Nintendo and Cygames made headlines when they announced they were working on a new IP, which is particularly notable for the former, as it is known to rely on its established franchises. Dragalia Lost launched to much fanfare, and from that few hours we have put into it so far, we may be looking at a winner here.
The easiest way to describe this game is being Nintendo’s take on Granblue Fantasy, incidentally one of Cygames’ flagship titles, inspired by Shironeko’s art direction. Dragalia Lost is streamlined sufficiently for anyone to be able to pick it up with little effort, but boasts the production values to rival the best mobile games out there and then some. Should you decide to invest your time into this, there is more depth to the game than it lets on at the beginning.
The plot of Dragalia Lost, for the most part is serviceable and is standard JRPG fare, so there is not much to write home about here. You take on the role of a prince who is part of the clan of Dragonbloods and have the ability to make pacts with, wait for it, dragons. Reluctant to embrace such power at first, our protagonist soon accepts his destiny, realising that he is needed to bring order to the lands.
The mechanics of Dragalia Lost, as mentioned earlier, will be at home with those who have played Granblue Fantasy, or really most modern mobile RPGs at this point. You progress through a campaign which also functions as a tutorial. Along the way you will pick up plot essential characters to join your party while unlocking more game features.
While the game is mostly single player, there are co-op rooms which you can host or join to undertake challenges. Here, you will be able to play with up to three other users, and this functions as the multiplayer. We also find a rudimentary base building mode, which is an interesting distraction from the core game. Here you will be able to lay out infrastructure that grants party bonuses and generate resources such as gold.
Progression here is multi-layered and is again, reminiscent to Granblue Fantasy, with some refinements tacked on. Party members all have their own individual levels and abilities which you pour resources into to make them stronger. This is complemented by equipment in the form of a weapon and Wyrmprints, the latter granting the character with bonus stats.
Each unit can also have dragons bound to them, which can be summoned during combat. Dragons are especially strong as they function as their own independent unit with abilities and attacks that can turn the tide of battle.
While touchscreen controls aren’t always best suited for such games, the game is forgiving enough in that enemies telegraph some of their stronger attacks, so you more often than not will be able to react accordingly. The combat mechanics are satisfyingly varied, as weapon types lend to a different experience each time depending on what you equip.
Auto-battle is an option but it is not always the best solution to go with as the AI will not use special abilities and are not intelligent enough to avoid telegraphed attacks. Furthermore, they will ignore the chests and caches littered around maps. Element weakness and resistance are also core the gameplay, meaning you will always want the right characters with the right element to do the job.
While you can brute force your way early on with any unit, this becomes harder when bosses have higher HP and deal from their attacks especially if your party is weak against it.
This is the part of course where with address the gacha component of Dragalia Lost. As mentioned in the previous paragraph, you are going to want characters across the six elements here, and while you are handed free units from the campaign and the eventual events, the bulk of your party are going to comprise from those you draw from gacha.
Premium currency unfortunately do not come as easily as we would like, so you won’t be able to beef up your party as much as you want. Add to the fact that you have to spread your resources across other areas such as summons, Wyrmprints and weapons, you are definitely going to be stretched thin as a free player. The abysmal SSR rates further compound to the problem as well.
The game does offer an olive branch in that you will be able to upgrade the low rarity units to have stats comparable to that of their rarer counterparts, but we do not know at this point the extent of how well they will perform.
Overall, we have a very well done game in our hands, but to that quality comes with a price tag. If you are willing to invest the resources, you will find much to be enjoyed here. Whether or not it will be able to unseat similar titles remain to be seen, but with two juggernauts of the industry working on this, things are looking good.