MMObility: Press your way through Dawn of the Dragons

Dawn of the Dragons screenshot
If you played along with me the last time I covered Dawn of the Dragons, you won't be surprised by what you will read in this column. It's still a pretty fun twist on RPGs and Mafia Wars-styled gaming, but now that it has come to Android devices, I couldn't be happier. The gameplay was nice in the browser, but I found it to be a bit clunky and distracting, especially with the ad-block at the top of the game's main window. Much of the game consists of making a decision and pressing a button or two to see what happens, so it begged for a touchscreen device. Now that has arrived.

Does that mean the game is no longer a pay-to-win, very casual (or hardcore if you want it to be) race-to-the-top? It's still all of those. If you have moral objections to those game styles, then skip Dawn of the Dragons. But if you're like me and don't take games so personally, then you, like reader grutzmek, might find that is is "surprisingly addictive." He told me, "I don't normally enjoy these games, but something is very different about DotD."

I have to agree with him.

Dawn of the Dragons screenshot
I can easily explain Dawn of the Dragons in a few sentences: You play a character in a world filled with magic, might, and (shocking) dragons. You level up by taking on missions and completing those missions by simply attacking creatures or performing tasks. How do you complete these tasks? By pressing only a few buttons over and over until one of three things happens: the task is done, you run out of energy, or you are defeated. You can also go on "raids" by yourself or with other players by attacking a boss monster and sending out public invites to the raid. You spend a certain chunk of points to attack the boss mob, and when it is killed, you gather your experience and loot.

I'll break a mission down so that it is even more clear.

First, go to the quest menu and pick a quest chain to complete. Notice the large red "attack" button. Touch that and you will start combat and lose a few energy points. You'll also gain some rewards. This represents one round of adventuring, a walk through a room in a dungeon, or whatever you want it to represent. Use your imagination.

Next, attack the creature again, losing more energy and gaining more loot. Occasionally a smaller boss monster will appear. Attack it in the same way as before. Keep attacking.

Oops, you're out of energy! What now? Well, you can either stand by while it recharges or pay a small fee and refill it. If you decide to wait, you can shop, craft, join a guild, or go on raids with your guild. Raids act pretty much the same way as solo content, but you are fighting powerful monsters that take many, many more hits before being defeated. Powerful and weak players alike can take a swing -- or several swings -- and when the raid monster is defeated, everyone shares the loot and experience.

Dawn of the Dragons screenshot
It's really that simple. It might sound almost mind-numbingly boring to just press a button over and over, but it's not. As far as I can tell, the game is acting more as a simulation rather than a directly involved MMO. The original Mafia Wars games found success because they allowed people to play for literally a few minutes at a time. They didn't insult "hardcore" gamers because they weren't "hardcore" games and weren't trying to be. Dawn of the Dragons is for those of us who enjoy a simulation and who are fine with basic but very pretty graphics. Sure, players can find a way to spend hundreds of dollars and to play for hours and hours in a day, but that's possible with almost any game.

Crafting is about as simple as combat. You'll find or purchase goods along the way and can use them to craft all sorts of objects. You can even make your own mounts that can help during a fight. A clockwork mount, for example, might take 500 cogs. Those cogs can be found while you're grinding mobs or completing raids and missions. Some of the crafted items take a lot of basic goods, so be aware that it might be easier to buy a less powerful item from the shop.

You can also spend time collecting and adding legions, which are essentially buffs that help you perform better during raids. If you do more damage in a raid, you can also potentially draw more experience and loot. As you can see, the gameplay is generally centered around growing a character that does a lot of damage as often as possible. Admittedly, this type of design easily leads people to grind until their eyeballs bleed or until their bank accounts run dry (if they choose to spend money), but for me it means that I get to check into the game once in a while and still have a good time. Why not enjoy this game while also playing hardcore shooter MMOs or roleplaying in an MMORPG?

Dawn of the Dragons is not for everyone. It's a great supplemental game that is fun for the gamer who, well, likes to game. Imagine it to be a small tool in your nerdy MMO player toolbelt. I like to check in on games like Dawn of the Dragons while at lunch or while following my wife around while she shops for Monster High dolls. I can be in and out of the game within minutes.

Dawn of the Dragons is old-school in that it plays like those older social games like Mafia Wars and others. It also features old-school lovely artwork and music. It's meant to be a game for your phone or tablet or -- as I've shown before -- your browser. The only thing missing from the mobile version is the world chat, the one thing that really keeps you in tune with the community outside of your guild. I'm not sure whether the feature is coming to the mobile version or not, but it needs to be there. Otherwise, the clicking starts to feel rather empty.

Each week in MMObility, Beau Hindman dives into the murky waters of the most accessible and travel-friendly games around, including browser-based and smartphone MMOs. Join him as he investigates the best, worst, and most daring games to hit the smallest devices! Email him suggestions, or follow him on Twitter and Facebook.

This article was originally published on Massively.