Preview: A quick look at DragonCraft



3:30 PM on 03.14.2012

Fantasy fans with Androids and iPhones have a lot to look forward to this year, courtesy of Ngmoco. Just this past GDC, we had the opportunity to look at two promising fantasy RPGs, Skyfall and DragonCraft.

Whereas the former is designed as a serious time sink, DragonCraft offers more of a "pick up and play for a bit, then get back to your meeting" experience. Still, with events, dragon collecting, and unit building, there is plenty to sink your teeth into.

Skyfall (iPhone, iPad, Android)
Developer: Ngmoco
Publisher: Ngmoco
Release: 2012

Though not terribly involved, the world of DragonCraft does have a story behind it. Dragons have attacked the land of Terra Vael, and things look pretty bad for humanity. Your father was a great commander who fought and died defending your people from the dragons, leaving you to take up his mantle as humanity's leader. From here, players are introduced to side characters, who will ease you into DragonCraft's various mechanics.

The first character we ran into in our demo was Hereward, your father's old adviser. Hereward acts as a guide through DragonCraft's city building mechanics. Building in DragonCraft is pretty straightforward: provided you have the resources, players need only touch a spot on the map to place a predetermined structure. At Hereward's suggestion, we first built barracks and an armory to start building up our troops, followed by a couple of meat shops to keep the soldiers fed.

If you do find your building resources running low, you can hop out into the world and go collect more supplies. You can also conquer new territories and towns, but those areas will repopulate with enemies, requiring players to jump back in -- if even for a few minutes -- to protect their newer settlements. As one of the lighter mechanics in the game, city building really lends DragonCraft to the five-minutes-at-a-time style of play.

Once you leave the friendly towns for the wilderness of Terra Vael, you'll find plenty of things to sink your time into, particularly the game's combat. Combat in DragonCraft is turn based, almost reminiscent of Advance Wars. The battle system works with class-based units (eighteen in total) that you unlock and improve as you go. Each unit type has its strengths and weakness with a traditional rock-paper-scissors balance, so success is contingent on your ability to determine which units will work best against enemies troops and dragons.

Dragons also play a large role in combat. You can risk killing a dragon with a standard weapon, which may not earn you a scale, or you can kill a dragon with a rarer dragon spear, which will always guarantee a scale. Killing a dragon nets you dragon scales, and earning five dragon scales converts them into dragon eggs that you can hatch. Hatching takes time, but the process can be quickened by applying rare dragon crystals. You can find more crystals scattered around the world, but if you find yourself running low, dragon crystals can be purchased with real-world money.

Once you have a dragon in you army, they act as your first attack in every encounter, softening enemies up for the rest of your units and larger boss characters. You unfortunately can't use them beyond the initial attack, except for later in the game with you unlock dragon-only skirmishes.

Outside of single-player, your leveled army and dragons can be used in multiplayer for PvP and PvE matches. Multiplayer wasn't demoed, but Ngmoco is already planning a good amount of content for it. Apart from PvP and co-op dungeon raids, DragonCraft will have run events -- typically a week each -- allowing players and friends to collect new and rarer dragons for a limited time.

Like Skyfall, DragonCraft in open beta for Android users, with an iOS release to be announced at a later date. If you have an Android device, go ahead and give DragonCraft a fair shake.


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