Sunday, March 24, 2013

Thoughts from Dragon Prophet Taiwan

Unable to control my excitement for the up-and-coming Dragon's Prophet, I decided to play the Taiwanese version of the game. Right now, the Taiwanese version has just finished up the first (open) closed beta. They had originally planned to jump straight into Open Beta after this, but have decided that they will instead do two more closed betas. I think this is an excellent choice because there are a few major bugs that needed to be squashed still, and a lot of polishing to be done. I will detail these later on in this post, though. I took several videos and a lot of screenshots so I could share with anyone else that is interested in the game.

Before I get started, I will sometimes put (Theory) before something. This means that what I have posted has not be proven (at least to my knowledge) and could be wrong.

First, let me say that despite having put in several hours into the Taiwanese version and gotten to above level 20, I have yet to scratch the surface of the game. I was not able to get into crafting, except for a bit of guessing around. I was not able to figure out how to level up my dragons (though I have a theory on how to do it), and I was not able to get into the player housing or "Frontier." Needless to say, I missed out on a lot of the game. Fortunately, however I did get a pretty good idea of what the lower level experience is for a new player, and I can share that in great detail.

Lets talk about what I did find out concerning the game. I do know that there are several types of dragons. By types, I mean the way they look as well as the kind of dragon they are. Dragons are attached an element, but I have yet to gain an understanding on just what this element means besides giving a vague idea of what kind of terrain the dragon is good with. Each dragon is spawned with a random set of abilities from a pool that the type of dragon it is has available to it. Some of these abilities are useable by you, some are not. Examples of these abilities are buffs that will raise your total HP, give you damage bonuses, give you damage reduction, healing over time abilities that have an area effect (good for team fighting). And that's just the few I came across as a new player in the lowbie zones.

Not all dragons can fly, as is obvious if you watch the trailers. Some can swim, some cannot. Some can run extremely fast on the ground, while some will crawl at a mind-numbing speed. Basically, that means there's a dragon for every situation. A dragon that can only fly at the speed of someone who is sprinting on the ground may not be helpful in a flatland type area, but would be a life saver in a hilly, jungle type area. I also know that some dragons cannot be used for fighting, but I have no idea if some dragons can only be used for fighting and cannot be mounted. Another thing I noticed is that you can have up to five (or maybe it was six? I have a screenshot of it somewhere) dragons with you at a time, while you can only summon one at any given moment.

In the screenshot above, you see the Dragon Stable (or sometimes called the Nursery). In this place, you can store spare dragons, (theory) put your dragon through training regiments to gain them experience for leveling up, set your dragons stats (after they level up), (theory) combine or transfer skills between two different dragons, and a few other things I have no figured out. Just about every town or settlement has one of these, and they all seem to have a fairly unique and interesting design. One of the first thing I do when coming to a new town is check out how the stable looks. Another thing you can notice is several "locked" slots. These can be unlocked by spending diamonds (cash shop money), I believe it was 30 diamonds for each slot.

Dragon taming is done by jumping on a dragons back and fighting for control by playing a mini-game. There are a few factors that go into your chances of success. 1) Your level in relation to the dragon. Obviously, if you're a lower level it will be harder, and if you're higher level it will be easier. 2) (Theory) How full your SP bar is (the yellow bar under the Health and Mana bar). SP is gained by attacking things. 3) (Theory) How much you've damaged the dragon before attempting to tame. And 4) How skillful you are while playing the minigame. It all plays a part in your chances.

Dragon taming

The taming mini-game is pretty straight forward. You control a dragon head icon with the WASD keys. The goal is to keep the dragon head icon within the inner-circle, which will cause the red bar on the right to go up. Whenever the dragon head goes out of the inner-circle, the yellow bar on the left to go down. You want to get the red bar into a certain threshold before the yellow bar runs out. If you do, you tame the dragon and he is now yours. This can be hard, though, as you can see from the video.

As I mentioned earlier, dragons have several uses. They can be used as a mount, or as a fighting companion. Whenever you use a dragon as a mount, you can have him out for as long as you please and can summon him whenever you like (as long as you are not in combat). However, if you want to use a dragon as a fighting companion, it will consume your SP while it is out and fighting. This means that unless you generally only have a limited amount of time to make use of your dragon in any given combat situation. I'm not a fan of this, and from what I've read on the Taiwanese forums, not many people are.

Speaking of combat, it's pretty fun. Some people have said it can feel "clunky," but I don't agree with this. There are times when I have a lot of lag (but I'm connecting to Taiwan from the states, so it's to be expected) and it can feel very difficult to work with, but most times it felt smooth as can be. The combat system itself is somewhere between a targeting MMO (where you select opponents and then use abilities/attacks) and a free target (kinda like Tera). It's hard to describe, so you'll just have to watch the video I am putting under this, or try it out for yourself. There are a couple of glaring bugs with the combat at the moment, though. The first is that sometimes opponents will randomly become unable to attack you, and you cannot attack them either. This doesn't stop them from trying, though. The other is that when fighting near elevated terrain or buildings/props, your attacks will not connected with whoever you're trying to fight. I only tried playing as a heavy warrior which has large sweeping melee attacks and lots of AOEs.

Dragon\'s Prophet combat as a warrior

Another thing worth mentioning is the character creation. I found it to be more than decent. Not as advanced or in-depth as some games, but there is definitely a lot of freedom with it. I played around with it and was able to create some pretty nice (and horrible) characters. The video below is of the male character creation, but I also play with the female character creation in another video on my channel.

Dragon\'s Prophet character creation

That reminds me of another glaring bug I came across. I'm not sure if this was due to an actual bug in the game, or because I was running a client meant for Taiwanese computers on my computer. Or maybe it was my connection to the server that caused the issue. Either way, the problem is that sometimes textures would fail to load, or would load only partially, or wouldn't load correctly. Here are a screenshot showing examples of this:

I'm going to go ahead and close up this post by mentioning one final thing. The Taiwanese version of the game seems to be more than a bit cash shop heavy. Just about everything can be made a lot easier by use of diamonds. You can upgrade equipment with a much larger chance of success with them, or come back to life with full health and mana right where you die with them. I am hoping that Runewaker and/or SOE decide to change this before it comes to NA, as it may be a game killer for some. You can buy some sort of gear, but I have no idea if it's good or not. Judging by some of the numbers (you can see them in the screenshot), the gear is middle or middle-high grade. That's compared to the level 20 gear I've looted.

I'll end with this: Remember that everything I post about is from the FIRST closed beta of the Taiwanese version of the game. Things can, and probably will, be a lot different and more polished by time you get a chance to play the game. So do not judge the game completely on what I've posted. In fact, do not judge it at all. Just use this post to give you an idea of what the game will be like. Thank you for reading.

Click here to visit my screenshot album for screenshots of the Taiwanese version of the game.

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