When it comes to mobile games, it can sometimes be difficult to discern what’s worth investing time into and what’s just going to waste it. It doesn’t matter whether you’re using Android, iOS, or anything else, the fact of the matter is that there’s dozens of games (if not more) that simply won’t do it for you to every single one that will—and sorting through the chaff can be an arduous process.
Thankfully, sometimes there’s an obvious choice to recommend to folks. If you’re a fan of games like Granblue Fantasy, Fire Emblem, or just Nintendo stuff in general, Dragalia Lost is the game for you.
Dragalia Lost is a smartphone-based mobile role-playing game centered around founding a new fantasy nation based in large part on pre-existing “gacha” mechanics. “Gacha,” if you’re somehow not familiar, is being used here as shorthand for “pay money for virtual currency which you then spend to play the virtual lottery to earn characters and the like from a shifting prize pool.” That might sound awful to anyone unfamiliar, but there’s been reports in the past that Dragalia Lost is explicitly unlike others of its ilk.
Despite the number of menus and screens required to navigate from one part of the game to another, actually playing is relatively straightforward. Players must first put together a team of four characters, equip them with dragons, weapons, and wyrmprints (cards that basically enhance skills). Once they’ve got a team together, regardless of how well-equipped it is, players can take on a variety of event maps or attempt to progress through the story missions. More of each unlock as players progress, so those available to them should generally be of an appropriate level.
Players then must guide those teams through a map filled with enemies and obstacles while tapping to instruct them to attack, use skills, or transform into their respective dragons. It’s very much a top-down 3D action role-playing game in that small models of characters are actually running around the map and hitting each other, so be prepared to be actively involved in combat if you’re familiar with other mobile games that don’t require as active a presence from their players.
Dragalia Lost is notably the first original IP from Nintendo for mobile devices. It’s not the first mobile title from Nintendo; Miitomo holds that dubious honor with other titles like Fire Emblem Heroes and Super Mario Run coming later. But the fact remains that being an original IP makes Dragalia Lost interesting, especially because of how late to the market Nintendo was when it comes to smartphones, but also because it was developed in collaboration with Cygames.
If you’re at all familiar with the work of Cygames, it should be immediately apparent that the company is behind Dragalia Lost. Much of the game’s mechanics and user interface is more or less cobbled together from Cygame’s other popular gacha title, Granblue Fantasy. And like Granblue Fantasy, the game features dozens of characters, each of which have their own story to tell in addition to the regular storyline presented in the game. Add to that event stories, dragon stories, and so on, and it should be clear that there’s a lot to do and see. And best of all? The majority of them are clever, full of endearing writing and characterization. There’s a lot to love about the little cogs that make Dragalia Lost run.
But you might be wondering, why start playing Dragalia Lost now? You might think, the game was released in late 2018, after all, kind of weird to be suggesting folks start playing over six months later. Normally, you’d be right! But there’s one big change that’s been made to Dragalia Lost that fundamentally altered how the game is played—both for new and returning players.
Starting April 26th, Dragalia Lost removed the aforementioned wyrmprints from the premium draw. Instead, they are now available using a different currency, eldwater, that players earn through various other (largely free) methods. Players will also be able to earn wyrmprints simply through playing the game like other items and weapons.
While this might sound like a simple change, it completely reconfigures the game. These sort of games live and die on the quality of pulls from their premium draw, and a major criticism of Dragalia Lost has long been the fact that wyrmprints added a third, mostly useless type of prize to the pool. Dragons and characters are considered much better, and even then, players can draw duplicates. Removing the 33% least useful part of the potential pulls is anything but inconsequential.
In short, players now pull more of what they actually want rather than feeling like they’ve wasted that premium currency, even if the quality remains mostly the same otherwise. That said, when the quality of characters and story is as good as Dragalia Lost, that marks a huge improvement overall. If you're not already playing, you're missing out.