The surprise of hearing that Nexon was developing a fighter within the Dungeon Fighter Online series was enough to pique anyone’s interest. However, after several batches of DNF Duel character trailers, receiving news of an Open Beta was borderline spoiling fighting games fans like myself. Nevertheless, after a weekend of playing over 400 matches with the ten available characters, I can say now that this is the most excited I’ve been for a fighter in a while.
First and foremost, the DNF Duel Open Beta was a smooth online experience. I felt in control no matter which character I played, and the rollback net code kept the matches fair with lag to a minimum. At one point, I was able to play about 40 matches with a random player without interference. In previous Open Beta’s of other fighters, the server issues were unavoidable, but not here. While the online lobbies, room creation, and search options of DNF Duel were limited in this experience, I was never randomly kicked or suffered an unfair loss.
Characters on the roster have been pulled straight from the Dungeon Fighter Online series. Their beat ’em up roots translated well into a fighting game, with moves that I recognized from the franchise. My favorite character to use was Vanguard because of his pokes and long-reach attacks. The moves he was able to execute were safe from a distance. Still, there’s a decent layer of balance here that allows rush-down characters opportunities to stand toe-to-toe with these ranged fighters.
Typically in a fighter, long-range characters that I gravitate towards are rushed down easily, but here, I found a decent amount of defensive mechanics to utilize. These systems allow players to guard cancel, use invincible dashes, and take advantage of a dedicated block button, which auto-blocks mix-ups. Further, you have enough breathing room to counter accordingly if you want to play patiently, which fits my playstyle well. I appreciate that this game was approachable to newcomers with easy to execute combos when chaining attacks and using specials with cardinal directions. However, for avid FGC players, you can use commands for additional benefits in a fight.
As far as other characters go, the Inquisitor was also another favorite because her moveset was incredibly unique compared to other fighters. Getting a feel for her combos provided an entirely new fighting experience. The fantastic sound effects during matches added to the experience, only made better by the background music. Even though it’s obvious, DNF Duel is a very flashy anime fighter, but not in a distracting way. Everything just pops and looks incredible in execution.
I can likely go on and on about the deep combat mechanics of DNF Duel, but it would extend past the scope of this preview. If you can take anything away from this, it’s that there is a lot to look forward to in this incredibly unique and stylish fighter. I was sad when the Open Beta ended because I just wanted to play more. Hopefully, Nexon understands that they have something exceptional here and plans to support this game long past its Summer 2022 release.
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