Dawnbreaker Online Review
Pros: Combat a little more hands on than other RPGs
Cons: Unoriginal, dated graphics, bare bones content
We recently checked out Dawnbreaker Online from R2Games, a free to play browser based RPG where we got to a choose a character and progress through the game unlocking new features as we levelled up, meeting new NPCs and recruiting them into our team and improving them to take on gradually more challenging content. The game was a closed beta, though as ever with R2 Games' beta tests they're generally not too far off from a release and very little changes from the beta to the final product, at least in terms of features, as their games have typically already been published in Asia and are just being localized for EU/US. That said, it was technically a closed beta and so features and content are subject to change.
Starting with character creation we had the choice of two characters; a male warrior or a female mage, there were black silhouettes for a female warrior and male mage, but they were not accessible and it's unknown if they will be released at a later point. Either way we had a fairly pitiful two classes available, which even for these types of RPGs is weak, but we went ahead with our female mage. The choice primarily determines the types of NPC companions we'd want to recruit into our team, forgoeing a front line character for a backline attacker if we went warrior, or opting for a frontline tank for our mage so as to soak up some damage.
The game jumps straight into it with nothing in the way of cinematics, the graphics are extremely dated and stylistically look like practically every other Asian f2P RPG on the market and the characters, creatures and environments could quite easily be picked up and put into another game of its type and fit just fine. Whilst all games should be judged on their individual merits, there comes a point where developers just keep reinventing the wheel where you have to put your hand up and say "There's nothing new here." This follows on to the characters, once more we see gods, goddesses and legends of old cropping up as is so often the case, the likes of Hercules being a familiar face for one, though interestingly we had "Arthur" (presumably as in King Arthur, given the crown) who was a female.
The story was fairly non-existent and it was pretty difficult to even scrape together any lore, the RPG element just felt abandoned and replaced for grinding through stage after stage after stage in pretty effortless PVE. Everything in the game is extremely linear from the features that you unlock at specific levels, to which characters you acquire and in which order, a stream of currency and items coming in to simply level your team up using the myriad of systems that all essentially do the same thing: increase a characters Power rating.
Combat is a little more hands on in comparison to other RPGs, and when compared against other titles was probably the thing that stands it above them, our team of four would head into instanced battles and auto-attack the enemy without any player input. In the early stages it is quite possible to just leave the auto-attacking to it and we'd clear 90% of the battles without even having to push a button because it was that easy, which in itself is an issue because if the combat is easy and the mechanics are basic, then it just felt like a complete grind. However, some of the battles were a little tougher, and by that we just mean the bosses hit a little harder and had more HP to burn down, and so our involvement was needed and we had our QWE skills that used mana as well as an Ultimate ability on R that charged up through a battle; we also had access to our NPC companions Ultimates when they charged as well, giving us a lot more control in combat than you would normally see.
We pushed on with the game for a couple of hours to get us to level 23, which unlocked the PVP Arena, only it's not really PVP and as with every RPG like this instead when you challenge a player in the Arena you are in fact just challenging their levelled up team and the AI controls them. It is, however, what people play these games for: to level up and keep their team the most powerful so they can be at the top of the Arena rankings through different seasons. It's nothing we haven't seen over and over again.
All in all the game feels like it has just been rushed out of the door to get a new wave of players to subscribe to the VIP premium feature so they can bring in a little cash until the same game is released again under a different title. Every type of battle in the game is practically the same, from Campaign, Adventures, Fate Battles, Dungeons and even the Arena; the battles never feel any different regardless of the system that you're fighting in. The content outside of combat is a mix of badly explained crafting systems to boost your characters as well as a glimmer of poorly translated dialogue splashed about here and there (to the point where early in the game when speaking to Hercules the wrong characters portrait popped up...); the entire thing just lacked effort beyond the bare bones of what's needed to prop up an unoriginal Arena.