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What is Dragonica Online?
Imagine a child's dream of dragons and fantasy, of heroes and danger: that is the world of Dragonica Online. A free to play fantasy MMORPG by THQ*Ice, Dragonica Online features 3D side-scrolling action in a bright, whimsical world. Featuring four basic classes (warrior, magician, archer, and thief) which further specialize into advanced classes, Dragonica offers the draw of an action game in a fun fantasy setting.
Dragonica Online uses GameGuard technology to combat hackers, and it will be part of the install. Some users have conflicts with this extra software.
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Dragonica Online's default controls primarily use the keyboard. The controls (which use arrow keys for movement and the left hand typing keys for action) can be difficult to get used to at first. Thankfully, you can change the key mapping options if you've no desire to adapt to the defaults.
Outside of adapting to keyboard play, the controls are fairly simple, and the game teaches you basic movement, fighting, and interface use. The interface is very straightforward, and by the time you leave the first area, you'll be confident in controlling your character.
Since gameplay is keyboard-centric, you'll find both of your hands on the keyboard at all times during combat. Combat is a combination of creative moment and use of skills that attack using ground and air moves to create devastating combinations. Combo attacks are essential, and skills build on each other naturally. For example, the Archer class may use Rising Arrow to knock enemies into the air, and then unleash a massive Antiair Shot to kill enemies while they're caught mid-air.
Although the environment is a 3D Scroller, combat remains limited to attacking left or right; even though you can move diagonally, you can't attack that way. This presents a significant problem, especially in mission boss fights.
Wherever you progress, you'll find quests to help your progress throughout the levels of the game. However, as you go further in the game, you'll find you're restricted to seven quests at a time - which can be limiting, especially if you hold onto some for group play.
Quests also are often confusing as to where or how to complete them, even if a specific objective is stated. This is likely due to a weak translation.
Soloing and Group Play
Many of Dragonica Online's quests, at least at early levels, can be completed solo. However, you may find yourself forced to group earlier than expected - the difficulty of completing special instanced missions ramps up greatly around level 10. Although it is still possible to complete these missions solo, it may require a great deal of potions and creative combat methods, as many of the bosses are immune to knock-down or knock-up, which many class skills are based on.
Grouping in Dragonica Online offers only the benefit of another extra body to do damage to the boss. There are no multi-class combos, and no tanks or healers, so grouping just adds more people to the DPS race.
Pets, Recipes, and Special Systems
At this date, the pet system is not currently implemented in any version of Dragonica Online except the Chinese version. Recipes are present in the game, however, and allow you to take loot collected from enemies to craft edible consumables which provide short buffs. You can also upgrade your equipment with special dust, or unlock equipment with soul force, obtained from broken down equipment.
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An important aspect of an MMORPG is its immersion level - that is, the ability of its storyline and community to draw the player into the game. Unfortunately, Dragonica Online seems lacking in both aspects.
As mentioned earlier, grouping offers only a small benefit in Dragonica Online - the ability to complete content that is too difficult to solo by adding more damage through another player. There is no compelling reason, otherwise, to seek out groups for Missions or Instances - in fact, many may feel compelled to grind to a higher level and complete the content alone. Guilds, therefore, become more useful for organized player versus player combat.
The storyline of Dragonica Online is as light-hearted as its graphics. The first story of the game has you rescue the mayor's daughter, followed by her dog, from some "bad guy." There is no history to this bad guy, and everyone seems generally happy that you've saved the day once you defeat the second mission. Although the quests help you progress from area to area, there is only a loose relation of side quests to the main story line, if any relation can be found at all.
The world also finds itself to be as silly as its graphics: you may find yourself fixing the town's plumbing by taking the plungers from Plunger Raccoons, for example. All of this steals from any immersion one might find in Dragonica Online's story.
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Graphics and Sound
If your first thought upon entering Dragonica Online is that you've gone into diabetic shock, you're not alone. There is no denying that Dragonica Online's graphics can make Free Realms look realistic in comparison, and that surely the game is aimed at little girls who still wear frilly dresses more than one day a week.
Once you settle in to Dragonica, however, you can actually appreciate the graphics. Anime-styled, the graphics are whimsical, even for monsters. Although often silly, such as the cash shop toilet paper bow I'm toting in this screenshot, the detail and color on characters is amazing and sharp.
Audio in the game is nothing outstanding; the background music feels very generic, and interactive sounds such as those used in combat could have been lifted from any side-scrolling arcade game.
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If you love side-scrolling action, then you might fall in love with Dragonica Online. It's easy to play, and relatively fun - definitely less of a grinder than other side-scrolling MMORPGs such as MapleStory. As the game is whimsical, and rated E10+ by the ESRB, it's a great free-to-play game for kids as well.
However, Dragonica Online fails to draw you in and keep you going. There's no real storyline to look forward to, no reason to socialize with other players, and no seriousness to lure a player in for "just one more level." If you're a serious MMO player, you'll find Dragonica Online nothing but another MMORPG to dabble in for a weekend before moving on to more interesting games.