This used to be my favourite game, period. It still is, in some ways, but at some point, you just have to let things go. I started playing this game in beta and played it religiously for years until I slowly lost interest and started taking longer and longer breaks. Spent a lot of money, too, definitely more than I should have. Were it 2012, this would have been a wholehearted recommendation.
I'll start with the good. The game's combat is the best I've ever played. You can call it an Action MMO, but it has very little in common with other games with that label, like TERA and Blade and Soul. It's real action combat with full freedom of movement, with none of the tab-targeting or look-targeting of other games. There aren't any dodge meters or cooldowns, you dodge when you need to and attack when you can. It's the closest you'll get to Monster Hunter on PC until World comes out, and in all the years I've looked, I've never found another game that does online action combat quite as well as Vindictus.
Not only are the combat mechanics great, the bosses and arenas you fight in are great. The music is superb; just listening to the music is almost enough to make me want to play the game again. The game is pleasant to look at, and the bosses are modelled and animated well. The high production value sells the world and the creatures within it in a way that few other games do. The intense and epic soundtrack makes battles come to life.
Even has a story is quite decent. There are three "Seasons", of which I think season 1 is the best, but there was some real effort put into crafting the storyline behind the game.
The flip side of this amazing production value is that content takes a long time to make. There's a lot of content in the game already, but most of that is in the levelling experience - endgame content is limited to a few 8-man raids that drop items to craft the latest gear, and each level cap increase essentially renders the previous level cap's equipment obsolete. There's a lot of content, but you won't play most of it much more than once, unless you make new characters, and what you do end up playing, you'll end up grinding over and over until you're sick of it, just to get the rare item drops to craft and enchant equipment with.
I don't know what it is with developers of games I like squandering their greatest assets, but Vindictus is my #1 example (Planetside 2 being the second). The combat system is so good, what with its smooth, fluid combos, easy to pick up mechanics, and character variety, that it's hard to believe that they could possibly think to staple it to such a horrifically awful progression system was a good idea.
Practically every form of progression in Vindictus comes down to terrible odds in a random number generator. You have a tiny chance to get a rare drop from a boss, which you can craft into an item so you can have a tiny chance to enhance it to a good level, and if the random number gods decide to say screw you, they'll destroy your item and force you to start all over again.
Once you've passed the loot and enhancement lotteries, you get to move on to the enchanting lottery! Now you get to kill bosses for a tiny chance to get enchant scrolls, so you can use those scrolls in an enchanting minigame that involves using different types of magic elixirs to raise your magic levels by random amounts so you can have a higher chance of getting the scroll to work! Oh, and did I mention that high-level scrolls have a chance of destroying your item if you fail? At least there's an $8 rune in the cash shop that prevents that from happening.
You can skip the loot grind if you have the gold to buy the items off the market, but no amount of anything will help you in the enhancement system. There are no rules that work past +13 (out of +20), and the +13 one prevents you from enhancing any further, anyway. The odds of a successful enhancement start at 100%, go down to 40% by +10, and keep going down from there. If you decide to go down that rabbit hole, I wish you and your wallet the best of luck.
This is literally the best game I've ever played of its kind, and they've destroyed it with this progression system. Not only that, but rather than acknowledge this and try something else, they've doubled down on it and made it even more necessary by pumping up an attack, defence, and crit requirements for new content, likely in hopes of getting people to spend more money on runes to try enhancing past +10 again.
I've spent nearly 2500 hours on Steam on this game, and quite a few more on the standalone launcher, along with at least $3000. I won't say it wasn't worth any of it - my glowing praise at the beginning of this review is how I would have recommended it long ago - but in the end, the game has huge, gaping flaws, and Nexon is simply not interested in fixing any of them. It's likely they've moved on to other games, and left the Vindictus team with barely enough resources to keep going, releasing a trickle of content just to keep people playing a little bit longer. However much I loved this game in the past, I can't justify recommending it to anyone now, beyond a single playthrough just to see the story and the level 60+ raid bosses.
In summary: the combat's amazing, the boss fights are amazing, the game plays amazing, but the progression system is absolutely horrendous and the game is on the cheapest life support Nexon could possibly give it.