Wed, Apr 10, 2013 | 15:21 BST
Dragon’s Prophet: dancing with draconis occidentalis
Dragon’s Prophet is the latest MMO from Runes of Magic developer Runewaker Entertainment. SOE gives VG247′s resident MMO aficionado Stephany Nunneley the opportunity to test her lizard-taming skills.
Developed by Runes of Magic studio Runewaker Entertainment.
To be published by SOE, Infernum and Deep Silver by region.
Contains over 300 dragons, 100 of which are tameable. This figure could go up in the future.
Action-based combat system, non-instanced housing, plot-claiming.
Four classes: Mage, Oracle, Ranger, and Warrior.
Currently in closed beta. Release date TBD.
At first glance, Dragon’s Prophet sounds like your typical, fantasy MMO: all the character classes seem stereotypical fare; you run around a vast, fantastical world killing things solo or in group; you have a house in which to store all your trophies; and you get to tame and ride dragons. Wait. That last part isn’t “typical” to any MMO I have ever played, and turns out, neither is Dragon’s Prophet.
Upon further inspection, I found the Runewaker MMO is far from typical: it has a vast, in-depth skill tree with an abundance of skillsets to choose from; and your dragon, with its own set of skills, will enhance your abilities as though it melds itself with you upon being saddled.
Before I get into all of that though, let’s start off with the basics.
The four classes in the game consist of the Guardian who, as you would expect is the tank, and versed in hand-to-hand combat; the Sorcerer uses magic and doles out DPS from a distance. There’s also a hybrid class called the Oracle which bends the forces of nature to his will, and uses a scythe to dispatch his enemies. However, during my time with the game I tried out the Ranger class, as it’s one I am most familiar playing with. I tend to lean towards these classes in most MMOs and when I play D&D. She was proficient not only with a bow, but with melee weapons and dual wielding gun blades which also provide a bit of extra armor to her light class.
Each character starts off with a basic skillset, your dragons will provide you with different skills, and depending on your skill tree you can choose your own path – there’s a lot of variation with each class, so it’s unlikely your Ranger will have the same skills and abilities as another Ranger in your group.
No matter which proficiency you prefer, your role in the group will be determined by the dragon you choose to ride. The MMO is all about the dragons after all. So, if you decide to take on the role of the healer, you will need to choose the corresponding dragon out of your inventory.
Now, even though there are 300 dragon types in the game, only 100 are tameable – and no, you can’t collect them all. This isn’t Pokèmon. You can carry up to six dragons at a time in your inventory and switch them out on the fly. Now, when you go into town, you can visit a dragon lair which is a bit like a bank, where there’s up to six more you can switch out. All in all, you can have 12 dragons. According to lore, the dragons you come across in the game were created by the Elder dragons by mating with other creatures on the planet. Some are small, and similar to a velociraptor, others look more like a rhino, while the dragon I chose in my playtest was your typical, flying dragon but with elaborate feathers. I totally went for aesthetics, you see.
Since the character I chose came pre-loaded with skills and her own stable of dragons, I started off on the ground, fighting various creatures determined to make a meal out of me. The combat in the game differs from other MMOs in the fact that there is no auto attack. In other words, you won’t be able to just stand there and auto-bash an enemy while you run off to grab a soda. You have to be engaged. Your soda can wait.
When fighting, you use your left and right mouse buttons to attack, but if you pay attention to prompts on the screen, you will notice icons which denote the ability to execute a combo. Depending on your class and how close the enemy is to you, different combos can be pulled off with each dealing varying degrees of damage. Those are the basics of combat.
Now comes the fun part: finding your dragon. When you start off the game you will go through a tutorial, after which there are two “newb” areas in which you can find and train a dragon by the time you are level five. Players will start off with the runners, or dragons which can’t fly, and as you progress in the game you will find ones which can go in water, gliders, and finally, you will be high enough level to enter an area which has flying dragons. Don’t expect to run into a high level area and tame a high-level flying dragon at level 4. It will kill you. You have to progress through the game.
The way you tame a dragon, is to hop on its back, which prompts a mini-game to commence. While on the dragon, you will need to continue building up a bar on screen by keeping an icon in the middle of a circle on screen before the timer runs out. After your dragon is tamed, you can the name it. Note though that as your level gets higher, the harder it is to tame dragons. Also, each species of dragon has its own abilities (plus the ones it provides to you as mentioned above) and ability slots; strengths and weaknesses; and even intelligence. Every dragon is an individual in that sense. Dragons will also provide different abilities when you are crafting.
When you summon your dragon out of your inventory, a gold bar will appear on the screen. The longer the dragon is out, the bar will decrease. Once the bar gets so low, you will need to send your dragon away so it can rest. You can always pull out another in the meantime – if you have one – but if you don’t, you can just pull him right back out and the bar will start filling up again. Think of it as a mana bar for your dragon. You can also build up a character skill which allows for your dragon to stay out for longer periods of time as your character progresses.
Going back to the dragon lair aspect, the cool thing about the dragons stored in your lair is that while you are playing the game or are offline, you can send them off for training. You can also send the dragons off to harvest resources. There are six different types of resources for the six different crafting skills and each resource has a set of items needed for your character to craft. Every player will be able to participate in all the skills –you don’t have to choose just one proficiency.
The time spent training or gathering by your dragon can be changed, and you will need to take this into consideration because it will cost money. Say you send your dragon out for three hours: it will cost you 300 gold. If you want it to go out for seven hours, it will cost you in-game gold as well as SOE Station Cash. That is how the game is monetized, but you can certainly play the game without paying. The option is there though.
You can also take a skill from one dragon and give to another in your possession, but at a cost; the dragon whose skill you swapped will then have to be set free, so that is something else to consider when playing around in your dragon lair.
Basically, Dragon’s Prophet allows the player to play the game they want to play, with the character they want to play, with the dragon they want to ride.
Another cool thing in Dragon’s Prophet is the housing area, which is called the Frontier. The area is a floating island up in the sky which is its own instance where players from all servers can come together. This is where the PvP – which isn’t in the game just yet – will take place. It will only be up in the Frontier system, and when you arrive, you will see wooden stakes in the ground. These stakes are plots of land which can be purchased from an NPC in the nearby town. There, you purchase the type of land you want, along with the type of house, and decorations. You can put stuff basically anywhere you want inside and outside the house to make it look however you wish: no hooks, and no size limitations for certain walls.
Citadels on each island can be captured in PvP in the area by guilds. Each citadel collects taxes from the various housing plots in the area. These citadels can have fortifications set up and if proficient enough, the invading guild can overtake it. This will involve some strategy though: will you take them by surprise, or plan out your attack to the last detail? It sounds rather cool, but since it is still in the development stage, SOE couldn’t talk much more about it. The PvP option may be available at launch, or it may come sometime later.
I enjoyed the 30 minutes or so I spent playing the MMO. It was fun flying around on my dragon, fighting loads of creatures, and it was even fun falling off my dragon, which I tend to fall a lot in games – as in real life – so it was no biggie. Rez, and get back at it. It was also rather lovely and is really in-depth so it will take some practice to get used to the game’s systems, and the action wasn’t just hack and slash. There was some strategy involved well.
I can’t wait to spend more time with it.
Currently, the MMO is in early beta with those who pre-ordered playing around in it at the moment. Open beta access is limited at present, but you can still sign up for it through here. The level cap at launch will be 60, and will be raised with the first expansion.
A release date is TBD.