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March 5, 2012
Dragon's Call Review

By Jason Van Horn

Dragon's Call is one of the most features packed browser-based MMORPGs on the market. I've played a lot of them and while there are a few that are downright terrible, most of them are marginal at best, but lack the overall draw and staying power of 3D subscription-based or free-to-play releases. While Dragon's Call does have its limitations, it's generally in areas that can be forgiven (or at least overlooked to an extent), as the gameplay and crafting/enhancement systems more than make up for them.

Dragon's Call greatest fault is in its character creation system, as there simply isn't one to speak about. You choose between one of four different character classes (Warrior, Mage, Assassin and newly introduced Vampire) and then choose whether you want that character to be male or female. You can't change the portrait of your character, the clothes they wear, or anything such as their facial features; each male Mage will look like every other male Mage in the game.

Each class is customizable in the way you choose to distribute your five stat points upon each level gain and how you want to spend your skill points. There are five different stats in the game (Strength, Agility, Stamina, Intellect and Luck) and they affect each class in different ways. It would be stupid to put any points into Strength if you're playing a Mage, as the stat doesn't affect the class in any kind of way. If you picked an Assassin, however, putting points into Strength would affect their attack power, while putting points into Strength for a Warrior would wield increased attack power, a higher hit rate, dodge rate and the odds of activating one of your special stats. As for skills there are a number of branching paths with abilities you can level up to nine and that open up further advancement and powerful spells after enough skill points are placed. If you decided to be a Mage the first two spells you can choose from are lightning or fire, and while you can choose to learn both, you're better served by sticking with one (I went with lightning). Another reason it's important to plan your character and not throw points around is because later skills can affect earlier abilities. As I said, I went with lightning, and later on I unlocked the ability to level up a passive that would increase the amount of damage done by my lightning abilities; there's a similar one for fire, but since I didn't know any fire spells it would be a waste of skill points to improve that passive. Finally, your character can take two primary and two secondary skills with them into battle, which each have activation percentages based on stats and how far they've been leveled up.

One thing that might surprise players is that Dragon's Call actually has a ton of quests, which actually have story and narrative attached to them; you're still going out and killing a certain number of enemies, but the game at least throws you a narrative bone and reason for doing so unlike some other browser-based games. The game actually plays a lot like regular MMORPGs, though you won't be wandering around lost looking for quests, as enemies are all assigned to designated areas and the world is a series of landmarks you can click in order to go there; once you're there you can then see what enemy types are there and what their level is. During the initial hours of the game, everything is extremely streamlined and new user friendly, as you can instantly click track to go to wherever the enemy mob is that you need to fight, and you can instantly teleport to the NPC quest giver after it's over with a mere click of the button too. Teleporting is free, but once a certain point is reached it then costs about 1K in gold to use the feature, which isn't bad considering money isn't all that needed or hard to get in the beginning.

Fighting enemies is a fully automated process where you sit back and watch the action unfold either through minimalistic animations depicting the battles or a scrolling wall of text telling you what's happening. It's not an engaging system as there are no hands-on controls, but battles are speedy so you can get done fast and move on. Now if you have ten spiders to fight you can manually click each one ten times to fight them, but you can also have the game auto-fight for you, which has you setting a designated amount of times you want to engage the enemy before leaving the area. You can go into auto-battle and spend some money to instantly end a queue, but it's quicker to manually battle ten in a row instead of using auto-battle. The auto-battle system isn't without its uses, as it's perfect for if you want to leave your computer on overnight to try and gain some levels and loot, or if there's a quest you need to do but have work obligations or a reason to step outside.

If you don't want to worry about meeting death on the battlefield or using up a lot of health potions to heal yourself, you can also earn experience and gold by taking on a job, which acts much like the auto-battle system. You choose from one of the stores to work at, setting how long you want to spend doing that activity, and then you'll get gold or experience rewards depending on which job you chose (some jobs offer higher chances at gold rewards while others more experience based).

After you reach level 27, you can even take your character into instanced dungeons for greater challenges and better rewards. Instances in Dragon's Call play almost like a board game, where you have a starting point within a square-based grid and an end point, with many squares and paths for you to take; the game will always show you what type of challenge awaits at the corresponding squares, so if you're going to have to fight enemies you'll see which ones and what level they are, but if it's a chance square (think the cards in Monopoly) then you have the chance to either flip over something nice like finding some gold or either risk taking some damage to a mercenary's health pool. You can tackle instances by yourself, but unless you're overpowered you won't get far, which is why you should find other players to do them with. If you can't find people you can either hire NPC mercenaries or the characters of other players to help you try and take the instance down. You'll find some people who will station their character at an instance just for the chance at some experience, gold or loot, but others will park their character there and want a payment for you taking their character into the game and/or a password in order to use them. Running a dungeon in Dragon's Call isn't as exciting as engaging in a fully realized one in something like World of Warcraft, but it's still quite fun and challenging despite its simple structure.

You'll find a lot of loot in the game and this is where you can customize your character - at least in theory. The problem I had is that the equipment I got from early tutorial quests was so powerful there was never a need to replace it heading on up into my 30 levels as everything else is lacking when it comes to the stat department; the game even features a ranking system so you can easily look at a number and the highest number "should" be the better piece and everything I earned or looted was always several hundred points below my tutorial pieces.

Once you start finding powerful pieces, however, then you can get crafting and enhancing in order to make them even more powerful. You can refine equipment, purify it, embed it, decompose it, and much more; it's quite staggering how many options there are. You'll need to spend money and special gems and stones in order to improve a piece, and there's never a guarantee that you won't hurt the equipment and fail, so you'll need to use these secondary currencies in order to improve your chances so you don't lose everything. If you gamble and it all pays off, you not only have a strong piece of equipment, but the game will even broadcast to the other gamers that you managed to reach an especially high item upgrade number.

The game features a number of other systems like guilds, a friend system, badges, titles, achievements and so much more. One of the most enjoyable to me is the Arena, where you can take your character to battle it out against other players and see who the best in the game is and earn Honor Points you can spend. Depending on your VIP status, you can only fight one PVP battle a minute (the time goes up if not a VIP), but it's still rewarding though there's no real way to talk smack to another player and PVP battles play just like regular enemy encounters. Despite that fact a close battle can be tense and when you nail that spell or special attack for a ton of damage, you know that the reason is because you allocated your stat and skill points correctly, plus you took the time to work on improving your gear score.

Dragon's Call has a simple graphic style, but it works and still looks pleasing no matter if you're moving around the world or checking out stats within one of the game's many menus. A few of the enemies blend into the background a little too much when the animation battles are on (plus the animation is limited and stunted for the most part), but it's not bad. The game doesn't feature a single sound or piece of background music, which is disappointing considering I've played browser-based games that have had sound; it sucks to throw a spark of lightning and not hear a sizzle.

Dragon's Call has a few big flaws, but it's still one of the most fully realized browser-based MMORPGs that I've played to date. If you're looking for a MMORPG you can play wherever you go (as long as you have the Internet) then Dragon's Call is definitely a game to give a shot. I had fun playing the game and plan to spend more time on my character.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5


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