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Game Play of Dragona
A redux of my opening paragraph could easily be used to sum up the game play of Dragona. Kill quests galore await you and more so than others it feels like a grind as you rarely have to go talk to an NPC. Depending on your preference though, this may e a good thing. I'm usually the type of person who likes to grab as many quests as possible, do them all, and hand them all in at once. While this isn't possible in Dragona as you will only get four quests at once, at most, it does lend itself to my play style much better. That said, it made me miss NPCs, as amazing of a concept as that is. Turns out that break of handing in 10-12 quests at once is a needed cool down period between grinding for me. Who knew I would learn something about MMO design from Dragona? I guess inspiration can be found in all sorts of places.
Waking up on a shore surrounded by a disproportionate amount “Turtle Dragons” and “Sea Raptors”, an icon flashing at the top of your screen beckons you to click. This is how you get every quest in the game. A static character portrait and dialogue fill your screen explaining the situation. Your ship crashed and you are the only survivor. On a day when many people are making new character at the same time as you, wonder about this NPC sources of the crash fill your mind, or if you were indeed the only survivor on your ship just how bad sea training is in this world. Through this exchange you find out that the large number of reptiles on the beach are because all the other would be survivors and corpses have been eaten, creating an increased reproduction cycle in these critters. Again wonder fills your mind, and by “your” I mean the player, not the player’s character, of just how long you were out and exactly how fast these reproduction cycles really are. It may be flimsy, but at least there is an excuse for the large number of mobs in this part of the Dragona power leveling. Of course all this talking leads to your first quest and sets the pattern for the game. Off collecting turtle shells you go!
The dialogue before and after every quest is quite long, which is great if you like lore and characters in your MMOs, but you just want to power level it adds needless licking (needless clicking in an MMO?) just to get to the killing. As you learn about the game world you'll find all sorts of things from the small towns and how they are being overrun by this gang of baddies, to the creation of the world, the greater evil you will face, and why you can transform parts of your body to get increased effects. While the transformations are fun idea in theory, the buffs buffs they provide may as well be passive instead of abilities as they have no cooldowns and can be used at any time. When you make your character you choose one of four transforming parts but as you quest you will eventually unlock them all.
The quest intravenous the game provides also wouldn't be as bad if combat wasn't so slow and clunky. I've never been a fan of auto targeting systems and Dragona may be one of the worst. The character reaction is slow, there is a delay between hitting attacks on your keyboard and them going off, nothing can be used while moving and there is no indication of when the global cool down starts and ends. This is all on top of the worst auto attack system ever. The auto attack is assigned to your weakest attack, one that will never be used at later levels, and takes up a global cool down when used. Because of this it messes up your rotation and makes you perform much worse. Luckily it can be turned off.
Sidebar: I know it’s hard to balance the spawn rate on mobs, especially in F2P MMOs when population can swing dramatically from week to week; you have my sympathy in this area. Filling every camp to the brim so it is a crowded area with infinitely spawning guys just to “err on the side of caution during those high density player periods” is not the right way to do this though. Even when the population is high it is still one of the biggest immersion breakers there is and makes many areas of the game an eye sore. Your artists put a lot of work into the environments, it’s a shame you choose to cover them up. Added to this is that the enemy AI in the game is dodgy at best, you're never quite sure when they are hostile or not. This is from each individual mob to another Dragona, not from type to type.
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