Battle Dragons is your standard free to play mobile game with the option to buy in-game currency with real world money. So what makes Battle Dragons worth playing in an environment drowning in free to play games? Dragons, for some, is a good start. If it wasn’t obvious enough, there are dragons in this game. You must take you fledgling dragon village from its humble beginnings to a mighty empire. Strategy is the core of the gameplay, every building you place and where you place it must be taken into proper consideration. Why? Other upstart empires will attack yours, just as you must attack theirs. Every player is tasked with raising an army that can penetrate the walls and towers defending other players’ empires.
Your army has a wide variety of dragons available, each with their own favorite target and damage output. Spitters have a ranged attack, but have not favorite target while crushers will always try to target defenses first, but attack at close range. Composing an army that can handle various defensive placements while surviving long enough to destroy everything can be difficult at first as you learn the basics of combat. You choose where and how many troops will deploy. A single tap deploys a single unit and holding your finger will continue to deploy troops as long as you hold it. You can select the specific unit you’d like to deploy, but keep in mind that deploying all of your units at once can prove disastrous. There is a single player campaign that slowly teaches you the basics of gameplay and can offer a nice way to try breaching different defensive formations, the the campaign itself offers essentially no narrative, but keep in mind that this is still a free to play mobile game.
You can also deploy dragon towers that will defend your base from attack. These towers can focus single units, fire over long range, or attack groups with splash damage. Deploying walls is also important since they can offer crucial time needed for your towers to weaken attacking armies. Placement of your buildings will play a massive role in how you place walls as you have to decide what is most important to protect. Is it better to keep my towers alive longer by sacrificing my other buildings or can my towers hold out long enough that I don’t have to lose gold or sheep, the game’s two major currencies. Attacking players will pillage a set amount of your gold and sheep when they attack and these buildings will require some time to rebuild before they produce resources again. A nice feature is the skirmish mode in which you can send your army at your own base without losing units or resources. This is a great way to test your fortification and see where you can improve. You can also view other players and learn some creative new ways to set up your own defenses. You can even join or start your own tribe with other players who can, in turn, provide extra defense for your small empire and increase efficiency as well,
The gold and sheep you gather are used to build your army and upgrade your buildings. Upgrades offer greater yield on resources, new units to be trained, improvements to units you have, and many other benefits. These upgrades are quick at first, but soon you’ll be waiting days for them to finish…literally…days. Enter real world money. You can use your hard earned dollars to purchase pearls, pearls which can speed up construction and upgrades, purchase more builders, and refill resource reserves. Of course you don’t need to purchase them, but it starts to look awfully tantalizing when you have several buildings taking 48 hours to complete. You get a small reserve of pearls when you start the game, but the tutorial actively tells you to use them, as if to force you to purchase more. You can’t completely hate on them though, this is where they make their money, plus you can get a very small amount of pearls from completing achievements in game.
Battle Dragons has an colorful cartoony look to it, but it also has a sort of kid feel to it that will probably turn off older gamers. Buildings have an almost Imperial Chinese look to them and it works, plus the dragons all have their own styling making each well defined and easy to pick out of a crowd. The music is loud and actually kind of annoying, and the sound effects are pretty bad, sometimes comically so. Luckily both can be turned off in the game’s menus. There is also an option to run the game in a power saving mode, most useful in older phones since it will lower the framerate, but will likely prove unnecessary in most modern phones.
Battle Dragons is a lot of things, but the most apparent is free to play. For some, that is okay, but gamers like myself will continue to be frustrated by the limitations that imposes in the mobile space. This isn’t the game to change your mind if you absolutely hate mobile games, but it also doesn’t do anything particularly bad, something that you can point to and say “this is what is wrong with mobile games”…well aside from the free to play stuff. If you want a game that you can check on a few times a day for a few minutes at a time, but want the game to be at least somewhat enjoyable, Battle Dragons should be that game.