Nexus: The Kingdom of the Winds
Nexus was one of the first MMORPGs ever to be released. Originally developed and published in Korea back in 1996, Nexus is loosely based on Korean mythology during the Three Kingdoms period. Even though it is a subscription based game, Nexus has maintained a small but viable player base for over a decade now. The game has undergone massive updates since the original version including two graphic overhauls. Along with the new graphics came an extension of the free trial period from level 9 to level 49. New players can create characters without the need to sign up for an account and level them up to 49 while enjoying the first major area in the game; Tangun. Upon reaching level 5 there are four classes to chose from:
Mage - Offensive casters with low health and defense but powerful long ranged spells. Mage sub paths include: Diviner, Geomancer, and Shaman.
Rogue - Agile fighters who rely on speed and deception to get the upper hand. Considered the best 1v1 class. Rogue sub paths include: Merchant, Ranger, and Spy.
Poet - Supportive healers and buffers. Poets have low armor and health but are invaluable in parties. Poet sub paths include: Druid, Monk, Muse.
Warrior – Melee fighters with high health and defense. Warriors make excellent tanks. Warrior sub paths include: Barbarian, Chongun, and Do.
Nexus Featured Video
By, Erhan Altay
Here in the West the popular convention is that Ultima Online, released in 1997, was the first major MMORPG. It turns out the Koreans beat us to it with Nexus: The Kingdom of the Winds which was originally released way back in 1996. The game didn’t make it to the USA until 1998 but when it did, it was here to stay. The game was originally developed by Nexon but the division that published Nexus split from the parent company some time in 2005 and has been running the game under the name KRU Interactive ever since. Besides Nexus, KRU also operates a number of other online titles including Shattered Galaxy, Dark Ages, and Robo Smasher.
No, Not those Three Kingdoms
Nexus is set in a mythological version of the Korean Three Kingdoms period which should not be confused with the Chinese era that goes by the same name. Over the years Nexus has proven to be quite adaptable. It has undergone two major graphic updates and has continued to improve its ease of access. Originally, players could download and enjoy the game until level 9 at which point they would stop gaining experience. This could hardly be considered a ‘free trial’ since it didn’t give players a chance to see much outside the tutorial zone. Luckily the free trial level cap has been dramatically increased and is now set at 49. Now it is possible to play the game long enough to see if it’s worth the $10/month subscription fee. Besides an extended free trial, there are a number of other features that makes Nexus easily accessible. The game’s age means the client size is tiny (192 mb) compared to more recent MMORPGs. Additionally, players are not asked to create an account on the official website. In Nexus each character has its own password so there’s no need to register an account unless you decide to subscribe.
A Case of Amnesia
The character creation process in Nexus is about as good as one can expect from a 13+ year old game. There are 18 hair styles, 12 face styles, and 16 colors to choose from. Besides a few wacky hair styles, characters will generally end up looking similar. Besides appearance customization, players chose from four totems which each provide an experience boost at different times of the day. All characters start as novices, class selection isn’t done until level 5. After character creation, players find themselves in the home of a young woman. Apparently the player has suffered some sort of injury and lost their memory. This is a common plot device in many single player RPGs but it’s the first I’ve came across it in an MMORPG. Players are asked to do a series of tasks within this house and the area around it. The first of these tasks involves killing several crocodiles that the owner keeps in her back yard. Besides crocs, players will spend their first few hours killing rabbits, squirrels, rats, deer, bears, butterflies, and other woodland creatures. Nexus employs a closed door progression system in which players are restricted from moving to a new area until they complete a certain quest or meet some other objective. In order to leave the starting area, for example, players must hit level 5. Trying to walk through the gates prior to that is met with the message informing the player that they are still too young. While players can simply grind off the various animals in the tutorial zone, it’s probably best for newbies to talk with each NPC they encounter as each serves to introduce a different aspect of the game. A guard explains the game’s code of conduct (no swearing, harassing, etc), a mage explains the spell system, and merchants explain banking, crafting, and shopping.
Retro Role Playing
Even with two graphic updates, Nexus still looks like an RPG from the Super Nintendo era. The visual quality varies greatly from one zone to another. Buildings and field areas look fine but the first dungeon, an underground mine, is a complete eye sour. The controls are more flexible, players can move with either the mouse or the keyboard. The interface may be primitive, there’s no quest log or mini-map, but it sure makes it easy to play without even having to touch the mouse. The arrow keys control movement, the space bar performs melee attacks, the comma key is used to pick up loot, ‘r’ mounts horses provided players are standing next to one, and the number keys act as spell hotkeys. The only oddities with the interface concern the targeting system. When players cast a spell they must scroll between nearby targets using the arrow keys. Fortunately, the game saves your last target making it simple to continue casting on the selected target. Targeting definitely takes some time to get used to but remains an annoyance throughout the game. Nexus still suffers from some lag issues and movement glitches. The game world in Nexus is gridded which means players can move up, down, left, or right one square at a time. This generally works well except for when two things try moving into the same square at the same time. The result of this is that players will often be frustrated as they seemingly move forward only to be teleported backward only to find a rabbit blocking their path.
Life in Tangun
The experience rate in Nexus is rapid but the time it takes to level can vary greatly. It takes about 10-20 minutes to get to level 5. Upon hitting 5, players can leave the starting area and make their way to one of four class instructors. The classes in Nexus are straight forward and include a Mage, Rogue, Poet, and Warrior. Class balance isn’t a major concern in Nexus; I found the Poet and Mage classes much easier to level up with mainly because it is far too easy to kite the sluggish monsters that move one tile at a time. Players can learn new spells and abilities every few levels but are required to hand it various items to do so. Be sure not to sell the various loot that drops off local creatures like acorns, rabbit meat, antlers, and so on. It is not until level 50 that players can choose between 3 ‘sub paths’ for each class. This is just one level higher than the maximum allowed for free players. Another restriction applied to free players is the inability to leave the Tangum region (except when completing certain quests.) Free trial members cannot participate in events or pickup certain items but by level 49 players should have a pretty clear idea what Nexus is all about. This is not a game I would recommend to today’s audience. It clearly belongs in an earlier era. Its server technology was actually used in another Korean MMORPG hit, Lineage, which went on to spawn a sequel that’s still popular today. So while Nexus may not be able to compete with today’s MMORPGs, fans of the genre should appreciate the role it played.
Final Verdict: Poor
Nexus: The Kingdom of the Winds may have been cutting edge in 1996 but the MMORPG genre has improved a lot since then. An archaic interface, simplistic visuals, and heavy restrictions on free trial players keep Nexus from earning a recommendation for today’s players. Former players or those looking for a retro experience may still find the game worth a look.
Nexus: The Kingdom of The Winds Trailer
Nexus: The Kingdom of The Winds Gameplay Footage
Nexus: The Kingdom of The Winds Dungeon Video
Nexus System Requirements
OS: Windows 95 / 98 / ME / 2000 / XP
CPU: Intel Pentium MMX 433 Mhz
RAM: 64 MB
HDD: 800 mb free
Graphics Card: 16 mb
OS: Windows XP / Vista / 7
CPU: Pentium 4 1 GHz or better
RAM: 256 MB or more
HDD: 1 GB Free
Graphics Card: 64 mb or more