Dragonbone Dynasty Alpha Review
Pros: Interesting story, good graphics, hands on battles, plenty of customization
Cons: Not particularly original, dialogue is far too fast, horrible use of emoticons
Recently we were given access to the alpha weekend of Dragonbone Dynasty, the new free to play RPG browser game from R2 Games; an Asian themed MMO with many typical features and elements that fans of the genre will be more than familiar with.
Stepping into the game our first screen was character creation, three classes (Rogue, Barbarian or Sorcerer) in both male and female options, already this is a step in the right direction as there’s plenty of RPGs that don’t offer three classes, most definitely don’t offer male and female options and Dragonbone Dynasty at least provided a description and character information for each class (again something missed by many RPGs).
The roles aren’t anything out of the ordinary and, even without the descriptions, we could predict what each of them did and where their strengths and weaknesses lay. Throughout the game we met different NPC characters as we completed quests and pushed on with the story-arc, from time to time these NPC characters would be willing to join our cause and become available as Allies. Each Ally falls into one of the three main classes, they have their own stats and unique skills, there are dozens of Allies to collect and as players can only fight with 3 Allies at any one time this gives a HUGE amount of customization from team to team, particularly in PVP, as to your Array setup.
The Array is the typical “Formation” we see in other RPG games, a 3 x 3 grid where you can position your different Allies prior to combat. The position you choose is pretty important, weak defense Allies on the front line are going to take too much damage, Allies that have the ability to attack all enemies in a single line in front of them want to be ideally positioned facing a team with multiple enemies in one line. Second to this is that there are other sources, such as the Pet system, that grant bonuses to specific slots in the Array, depending on which Pet is being used, so there is even more cohesion between Allies and their position in the Array.
The game does have automated features, from auto-pathing to reach quest objectives, automatically ending dialogue, auto-combat in battles; the game will essentially play itself for the most part. The auto-combat is something we’re never a big fan of, however, we have to say that Dragonbone Dynasty have handled it really well. Each of your Allies has multiple skills to use in combat, you actually get to choose which of these abilities are used e.g. using an attack that increases all the teams’ defenses, or attacking a single target for lots of damage; you queue your actions before the turn ends and then all the combat stuff happens. Whilst you can leave the game to simply auto-battle (and it only uses your basic skills as default) there is a lot to gain by being more hands on with your battles. If you are going to grind some of the PVE features and do want to take advantage of the auto-combat feature, then there is a customization menu where you can choose which attacks your Allies make and in which order, which is pretty convenient.
Graphically the game looks very good, the environments are stunning and truly well designed, the way characters move across the land looks immersive and believable; there is an insane amount of detail that goes into these locations. The UI also looks pretty good, as do the character models, and overall the visuals are top notch, however the actual animations are a little bit stilted and jerky and could be of a better quality.
One of the most important aspects of the game for us is the story, which we feel it should be for any RPG (and yet so often isn’t). Dragonbone Dynasty has done a good job on the story from what we could see, whilst not necessarily having the most original plot (demons invading, you being the only saviour from an quiet little village) and is something we’ve seen in one form or another quite a few times. The translations were decent, the characters strong, and whilst the actual dialogue was a bit cheesy at times it was generally pretty well done and didn’t necessarily have us reaching for the “skip” button to fly through it. The use of cheesy yellow faced emoticons in the dialogue to show the characters reactions to a scene was a little corny and not something we particularly liked, however, the worst element of the story/dialogue was how fast some of the text was. At times long lengths of text would pop up on the screen and be gone before you’d gotten halfway through, including a letter from our characters father explaining his true origins… we’re still not sure what they are.
Dragonbone Dynasty, in our opinion, is probably one of the best RPG MMOs of this style available, whilst there is little in the way of innovation from the developers, and pretty much every staple feature from the genre has been used (B.R. ratings, VIP/Recharge systems, automated features, etc.) for someone coming to the genre for the first time then Dragonbone Dynasty is definitely a good place to start. The progression through the levels doesn’t leave you feeling like the developers just wanted you to burn through the content as fast as possible to get to the endgame features, it has a solid pace unfolding an interesting story as it progresses and makes playing it quite enjoyable.