By Remko Molenaar (Proxzor)
It is no real secret that the MOBA genre has exploded in the last few years. From having just a small fan base, to probably the biggest fan base of any genre worldwide. As a result the game industry have seen many MOBA’s come and go, and it literally is a tough market to break into, but once your game is noticed, you know you’ve done your best. On that note I recently came across Dragons & Titans, Zynga’s attempt to cash in on the rise of the genre. But what is their tactic to separate from the pack? Why dragons of course!
Now you would probably think, how does it work? That is how do you build a Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA) with only dragons as playable characters? Well, Dragons are kick ass creatures of diverse mythologies and varying powers and Zynga brings this variety of dragons to life on the battlefield.
Getting started is as simple as opening your client, choosing a dragon and weapon from the available options, and clicking go. Dragons & Titans features several game modes including the less common MOBA options of single player and co-op. You can choose between 17 unique dragons that each have their own special abilities and stats. Some dragons exist purely to absorb damage on the front lines while others can turn the tides of a battle if left unhindered on the backlines supporting their allies. But to keep the game too simplistic, the weapon system allows you to influence the playstyle of a dragon to customize them to your preference. Whether you prefer to max your strengths to the fullest in an all-in dragon weapon combo or balance your weaknesses to be a more useful combatant in all situations, the weapon system exists to make it a reality!
I have played plenty of MOBA games both for work and pleasure as of late. The genre as a whole just has an air of unpredictability about it that keeps me coming back for more. Each battle is unique, each play session different, and the rush of a successfully orchestrated team fight is absurdly satisfying. Thankfully Zynga captured this all important rush as I soon discovered in my first game as a tanky dragon. Since I was new I figured the survivability would offer me enough staying power to get a better understanding of what each dragon brought to the table in terms of damage, survivability, and utility. Out of curiosity I snagged one of the offense heavy weapons to see if I could make myself a more distinguished threat and I can tell you, tanky bruisers are alive and well in this system as a result.
The game is played in a 5 versus 5 mode in the normal multiplayer game. This is the same as in the single player, but then you will play with and against AI. The grand goal of each match is to free your Titan from its cage. Across the map you will find shrines and obelisk from both your team and the enemy team. Together with your team you will have to take down the enemy shrines and obelisk before you can barge down to their Titan and kill it, but at the same time the enemy team will try to do the same and you will have to defend and tactically flank them in the hopes that you can catch them off guard. Or you can just break through them with brute force of course. While fighting minions on the map, and killing other dragons you will earn gold. The gold can be used to gain experience and power either by teleporting back to your home base or visiting an available Hoard. When you level up, you are able to level up one of the four available abilities. Depending on the battle and your dragon, you will have to tactically build your dragon so it has the winning edge in battle. As in any good MOBA, understanding your opponents is vital to properly building yourself.
Controlling your dragon is also different than other MOBA games. You can move your dragon by either holding shift, or holding your right mouse button. Something that I had to get used to is that your dragon will actually take a few seconds to turn around or perform other maneuvers. This slows your ability to make split second skill shot dodges but adds a new type of strategy by forcing you to pilot more of a ship than a combatant within the MOBA genre. By using spacebar, you will fly backwards while still maintaining the same directional aim. This is useful for tactical retreats without the burden of having to deal with the slow 180 turn to return fire. Your primary attack can be fired with the left mouse button, or with the Q button on your keyboard. The rest of the skills can be activated with the W, E, R, D and F buttons. The controls resemble the usual MOBA keys, and will not confuse you at all; they are really easy to learn and memorize.
People that play League of Legends should be familiar with runes. Stones resembling them exist in Dragons & Titans to offer extra stat boosts and other beneficial aids in battle. Do not underestimate these stones, because they can be a deciding factor in close battles between equally leveled dragons. There was more than one occasion I flew away with a sliver of health that wouldn’t have existed without my stones. These power-ups can be acquired by either leveling up, or they can be bought in the shop. And these are not the only things you will find in the shop: you can also buy dragons, weapons and even different dragon skins!
When I first heard of this MOBA game, and that it was made for Facebook, I wasn’t sure what to expect. At first technical difficulties blocked me from playing and further lowered my hopes for the game. But once they got their systems together and working, I couldn’t believe how much fun I was having within a Facebook title. With so many simplistic monotonous games on Facebook, Dragons & Titans stands as an anomaly of fun and tactical gameplay. It can definitely compete with the current evolution of MOBA games, and since no download is required it is easy to start and play. Say what you want from Zynga, they might have a bad reputation but this game is a push in the right direction to rectify their past. And unlike some competitors, Dragons & Titans matches tend to not last longer than 20 minutes, ensuring you can hop in, play, and get on with your day without wasting too much time.