by Matt Porter
previewed on PC
Everyone loves dragons. If you could own one mythical creature, it would probably be a dragon, right? Not only are they good for transport, if any of your enemies are looking a little undercooked, a swift blast of flame should roast them to perfection. Dragonís Prophet, a new free to play MMORPG from Infernum Productions, doesnít let you own just one dragon, you can tame and train up to twelve of the beasts. I was invited to a private showing of the game in London before it enters the beta testing stage at the end of May.
The majority of the game is as you would expect of a massively multiplayer online role playing game. You choose a class, you go out on quests, collect loot and level up your character to the max level of sixty. There are other mechanics at work here though, and it does seem as though the developers have drawn on good ideas from other successful games of the genre. The combat is not a simple auto lock and target with abilities system. Timed button presses and changing up the order of your abilities will result in different effects. Each of your spells or skills has a few combos related to it, determined by a combination of right and left mouse clicks. It is fairly nuanced and takes a bit of getting used to, but itís nice to have that extra bit of variety when fighting enemies. Many of the spell effects look very cool as well, so it always pays to try out new things.
There are four classes to choose from at first, as well as a good amount of character customisation options. The Guardian is a close range physical damage fighter, while The Ranger will deal physical damage from afar. The Oracle deals magical damage using melee attacks, while The Sorcerer is your standard spell slinging mage. Each of these classes is attuned to dealing damage to start with. You do have the option to take on a tanking or a healing role, but the developers didnít want you to be stuck doing one thing for your entire experience. Youíll be able to switch between roles easily, making finding an efficient group for one of the gameís later dungeons a lot easier. My playing experience began as an Oracle, and it felt unusual to be a magic damage dealer while being so close to enemies, but the area of effect spells at my disposal were impressive. After an unfortunate incident involving my knee and the power button, I changed to a Sorcerer, which felt a lot more similar to mage classes from other role playing games, while maintaining the use of the interesting combat system.
The game follows a linear storyline of main quests accompanied by many other side quests. You can choose from three separate starting areas which have different things going on, but eventually everyone converges onto the main path. There will be large public quests as well as individual daily quests that MMO veterans will be used to. Beyond the huge open world of Auratia that Dragonís Prophet has to offer, there are two different types of instanced dungeon. Adventure Dungeons are designed to be short and mainly focused around one main boss; they should only take ten or fifteen minutes to complete. There will be around twenty of these at launch. Legendary Dungeons are more like raids from other MMOs, sprawling instances featuring multiple bosses. There are five so far, and they require you to team up with others to complete them successfully.
Both types of dungeon have up to five different difficulty settings, determining the prowess of the enemies within, and what sort of loot they will drop. The easiest settings on the Adventure dungeons will allow players to run them solo, without having to go through the trouble of finding other people, although there is a Dungeon Finder system to hook you up with other players if desired.
For most people, the main draw of Dragonís Prophet will be the dragons themselves. The game boasts over three hundred distinct types of dragon, ranging from land roaming lizards, to water diving creatures, right up to the more recognisable flying types. At any time, you can approach a dragon and attempt to tame it. This initiates a short minigame, where you must keep an icon in the middle of a circle while mashing whatever button it tells you. This simulates you attempting to bring the dragon under control, and if successful it is immediately added to your dragon page. If you fail though, you will have to put the poor beast to rest. At any one time you can have six dragons with you, and you can have six stored away in your dragon lair. You can summon a dragon to ride whenever you wish, or you can call it to your aid during battle. They will fight alongside you, autonomously using abilities and attacking your targets.