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Dragons & Titans

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By CameronW29-03-2014
StuntmanLT (editor)
Dragons & Titans

The Defence

Developer:
Wyrmbyte
Publisher:
Versus Evil
Genre:
Action, Indie, Role Playing, Strategy
Release Date:
12-03-2014

The Prosecution

CPU:
Intel Core 2 Duo 2.4 GHz
AMD Athlon 64 X2 2.6 GHz
VGA:
Nvidia GeForce 8800 GT
AMD Radeon HD 4850
RAM:
1 GB
HDD:
1 GB
DirectX:
9.0c, 10

The Case

Let me start off this review by answering the first question most people have when they see Dragons & Titans without actually playing it: it’s not just League of Legends with dragons in it. It’s a mostly unique take on a top-down MOBA style game. Dragons & Titans borrows what it needs to and does everything else with a surprising amount of creativity. It’s not the next League of Legends or Dota, but it brings enough to the table to validate it existing as an alternative for people looking for something a little different than the standard MOBA formula.

The Trial

The base goal behind Dragons & Titans would be easily familiar to anyone that’s put any sort of time into a MOBA. There are two teams, and one team needs to go to the enemy team’s base and blow something up while simultaneously defending their own base from the opposing team trying to do the same thing. The biggest difference between Dragons & Titans and other, more popular MOBAs as far as objectives go is that while enemy dragon riders and creeps drop gold, you don’t actually buy anything with it. Rather than spending your gold on items, you pick a single weapon at the beginning of the game and all of the gold you collect is held on your character up to a maximum cap, where you can then return to your base and unload the gold into your hoard for bonus experience points.

After a short four mission long training prologue, you’re set free into the world to play the game how you’d like. You have the option to play the usual 5v5 PvP mode, a Co-Op mode where you and four players fight against a team of AI controlled enemies, and ARAM (all random, all middle) where your dragon and weapon are randomly picked and everyone is thrown into an especially narrow map that restricts your ability to avoid enemies. The other big unique thing about Dragons & Titans is that you pick a dragon that has two abilities. You also pick a weapon that has two abilities. This sets you up for all sorts of combinations that add a lot of different playing styles and make ARAM twice as chaotic.

The Forging tree is pretty massive.

The Forging tree is pretty massive.

Your choices in dragons all have a specific gimmick, whether it be draining life, slowing enemies, dropping turrets, applying DoT abilities, or healing. The weapons you pick have a similar pattern. You can pick from support, defense, and offence weapons. They are all with their own unique spin on the role that they’re designed for. My personal favorite among the weapons is one called “Slingsharp” that drops a stationary spot on the ground with a weapon spinning around it dealing damage to enemies nearby; think a chain-chomp from Mario 64 but a little crazier.

It’s hard to tell from the screenshots, but you’re actually flying through the entire game, and as a result of this the maps are very open and give you a lot of freedom in the way of positioning yourself. Where League of Legends restricts you into tight corridors surrounded by trees, Dragons & Titans gives you free open air to go wherever you want...within reason. The obstacles that you’ll run into are often things like floating rocks, towers, and the tips of mountains. There are also some more complex things to move around the closer you get to the enemy Titan Cage, like rock walls that put you at a strategic disadvantage over the towers that are defending the main tower or obelisk that you need to destroy.

Your typical game will take around ten to fifteen minutes to complete, with many, many deaths on both sides. It’s very hard to start a stalemate game that lasts for hours in Dragons & Titans. You move fast, the enemy moves fast, your creeps move fast, and everything dies really quickly since there’s no room for upgrading your character to be super resistant to damage via an in-game store.

It's pretty easy to get teamed up on.

It's pretty easy to get teamed up on.

Another big thing that’s different from other MOBAs is that the game actually doesn’t have an option to play with click to move enabled. You hold down your right mouse button or your shift key to move forward in the direction of your mouse cursor. It takes a little bit to get used to, but the movement is different enough that it doesn’t end up feeling like you’re playing the game wrong. Your basic auto attack is bound to your left mouse button or your Q key. Your basic attack drains your mana pool but doesn’t actually cost any, weirdly enough. Once you reach 0 mana, you’re still able to use your basic attack, but unable to use your dragon’s special ability, or your two weapon abilities.

The basic ability draining your mana gives you the option to spend all of your skill points that you obtain from leveling up on your basic ability, and you can ignore your other abilities completely if you wish. This strategy probably works well enough in the single player or co-op modes, but higher tier competitive play probably wouldn’t go over so well.

Picking your dragon and weapon isn’t all that there is to do to progress, though. If you get multiples of dragons via the store by buying them individually or by getting them in three packs you can actually combine the dragons together to create an upgraded dragon with a slightly different look. You can do this with up to three identical dragons and each upgrade adds a small amount of mana regeneration, health regeneration, or both in the case of a maxed out rank 3 dragon.

You can pick what you want to do from the overworld map.

You can pick what you want to do from the overworld map.

You can also use your unwanted weapons in useful ways if you find yourself with duplicates or weapons that simply don’t fit your playstyle. Dragons & Titans has a “Smelt” and “Forge” option for weapons. Smelting them will delete the item, and give you special forge components. The forge is a way for you to spend those components you get from unwanted weapons to upgrade specific weapons to be slightly more powerful. The forge screen looks very similar to that of Path of Exile’s skill tree window. Each point on the window can be “forged” for a specific material correlating with the color of the point and the color of the materials you gained from your smelted weapon.

Along with gaining simple materials with each weapon smelted, you also get “Forge Ingots” which aren’t used to forge anything, but rather to instantly finish the forging process and skip the odd four hour waiting timer for you to have forged the point. These points themselves don’t actually add any sort of benefit to the weapon, but once you’ve reached far enough into the tree there are larger points that are automatically unlocked as soon as a nearby point is forged, giving you a small (~1%) bonus to the stat listed above it. It’s a unique way of progression, just a bit odd that you’ve got a four hour timer to unlock a point if you don’t use Forge Ingots. Seems like a very “mobile game” way of going about it.

Visually, Dragons & Titans looks pretty bad. The blocky cartoon-ish models really remind me of the original Torchlight, and it’s definitely a good thing that the game chose to go with a more silly art style than trying to be gritty and realistic looking but it’s barely saving it. Options wise you’re pretty much out of luck. There’s an option for your resolution, v-sync, full screen, and a single slider bar that goes between “Fast” and “Pretty”.  The game’s audio will quickly become annoying and you’ll have to mute it, or turn your system volume down, as the only audio options are two tickboxes to mute the music and the sound effects.

You don't want people to break those chains.

You don't want people to break those chains.

Another relic of the game’s mobile release is the daily bonus roll system. Every day you’re given a free roll of the dice that decides how many extra gems you get. Gems are the earnable in-game currency that’s frequently found alongside a real money equivalent for those looking for a shortcut. The daily roll gives you an extra dice every day you return in a row, up to a maximum of seven days and seven dice. Starting off your first rolls are going to return amounts of gems so small that you won’t even bat an eyelash at them, but once you get seven dice going at once you’re probably going to be seeing some much bigger numbers.

The biggest thing I didn’t see coming with a MOBA release is a full single player campaign with unique maps and objectives beyond just doing what you’d normally do in a multiplayer game. Of course they’re still very basic, but finishing an act gives you an additional dragon. If you complete the act on the highest difficulty level, you even get yourself a rank 3 dragon. They aren’t the most entertaining things in the world, in fact they’re pretty dull, but if you’re desperate enough to get some variety in your dragon choices the single player campaign could waste a couple hours. A typical single player mission involves you flying up to a specific point, some creeps spawning, and you kill them. Sometimes you’re faced with other dragons, sometimes special boss monsters, but all of them can usually be dealt with pretty simply either by outmaneuvering them, or by just kiting them to your gold hoard for insane health regeneration so you can’t die.

The Verdict

All of this is fine and good, but the main question I kept asking myself while playing Titans & Dragons is “Why would I play this instead of League of Legends and Dota 2?” Is it a higher quality game, mechanic wise than its competitors? Not really. Does it look good? Nope. Does it surpass its competitors by being more hardcore? Not even slightly. Is it more casual? Eh, you can play it on your tablets and phones; it’s simple and works on just about every machine known to man, even in web browsers and on your mom’s five year old netbook, so I suppose it’s easier to get going no matter where you’re at. At the end of the day, there’s just no real reason to drop Dota 2 or League of Legends or Smite or whatever you’ve currently sunk your MOBA teeth into right now. It’s a hell of a lot more competent than I was expecting, and it has a lot of unique little ideas. I’m personally not a huge fan of the item shop mechanic that almost every MOBA has so it’s a welcome alternative, but I’ll leave it up to you if what I described is worth the 600 megabytes of hard-drive space.

Case Review

  • Incredibly Simple: Easy to get into. The matches are fast and it’s a good way to waste 20 minutes.
  • Unique Forge System: A system that lets you upgrade yourself out of game, rather than worrying about item builds and gold income while playing.
  • Dragon Upgrades: A feature that would at first be very annoying ends up being useful, assuming it’s the correct dragon.
  • Single Player Campaign: Unique way to unlock dragons, even if it is a bit boring.
  • No Click-to-Move or Free Camera:  Fine for casual players, but super hardcore guys might not dig it.
  • Irritating Audio: The attack sounds almost never stop being grating, combine that with all of the other sounds and the lack of volume control and you’d be better off just muting it.
  • Ugly: The game is meant to run on a lot of platforms, and suffers visually as a result.
3
Score: 3/5
Dragons & Titans is an alternative to other MOBAs, but only if you really don’t like those other MOBAs.
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