Every month it feels like there’s a new free to play MMORPG out there, but the days of trying to beat WoW are over and it’s now up to developers to try to create new and unusual gameplay and features to keep players hooked. This is the idea with Dragon’s Prophet, the F2P MMO from Runewaker and publisher Infernum.
Runewaker may not be a familiar name to many, but they were the guys behind the popular F2P MMO Runes of Magic which was almost like a F2P version of WoW at first glance. Needless to say it was pretty popular and stacked with features.
With Dragon’s Prophet, Runewaker knows that any fantasy gamer loves some dragon action so this game has a heavy emphasis on the scaly guys. Before starting out in the game world of Auratia there’s the traditional character customisation to undertake, and Runewaker has down a pretty good job at giving plenty of options to players when it comes to creating a remarkable face and build. Just about everything can be tweaked to your liking. Races don’t play a part in this MMO, you’re all human, but the character customisation is really impressive and it’s not hard to find a unique look. In fact, we had a lot of fun creating some hideous monstrosities before we even started playing. IncGamers probably has the ugliest characters in Auratia right now.
Entering the world for the first time, there’s a familiar feel; it’s a matter of finding the first NPC to get the quests and game started. The first few quests are of the typical kill X and return variety, and in fact if there’s one criticism we have of the game so far it has to be the questing system which is by no means ground breaking when starting out.
It’s a real shame that the quests are quite dull for most of the start section. MMO developers need to realise that players need something different than the standard FedEx quests or their game is just the same as every other MMO out there. If you can get through these start quests in Dragon’s Prophet things start to get a little more interesting, mostly with the introduction of the dragons.
Dragon’s Prophet is all about taming and utilising the many (around 300, in fact) dragon types in the game world to aid you in your adventures. Dragon taming is one of the skills you have access to early on and it’s a challenge to get these beasts under control. Leaping on the dragon’s back by activating the skill, players need to keep control of the dragon for a period of time by keeping a set of hands centred in a circular target by using the WASD keys. It’s really quite tricky, even on the very basic dragons.
As you progress in the game, different dragons can be “collected” and stabled for use and this is all part of the fun because there are so many different types. There are even flying dragons that will have you darting around the game world with ease. Unfortunately there’s no dragon mounted combat which is a bit of a shame. Who knows, it may get added later if there’s enough demand. We can hope at least.
There are four classes to choose from, and it’s pretty standard fare with a Guardian as the melee tank, Ranger for ranged, Sorcerer for magic and Oracle as the support class. Nothing out of the ordinary for an MMO. What Dragon’s Prophet does bring to the table is combat that’s a cross between Guild Wars 2 and TERA. This is a real plus point for the game. It makes the gameplay a fair bit more interesting than single button hotkey skills.
Utilising the skills is not a simple whack the key and forget affair, there are combo moves that you need to learn and master. Tapping a key once on a skill can perform an action, but tapping it more than once or clicking the mouse in a certain combination can bring different results. This can be pretty fiddly, but with some practice it can be mastered to great effect. The development team has done their best to convey the different combo moves within the game’s interface but it’s still tricky.
F2P may set the alarm bells ringing for some MMO gamers, but after playing this week it’s not something you should be too concerned about. There are microtransaction on some features such as being able to revive on the spot, which I found a little frustrating, and the usual extra inventory and stash slots. Overall though, nothing too off-putting on the microtransaction front.
There’s also still a lot to be added to the game for the general public in this beta, mainly the end-game content; especially raiding, which will be geared towards guild raids with up to 50 players. Couple that with combat dragons fighting alongside and the raids are going to be pretty interesting.
Early on in the beta you get a taste of the instancing in a basic form with two difficulty levels to pick, but when the full raids are added players will get four choices of difficulty. The higher you go the better the rewards.
So what about PvP? We can’t test that just yet because it’s not in the game, but the plan is for PvP to take place on islands which will be completely open PvP. These islands include a Citadel, which guilds can capture and then decide amongst themselves how to treat things like taxation of the island’s player housing. Money earned can then be used to fortify and defend the island (and Citadel) from attack by other guilds. These zones will be almost like mini games in themselves, where players have non-destructible housing but are under rule of whoever controls the Citadel.
After a few days playing around with the game, combat, and interface it’s clear to see that Dragon’s Prophet needs a little more work. The combat is fun and the game is stacked with options when it comes to crafting and weapon customisation. There’s a lot to get to grips with, but Runewaker are more than aware that to keep MMO gamers playing there needs to a wide variety of things for players to actually do.
It’s clear to see there’s a lot of attention and thought gone into this MMO. It’s still very early days in the open beta and features are likely to be added and changed, but so far it’s keeping us entertained.
You can sign-up for the Beta right here.