Besides hunting down Dragomon and defeating them, one of the neatest things about combat is the visceral feel of it. When my Mercenary hits with her axe, the screen shakes and a pretty good-sized WHAM accompanies it too which makes hitting things a lot of fun.
Dragomon Hunter’s graphics are very simple, yet pretty with a bright color palette that can get tiresome on the eyes after awhile. In fact, the entire game can feel rather tiresome over time. It’s not that it’s a bad game -- it’s a lot of fun, in fact -- but it is just so much of the same. “Kill x-number of x-monster; defeat a Dragomon and maybe get it as a mount”. After an hour or two, it was enough for me for the day.
Still, the quest for Dragomon and for gear is enough to pull people back into the game for sure. Completing mundane quests usually yields gear of one sort or another and in a small, but nice touch, if it’s better than what is currently equipped, the interface asks 1) if you want to put it on; and 2) if you understand that makes it bound to your character. I found that rather nice since, after all, I was there to fight and find Dragomon!
Dragomon Hunter’s biggest, most glaring pitfall is the utter lack of any sort of tutorial or useful tooltips to help out new players. While the basic mechanics are shared across any MMO that you play, it is in the more nuanced systems like crafting or breeding of Dragomon that the lack of direction becomes frustrating. Once introduced to a system, there’s little to no further explanation about how it works and how to use it. It’s a pretty hit-or-miss thing that led me to simply utilize, for instance, the gear I was given when finishing a quest -- it was just easier -- though I’m sure in late-game stages that would be a huge and glaring error.
The other thing that irked my overall experience were the type of quests that bring players to an interface where the purchase of something from the cash shop is required for completion. The same thing happened with quests that necessitated joining a guild to complete. It goes without saying that both of those sorts of quests left my log immediately on ascertaining what they wanted.
As with most F2P games, the item shop in Dragomon Hunter is packed with items that enhance experience gains or give boosts to magic find, etc. There are costumes as well but that weirdly feature stats on them rather than being merely cosmetic. In addition, while all mounts sold in the shop can be found and defeated in the world, there are far too many of them available for what I felt were pretty steep prices.
Lastly, and probably most annoyingly, Dragomon Hunter is packed to the gills with gold sellers and spammers. In fact, I’m pretty sure that in my time in game, I never saw another player speaking in general chat channels in the cities but only outside the cities. It is a plague and one that doesn’t seem to bother Aeria much as there is no “report” button that I could find. That was pretty disappointing.
All this said, however, Dragomon Hunter Online is fun. There are no two ways about it. The graphics are decent, the game play is solid, the defeating of Dragomon and having the at-time horrific RNG go your way and getting it for a mount is terrific and some of the little touches are welcome. It is, I believe, a diamond in the rough. If enough attention is paid to cleaning up gold sellers, making item shop prices more reasonable and some of the forced quests in to optional ones, it could be a real gem over time. Kids and anime fans will enjoy their time as one of those games to pick up now and again.
Gameplay: 8 - Lots of fun; no tab-targeting; action-oriented fighting style that keeps you on your toes...and let’s not forget those Dragomon as the big prize for a successful battle. Fights can be very long and very grindy in higher levels and too easy in lower ones. More balance is needed.
Visuals & Sound: 7 - Pretty, if overly bright, but somewhat over-simplistic art style. Anime fans will feel at home with the chibi-style character models. Decent but pretty repetitive music
Polish: 7 - Some clipping issues and getting stuck behind things using auto-pathing, but overall a pretty smooth experience
Longevity: 6 - While fun for the short term, it will remain to be seen how appealing over a long period of time it will be. Leveling at the high end is a huge grind and, being a “pick up” game to fill the gap in between other MMOs, it could have a short shelf life
Value: 7 - Free-to-play but pretty steep prices in the shop.