Dragalia Lost first impressions: Clunky, bright, and still pretty fun


Without the benefit of coming from a proven IP, Nintendo’s latest mobile effort, Dragalia Lost, seems to be trying to make up for it with a lot to learn.

Dragalia Lost isn’t really a game for casual players, but instead seems designed to reward those who keep coming back. Coming from Nintendo and Cygames, the game tells what appears to be a pretty standard JRPG story about humanity’s lost pact with dragons, and how the world is threatened as a result.

Having poured some time into the game, I will say this: it’s impressive that Nintendo has turned out distinctly different games for its first four efforts in the mobile sector of gaming, even though they share some gameplay mechanics. This one might appeal most to fans of Fire Emblem Heroes who don’t think that game’s gacha is stingy enough — or who like a little more movement and action in their RPGs.

That’s because each playable level (not all sections are playable and instead reveal story, which is nice for a while before you just want to get back to the action) actually requires you to move your main character through a dungeon and perform attacks by tapping or other gestures. You’ll need to pay attention to tons of different mechanics, including the ability to change into a dragon temporarily. The exploration aspect isn’t particularly deep in the early going, but nor is it a completely straight line from encounter to boss.

What does end up slowing the experience down are the constant short downloads of story and map chapters. Upon first opening the game, I had to wait for over one gigabyte of data, and to proceed, I’m constantly asked to download more. When there are already some pretty significant loading times to switch between all the different screens, it can quickly become frustrating to commit any length of time to the game, and I shudder for those who don’t have huge data plans.

And there are a lot of different screens, too: not only can you upgrade the characters you summon, but their weapons and accessories as well. Additionally, there’s a castle function. To be fair, Dragalia Lost introduces all of the mechanics pretty slowly and seems to expect you to figure them out on your own time.

Dragalia Lost screenshot. Image via Nintendo.

To be less fair, the summoning mechanic probably needs a rework. Although there aren’t any player-vs-player modes yet, there are raids promised by the website. A 3* character, dragon, or wyrmprint (an accessory) won’t cut it there, but the summon rate for them starts at 80 percent. If you want to make sure you at least get one 4*, you’ll have to save up to do 10 summons at once. Dragalia Lost is pretty free with its wyrmite (one type of premium currency), but it does cost 1500 wyrmite to do those 10 summons, which can take a while to build up.

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It’s hard to say if Dragalia Lost will find its niche among the surfeit of gacha games, but it at least has the benefit of not being a turn-based strategy game like the aforementioned FEH or Fate/Grand Order. At the end of the day, it’s worth a try at the very least, since it’s free to start and hands over a few 4* characters to get you started.

Draglia Lost is available on iOS and Android.