Dragon's Prophet: Hands On

ZAM attended an introductory session for the dragon taming MMO at GDC


Be it the works of Tolkien, a certain incredible series that makes Monday to Saturday just filler, or virtually every fantasy MMO in existence; dragons are a staple of myth and now popular culture.

Dragon’s Prophet puts these enthralling creatures of legend front and center of both its world and its gameplay as you seek out, tame and join forces with dragons to bolster your own abilities.

While at GDC, I attended a presentation of the game by Todd Carson, Senior Producer of Dragon’s Prophet from Runewaker and SOE. The introductory demo was followed by a quick hands-on session to get my own perspective on what to expect.


Getting to Know You…

Initially, the presentation focused on the four playable classes; Guardian, Sorcerer, Ranger and Oracle.

MMO enthusiasts will recognize the archetypes almost immediately and they are as you would expect, with some slight alterations.

The Guardian is the heavy armor wearer, able to take a lot of direct damage, as one would expect. Guardians can block to mitigate some to all incoming damage and can remain blocking for as long as your ability points hold up; so don’t expect it to last forever.

If you figured that the Sorcerer is the long range magic DPS class you get a gold star.

The Ranger is a bow user, but can also eventually dual wield guns for that John Woo brand of cool. The one presented was wearing funky mask/goggles that resembled something a steampunk fighter pilot might wear.

The Oracle isn’t the standard healer that you might expect. Though it is a cleric type, Carson assured us that it could solo well and dish out damage on its own terms.

We were informed that there are several hundred players testing at this early beta stage, mostly a friends and family audience, so some rough edges were to be expected.

At character select, you are presented with your toon as well as whatever dragon is equipped. What was instantly noticeable was that these creatures do not all resemble the dragons one would anticipate. In fact, one of them looked more like an emerald mammoth sort of beast.

This is explained through the lore of the game where the hugely powerful elder dragons have been breeding with various species (throw a bucket of water on them!), forming hybrid species of dragon-blood creatures all over the world of Auratia.

As Carson explained, depending on the dragon, they are more useful for different forms of travel or environment. Some dragons will vanish when you hit deep water; some thrive in it, so having dragons for each situation will be advantageous.

However, dragons aren’t just pets and mounts, the abilities that a dragon has can be utilized by the player, meaning that your full power set will vary depending on which dragon you are currently employing.

You can also summon the dragon to fight alongside you whenever you wish, though a gold energy bar diminishes while your companion is out, meaning you cannot use it constantly in combat. Choosing when to whip out your trusty sidekick can be the decider between victory and defeat.


Ride ‘em Cowboy

To add a dragon to your stable you first need to tame it. This hotbar ability is a simple aim and fire power but once in the process of taming, a mini game commences. Hopping onto the creature’s back, you become embroiled in a bonding session that looks like a bull riding display at a rodeo.

The UI displays a circular area within which you must keep a target by using the W, S, A and D keys to counter the offsetting movements of the disgruntled dragon. Magical energy stretches out from your hands like mystical reins until eventually you succeed and you are bonded with your new partner in adventure.

Every dragon is individual, with randomly generated stats and abilities within each species, meaning you can tame multiple versions of the same dragon type until you get the perfect one for you (it’s a completionist min/maxer’s dream).

Open up the UI and purple abilities are those that the dragon shares with your character while the dragon retains other abilities that it employs when it is fighting with you.

Todd stated there are currently over 300 species in the game with over 100 of those currently tamable, so that’s a lot of diversity and customization to sink your teeth into. Or your dragon’s teeth; it may get peckish.


Get to Work!

As well as fighting and riding your dragons, you can put them to work by harvesting the resources for the six crafting skills in the game. The dragon has to level up to be able to access all resource types (rough copper to begin with, naturally) but you can tell it to spend hours at a time gathering your materials while you adventure or even log off.

If you send the beast off to work and then summon it part way through, you will then lose all of your progress. It’s best to send your dragon harvesting when you have a large enough stable that you won’t miss one badly if you get into a spot of bother out in the world.

Certain dragons give benefits that will make them more useful to gathering than others. Each species has a certain range of slots and within them abilities are randomly generated. So if you are someone who wants to gather the local flora and fauna as part of your tradeskill focus, finding a dragon with a handy 10% bonus to picking herbs will be a good idea.

The crafting skills are Weaponsmithing, Armorsmithing, Alchemy, Cooking, Tinkering (like jewelcrafting) and Carpentry.

Within the crafting UI your chances for making the different quality tiers are shown in percentages, so you know if you get a blue quality item, you really got lucky. It’s nice to have those odds presented to you so there is no frustrating mystery to what you are doing (though plenty of lip biting will occur from the RNG, of course).

Most actions will come with a cost, including harvesting and crafting. You can pay your dues using currency earned in-game or through Station Cash (SOE’s real money transaction currency). The choice is yours, earn your way entirely in-game or take some short cuts with your credit card.

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