It's no secret that I like dragons. While looking for a new MMORPG to play, I happened to come upon Dragonica, published by THQ*Ice. Fortunately, Dragonica was about to enter closed beta, so I was able to try it out yesterday.
"Dragonica definitely has my attention now. It's an MMORPG, but it doesn't feel like one."
Since we were given two accounts, Chris joined me for this romp through Dragonica. He had first dibs on the keys, so he took the male Archer, leaving me with the female Warrior. We were pre-leveled to level 20, but without much gear to speak of. This makes the early quests fairly easy, but the difficulty caught up with us swiftly, though I was able to handle level 15-16 content with my setup. Since class advancements start at level 20, we were currently unable to explore anything beyond this.
If I had to pick two words to describe Dragonica, it would be love and cuteness. It's not as sickening as it sounds, though. The dragon spirit in the starting town informed us that we needed to procure the love from the cute animals by killing them. That's clearly the best kind of love there is: murder.
Dragonica has the most exciting gameplay I have experienced in an MMORPG to date. It's a real-time, action-based battle system. Because of this, combat is much more engaging and the fun never slows down. Battle maps are designed for the solo player to level with little hassle and by defeating monsters, the player earns items and money used to buy gear and advance with relative ease. It even includes a monster count system, dropping a special chest every 100, 300, 500, and 1000 monsters. Both Chris and I received coins, which you can use in slot machines in hopes of winning costumes or other perks.
For those interested in winning gear and working in a party, there are mission maps with five levels of difficulty. Each progressive level has slightly higher level monsters, but can also include larger areas to explore before reaching the final boss of the map. At the end of the battle the performance of each player is ranked and the higher the rank, the more bonus gear the player is awarded. Gear is selected at random with items flashing rapidly. The player can try to stop the selection process in hopes of seeing what they want, or simply wait it out and hope for the best. I managed to get a lot of equipment for other classes, which opens up playing and trading gear with your friends in hopes of gearing up quickly.
I'd have to say that Dragonica definitely has my attention now. It's an MMORPG, but it doesn't feel like one. Chris and I both agree that we could easily play Dragonica with a controller, not just a mouse and keyboard. We hope that it supports this, as I feel it would bring the game to its full potential as a fresh alternative to the generic MMORPG experience. The closed beta runs until July 14, so expect more discussion on our RPGCast in the weeks to come.