Dragon’s Phophet is the upcoming MMORPG from Runewaker Studios, and is looking to make an impact on the genre in a big, dragon-sized way. Players may have heard of Runewaker before, though, especially if they’ve followed the free-to-play market at all over the past several years, as the team is best known for their work on the wildly successful Runes of Magic. Having firmly established that title, however, the studio has recently turned their attention to Dragon’s Prophet; an MMO published by Sony Online Entertainment that sees folks exploring grand vistas, capturing dragons, leveling them up and ultimately fighting alongside these creatures in an effort to attain some kind of digital glory. We’ve had some hands-on time with the game in its closed beta form and are here to discuss what folks can expect from it.
The most alluring part about Dragon’s Prophet is the fact that, well, players get to tame dragons and use them in a copious amount of ways. Want one as a mount? Okay, sure, go ahead. Want to use them in combat? Yep, that can happen, too. These wyverns are certainly the highlight of the game, and as such most of one’s time spent playing will involve them in some capacity, whether that’s finding them, customizing them or engaging in a combination of any of the aforementioned practices. But the dragons themselves are more than just gimmicks in Prophet. In fact, they complement the typical MMO architecture in-place quite well.
Although players will be given one of these massive leviathans right out of the gates, they will be able to tame more at any time as the game progresses, which is done so through a clever minigame that makes the capturing process feel a bit more significant than it would otherwise. While in the starting zone of the game, these beasts are aplenty and far easier to domesticate than when roaming the outskirts where their higher levels made the task quite challenging. But players can’t just collect dragons to their heart’s content, unfortunately. No, they can only keep up to twelve, with six ready to be summoned at any given moment. But, this specific number of beasts actually supplements the game’s four character very nicely.
They be called on for a multitude of situations, most notable is in a combat scenario. In battle, dragons can be outfitted with a host of skills that players then manipulate to dish out punishment. This makes for an interesting system that feels rewarding in that players can watch and essentially control each move their dragon performs. It’s satisfying to see these enormous beings pummel a foe, especially when the MMO competition offers nothing of the sort. For all intents and purposes, the fundamental combat mechanics play out in the same was as they would in any other game of its kind; but there’s still a pretty unique level of excitement involved in the whole thing merely because of the amount of time and customization that goes into actually training the dragons.
One of Prophet’s defining qualities is how much freedom it gives players to create the type of beast they want. Combining two or more dragons of the same type allows folks to craft a single creature that has the skills of both being joined. This approach encourages creative thinking, what with being able to generate a mind-boggling number of options. But it’s not just the combat abilities that can be tailored to one’s own style. Dragons can be outfitted with a host of cosmetic items such as saddles as well as collars, and can even be fully dyed to further instill the notion that players can nearly raise a one-of-a-kind basilisk to show off to the world.
Dragons offer more than just a fancy coat of paint or being a fierce combatant, though. They also serve as the primary vehicles for collecting resources. In fact, resource gathering is an integral part of the Prophet experience as these resources are what allow players to craft items for their creatures. Following a sort of EVE methodology, resources can be collected while on or offline, but it will be one’s stable of dragons that is responsible for performing this task.
Perhaps the most noteworthy part about the game as a whole is, even though it’s in closed beta, it feels really polished. Our time with the title was a positive experience, mostly because of how sound the core elements of the gameplay are. They aren’t revolutionary by any means, but they feel solid through and through. Thus far, we’ve partaken in a few public quests that saw us collecting resources and killing monsters to bring forth boss-like enemies. While the actual encounter was wonderfully frenetic, Prophet’s implementation of a system that rewards players based on their participation in a quest feels like a welcome addition to the genre. Why this type of integration hasn’t been utilized by more games of this kind is truly baffling. Nevertheless, by using this scheme players earn better items in response to how much they actually contribute to the battle scenario.
There are also dungeons in the game that feature a variety of difficulty levels for solo players and parties. In these crypts, there are vast numbers of baddies to slay and dragons to tame, followed by some kind of end-boss. Even though these dungeons can in fact be completed by a single person, they clearly seem designed for groups and in fact feel a bit unbalanced if run by oneself, if for nothing else than for the super difficult boss that waits at the end.
Aside from the gameplay, Dragon’s Prophet certainly looks the part. Meaning to say, it’s a high-fantasy RPG, and wears the associated aesthetic rather well. Graphics are decent enough too, for a F2P game anyway, and we were most impressed with the clean interface. For fans who get into the musical side of things, there’s also a solid soundtrack that is full of whimsical tunes and sweeping symphonies. Regardless of these presentation aspects, the one problem that Prophet may run into overall is that it has a very been-there-done-that feel to it that permeates its almost every aspect. So long as players don’t mind a game that, at the very least, looks like every other MMO on the market, then there’s a good deal of fun to be had here.
In the end, Dragon’s Prophet is shaping up to be a fine free-to-play MMORPG. Its mechanics are solid and its newfangled ideas are intriguing, though certainly not in abundance. Much like Runewaker’s previous title Runes of Magic, Dragon’s Prophet sort of feels like most other games of its kind. Its core is the same core that has been used in nearly all MMOs since the days of Everquest. Even still, it has a lot of heart and content to offer — enough to entice prying eyes and genre loyalists. Right now the game is only in closed beta, but as it expands and opens up to more folks, it could be a title that is worth looking into; especially if you dig dragons and this style of game.