In January, I interviewed Gina Nelson for GeekXP's 'Release The Geek' podcast to discuss both her path to geekdom and her role as one of the artists behind the new mobile game "Dragon's Watch". As Gina spoke about the game, I became more intrigued, and promptly downloaded it as soon as the interview was done.
And I've played every day since.
Dragon's Watch is a battle RPG mobile game developed by London based studio The Secret Police, which has a pretty hefty pedigree for a start-up: Ian Livingston, co-founder of Games Workshop AND Eidos PLC, serves as chairman & investor, and they have multiple BAFTA award winners as part of the design team.
The game can be summed up with the tagline "Rescue the dragons, save the Kingdom" - send your six chosen heroes into a region, and you'll rescue the dragon at the end once all enemies have been defeated.
Combat is turn-based, but 'revolves' (heh) around a unique team interface: the six heroes form a circle, which can be rotated using the team wheel (and only needing your thumb), which positions three heroes in the frontline, facing the enemy. Heroes each have a mana-based power attack, as well as a passive ability, and a bonus if they're positioned as the team leader (my current leader, Hive Queen Insectivia, heals the entire team for 621 points after each kill, so there's a lot of frag stealing going on). Heroes heal slowly when not on the frontline.
Each hero has a different element (colour) basis, which also dictates combat pairings: blue does bonus damange against red, red to green, green to blue, while gold and purple do bonus damage against each other. Placement of your heroes in your team wheel then becomes important as you rotate them round to best effect against your enemies. You're also given a hint as to the types of monsters you'll be fighting before the round, so you can swap heroes in and out as needed.
One thing that drew my interest during my chat with Gina - there are over 700 heroes to collect as you move through Dragon's Watch (!!!). A large portion of these heroes are basic monsters that may not ever go past level 50, and are generally fodder for a fun aspect of the game - fusing and evolving.
You'll quickly fill your hero inventory as you collect monsters/heroes after each battle, and on the 'watch missions' you can launch while you're not actively playing, so fusing will become a key part of your play both from a space management perspective as well as a leveling up process for your key heroes.
There's a different elemental version of each class of hero, each coming with their own quirks and small differences, so you'll be able to mix and match heroes as per the monsters you'll be up against. Plenty of room for everyone's play style.
While your main source of hero acquisition will be collecting them during 'watch missions', you'll also be able to spend ale to summon six random monsters, and you can use gems to improve the chances of summoning rarer heroes.
Other Fun Points
The designers have had a great deal of fun when it comes to the heroes (the name progression of the Valentine's Day hero, Hugh, is an example) and the conversations with the enemy. It doesn't take itself seriously, and the conversations mean you shouldn't just skip through chats lest you miss a bit of humorous gold.
It's a free mobile game, so of course there's a microtransaction aspect if you choose to use it, but Dragon's Watch goes a way to make the grind aspect of resource collection easier: you're advised to redo missions to help acquire resources and items, so the team have added an 'Auto Battle' feature, which can be sped up to breeze through this process.
During the podcast interview, Gina mentioned it was important to the team that the music was something that really added to the game, and they've succeeded. I normally turn the music off immediately when playing a mobile game, but the soundtrack to Dragon's Watch is a step beyond - all original instruments add to the depth of the game, and is enjoyable in its own right.
The Final Wrap
There are more regions to come, and I found the level progression to be easy ... until it suddenly wasn't: I then had to spend a little bit of time resource gathering to level up and evolve my heroes to compete, and this pattern has repeated a couple of times, but I'm happy with it not being an easy run. I'm now hitting the level cap of my favourite heroes, and have to spend time securing the higher level runes I need to evolve them. Rune management will be a feature that's coming soon, but in the meantime you can't tell all the individual resources you have at a glance. That said, there's a nice feature whereby you can tap on an item that might be needed in an evolution recipe and you'll then see a menu showing you all the regions you'll find the item, and an option to go there immediately.
It's fun, easy to manage, easy to grind, but does have the 'pay to play' aspect if you want to move forward more quickly.
Want to win a jump start to your Dragon's Watch Quest? Here's all you need to do:
a) Download the Dragon's Watch game from your relevant app store
b) Listen to podcast to find the answer to the following question: what is the secret phrase?
c) Send your answer, along with your Dragon's Watch player ID (you can find it on the Settings screen - and DO NOT post this number online!) to media_at_geekxp.co.za. A random winner will be chosen from all the entries and announced on Friday, 2nd March!
Consumer of copious amounts of media, podcast enthusiast, avid convention goer, and regurgitator of pointless X-Men facts.
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