Dragon’s Prophet

[review] [list] [stat=Publisher]Sony Online Entertainment[/stat] [stat=Developer]Runewaker[/stat] [stat=Genre]Fantasy[/stat] [stat=Distribution]Online Download[/stat] [stat=Graphics]High[/stat] [stat=PvP]Yes[/stat] [stat=Free to Play]Yes[/stat] [stat=Download Size]~7.8GB[/stat] [stat=System]PC[/stat] [/list] [/review]When Dragon’s Prophet first caught my eye, I was incredibly excited. I’ve always been a fan of the Pokemon franchise, and this free-to-play promised to mash the best aspects of that property together with dark fantasy, creating some sort of chimera brimming with awesomeness and joy. At first glance, it was one of the most promising MMOs I’ve set my eyes on in the past several months.

Then, after playing it for a few hours, I realized it’s fallen into the same trap as so many lesser free-to-play MMOs. The questing system is boring, bland, and completely uninspired. The free-to-play aspects of the game are incredibly frustrating and seem designed from the ground-up to nickel-and-dime the player, and the game takes grinding to an extreme that’d put Korean MMOs to shame. Worse, the game’s just about as polished as a rusty spoon ‘ it honestly feels like they rushed to release. That last one is what really ruins the whole experience in my eyes.

You know what’ Let’s focus a bit more on what Dragon’s Prophet does right. I want to really drive home the sense of tragedy here. On paper, it looks downright fantastic. You’ve got a top-notch user interface which provides pretty much everything a player could possibly need, a huge (and I mean huge) selection of unique dragons to choose from and level up alongside your character. Factor this in alongside the deep, complex talent trees available for each class, and you can literally tailor your entire load-out to suit your own personal play-style. It’s probably the strongest point in Dragon’s Prophet, and as such it’s a crying shame that it actually takes such a bloody long time to progress. Progression and customization aren’t the only areas where Dragon’s Prophet shines, though. The real-time combat is fast-paced, fun, and positively brimming with different combos and special attacks. It’s an exercise in quick-footedness that actually manages to put titles like Guild Wars 2 to shame. Factor in a beautiful and polished interface, and’ You know what, I’m making myself sad.

Where everything really starts to fall apart is in the design department. Enemies frequently forget the laws of physics and either move through terrain or meld with it, all the while twitching around like epileptic puppets. NPCs wig out and get stuck on every piece of decorative terrain in the room. Worse, the amount of grinding in the game is downright legendary. After you’ve gotten past the first hour or so, almost every quest feels the same. It’s just one thing after another after another after another ‘ certain stretches of the game actually rival Final Fantasy X for their long, linear corridors. Not only that, the further you get into the game the longer it takes to actually get anything done. That’s not a good thing.

The boring, uninspired design of the quest system in Dragon’s Prophet leaves little room for satisfaction or pride. If you’re grinding up levels, it’s because you either desperately want the game to be better, or because you honestly don’t have anything better to do. Seriously. Go and play Path of Exile or something. Alright, since we’re crossing over into ‘infuriated rant’ territory here, I’d say it’s about time we ended this. I wanted to like Dragon’s Prophet. I really did. When it caught my eye on Steam, what I saw was a title awash in potential and promise, with a premise which was, to my knowledge, wholly unique. Unfortunately, the unique and interesting elements in the title are overwhelmed by lazy, slapdash design and one of the worst implementations of the free-to-play model I’ve seen in months.

Maybe somewhere down the line, Dragon’s Prophet might be worth playing, instead of being an exercise in wasted potential. Maybe I’ll try playing it then. For now, I’m uninstalling.