Over the last two weeks I've spent a lot of time exploring SOE's latest world in the free-to-play action MMORPG, Dragon's Prophet. I won't deny that I've thoroughly enjoyed my experience thus far but I do have a few concerns. Mainly the complete lack of players anywhere in my starting zone.
I'm playing with a few friends but since starting we've encountered maybe 5 other players, and we've just hit level 19. Out of those 5 players 4 were attempting to steal a boss we were fighting and the last player simply flew overhead. Although the game has many positive features there's a serious issue casting a deadly shadow, Station Cash.
Station Cash is the premium item mall currency used in all Sony Online Entertainment's titles but most of the time it's not too intrusive and not victim to a pay-to-win approach. However they appear to have thrown that approach over the edge of a cliff with the launch of Dragon's Prophet as you need Station Cash to do practically anything.
The main selling point of the game is the ability to capture, train and fight alongside hundreds of unique dragons, but unless you're willing to invest Station Cash you can only hold 4-5. Crafting is ridiculous and extremely overwhelming, presenting players with literally dozens of crafting items; even in the early levels. These items quickly take up your inventory and bank space, both of which require Station Cash to improve (outside a small gift received as you reach a certain level).
The heavy influence of Station Cash can be seen throughout the entire game. Want to add more slots to improve your weapon or armor stats? Station Cash. Want to make your crafting more lucrative with rarer items? Station Cash. Want to gain access to mastery trees before anyone else? Well, you get the idea.
There's still time to change things but currently, Dragon's Prophet is going to struggle maintaining a decent sized player base. Despite it's fun combat mechanics, unique pet features and extensive customization options, people don't like being tricked into a free-to-play title.
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