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E3 2013: Dragon's Prophet impressions from open beta to now

Andrew Ross

I don't have any strong love of dragons. I don't really hate them, usually, aside from the fact that I've killed far too many to get excited about it, but I've never looked at one and thought, "I wanna collect that like I would a Pokemon!" However, I like Dragon's Prophet. I was actually playing the open beta and got to level 18 on my Oracle until vacation plans and E3 took over my play time, which is fine, since apparently from what the SOE floor representatives tell me, I'm ahead of the curve. Many industry folks were sitting down and trying the game out for the first time at the convention.

Now, to be honest, I didn't unlock all the dragons slots or the stable slots. I haven't done a ton of crafting, and I haven't done a ton research on the dragons and of raising them. The game's pushed out content before localization was done, and the game still has a few bugs. I know it's "open beta," but for a free-to-play game that isn't wiping the servers, it might as well be release. To be blunt, I really shouldn't like this game. It's done a lot wrong, but for some reason, when I pass the booth, I want to sit down and log onto my own account to play my character.

My beta character is an Oracle, a cloth-armored scythe-wielder who can cast protective bubbles on himself, do some decent area-of-effect damage, and juggle. The term "juggle" is one you should be familiar with in this game, since it means you can keep knocking a player down and preventing him from doing anything if done correctly, since a player who is knocked down can literally just jump to get back up once in awhile. Combining my tanking, damage dealing, and healing, I feel pretty god-like sometimes. I don't know how the other classes are, but the one or two dungeons I've done were comfortable for me at least (sorry to that guy who kept dying!). I don't kill half as fast Mages, and Warriors seem to kill better than I do as well, but I just feel as if I have the most style.

There have been complaints about the game's animations, and while maybe the archers look odd sometimes, I don't pay much attention because I have a scythe. Again, it sounds dumb and insignificant, but something about the weapon just makes me feel cool. I run up to a mob and slice through it. I do spinning jumps to cut through people. I knock beasts down and furiously slash them to death. Scythes are a bit like polearms in Darkfall, and I just like the new appearance, even though my brain keeps telling me I've done the same thing with a great axe in TERA. But there, my moves were much slower and I was less dodgy, though I was absolutely adorable as a fuzzy puppy with a beaver tail. Stop judging me.

So what about the dragons? They're there, but I feel as if I just kind of play Pokemon with them. I see a dragon and just go, "Oo, that one looks cool!" I go up, tame it by riding it (I want to actually see this in Pokemon), and then check out what moves it has. I know I can combine them to great effect, but I just end up using them for awhile and either give up the task to go try new dragons or put it away and forget about it in favor of my starter dragon.

Dragons do feel different based on their types. Flying dragons grant the most freedom by giving you good access to that z-axis, but if you're running in a straight line, the "raptor" dragons, which are land-based, run faster. The brute types are pretty quick too, but double tanks for me always feels unnecessary.

I've played the auction house a bit, and the tools aren't half bad. You can track the history of an item, see how much it's selling for based on unit prices, etc. These are things that I usually have add-ons for.

At E3, when I decided to try something at level 40 at the demo booth, I hit up the same class. I won't lie: quests in DP are the usual kill/click/collect. I don't really read the quest text and auto-pilot through them most of the time. Instead, I do dungeons (at least the first one comes in both a solo version and a group version, which made it fun) or fly around the map looking for public quests or monsters that are labeled special, which means they drop nicer loot. What's good and bad, though, is that I did the same thing for about 20 minutes at E3. I had talents, but with another 22 levels, it seemed that I had the same moves and combos as my level 18, which was disappointing, especially when I was told that SOE and Runewaker actually could push the level cap to 200 and that they have itemization for it already (not localized yet, though). Since the game doesn't have the guild PvP system implemented yet, I am a bit worried about how I'm playing the game. Not focusing on quests isn't super efficient for leveling, and I want to see the PvP, but for some reason, I've enjoyed my slower pace, which sounds funny when talking about an action MMO that gives you dragon pets.

The game does have housing, but it is controversial. Many of the founders packs include houses, but plots are very expensive and limited. The official website also doesn't explicitly note that the housing is tied to PvP, but I felt like putting it by the frontier system made it obvious to me as an MMO vet. Truthfully, a lot of the community seems against PvP in the game, but that combined with the housing in a non-instanced environment was a selling point for me.

It's odd that I like this game, but I know I've said some pretty critical things about it. I actually mentioned some of these issues to another developer without saying the name of the game and she was able to guess it immediately. That's not a good sign, and I really have to question SOE on why it's released the game to open beta in its current state. I can't really recommend it unless you really love dragons. Yes, it's free to play, but I've seen a lot of people try it out and just slam it because it's fairly unpolished. Maybe wait until after the game is no longer wearing an "open beta" tag and has more completed features. It's free-to-play, and hey, you can have a scythe and a dragon pet. At least visually it's a bit different from the norm.

Massively's on the ground in Los Angeles during the week of June 10-13, bringing you all the best news from E3 2013. We're covering everything from WildStar and Elder Scrolls Online and ArcheAge to FFXIV's inbound revamp and TERA's latest update, so stay tuned!

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