World of Dragon Nest is making some waves in Southeast Asia, the first region where it has been released. This excitement only comes as a surprise to those who aren’t aware of this game’s road to launch and the large following that the franchise has to this day, especially in SEA regions. But was the switch to mobile devices a cop-out, or does it bring any added value to this MMORPG?
This isn’t a straight-up sequel to the original PC action MMORPG Dragon Nest. Instead, it is an alternate story where you are going to encounter some familiar faces. There are a few key characters acting as quest givers and quite a lot of reading to do, but most of you won’t care about it anyway; your objective in World of Dragon Nest is to level up and unlock feature after feature until you reach endgame. Such is the goal of any pro MMORPG player.
Been There, Watched That | World of Dragon Nest Review
One of the big selling points in World of Dragon Nest is the dual weapon system. Instead of being locked to a class with one main weapon, your character has two choices at his disposal. The Warrior class, for example, has a sword and an axe and can freely switch between them during combat. The advantage of this system is that it allows for the same class to play in different roles, such as attack, defense, or support. Better still, some well-timed switches will unleash destructive combos, showing that this is a game where player skill and agency could matter, but looks can be deceiving. It’s all about that combat power, but more on that later.
Let’s look at the five available classes, every single one of them a proud user of the dual weapon system. Thankfully, there is no gender lock, avoiding the everlasting controversy of having your favorite class attached to a single gender. You can pick from the Warrior, Archer, Slayer, Cleric, and Sorceress. This last one is the preferred choice for players who like to play support in battle, but it is also capable of dealing damage to the opposition.
When you step into the game world, you’ll notice that the fixed third-person camera from the PC game is exchanged by a traditional mobile MMO perspective, like the one that you find in Black Desert Mobile. You can pan the camera to your liking, but any efforts to go for a third-person view are wasted since the camera doesn’t stick to the back of your character, although occasionally you have the option to lock on to a boss. This requires some micromanagement that isn’t particularly annoying during early levels, but when more challenging foes and PvP come into play, you can expect to stumble upon some less than ideal camera angles.
Speaking of Black Desert Mobile, most features in World of Dragon Nest seem to be heavily inspired by Pearl Abyss’ excellent MMORPG. However, this is just a coincidence, considering the close release timing of the two games – the similarities are in fact due to gameplay trends in mobile gaming. For example, the use of auto-quest and auto-combat systems, features that are likely to elicit equal amounts of joy and rage from a segregated community. Seeing your character running around in autopilot, delivering quests and fighting mobs with little to no player interaction is far from my idea of a good time, but I’ve grown used to this and made peace with the fact that nearly every MMO does it. I don’t like it, but apparently some players do.
Because it is all about that grind, and clearly the rush to endgame is destroying the engagement factor of a game during its introductory stages. Does anyone really bother to read the quest text anymore? Understand the motivations of the characters, what makes them tick? No, MMO games nowadays are just a race to endgame and PvP activities, a contest to exhibit the best acquired gear. Or should I say the best purchased gear?
World of Dragon Nest falls into this trap as well, being based off a design where you are more spectator than player. Unless you count clicking on the endless red dots as meaningful interaction, claiming item after item, ticket after ticket, one login bonus after another, as if these gave you an edge over a paying player, for example. Spoiler: they don’t.
Two Weapons, One Class | World of Dragon Nest Review
Nonetheless, World of Dragon Nest has its heart in the right place. There’s an open world waiting to be conquered, although it’s doubtful that you’ll want to leave the main questline until you have leveled up enough and want to explore uncharted regions. The combat system can be fun if you decide to take matters into your own hands, and you’re indeed forced to do so in some specific dungeons, or during PvP.
The main PvP activity is 1v1 combat in the Colosseum, thankfully with no auto-combat to resort to. Matchmaking seems to work correctly most of the time, pitting you against players of the same level or close enough. The ensuing battles are hectic and a good display of what the dual weapon combat system is capable of, brimming with exhilarating combos and visual effects that pack a punch. Guild wars come into play later in the game, with 50 versus 50 battles.
But skill alone isn’t going to take you far, with combat power playing a crucial role in character development. There are several ways to increase your rating, from the mandatory quest rewards to other more elaborate means such as boosting your pet level or equipping a new title. Levels and combat power don’t come cheap in World of Dragon Nest, so your best bet when you hit a wall is to head over to the dungeons and nests, where you can battle for rewards such as gear, skill points, gold, experience points, and accessories. It’s a grind for power, but one that comes with the territory. The least that we can say is that some of the four-player nest battles are fairly thrilling and require a good, coordinated team to beat.
World of Dragon Nest doesn’t break any boundaries and to some extent it can be labeled as a generic entry in the genre. The clever combat system does give it a slight boost, although it never manages to break free from the shackles of combat power rating and a bloated sense of achievement. You’re not the best player because of your remarkable dexterity and timely use of chain skills; your victories owe more to your gear level than they do to your combat prowess.
The grind is noticeable as well, and coupled with the auto-questing, it takes away most of the enjoyment that the game could bring you. Since every action requires a significant sum of gold, from cooking to smelting, you have no option but to repeatedly run the same dungeons, until you’re out of daily tickets. It becomes tiresome and defeats the purpose of the open world, since you’ll be grinding the same activities instead of exploring the regions.
You can always try the life skills for a change, but it’s not like these are entirely optional. Ultimately, you’re going to need them to progress, so you’d better get acquainted with them. Farming, fishing, sending ships out to gather resources… these are just a few of your options. If you prefer to relax, you can always buy some liquid soap and head over to the spa, where players gather to chill and earn a few daily buffs.
Apart from the dual weapon system, World of Dragon Nest feels like a generic MMORPG. It’s not that it’s bad… it just doesn’t do much to stand out from the crowd. If you have played one mobile MMO in the last five years or so, you’re most likely familiar with what this game has to offer, both in terms of content and UI.
This is where the main appeal surely lies for most players. Teaming up with others to take down nests or fighting for the top spots in the Colosseum is just the kind of activities that many players will be coming back to. The main story is pretty much skippable and serves as an appetizer for the main course: large-scale PvP.
Graphics / Sound: 7/10
World of Dragon Nest looks colorful and charming, with plenty of environment detail and these cute, almost chibi characters running around and fighting tons of diverse mobs. However, the cutscenes do a disservice to the game, with closeups that reveal lifeless secondary characters, unable to convey any sort of emotion whatsoever. This is a game that is at its best when the camera is far back from the characters, giving the good visual effects some room to shine. The music is catchy, the combat effects are punchy, there isn’t much to complain about here.
Value for Money: 7.5/10
You can have many hours of enjoyment from this game without spending a dime, if you can come to terms with its limitations. But the way it is designed forces you to grind or to take a trip to the cash shop, where you can purchase items to speed up progress. If you want to remain competitive and match the combat power of the best players, it’s impossible to overlook this possibility.
World of Dragon Nest lacks the ambition that could turn it into a great MMORPG. It brings one good idea to the table – dual weapon system – but isn’t bold enough to explore other less conventional paths. The result is a cute and competent game that doesn’t feel like a step up from the 2010 PC game; instead, it feels like a straightforward diversion that chooses to go with the flow instead of carving its own path.
Dual weapon system makes for some nice chain skills
Classes aren’t gender-locked
Cute and colorful graphics
You’ve played this several times before
Cutscenes show blocky and emotionless characters
Quite a grind