One week from today a new MMORPG by Sony Online Entertainment titled Dragon’s Prophet is going live. A few months ago I saw that Guild Launch was giving away keys to the closed beta and, while I was skeptical since it was yet another new free to play game, I decided to check it out. Upon discovering the role of dragons in this game (they are both your pets and your mounts) and the amazing housing frontier system that combines guilds, housing and PvP all in one zone, I was convinced I would love it.
But then I started playing.
The character creation screen made me uneasy right from the start. The extreme dimorphism between the male and female guardian was shocking. They almost looked like they belonged to different races given how enormously buff the man was and how petite the woman was. He had a serious, intense look about him while she had a derpy, mindless expression on her face. Aside from their physical builds the next thing to aggravate me was, of course, their “armor”. I really don’t care at this point if you give women impractical armor claiming that “magic does the rest” and that “since this isn’t our civilization you can’t force your moral values upon it”, but ONLY if men get to go into battle in equally stupid get-ups. Where’s my man running around in nothing but a loincloth?
It gets worse. Once you get to your character creation screen you will find that there are tons of options to choose from. There are sliders for almost every inch of your body. Hell, there were seven different sliders for boobs: upper chest thickness, upper chest width, breast size, breast height, breast cleavage, breast angle and breast shape. If you max them all out you end up with this:
The first character I created back when it was still in closed I spent more time on, trying to make some semblance of a real woman. It wasn’t really possible. Despite all of the options there wasn’t really much you could do. If you wanted to give her any form of physical strength what you got instead was weirdly puffed up arms and legs with no definition whatsoever. Want to make her waist match her hips a little better? Nope, sorry, not gonna happen. Think she needs broader shoulders? Too bad. But here, if you want her boobs to defy gravity we have an option for that! What, you’re still not happy? Well Jesus, why are you so bloody demanding?!?
Want to give your character a fighting chance out in the world and let her wear practical footwear? Well eff you, because her feet are premade as heels. All of the women in the game are sporting a pair. Never mind that it’s perfectly okay for a merchant or barmaid to be wearing a pair. Never mind that options are always a good idea. No, the brilliant fellows behind this game decided heels are hot, and therefore all the ladies must wear them. Brilliant.
Ready for a range of faces? You get quite a few pouty anime types:
But there are also some that look fairly reasonable:
In order to achieve the seriousness you get from the male expressions, I went with the following:
But it was still more sultry than I was going for. Also, it’s nearly impossible to prevent them from having their lips parted. So yay for that.
Lastly you choose your options regarding your armor. You can choose one of three options for what I am assuming is your max level look. I say assuming because you don’t start off looking like that, but it feels odd to know what you’re working towards. While all three are certainly stupid, you can see some are more so than others (also, by this point I had gone with a sorcerer, not a guardian.)
Recolor your starting armor (because it will make such a big deal in a few levels when you’ve outleveled it…), pick a name and you’re ready to go!
Now to the meat of the game. First off as soon as I saw that my starter zone was about zombies I nearly wanted to just stop there. I am so damn tired of zombies. You know what happens when you make major story and game decisions off of tropes? They become boring as shit because everyone else has done them a million times. This may be a brand new experience for my character in her world, but why can’t designers remember that it is certainly not my first time. My response anymore to a village being attacked by undead is to roll my eyes and grind my way through. There’s no shock, no horror, no urgency to save these people. Just like the first paragraph of a book is what will either hook the reader or turn them away, so too are the starter quests in a tutorial zone. Just because the starter area is there to teach the player how to play does not mean it needs to be dull as dirt in the process.
So. Sick. Of. Zombies.
So here I am playing a character who looks stupid (granted, the sorcerer I did that to intentionally), but now I’m also already bored with the game and finding it incredibly difficult to get into it.
But I force myself to do it because, well, I want a dragon.
By about level eight I found that I was strong enough to take on my first dragon.
And it was a giant…bat? A…gryphonwurm? I don’t even know…
I should have known that “50 unique dragons!” would amount to “big animals that we’re calling dragons but actually have nothing to do with dragons at all since they clearly look like mammals with wings rather than flying lizards”.
Getting your dragon is not particularly difficult though they made it sound like it would be. Perhaps your stats matter when trying to tame higher level dragons, but as a lowbie I found it pretty simple. You try to keep your cursor in the middle of the circle, but I felt like mine was almost never there when I managed to tame one… Oops.
My other major gripe with the “dragons” is that they time out after a bit. You’ll be in mid battle and they’ll vanish because they’ve been “out too long”. What? What is the point in having a dragon to fight by your side if he or she is constantly bailing on you? Maybe that’s something you can train them to get better at, but as I didn’t make it that far I wouldn’t know. All I do know is that it was annoying as hell.
I’m going to say something fairly unpopular and admit that I completely hate “fast, dynamic” combat in MMORPGs. Games with this sort of approach (think the new Neverwinter) drive me up the wall for so many reasons.
- You’re still button mashing. I don’t understand how this form of button mashing is any better than the WoW model. Not to mention it is a million times more difficult to use all of your abilities and half of the time just your mouse will suffice.
- I lose all control of my camera. This is a HUGE deal for me. While traveling I like the option to turn my camera to see what’s on either side of me. When taking screenshots or video I like to be able to do so from different angles. I don’t want to have to stop and hit esc in order to turn my camera around.
- It gives me a headache. Remember when I said I hate fps games? That even extends to games like Skyrim which I really, really wish I could play. But I can’t because you change directions so damn fast that it just kills my eyes. Even in third person I found myself getting one hell of a headache playing this game.
One change that I did embrace, however, was the ability to dodge attacks. In WoW, even if you move out of the way, you’ll still take damage. And while I found that happening to me on occasion here as well, for the most part I could double jump backwards to avoid attacks. This doesn’t need a new fangled combat system to work though. Pressing “back” and hitting spacebar twice could easily be implimented into a hotkey combat system.
One of the points they really tried to emphasize was that you could theoretically start flying as soon as you get a dragon rather than having to wait through most of the game like those other guys! It’s a gimmick. Yeah, sure I had my flying mount before level 10 but it’s not like it’s that much better than a ground mount. The ceiling is exceptionally low and you are barred from cross country traveling by mountains. So while you can travel above the ground, you still have to stick to the paths made by the devs. Sometimes you can cheat and go higher than the ceiling by finding a roof or cliff to “jump” up which is how I found myself on quite a few ledges that you can’t get to otherwise, but never was I able to use this approach to get over an entire mountain.
I guess the one good thing is that you can fly above mobs rather than having to fight them if you’re like me and lazy.
First off, the men are all awkwardly buff to the point where you know certain bathroom activities are probably so difficult they’ve had to invest in a good bidet. I just can’t take them seriously, I mean, look at how tiny his head is! Brains before brawn, lads, brains before brawn.
Secondly the dialogue and voice acting are pretty poor. I try not to be too critical of these features (particularly when the writers might not speak English as their primary language), but it was pretty cringe worthy. Like, soap opera worthy. Clunky, over-exaggerated dialogue all the way.
Lastly the women. Oh god, the women. Her boobs look even more pathetic in game, don’t they? But a static picture doesn’t do them justice at all. Their animations are borderline terrifying. (I suggest you watch in fullscreen).
But hey! Like that wasn’t bad enough you can also look up your lady’s skirt!
But surely it will get better the more armor you get, right? Hahahahaha. HAHAHAHAHAHA. Oh goodness, excuse me while I laugh my ass off over here. You mean you expect a lady to be better covered when going into more dangerous combat? Heehee, you’re a silly one.
Had I kept leveling this would have been my next set on the sorcerer.
Bugs and General Lack of Polish:
Where to start. Basically, with one week before launch this game is still buggy as hell. I crashed three times today while trying to get screenshots for this post and to give it one last chance before I uninstalled it.
At one point after hiding my UI to take a screenshot, I then couldn’t get it back. So I kept traveling to see if there were any interesting vistas and suddenly this happened:
Out of the blue I fell from my dragon (which this time was a bird rather than a mammal) and proceeded to die under the water. For no apparent reason. Since my interface was gone there was nothing I could do so I had to force quit.
While much of the game is quite beautiful (water from the surface looks amazing. Underwater not so much), it is so laggy. For me it was game breaking lag. I can deal with being kicked out of the game from time to time, but lag is too hard on my eyes and I just can’t put up with it. If everything else about the game had been perfect, the lag still would have prevented me from wanting to play it live. Maybe there will be one final patch released before the 18th, but something tells me probably not.
I’ll check back to see how it feels, but I’m not hopeful. (Nope, I just uninstalled it after this post. So done with this game)
Lastly there were other little errors that I couldn’t believe were still in the game. In the second town you visit I found this error:
In the end Dragon’s Prophet was the biggest disappointment I’ve ever experienced in a game. I was really hopeful for it. I love dragons, as you may have surmised; they’re just such beautiful, majestic beings. It kills a part of me every time I watch Syndrome bring one down in Skyrim. But while the dragons themselves were disappointing, I could have gotten past that. I still could have had a great time in the game. But with the uninspiring story-line combined with your run of the mill questing, a combat system I rather detest, such utter disrespect for women, and the terrible lag and bugs, I just can’t do it and I can’t really recommend it in good faith either. Dragons and a truly fascinating frontier system just aren’t enough to make up for everything else that is terrible about this game. And I wanted so badly to like it. I tried for days to make it to level 30 so I could show you the housing system and how the taxes and guild battles worked, but I just couldn’t do it.
If you want to check out how the frontier system works you can read about it here. It truly was an incredible idea and I desperately wanted to check it out but…ugh.
Syndrome and I often joke that if we had the money we would just buy this game from SOE and completely remake it. The potential here was wonderful, but in the end they just didn’t deliver. It would appear they allocated too much time and money to their bizarre boob physics and to pathetic attempts at “armor”. Maybe if they’d made their women humans rather than tried so hard to make them sex dolls they would have had more time and energy to focus on other areas of the game.
We award Dragon’s Prophet the “Most Disappointing Game of the Year!” award.