The world of DFO is presented with an MORPG structure similar to online games such as Phantasy Star Online, Vindictus and many others titles that rely on towns as quest hubs. From these towns, players can also meet up with other players, chat, group up, buy, craft, sell DFO items, and more. Once players have gathered a party of up to four members, they can venture out into one of several different dungeons with difficulties ranging from easy to medium to hard. Even more difficulty settings beyond hard mode are also available later in the game.
The best way to describe DFO’s gameplay would be a mashup between Capcom’s “Dungeon & Dragons: Shadows of Mystara” and Arc System Work’s “Guilty Gear X,” where combat relies heavily on fast action and faster command execution. Each and every class in the game is capable of performing devastating combos, juggles, grapples, overkills, backstabs and more, and this is all possible very early on in the game. Once they’ve reached their “awakening” state, each character’s power curve takes a sharp spike with each level, evolving towards near demi-god levels. This becomes necessary as the PvE challenge of the game becomes insanely challenging at an equally rapid pace.
From level 1 to 16, the enemies and bosses in the game may seem like a cakewalk, but once players reach level 17 and up, the kid gloves come off. You can expect enemies to deal real damage that will make you second guess willingly taking a hit. I’m talking about Dark Souls style damage that just feels unfair before you adjust your playing style accordingly, but almost every challenge in the game was designed to be completed solo. If there’s a will, there’s a way, and players will feel good when they’ve completed a tough boss after struggling with one for hours or days. This gives a feeling of true satisfaction, which is once again not found too often with MMO gaming today, when most of them are focused on instant gratification.
Of course, some players should be prepared to waste a handful of potions as well as life tokens, which are the equivalent of those game tokens or quarters that gamers would dump endlessly into those arcade machines back in the day, also adding to the nostalgia and old-school gaming feel.
The dungeons themselves are like a mix between a classic beat ‘em up structure, where each room contains a handful of enemies that must be defeated before moving on, and a rouge-like RPG where most maps are randomly generated, so you may not be running through the same layout twice, which adds a small bit of replay value.
PvP content in DFO is a completely different entity compared to its PvE content. So different, in fact, that it could be a separate game on its own. The fighting game mechanics are emphasized now more than ever, and command execution becomes crucial as players will live and die by how well they can chain combos together. Stats in PvP are also equalized to ensure that skill is the main factor for winning matches, and with Free-For-Alls, Team Deathmatches, Elimination and more, there’s a match type for everyone.
Every class (except the Knight and Creator class) can be used in PvP mode, and despite some classes having obvious advantages and flaws, every class feels viable for competition. Classes are also occasionally getting tweaked for balance, so despite what tier lists and popular opinions will say, players should feel free to bring whichever class they want into battle. Showing you can overcome any class with your character of choice again offers that rare feeling of true accomplishment.
One of the best things that I personally enjoyed about the game is how many free features and convenience items that have been provided. While the developers plan to allow players to purchase items from their item mall using real money, many features that were recently available as a cash-only item or feature in the original DFO have been made available with no catches or bullshit. All players have to do is complete dungeons to earn a special currency called “Mileage.” Players can then use the mileage to purchase permanent items for the item mall. These items and features include free skill resets, free inventory upgrades, fatigue point potions and more.