There's been no shortage of great mobile MMORPGs released over the past few years. Black Desert Mobile, Lineage Revolution, and even RuneScape have all been made available for the small screen, providing deep role-playing experiences for those on the go. Recently, Nexon decided to join the fray with V4 – a cross-platform title for iOS, Android, and PC. There's a lot of content to unpack in V4, but unfortunately, none of it is compelling enough to keep you playing beyond the first few hours.

Creating your character in V4

V4 gets off to a strong enough start. You'll first create your character, choosing between six classes that are all beautifully designed and cater to a variety of playstyles. Each has a very different set of skills and attributes, and you'll want to take your time exploring all six before making a final decision. Once you've settled on a class, you're dropped into an extensive character customization screen where you can tweak their appearance to your liking.

Gameplay

When you're finally thrown into your first quest, things quickly start to go downhill. The initial questline is incredibly slow, forcing you to talk with several poorly voiced NPCs before you can jump into combat and do something other than walk around listening to uninteresting dialog. I actually started skipping these cutscenes after an hour of playing – the narrative just wasn't compelling enough to keep me hooked, and the awkward voice acting is cringeworthy at best. The story eventually picks up speed, but at that point the rest of the game had already lost my attention.

V4 review- gameplay

Like all mobile MMORPGs, V4 has dozens of different systems for you to unlock as you progress on your adventure. Nexon wastes no time introducing you to a fairly complex battle system, upgradable skills, daily login bonuses, and the Potential system – there plenty more, but nothing that isn't already present in other MMOs in some form. If you're new to the genre, though, it'll certainly be overwhelming.

Unfortunately, many of the systems seem to be in place just to give you another stat to chase. Between upgrading skills, unlocking your Potential, leveling up your gear, using Soulstones, and conducting research, there's a lot demanding your attention. None of the systems are particularly fun to use either, and they often seem like nothing more than a way to keep you glued to the screen. V4 never managed to hook me the way some other mobile MMOs have, and I didn't see much of an incentive for pursuing these upgrades.

UI is crowded

All these disparate features mean you'll have to get used to a crowded UI. Buttons litter the entire screen, although Nexon was kind enough to give players an easy way to turn them off. It's remarkable how much better things look when you remove the clutter, and it quickly became my preferred way to play. More games should take a page out of V4's book and offer a setting like this – small screens aren't meant to be loaded with icons, and the game is best played without anything blocking your view.

V4 review - graphics

Graphics

Despite bloated mechanics and a lacking narrative, V4 is still one of the best-looking games on mobile devices. Particle effects during combat are varied and vibrant, character models are stunning, and you'll truly be invested in discovering the world around you. It's unfortunate that such a spectacular looking game is held back by a below-average gameplay experience, as you can tell it's a world begging to be explored.

While exploring, Auto-Play is a running constant through everything you do in V4. Most MMOs make some use of the mechanic, letting you do a bit of grinding without requiring your full attention, but it's applied liberally throughout the entirety of Nexon's title. Sure, you can play without using the feature, but I found that the game could play itself better than I could, and I was at a disadvantage when actually in control. This turned V4 into less of an MMORPG and more of a simulator – I'd simply manage my characters inventory, upgrade their abilities, and tap a few buttons to send them on their way.

Summary

All told, V4 is very much indicative of many of today's mobile games. While it might look beautiful and offer a ton of content, it's a bit shallow and hungry for microtransactions. There's certainly fun to be had if you don't mind running Auto-Play and skipping all the cutscenes, but in such a competitive market, your time might be better spent elsewhere.

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