Istaria – an MMO with Dragons

So I’m playing yet another boring MMO. This one’s called Istaria.

Look! A Playable Dragon character!
Look! A Playable Dragon character!

Even though I’ve said that I often dislike MMOs, I’m playing this one. Why? Because you get to play as a dragon. An actual dragon, not some sort of half-human half-dragon hybrid. And I can play for free up to level 15. Afterwards it’s $10 per month. Sadly, I’m not a fan of subscription-based games, so I probably won’t play past level 15. Luckily level 15 applies to separate areas – adventuring and crafting – and they are levelled up separately. Unfortunately for me, I haven’t been playing long and both are nearly at level 8. Right now I’m just hoarding garnets because I don’t know.

I actually originally avoided this game. On their website, I was told that you could only play as a human for free up to level 15 but it appears they’ve changed that – look deeper into their website and you’re told you can play any one race for free up until level 15.

This game doesn't look great...
This game doesn’t look great…

There’s actually quite a few races available to play as, including half-giants and satyrs, but I haven’t tried them yet because it’s one character per account if you’re playing for free. And although the variety of races is genuinely very nice, rather than the boring human/elf/orc/beast race/small person race sort of thing, why would anyone pick anything but a dragon?

So yes, I’ve created my dragon. It’s a purple and gold one called Lokmah because I’m not inventive. And it’s a fat little baby dragon. Incapable of fight, not very strong and incredibly slow. Nice run cycle though. It takes forever to kill everything, so it’s a good thing I have a ton of health. It’s tedious walking around though, and movement is very slow. Stay on the roads, or feel like you’re walking through treacle. You can glide a little, but it’s limited. Apparently adult dragons (unlocked at level 30) can freely fly anywhere on each of the islands that make up the game, which is great and all but holy fuck the hatchlings are SO FUCKING SLOW. Cute though.

The difference between Istaria though and most games is that the world actually has huge areas designed for dragons. The world isn’t completely split in two, but there is a separate starting area, and dragons have their own crafting stations and things like that. It’s kinda nice. Although there is some discrimination between humanoids and dragons. Most NPC trainers won’t train dragons unless they too are dragons. And a few NPCs have said “I have no problems with your kind!” as if they’re claiming “I’m not racist, I swear!” Still, it’s a nice gimmick. Sadly though the graphics are very dated, so I’m probably writing this review five years too late. There’s a very tiny population – I’ve so far only seen two other players, one of which was a dragon who wanted to group up and do everything together, the other was a humanoid who ignored me completely.

You will spend most of your time doing this.
You will spend most of your time doing this.

Gameplay wise, it’s pretty standard. Crafting is grindy but normal. You need recipes to craft everything but you only need to get a recipe once. The combat though, I really don’t get it. You have a basic attack which repeats every so often, then there’s other physical attacks that have different animations, seem to do more damage but have long cooldowns, then there’s fire breath, then there’s magic attacks then there’s stances and all sorts. But it all takes forever to actually, well, kill anything. It’s a very awkward combat system, made worse when you can’t see the many enemies that are smaller than you, like spiders and little pig things.

Thing is, Istaria is just like any other MMO. There’s a bit more in crafting, to the point where you can mostly just craft, but it’s all the same old attack enemies fetch quests craft stuff sell stuff empty inventory of junk that you get in any MMO. Combined with the low-end graphics, the rather simple, flat and boring landscapes and the all-round rather dated feel of the game, I can see why it’s empty. Perhaps at its height, it was really good, and I can totally see MMO fans playing it regularly. It’s also very good for roleplaying and has a dedicated server for that. But it’s the same old MMO stereotype and the dragons are really just a gimmick to add to the standard MMO experience. Still, it’s not bad, even if I really dislike the combat.

This is gliding, not flying. Flying is unlocked at level 30.
This is gliding, not flying. Flying is unlocked at level 30.

But like so many other games I review, I won’t continue with Istaria. You don’t unlock the ability to fly until level 30, and I don’t really fancy grinding until then, doing a billion kill or fetch quests. Or paying monthly to do all of that, due to the free player limitations.

Oh well. Guess I’m still on the lookout for a half-decent dragon game.


Also known as Doctor Retvik Von Schreibtviel, Medic writes 45% of all the articles on the Daily SPUF. A dedicated Medic main in Team Fortress 2 and an avid speedster in Warframe, Medic has the unique skill of writing 500 words about very little in a very short space of time.

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