6.7 Overall Score
Old school Hack&Slash atmosphere and gameplay in your browser | Beautiful environments rich of details
Health potions can only be bought with premium currency
Drakensang Online is the first online incarnation of the Drakensang franchise, a niche RPG saga which was born back in 2009 with Drakensang: The Dark Eye. With this multiplayer version of the game, published in 2011, Bigpoint tried to bring the game's old-school RPG atmosphere and feeling online while offering a complete and well-rounded browser-based, Diablo-style Hack & Slash experience. We decided to see for ourselves why its fans like it so much and if it's actually worth it, so let's find it out together.
You can jump into the game just by filling the registration form on the official website and clicking the big shiny "play" button or even just by logging in with your Facebook account, which makes everything even faster. Once into the game you can choose one of the available characters, each one with his very own playstyle: Dragon Knight (the classic sturdy melee tank), Spellweaver (a magic damage dealer), Ranger (competent in both melee and ranged combat) and the Steam Technician (which surprisingly is not a Valve employee but a mid range fighter who uses steam machines). Once you've picked your class you will have the chance to choose the sex of your character, with the exception of the Steam Technician which is only available as a male (we wonder where they come from...) and to customize a very limited amount of details, such as hairstyle and body size/shape.
While making the first actual steps into the game you will find yourself in a very familiar Hack & Slash adventure extremely similar to popular games such as Diablo, Torchlight and Path of Exile, with a storyline to follow, quests, hordes and hordes of monster, random loot drop, things to break, fast-paced button mashing action combat and a lot more; and all this right in your browser.
Actually, by looking at a gameplay video without knowing that the game is a browser based title, we would easily believe that is a classic client based MMO as the graphics are sleek and the animations very smooth. Of course, they aren't probably on par with the most recent high-budget productions, but the game still manages to stand its ground when compared, graphic wise, with a lot of other popular MMOs.
The characters are detailed enough and well animated, the monster design is interesting, but the environments design is where the game truly shines; they are dense of small and beautiful details like grass and vegetation, small passages, light and shadows effects and interesting elements here and there which make each zone a pleasure to explore.
Although not innovative at all, the combat is extremely simple and fun enough if you like these kind of games: you use your left click to move and interact/attack enemies and your right click to use a pre-selected special ability. You can bind any skill you want on your mouse's buttons and you have your numbers keys for consumables as well. The controls are responsive and usually accurate, given that you have a good connection and manage to play without lag. We had fun playing with the ranger, kiting enemies, hitting them from afar with our skill and jumping back in the fight to finish the job. As typical in this genre, you will almost always face considerable groups of monsters which are usually killed with just a couple of blows, and this contributes to make the pace of the game always exciting and a lot less tedious than the usual MMORPGs, where you find yourself trading blows with a single enemy for several seconds.
While the sounds are probably not the best that we've heard in our experience they are usually polished enough and can help with the immersion; however, sadly some monsters' sounds and calls are just terrible.
There are two kinds of server that you can choose when starting the game: PvP and PvE. If you are new to the game we HIGHLY suggest you to start with a PvE server, unless you are looking for a really hardcore PvP experience, as it is totally possible that you will be brutally ganked over and over even just outside the first village. We tried that but we had to switch to the PvE server in order to be able to play and do our review... sigh...
Moreover, the game offers some nice features aimed to keep you interested, such as a gear upgrade system, armor dyes, a costume system which let you buy (probably only with premium currency) costumes to display over your armor, capes, mounts and pets to collect, dungeons etc. One nice thing is that Andermant (which is the premium currency) is also rarely dropped from monster, so providing that you have enough time and patience, you could probably buy premium items just by playing the game.
One thing that we didn't like at all is that the health potions (which are often the only thing between you and certain death) can only be purchased with Andermant or dropped by monster; however, the drop rate is quite low and the Andermant price is so high that it's very hard to keep up with your needs, so your chances are either: grind some levels until you are above the quests level and able to complete them without using too many potions, or buy Andermant with real money and use them to purchase potions.
Drakensang Online is a nice surprise for the Hack & Slash crowd. You will find your favourite gameplay style right in your browser, ready to be played on almost any machine. The graphics are polished, the controls smooth and there are enough features to keep you interested for a while. And if you are looking for a very hardcore experience, the game offers full PvP servers as well. However, there are some strange downsides, like the need of premium currency in order to buy health potions. Anyway, if you love the classic Diablo-style gameplay, you should definitely give it a shot. Also, if you decide to try it, take a look at the interesting leveling contest that we published some time ago, there are still 2 days left to participate!