Published on June 22nd, 2013 | by Hubert McReed0
Dragon’s Prophet – Hands-On
As far as unique MMORPG hooks go, being able to charm, ride and customize massive dragons stored handily in your pocket is, frankly, a bloody good one. Dragon’s Prophet is a brand-new free-to-play effort from the makers of Runes of Magic, Runewaker, and during a recent hands-on session we were surprised to discover that the formula of this novel experience is one-part TERA and two-parts Pokemon.
Let’s start off with the basics. Dragon’s Prophet is based in the world Auretia. A landscape which is full of hundreds of different monsters – some of which can be wrangled, trained and controlled for the benefit of the player, while the rest simply want to destroy anything that strays into their aggro-zone. The fiction involves cultists scrambling to free an evil black dragon which was imprisoned thousands of years before the game’s timeframe after defeating and extracting the creative essence of the original White Dragon creator – are you starting to notice a theme here?
The trade-off with this admittedly daft premise – all hail the mighty god dragon – is that there’s over 300 different monsters in the game world which can be tamed. Breaking animals in is simply a case of meandering up to them in the wild, initiating the capture sequence, which involves characters jumping on their back rodeo-style which is when a Quicktime Event kicks in, and as long as you’re an appropriate level to the creature you’re trying to capture and you have space in your inventory, a new pet is yours. It’s impossible not to be a little won over by Dragon’s Prophet when you bag your first creature, be it a Komodo Dragon-looking beach dweller or what looks like a Velociraptor roaming the forest, so much so that we’re kind of shocked more MMORPGs haven’t adopted this pet approach over the years. When captured, these big (and little) guys will happily fight alongside you with their own attack skills, dished out randomly on capture, they function as a method of transport if those stringy white things underneath your belly are no longer up to scratch, and they can be shown off to others in a slightly less perverse recreation of Crufts – but, you know, without all the rampant dog inbreeding.
Companions can be swapped out at will, with players able to carry up to seven at a time, and they can be sent out on missions independent of whatever quest the player is up to. Stored dragons can even learn skills from each other and they level up as they’re used, earning more points to pad out the hexagon of ass-kickery consisting of strength, constitution, focus, intelligence, focus and ferocity.
Aside from the companion system, combat in Dragon’s Prophet still feels fairly by the numbers with a classless progression structure and traditional tank, healer, support archetypes. As is the Korean style, warriors tend to wield swords three times too big, and female characters forms are, shall we say, exaggerated. The hallmarks of localisation mean there are usually more quests to take part in than players know what to do with, but at least there’s a complex crafting system to mess around with, and the environments seem interesting enough to explore. We found ourselves on a tropical island starting area with a flying dragon mount and scaling the heights while looking down at the people below proved fun.
During our tour we were also shown the housing mechanic, with players able to snap up their own part of the persistent world, and a separate siege-esque PvP mode with competing clans trying to take over castles for their own band to utilize. Interestingly, all these finite areas have their own unique farmable crystals which cannot be found anywhere else in the game, so for crafters being part of a powerful guild certainly holds an advantage.
Dragon’s Prophet lacks its own visual style, but when it comes to gameplay and the potentially genre-changing henchmen system, it certainly stands out in the free-to-play space.
Currently Runwaker’s latest is in open Beta, so there’s nothing stopping wannabe tamers from giving it a try. Who knows, dragon riding might just be your thing.