I’m fairly certain that this will be the last Review In Progress piece for Dragon’s Prophet before we assign the game a score next week. Quite simply, with what I’ve experienced in the game so far, I’ve gone from an initial hopeful player, to one who just can’t wait to put the thing down and give the developers time to apply significant polish. In the weeks since the “open beta” launch, there has been one minor patch. The three starting zones have gone from filled with chatter and players to empty as the bulk of the devoted base is already at the level cap waiting on new content. I know the fine folks at SOE and Runewaker are working hard, but judging by the lack of any new players coming in, and the lack of real communication as to what’s happening to many issues behind the scenes? Open Beta or not, Dragon’s Prophet launched a bit too early, and it’s going to have a tough time recovering.
Once again, while I know there are other programs, FRAPs still doesn’t work with Dragon’s Prophet, so no screens or video for you guys other than what we have here already. But I’ll start by saying that I found out a way around my under-leveling content issue from last week. Grind daily public events! Yay! Exciting, right? So the solution for the problem of not having enough quests, and having to resort to grinding, is to grind... in a different way.
Public Events are DP’s answer to public quests. They happen on a regular ol’ cycle in a static area, much like Warhammer Online’s system. You don’t need to be grouped to do them, they’re fairly easy to solo, and they award a crap-ton of XP on a once per day basis. By the time you’re into your mid twenties and need the extra experience, you should have about five or more events to run through. Those closest to your level award the most XP, but even ones you’ve long since out-leveled will reward more XP than quests above your level, so... yeah. A quest will net you 2,000 or so XP, a repeatable quest will get you half of that, and a Public Event will grant you 8-10K once a day. To put that into perspective, 8-10K XP is about 1/4 of a level in your 20s.
Indeed, the biggest problems facing Dragon’s Prophet are in the experience curve. Mobs, which you’ll kill so-so-so many of give hardly any experience. Regular missions aren’t enough to progress, and it won’t be clear without the help of a third-party website that public events should be your filler material. And in this day and age, should any game really require a form of “grinding” that’s so blatant to progress? I know some do, but that doesn’t mean they can get away with it.
If you’re going to make a Theme Park in the age of “One Too Many Theme Parks”, you’d better make sure your rides are enticing to keep people playing. I’m not getting that sense in Dragon’s Prophet anymore. When the game began, I was able to overlook its foibles, because the combat was fun, the dragon taming novel, and the crafting relatively deep. Now? All I can focus on when I log in is that I have to go hunt down another horde of monsters, collect another bunch of loot that won’t fit into my bags, and mash the same three keys over and over while spamming potions to boot. In short: the novelty wears off early in Dragon’s Prophet.
The endgame plans for PVP, dungeons and what’s promised to come soon sound really enticing. But what’s the point if getting there is a chore and a bore? Add all this into the issues players are having with stat points (Charisma, what controls dragon taming and fighting, is basically the only worthwhile stat), housing costs (they’re out of control) and lack of people to play with spell out that Dragon’s Prophet is likely in trouble even before the game officially gets on its own two feet.
But SOE and Runewaker are taking money from customers, and that means there are no more excuses. The product that’s put out there for consumption can no longer hide behind the moniker of beta. And that’s a real shame, because the ideas of Dragon’s Prophet are pretty grand. The execution is what’s lacking. Our final review will go up next week.
Bill Murphy / Bill Murphy is the Managing Editor of MMORPG.com, RTSGuru.com, and lover of all things gaming. He's been playing and writing about MMOs and geekery since 2002, and you can harass him and his views on Twitter @thebillmurphy.
Read the other two Reviews in Progress: