Dragons of Atlantis: Free-To-Wait

Dragons of Atlantis is essentially just waiting for things to happen so you can... wait for more things to happen.

Free to play games always have a catch.  Maybe they were just pet projects and will not be getting updates once the creator stops enjoying doing so.  Some have their features limited for the price a subscription fee or those features are unlocked in a cash item shop.  Others, like Dragons of Atlantis, make everything take a lot of time, prevent the player from doing anything productive during that time, and let them spend cash to speed things up.

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Initially, Dragons of Atlantis looks like it could be pretty fun.  The art style is pretty nice and the factions the player gets to choose from actually have a bit of iconic difference between them, with backgrounds that sound like they actually matter to gameplay.  One faction is listed as being technologically advanced, another said to have a stronger bond with their dragons.

New players are dropped right into their first city, named whatever they like.

Don’t worry if you change your mind, you can rename it later for a modest fee.  The game has a very basic tutorial to show players how to build buildings and how to use most of those buildings once they are actually constructed.  It is all fairly basic stuff taken individually, but it might be a bit much to figure out for younger players without the hand-holding.

These basic buildings gather small amounts of resources and allow training of very basic troops.  When the player starts upgrading buildings is when the problem of time starts to become noticeable.

Most of the initial buildings do not take long to build in Whatever-You-Likesville.  The resource-gathering structures only take about fifteen seconds to put together.  Only being able to build one building at a time is not a huge deal when it takes less than a minute.  You can speed up anything in the game, but only by using cash-bought items.

Upgrading takes longer, and the increase in time increases steadily with each further upgrade.

Wanna to gather more resources with those farms?  It takes longer each upgrade.  Want better protection from your wall?  That starts at over an hour and doubles with the second upgrade.  Would you like to train better troops faster?  You get a couple of upgrades before that takes over an hour.

Speaking of troop training, this is the first place that proves truly disappointing.  The list of soldiers one can train ranges from conscripted villagers with Aztec-style weaponry (a clear reference to one of the in-game factions) to flying, fire-breathing sperm whales.  The list of troops available makes it seem fairly clear the options are identical regardless of chosen faction, and even more frustratingly the capabilities seem to be simplified down to a single number representing their power.

This makes more sense when one realizes the combat in Dragons of Atlantis is literally nothing more than giving the order to attack from the world map, waiting a minute or so, and then viewing the after-action report.

There is no visual representation of battle at all.

This is an immense shame, as much of the game’s art is actually quite good.  It would have been a nice bonus to at least be able to watch your trained troops of various types duke it out, even if the combat remained as simple as one army having a higher total power number than the other and therefore winning.

All of this combines to create an experience made up entirely of waiting so the player can wait more.  Wait to gather resources.  Wait to train soldiers.  Wait to gather more resources.  Wait for the soldiers to invade a neighboring plain.  There is literally nothing to the game except waiting for the ability to wait for slightly larger numbers of the game’s various arbitrary things.

The variety of troops in the game could be exciting, but ultimately they are all just simplified to a single number, with even the few who gain benefits against specific other types of troop not being able to shake that core one-number mechanic.

Building a fantasy empire should be more exciting than just watching numbers rise.  Even being attacked by a vastly superior force, something one can always expect in any PvP environment, is only a delay.  They take resources and kill soldiers, both of which can be recovered with time.

Dragons of Atlantis is pretty to look at, for a while.  The resource-gathering and army-building is distracting, for a while.  Expanding to neighboring territories is entertaining, for a while.  None of it is lasting satisfaction, however, and ultimately the goal is circular.  There are hints of a few more complex interactions being possible later through dragon breeding, but the game fails in the single thing it needs for that later content to matter.

I just do not want to play the game long enough for any of it to matter.  It is pretty to look at and has very few bugs, but working as intended does not make it fun.

Dragons of Atlantis: Free-To-Wait
Dragons of Atlantis is essentially just waiting for things to happen so you can... wait for more things to happen.

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Writer, gamer, and generally hopeful beneath a veneer of cynicism.