Dragons & Titans – First Impressions

Dragons have always been a staple in fantasy games. They are seen as both majestic and maleficent, mythical creatures that are revered and feared for the sheer power they possess. Just the mere presence of these creatures evoke a certain sense of importance in battles – rewards will be stupendous for the victors, just as failure will have dire consequences to the defeated ones. It begs the question –  how grand a stage and how grand the magnitude must it be when dragons are pitted against one another? Enter Dragons & Titans.

Dragons & Titans is an indie, free-to-play, Multiplayer-Online-Battle-Arena game that lets players select from a wide variety of dragons and legendary weapons and engage in 5-on-5 team combat across 3 different map types in order to free the next titan that would rule over the land. Each mythical beast possesses different skills and abilities that players can use in the battlefield against other players. Legendary weapons can be equipped to the dragons to further enhance their strength in battle. The game also offers a single player mode for the PvP maps that can be used to practice newly acquired dragons; for those who want to dive a little deeper into the lore, single-player missions are available that traces the steps one has to take in trying to become a Dragon Lord.

This game was developed by Wyrmbyte and Versus Evil, and just recently hit the Steam store; it is still available Facebook. Being a MOBA player myself, I was curious as to how this game would look and play, as its developers stated that this would be a fast-paced, and exhilarating game. But how does this new MOBA game fare? Here are my first impressions:

Where Dragons Fly

The game starts you off with a brief tutorial on how to move and attack using a practice dragon. Afterwards, a prologue will be seen available in the overview map, which serves as the main menu of Dragons and Titans. The prologue presents another set of tutorials and as the player finishes this, the option to go 5-on-5, the arena, and the in-game store will become available. Players are also given three random starting dragons after completing the prologue, as well as three random legendary items. These can be used by the player immediately in the PvP or the Single Player maps. This to me, is an interesting way of introducing players to the game. The main menu interface also has a nice flow to it as it is animated, with dragons randomly flying around; the camera will fly around the map if left idle. This is a good touch, since it leaves players with the feeling of flight and makes one giddy to choose his dragon to fight. Markers are plotted in different places in the map, each signifying the available options players can choose from.

Act I is not that far from the Prologue. But we'll need some gas money.

Act I is not that far from the Prologue. But we’ll need some gas money.

Dragon’s Breath of Many Flavors

Dragons & Titans boasts a roster of 33 Dragons that come in various shapes and sizes. Each dragon has different skills and abilities that evoke what kind of dragon they are – apart from the usual Western versions most are familiar with (i.e. the “dragon that breathes fire” motif), there are some dragons that are more in line with the Eastern depictions. But of course the game has taken some liberties with some of the other dragon designs, having them take more interesting themes. There are dragons that have insect-like appendages, dragons that use their tongues to attack enemies, dragons that are decaying, made of wood, paper (yes, paper), stone and other elements, undead, covered in spines, bones, and other combinations as well.

You'd think that a Dragon made out of paper stands no chance in a world where its opponents breathe fire, water and other elements, but you're sorely mistaken

You’d think that a Dragon made out of paper stands no chance in a world where its opponents breathe fire, water and other elements, but you’re sorely mistaken

Dragons are also classed based on their roles in battle – tanks take the brunt of the damage during skirmishes, as they’re usually in the front lines; fighters are more of the bruisers that don’t mind scrapping with other opponents; attackers prefer to strike at a distance; defenders have skills that are suited in aiding allies in battle; assassins take out squishier opponents, but are vulnerable when focused on; and the support role that provides utility, buffing allies and debuffing enemies.

Being a MOBA game, Dragons & Titans provide players with other free dragons and legendary items to use that changes weekly. Dragons can be bought in the in-game store for real money or for crystals, same goes for the legendary items. Each dragon and item has different uses and adds something new to the table; mastering their skills and the items makes it that more rewarding as you climb up the ranks to become a true Dragon Lord. As players level up, each rank gained opens up a slot in their rune pages that can be fitted with specific bonuses that can be used to aid your dragon in PvPs.

To the Skies and Dungeons!…wait What?

The PvP maps in Dragons & Titans are Capture & Hold, the standard MOBA map and All-Random-All-Mid. The map designs are symmetrical – each has a main objective (a caged Titan that needs to be freed in order to win the game), and the lanes are not that constrictive, since all the dragons in this game fly; there is no need for lanes. But the huge battle space proves to be detrimental, as clashes do not have that sense of importance because players can opt to go solo and destroy the objectives themselves without help from their allies. The map designs might be linked with how long PvP games last (around 10 to 15 minutes per match), but one would rather have a long, competitive match that has to be won by strategy rather than steamroll and win one-sided matches. Not saying that there are no strategies involved in this game – it’s more on the lines that objectives are easily completed that kind of takes the competitiveness out of the game, especially against players who have been playing the game longer than others. Summoning the Chaos Titan in the MOBA map, for instance, can be summoned by collecting gold and returning it back to the hoard; once enough gold has been collected, the Chaos Titan will wreak havoc on the opposing team’s base and defenses until ultimately, victory is handed to you and your team. It would have been nice if summoning a game-changing creature such as this required more than just simply collecting gold. But this is part of a the fast-pacing the game boasts, so let’s give them that.

The Titan Astaroth is pleased that you've returned his missing Chaos Titan; he was worried sick about him

The Titan Astaroth is pleased that you’ve returned his missing Chaos Titan; he was worried sick about him

The Single Player campaigns is a welcome sight in a MOBA game, as it provides variety, depth in the story line, and another way to grind for some in-game currency that players need to unlock new dragons. There are four Acts, and there are between five to ten chapters within each Act; each chapter can be played with a specific difficulty. The story element is present, and the objectives are straight to the point; most of the quests involve defeating a certain number of enemies, or defending a village from the bad guys. Once an Act is completed, players are rewarded with a new dragon they can use in PvP as well as in the succeeding Single Player campaigns; if a player manages to complete all the Acts under all the difficulty levels, he or she is rewarded with a free skin of the free dragon that was unlocked in their first run.

This happens EVERY time you've stuffed your dragon full of gold. EVERY.TIME.

This happens EVERY time you’ve stuffed your dragon full of gold. EVERY.TIME.

Not-So Armed to the Teeth

The game play for Dragons & Titans is different from the usual MOBA game. Unlike other games in this genre that uses a point-and-click system, Dragons and Titans has players use a mouse as the main way of controlling their dragons: the left mouse button makes the dragon attack, the right mouse button has to be pressed and held in order for your dragon to move; the space bar has your dragon fly backwards. These new controls feel a bit gimmicky, and it takes a while to get the hang of it.

One thing to note about the attacks or skills in Dragons & Titans, though, is that for some reason, dragons do NOT have any kind of auto attack; they instead rely on using their skills to farm and hit opposing players. This proves to be somewhat of a nuisance, as it is supposed to play as a MOBA, it is non-negotiable that characters should be able to auto attack creeps and save their skills against enemy champions; it does not help, either, that using skills in this game consumes mana, with the exception of some dragons that do not need mana in order to use their abilities. It would have been better if each dragon can auto attack creeps and other dragons, because some skills drain away mana, and in the heat of battle, it is truly infuriating that you cannot attack because your mana has been depleted.

The game’s camera also proves to be frustrating as well, as it is always fixed dead-center, with your dragon in the middle; players see their dragons in an third-person, semi-overhead view, and they can zoom into or perch right on top of their characters via the mouse wheel. In a game where players are tasked to hit enemies with skill shots, it is detrimental to play keep away, because you can’t be certain whether you’re hitting the enemy or not; you’re better off going into the fray regardless of the type of dragon you’re using, as long as you get to see your skills hit someone. It also makes coordinated strikes difficult, as most games have you clumping up with your other team mates in order to take down objectives. While this strategy works somewhat, it proves to be a lame way of winning games.

Speaking of skills, all dragons have a total of three skills only: their projectile attack, an offensive, defensive, or utility skill, and finally a stat boost. Having two skills is a letdown, seeing as dragons are supposed to be mythical creatures with immense power; giving them just two skills just doesn’t cut it. This is alleviated, somewhat, by the legendary weapons that players choose before the start of any game; each weapon grants an additional two skills, but one downside is that players have to level up the weapons’ skills first before they can use them, and using them ALSO costs mana.

Then there is also a balance issue – some dragons tend to be a little overpowered than others, and often times they tend to snowball too fast, resulting in an uneven playing field. One example would be the Dreadnaught Dragon: its skill set has players use it initially as a tanky support dragon, but given its high HP and high damage, players often result in utilizing its girth to destroy turrets easily. In future patches, hopefully, some balance issues would be put in place so that there is fair play on both sides.

When your team has summoned a Chaos Titan, it's a good strategy to stand behind him and do a maniacal, evil laugh

When your team has summoned a Chaos Titan, it’s a good strategy to stand behind him and do a maniacal, evil laugh

Final Thoughts

As a whole, Dragons & Titans is a good game to play for casual gamers. It plays at a break-neck pace and provides a single player option that serves as a break in-between PvP battles. It does have some points that it needs to improve on, though, such as a less-gimmicky control and battle system, a more player-friendly camera and character balance issues. But nonetheless, Dragons & Titans has the potential to be a great game. Definitely a game worth checking out!

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