I’m pissed off. I’m always pissed off, but that’s not the point. I don’t want much from my stupid existence on this tiny, gods-forsaken planet, but what I do want is a half-decent game where I can play as a dragon and do dragony things, like burn villages and kill people. As a concept, it sounds really simple. It could make a fucking huge amount of money, like Goat Simulator but preferably good. Heck, it would make an amazing MMO game or an RPG. Preferably in 3d because dragons are big creatures who fly around a lot, and flying around in 2d is often not that great unless you’re making an arcade shooter. Arcade shooters are fine, and I’m sure a dragon-skinned one would be okay, but that’s not the same as actually being a dragon and having freedom to play.
But no. We live in this shitty universe and we’re not allowed decent dragon games. There are games where you are part human part dragon but it’s not really the same thing and while I want to buy Divinity II for its developer mode which I didn’t know about, Valve doesn’t deserve my money right now, for obvious reasons. When it comes to dragon simulators, all we’re allowed are unfinished betas.
I’ve mentioned a few obvious betas in the past. Dragonflight had a huge amount of potential but decided to go into VR and hasn’t gone anywhere since, to the point that it’s pretty much dead. Dragon the Game was so awful that I asked the guy who got the game for me to get a refund. Grim Dragons is another early beta early access game but at least it has some charm to it and a unique style, plus they have a free demo. Time of Dragons is worth a mention since it’s pretty cool, but the matchmaking system is god awful and there’s not enough people playing it. It’s also more focused on gun play rather than being a dragon. Because there’s no skill level included in the matchmaking system, any new players jumping into the game will be annihilated, making it no fun. On top of that, Time of Dragons is purely PvP, and nothing close to a dragon simulator.
Now, I’ve already ranted a lot about Dragon Souls and their bad UI. But I’m going to have another rant at it because WHY THE HELL DO YOU NOT HAVE A PROMPT TO SAY THAT CLICKING EXIT WILL CLOSE THE WHOLE GAME?
Fucking seriously. It doesn’t help that there are TWO menus on the matchmaking page – one by pressing the Menu button and one by pressing Esc, both of which are different. The Menu button only has one button that says Exit. And that CLOSES THE WHOLE GAME. It doesn’t take me back to the main menu, no, that button is reserved for the other menu for some reason.
Guys, come on.
But there’s more. This time round, the developers have left their server up so people can see the game, see the dragons and maybe work out what’s going. Because there don’t seem to be any controls and the Options menu still only has one option – the quality, labeled Option A. Not that any of the options matter, because the game is laggy no matter which setting you choose.
The matchmaking server is actually alive now, meaning you can play. There is a big box telling you what to do, but it’s actually kinda deceptive. In the lobby area (which gives you a dragon to look at), you click the box but you don’t actually find a game. I found I had to hit the Esc menu and click Play Game. Which gave me an ugly loading screen.
The game eventually loads, you pick your colour of dragon, black, red, green or blue (wow, generic). You also get to pick some abilities for yourself. They don’t seem to have anything to do with the type of dragon you pick, even though the dragons are supposed to be separate races.
Once you actually get into the game, you realise the game is, well, just as ugly as everything else. It’s incredibly generic. Stock items from Unity, and four dragons which are actually different, but looking at them from behind, you can’t really tell.
Finally, you work out what to do. I think the buttons to use abilities haven’t been bound yet, or you’re supposed to use a controller, because every single button I pressed did nothing to cause abilities. You hold left click to aim and fly around with a combination of the WAD keys. W makes you fly forward (whether you’re locked in by holding left click or not) and A and D make you go left and right. Space makes you fly upwards and the F1-F4 keys allow you to use ‘relics’, assuming you have any. CTRL makes the screen go dark and highlights microscopic enemies and nearby relics, which just seem to be generic random fantasy items. Being a Unity game, normally you get a box before you launch the game, enabling you to set key binds and settings, but I can’t seem to get it to trigger, and getting into a game takes too long anyway.
The aim of the game is to collect 10 relics. You collect 10, you win the game. You should try not to die because then you lose all your relics and start from zero. You’re supposed to fight other players for the relics, but there’s never anyone actually playing. There are people in their Steam discussions (ugh) but it’s like 5 people who don’t seem to be online in Medic-y time zones. This also renders your ‘lair’, a hidden glowing portal on the map, obsolete, because there’s nothing to hide from. Once you collect ten relics, you are abruptly dragged from the game and put on a You Win screen. It takes about ten clicks to actually leave this menu, and the sound of your dragon’s wings flapping weakly will continue to loop in the background.
There are enemies around, even if you’re solo. Tiny, minute little things. So small that you NEED the CTRL vision to actually see them. At some angles, you can see their red health bars, but I mistook them for mushrooms at first. They’ll kill you insanely fast though, and because there’s no HUD flashing, damage indicators or even much happening on your health bar, you won’t even notice until you’re dead. Which will most likely happen instantly.
It may sound like I’m being incredibly nitpicky, but this is a game that’s advertised as a beta. A beta suggests that a game is getting pretty close to being ready. You remember the beta for Minecraft? It was mostly finished, with constant updates and engaging content. Or how about the closed beta for Overwatch? The game then was also mostly finished and they were doing balancing tweaks and the like with a larger pool of players to help catch bugs. What we have here, like Dragonflight and Dragon the Game, is an early alpha. Or an indev build. The basics are there, but not much else.
What makes this worse is that Dragon Souls is advertised as a free to play game. A closed beta of a game, but still a free to play game. There’s nothing of it. But because they won’t be making any money from the game until they get their shop working, they could very easily just hold off on the game and wait until they have something worth showing. That way, more people might actually be interested. Right now, we just have a generic fetching game with one map, four dragon types that all look ugly and a generic landscape of trees and stuff that look like they’ve come from the Unity asset shop. At the very least, it would stop them getting shitty reviews like this one.