Early Look @ Fight The Dragon

We recently had the opportunity to play Fight The Dragon, an action RPG in which players explore short dungeons, hacking and slashing their way through the various monsters, puzzles and traps in an attempt to reach the end, acquiring loot along the way. Whilst on first glance Fight The Dragon might appear to be yet another action RPG, it’s not quite like other games in its genre as it offers some new and interesting elements.

It’s worth noting that I played through an Early Access version of Fight The Dragon together with Lachrymosity. The game was still a little rough around its edges, but was very playable and gave us a good impression of what we can expect in the future. We had a fairly good time with it, though there were a few things we’d definitely change for the final version. But I’ll delve into those things as we go through the game and its mechanics.

Adventures in Fight The Dragon are all fairly short – averaging around 10 to 15 minutes per adventure and can be played in virtually any order. Players have a fair number of adventures to choose from at any given time. There’s a constant sense of progression, and you never feel like you’re stuck in some endless dungeon with no end in sight. As such, Fight The Dragon is far less like a grind than other games in its genre and is incredibly easy to play in small bursts or shorter sessions.

Fight The Dragon supports up to 4 player online drop-in co-op, both over LAN and Internet. In addition, the game also supports local drop-in split screen co-op, for those who like sitting together at the same computer. You’re able to customise your character and apply different skins, heads, hair styles and much more. This feature didn’t function yet in our version, so we’re unable to tell you how far this goes.

Fight The Dragon

Loot! All the shiny things.

Fight The Dragon uses a procedural loot system allowing players to fine tune their equipment to enhance specific character abilities. This means the game will never run out of loot, no matter what level you are. During our play sessions we really didn’t find all that much loot, or rather, it was all the same stuff. Our characters had a number of equipment slots available, but over 80% of the items were weapons, mostly inferior to what we already used. We found a couple of shields and a grand total of 1 other item (gloves) in our many hours playing together, between the two of us. This was a little disappointing, but we’re guessing that this aspect of the game is not finished yet.

The loot itself was a little underwhelming too – the UI for equipment is at the present extremely poor and the sorting barely works. Dropping an item occasionally causes all your items to shift down, forcing you to close your inventory and re-open it before you can drop something else. This can make inventory management extremely tedious. Equipment is presented in a long column only 1 item wide, and any items which don’t fit on the screen are pretty much unusable in the current build. Definitely not finished yet. We also couldn’t find a way to sell our items, even though there is a value attached to them and you constantly collect gold in the adventures. A pity as we couldn’t get a good sense of what the progression will be like as a result.

Fight The Dragon

Pew Pew Pew. Hack and Slash at its finest.

The adventures themselves were reasonably good fun – they felt like going through an old-school dungeon most of the time. The movement and combat feels a little sluggish at the present and still needs some work to flow a bit more smoothly. Button combinations for controllers especially were a bit awkward, but controlling the game with keyboard and mouse was virtually impossible. One major gripe, at least from myself, was that most adventures have ‘edges’ that you can fall off, causing you to lose a life instantly. This by itself wouldn’t be so bad if it were not for the fact that in co-op you cannot occupy the same square. This means if you climb some stairs together or go through another awkward area, you can push each other off edges, into lava, off the map altogether, etc. Fighting in close quarters on some maps can be extremely problematic as a result. I can only guess how frustrating that would be in 4 player co-op.

According to the official website, as heroes complete adventures and reach milestones, they earn tickets that allow them to go “Fight The Dragon” in the ultimate dragon battle arena. Every player has their own dragon to fight, and each dragon has a ton of hitpoints, so killing your dragon will require many encounters and a lot of skill. The damage you do to your dragon is persistent between play sessions, so collect as many tickets as you can and go battle it out.

Fight The Dragon

Dragons? Sign me up!

Another aspect we didn’t get to try out was the ability to create your own dungeons using the ACK (Adventure Construction Kit) which allows players to design,  play and share their own adventures with other players on all platforms around the world. Creators are able to sculpt and paint environments, place props, enemies, NPCs, checkpoints and other key game elements.

Adventure creators will receive analytics for their published adventures, from actual annotated play-through data to general player stats and information (plays, deaths, time taken, etc).

All in all, the game was reasonably good fun to play and has a ton of potential. If some of the flaws are worked out, and the game-play is made to feel a little more ‘smooth’ and ‘punchy,’ this could be a fantastic title to kill short sessions of time with, especially with a friend. Add the ACK on top of this, and developer 3 Sprockets really do have a recipe for success in their hands. Let’s hope they manage to deliver a polished final product – it’s certainly one this author looks forward to with great hope.

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the author

Managing Editor of ManaPool, Peter lives in York, UK and is a great fan and master of turn-based strategy games. If he isn't playing one of those, you'll probably find him in a role-playing game instead. He's definitely not afraid to provide a straight up opinion on any game and has a strong like for indie developers. We all start small, after all.