles in action when you had them in your party. A launcher preparing his giant laser cannon, while the Monk gathered and attacked the enemies to keep them from moving would be a worthwhile team.
I played as a Weapon Master (or Blade Master, which was the original North American name), who specialized in juggles and the various effects the different weapons provided. A light saber was a special weapon only the Weapon Master could use and was incredibly fast, while the great sword provided more physical power and range for less magic power and speed.
While the weapon master was meant to be versatile, there were some frustrations that came with it. Being a melee fighter, there was already a lack of range, despite the great sword“s reach, while the Launcher could attack from across the screen. There was also a lack of y axis moves, allowing for many enemies to avoid me on the vertical plane. But every class has advantages as well as disadvantages. The weapon master had innate combo ability, and had no problem dealing with small enemies or grounded enemies.
The Weapon Master. Notice he's carrying at least 3 different weapons
The community was originally more active when the game started (people talked more). People were looking for parties, and telling others where they were going. What was great was getting a party together, doing some quests for one person, and then the same party stayed together helping someone else. It was great knowing that people would just like to help out sometimes. As more updates and patches came along, party searching and buying items became more streamlined and automated. It was great, but it left some interaction out. There was also the effect of more guilds popping up as time went on. Most people would mainly help out others that were in their guild, or friends. I played less with strangers or random party members in the later time periods because of the guild.
The PvP arena, while not my favorite place to be, worked out well when the game introduced the Fair Arena system. In earlier stages, the almost anyone could enter your arena, so a level 20 person could face a level 45 person. The Fair Arena allowed people of the same arena rank and level to fight each other more frequently, or the game would at least try its best to find other PvP players within the same rank and level. The PvP arena acted much like a battle game, because facing a person is drastically different compared to fighting the dungeon monsters. Some quests required you to be in the arena, which is actually a great way to introduce the arena if one was not paying attention to it before. I never did much with the arena, as my focus was to play through the dungeons.
Well DFO, it was a good run. It is sad to see you go the way you did. Just know that you have many fans out there.
Goodbye Arad, Goodbye DFO, and goodbye to you fellow dungeon fighters.