50 MMOs in 50 Days #13: Drakensang Online

Last played: 2011
Experience: Very Minimal

Some games make an attempt to stand out by doing one thing different from the rest, like having wings or dragons you can ride. Even if you’ve tried and quit them, that one thing sticks with you.

Other games may not have that one hook but can get by on a pre-existing fan base. Star Wars: The Old Republic, Star Trek Online, and even sequels like Guild Wars 2 and EverQuest II can subsist mostly on players who mostly know what they’re getting. That’s their hook.

Then there’s Drakensang Online, which was pitched to me as a continuation of the epic Drakensang series. Unfortunately, I’d never heard of Drakensang. Apparently, it’s really huge in Germany. (Then again, so was David Hasselhoff… in 1989.) And, seeing how Bigpoint is based in Germany, it makes sense for them to try and leverage that fan base to create an MMO.

It’s something we see a lot with Asian companies, taking some immensely popular property and introducing it to the West, only to see it fail to take hold outside of its native environment. It’s a little odd to see the same thing happen with a European game and company, though.

DrakensangDrakensang Online is your typical ARPG, with the usual fantasy elements, questing, and loot you expect from a Diablo-style game. I’m not the most experienced ARPG player, putting it lightly, but I seem to recall that it seemed a little less user-friendly than most that I’ve played. Maybe that was because I was playing during beta, maybe it’s because translations weren’t polished… I didn’t hate the game, per se, but I just didn’t find anything I liked.

And that’s the risk you take whenever you produce a game that doesn’t have a major hook, whether that be a unique style of gameplay or some popular license to draw people in. It’s understandable why games do go out of their way to promote That One Thing they do differently, even if the rest of the game is drab – it’s all they’ve got.

Bigpoint claims to have 17 million registered accounts for Drakensang Online, though I’d wager that the vast majority of those are in Europe, where the Drakensang property is much better known. Like most Bigpoint games, it’s browser-based, pretty to look at, and unashamedly pay-to-win. If you really want to play a fantasy ARPG… well, go over here instead. Unless you’re a big Drakensang fan from Germany, I guess.

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