I spent a little time with this up-and-coming MOBA recently and came away feeling frustrated and saddened by the amount of work still left to be done. Right now, if you’re not League of Legends, DOTA 2, SMITE or Heroes of Newerth then you’re going to have a hard time getting an audience for your MOBA. While Blizzard’s recently announced Heroes of the Storm stands a chance at taking a slice of the pie, this is due to their hardcore dedicated fanbase and broad appeal with game changing ideas. Dragons and Titans on the other hand has nothing that makes me believe it could do the same, at the time of writing.
The games’ pitch sounds amazing. Play as a Dragon rider with access to numerous types of Dragons with differing abilities. Let me start by saying, I LOVE DRAGONS. I mean who doesn’t? Huge flying lizards, that breathe fire and look cool as hell? Sign me up! Unfortunately, in its current state, this is all Dragons and Titans has going for it. I’d also like to mention this is a preview of the MOBA side of this game, you’ll see why in the next paragraph.
When I started playing I found the tutorial to be useless and downright boring. I know how MOBAs work, I have put too many hours into DOTA 2 and dabbled in plenty others, I am aware of the systems in place and how they should work. MOBAs up to now have been a baptism by fire. You throw yourself in and that’s how you learn. Yes some have tutorials but they are short and to-the-point. This one took far too long and locked me out of the meat of the content until I’d killed copious amounts of AI birds. After, I unlocked a single-player campaign which I started to play but immediately stopped as it was just a longer tutorial, which I had no intention of dragging myself through.
The first glaring omission here is that the familiar click-to-move controls have been substituted for a far less precise, far more irritating, mechanic where you hold the right mouse button down to move your character in the direction of the cursor. This thinking is literally mind-blowing. The phrase ‘if it’s not broken, don’t fix it’ comes to mind. This actually leads to some hilarious battles with Dragons just spinning around trying to kill each other. Now I know SMITE doesn’t use the point and click method either, but that game is third-person and so using WASD to move feels natural and fluid.
The next thing that bothered me was the speed at which the game plays out. Dragons are big creatures and I’m sure it would take them a while to move about if they really existed, but this is a game and taking forever to move around the map, frankly, impacts on the amount of fun the game is. I found moving and attacking to be equally as excruciating and it pained me to have to continue playing as this really made things difficult with my next big issue with the game.
The Dragons are all hugely imbalanced. Some are supposed to be designed to be better attackers while some are supposed to be support and others something in the middle. Unfortunately, the heavy hitters are the best in the game as, because of the cack-handed mechanics, the game makes it difficult to escape or dodge your opponent. So I found certain players would just snowball and destroy everyone else. One player overpowering others is part of a MOBA you say? Right, I agree. But not in the first 5 minutes of the game. At certain points the game is just broken as well. Spots where you can sit and hit a turret that can’t hit you because of buggy texture mapping for instance. This is just infuriating icing on the irritation cake.
Also the idea that any given dragon only has two attacks and then the rider picks a weapon to use, which gives the player another two attacks, is a good idea but fails in execution. There, again, are weapons with better attacks than others, causing yet more imbalance. Almost every player that had the weapon which allowed them to create spinning-spike-balls-of-death just maxed it out early and it was, pretty much, a win button in any fight.
At this stage I am genuinely only interested in one thing that the game offers. The Dragon design and backstory. The roster of Dragons is impressive, in fact, I’d say actually quite fantastic. They all look awesome and have their own backstories which makes for cool reading. But this isn’t enough to really change how broken the game feels at the moment, not to mention boring.
There is plenty of work to be done if this game is to be anywhere near competing with the big boys for a slice of the pie. I really hope the developers get their fingers out and sort it as the subject matter and premise are a gold mine that really could be fantastic.