Last week at GDC we had the chance to do some hands on with Dragon’s Prophet. The guys who created Runes of Magic (Runewaker) have their second MMO coming to North America courtesy of Sony Online Entertainment. The team at SOE is doing a solid job of bringing the game over to these parts which is no small task. With all the trimmings of a full on MMO, there is one other massive factor, dragons. The real gem of Dragon’s Prophet is the dragon system itself and how players can interact with their monstrous pets.
Todd Parsons is the Senior Producer on the project and gave us a solid run down of the game before we got some hands on time. Todd explained that backstory that these Elder Dragons had left players with the options to tame and train different species of dragons on their own. Thus you will get access to hundreds of dragons to make your own. Training a dragon is important and the interface will tell you if you come upon a new dragon that is trainable. Once locked in there is a minigame almost like riding a bull in a rodeo to calm the savage beast. As you go up in level and try to tame more powerful dragons, the game gets much harder. Playing the minigame was easy, but we were also at lower levels for the demo.
But the game’s not just about your dragons. There are classes in the game as well: the Guardian class is the heavy armored tank character who handles the melee damage the best. The Sorcerer style character is all about magic and dealing out ranged DPS. The Ranger does more physical ranged DPS using bows and ultimately basic forms of guns. The last class (which was the one we played) is called the Oracle. They are kind of a hybrid cleric character. Do not let the healing fool you though; the Orcale can be specialized out to deal some serious damage too. All of these characters are fully customizable.
You begin playing the base content as your character without a dragon just to get a feel for the game. Soon you will start to see tameable creatures out there. There are several styles of dragon you can find. It breaks down to dragons that can: swim, fly, glide, and run. When I played my Oracle I rode on a dragon that looked like a giant mammoth, but also had a glider with me who could breathe fire. I chose to switch after a while and was gliding from cliff to cliff. There is a big difference in the game between gliding and flying.
With these core options, the style and design of the dragons was basically endless. Each species of dragon will have abilities and stats that you can advance. Each one will have a different purpose overall. One of the features we saw was that you can take the skills from one dragon and use them to train another. The only drawback to this is that if you decide to take the skills, you lose the dragon you took them from. The system allows for some strong customization when building the skill set you want but does not come without cost. You can also train a dragon offline using the stable system, increasing the dragon’s abilities while you’re not logged in. Think of it as doggy daycare for your dragons.
Todd also went into the crafting system for Dragon’s Prophet. Your dragons can be sent to gather resources for you such as iron, copper, herbs, or leather. You can find everything in game but also use some station cash to speed things up. SOE set up a smart system to use cash to decrease the time it might take you to do something. Once you have your resources there is a lot of crafting which can be done. The list is: weapons, armor, cooking, alchemy, tinkering, and carpentry.
There are some other points about Dragon’s Prophet we wanted to mention. There is a level cap of sixty with sixty five being added as expansions come in. They are hoping for some kind of PvP at launch but may wait until an expansion to polish up a more robust system. They did say that PvP would take place in the frontier areas (wide-open spaces). They are working on a Guild vs. Guild PvP concept at the moment, but that could change down the line. I would say the only letdown on the announcement was that there is no aerial combat at launch. Flying the dragons around is easy, but most of the combat takes place on the ground. I’d personally want to see aerial combat added in as soon as they can, as it could be a sight to behold. There will also be housing in the game and players can purchase lots as well as houses with real money. But we’ll learn more about that system later.
Dragon’s Prophet is a stunning game visually. For those of you who love dragons there is an endless offering of styles and designs to choose and train. We were happy that the game was not only focused on the dragons, but offered some interesting character classes as well. The combat was similar to TERA, and played similar as well, which is a compliment. Dragon’s Prophet is in early beta right now and hopefully we will see a lot more before launch.