Electronic Theatre Preview: Dragon’s Prophet

Infernum Productions’ confidence in Dragon’s Prophet is almost inspiring. Attempting to enter a crowded market with a very familiar product is enough to put off most publishers, but it would seem there’s something different about Dragon’s Prophet. We’ve seen it all before, you might think, […]
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Electronic Theatre ImageInfernum Productions’ confidence in Dragon’s Prophet is almost inspiring. Attempting to enter a crowded market with a very familiar product is enough to put off most publishers, but it would seem there’s something different about Dragon’s Prophet. We’ve seen it all before, you might think, and while for much of the experience this would be true the development team at Runewaker Entertainment have ensured that there’s enough innovation in Dragon’s Prophet to make it an enticing prospect.

At its heart Dragon’s Prophet is the same core massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) that has existed for over a decade. Players choose from one of four classes (Guardian, Ranger, Oracle or Sorcerer) and enter a world of quest givers, item shops, interchangeable professions, loot hunting and raids. Level systems see you grew in strengthElectronic Theatre Image and ability and exploration allows you access to tougher challenges, and greater rewards. There’s plenty of window dressing to suggest that Dragon’s Prophet is different from the run-of-the-mill MMORPG – enough that many developers would stop here – but beyond these all-too-familiar fundamentals Runewaker Entertainment have ensured that they are creating an experience that moves beyond the current norm.

The biggest evolution is that which is known as the ‘Frontier.’ A hugely impressive design, the Frontier is a group of island in which Dragon’s Prophet takes a completely different form. It remains an MMO, but there are no quests here; no enemies to defeat and no loot to secure. Well, none in the traditional sense anyway. The Frontier is a shared space across all servers in which players can secure a plot of land and establish a home; where guilds can develop their reach and where city-wide politics can become a way of life. Furthermore, it’s an open player versus player (PvP) zone,Electronic Theatre Image wherein combat between two or more players is available at all times. Runewaker Entertainment made a conscious effort to separate the PvP from the co-operative experience to reduce the possibility of greifing, and it looks to have resulted in an entirely new way to experience MMORPG titles.

Players can continue to partake in the many quests and adventures that Dragon’s Prophet offers an ignore the Frontier entirely if they so wish, or simply dabble every now and then, renting a piece of land and buying a home to decorate with their hard earned trophies. However, Dragon’s Prophet does allow for the entirely opposite experience to be a core component also: spending your time in the Frontier will allow you to join a guild or even establish your own, building a sizeable fortress from which to govern your populace. However, the bigger you become the greater a target you will be for rival guilds, and as such you must ensure that you build defences and recruit the appropriate persons to protectElectronic Theatre Image your investment. As multiple guilds can enter a single battle it’s entirely possible that tug-of-war style combat will be initiated, wherein the greater tactic presented by a timely counter-attack will confirm the winner.

And of course, now we come to the key component of Dragon’s Prophet’s marketing spreadsheet: the dragons. Said to offer over three hundred dragons at the time of launch, Dragon’s Prophet relies on the player investment here to distinguish themselves from other players. You can recruit dragons to defend your guild base and even create pens for them at your home, but back in the traditional MMORPG space they offer a more direct affect on the videogame. Players must capture dragons via a mini-game which demands they mount and successfully gain control of the bucking beast, and once it is in their command it’s theirs forever.

The comparisons to Pokémon are legitimate, but only skin deep. Up to six dragons can be kept on your person at any one time; with others that you capture interchangeable via some currently undisclosed storage system, and they can be called into battle at any moment (providing your automatically recharging Dragon Stamina Bar has adequate resources). Dragon’s of a higher level may refuse to obey you (and thus cannot be captured) but once in your control players can improve their dragons through general use and specific training. There’s much more to the dragon component beyond this however, Electronic Theatre Imagewith the fact that the beasts are mountable, able to gather resources and offer statistics boosts to the player only being briefly touched upon during Electronic Theatre’s time with the videogame.

The variety of dragon types, the skills that dragons can learn and the hugely impressive customisability of the dragons are clearly the unique selling points of Dragon’s Prophet in order to build a community. These are the front facing innovations that will encourage gamers into the fold, the promise of building from slow land crawlers to hulking winged beasts will surely be enough of a temptation for many to make the leap. However, it’s arguably the Frontier that makes Dragon’s Prophet truly something special, and Electronic Theatre certainly hopes that the cross-server promise is delivered in its full capacity. If it is, Dragon’s Prophet will surely be an MMORPG unlike anything currently available in that crowded market.

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