Fancy winning yourself an access key to the Dragon Age: Legends closed beta? Well listen up. TheSixthAxis has two codes to give away to our readers, one of which will be posted here tonight at 8PM, and the other at 10PM. Note that a Facebook account is required to play Dragon Age: Legends, and once the code has been activated, it would be much appreciated if our winners let us know in the comments section below. Good luck.
Dragon Age: Legends, the successor to 2009’s Dragon Age Journeys, is a turn-based RPG set in BioWare’s grim fantasy universe, soon to be available publicly via social networking platform Facebook. This isn’t the first time a big name in the gaming realm has received the social-app treatment; last year Ubisoft developed Assassin’s Creed: Project Legacy, a unique resource-based sim, and though its primary function was to promote 2010 Game of the Year runner-up Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood, it has actually captured an audience of its own and has continued to expand.
[boxout] In DA: Legends, players create their own warrior, rogue, or mage, embarking on a standalone adventure through the blighted fictional land of Ferelden. The game is presented as a single path dotted with checkpoints which the player has to travel between. Each checkpoint has its own instance, usually being item discoveries or small skirmishes; a number of these are chained together to form quests which offer additional items and gold upon completion.Though the ever-winding path does branch off on occasion, the game feels incredibly linear; however, Dragon Age: Legends is intended for five-minute bursts of play, so the design actually suits it perfectly.
Triggering an instance will use up energy points, and once they have all been spent, players will have to wait in real-time for them to recharge, each point usually taking four to five minutes. It works in a similar fashion to the ally and craft mechanics which also feature in Dragon Age: Legends. When players aren’t in battle or scavenging for loot, they can return to their castle; a compound of workshops and other facilities which can be upgraded and used to produce items such as health and mana boosts.
As mentioned before, combat in Dragon Age: Legends follows a turn-based schematic which most gamers will be familiar with. Before battles commence, you have the option to summon one of several supporting characters, which is recommended, especially when fighting multiple waves of enemies. Once the fight has been concluded however, your companions will tire out, prompting you to wait a couple of hours before marching back into the heat of combat.
An initiative bar is always displayed at the bottom centre of the screen, clearly outlining when each combatant gets their turn. The player assumes direct control of all party members and when active, they can decide to either attack, defend or use an ability/item. When it’s the players turn, highlighting either an enemy or ally with the mouse will make a wheel appear around them, depicting which actions are available and what the result of that action will be. Battles are usually staged in two or three continuous tiers, so keeping an eye on your party’s health and mana will need to become second nature. If the main character dies in combat, you are warped out of the instance, and have the chance to play again, though the energy cost will not have been returned and allies who fought alongside you will be exhausted.
As you progress through Legend so will your character, and after massing experience and gold, you can afford to buy luxury equipment and expand your castle. Levelling up also unlocks new abilities which can be used in battle, and there are plenty to choose from, making combat increasingly diverse, and ultimately more engaging.
One issue that will occur frequently is EA’s shoehorning of premium content. Aside from having a stock of gold coins, there is also a separate currency called Crowns which can be used for a variety of beneficial perks (such as reduced waiting times) but there is a catch. 200 Crowns, which is just enough to buy you a pretty level 9 weapon, will set you back five dollars, 900 Crowns being priced at twenty.
After the first ten-minute hurdle, Dragon Age: Legends folds out into brilliant game, ideal for Facebook fanatics who have a few moments to spare each day to kick some Darkspawn hides. The combat is simplistic, yet offering enough depth for RPG veterans, and the crafting/management mechanics are brilliantly implemented. However, EA’s attempt to pocket some cash from Dragon Age: Legends damages the overall experience, feeling more like a hindrance instead of legitimate luxury access.
With Dragon Age being such a hardcore gaming title, especially among the PC crowd, bringing the franchise to a social platform will be an interesting experiment, and hopefully the game will continue to grow over the coming months.