The MMO genre has expanded greatly, gathering more and more momentum and popularity as it goes along, and has produced some very worthwhile titles such as Everquest, Tabula Rasa, EVE Online, and more. Despite the many worthwhile features these games offer fans of the genre, one of the downsides is the expense that comes with being an MMO fan. There’s a large effort in time and money that comes with playing an MMO, but while the time issue may be a continued presence in the genre, the expense question is being worked on with such games as Rappelz, Guild Wars, Runescape, and others. One of the newest additions to this "come one, come all" subsection of the MMO genre is Dreamlords, created by Lockpick Entertainment to bring a free MMO experience to players all across the Internet.
There are a variety of things that make the game unique, such as the manner of in-game navigation. Where most MMOs allow for real time movement from one zone to the other, Dreamlords’ chief in-game movement interface is a large map that consists of interlocking areas that can be accessed by clicking, where you’ll be shifted into another smaller area where the player can move around with the standard mouse and keyboard controls. Each level has a particular object, usually involving the destruction of groups of enemy troops or packs of wild animals, which then pacifies the area. The player moves from area to area, clearing out each, to progress to different lands and zones across the map.
Your primary character is a being called a Dreamlord, which are evidently all similar except for a number of color patterns you can choose for them. The true distinction in the game, however, comes from the three different race types that you can select. The Covenant are crusaders of deep faith, proclaimed as protectors of the Empyrean Doctrine, and meter out punishment to those less zealous then themselves. The Nihilim are the magic users of Dreamlords and are the most cynical of the game’s three races, along with the most proficient at long range combat. The final race is the Thul, who are the big bruisers of the game and are best at close range combat and heavy damage dealing.
When the race that your Dreamlord will support is made, you will be introduced to an introductory interactive scene that will help in familiarizing the player with movement, combat, the map screen, and camera controls. The basic interaction tool in Dreamlords is the mouse, which can be used to control character and unit movement, camera direction and orientation, and selection of skills and magical abilities. While skills are subjected to a cool down period upon use, magical abilities can be used often by using Tribute to purchase the number of times you can use spells. A certain amount of Tribute is provided upon signing up, but once that initial supply is exhausted, more can be purchased from the Dreamlords store. The use of Tribute gives an edge, but it is such a large one that it should be factored into gameplay. As the game is otherwise free, however, and as 6000 units of Tribute are given, it takes a while before the supply is exhausted. The lowest amount of tribute available for purchase, 11,000 units, costs $15 USD.
The game also contains a PVP mode where you can attack territories belonging to other Dreamlords. This is accessed by selecting the tab on the upper left of the screen which then opens up the map of the PVP islands. Each island is controlled by a certain Dreamlord and the level of each island can be shown by running the mouse pointer over it. Taking over enemy territory will add to the strength of your lands but other Dreamlords can attack your lands, including the one you’ve conquered. Brute force isn’t the determining factor in this game, however, as proper planning can be just as effective.
What is most interesting, and most unique, about the game is the a wide variety of the management functions that are normal in strategy titles are conducted online. The game does have an in-game marketplace where equipment and other in game necessities can be purchased, but for things like unit management, building of structures, and assigning of research tasks, all of these are down through the web browser of your choice. While this is a radical departure from other games in this genre, it is simple and easy to use, and all these functions can be accessed at the literal click out of a button. When the player is finished, all that has to be done is to click on the task bar to resume playing the game.
The graphics are rather good from a free MMO game: they may not have the technical edge of World of Warcraft but most other MMOs that cost money do play don’t reach that plateau. What they may lack in what you might call graphical whizz-bang is made up in a variety, as each environment is altered from fight to fight. There is no voice acting in the game, as Dreamlords uses the standard MMO standby of text bubbles, but while it may not be a particularly exciting or innovative audio scheme, it does what is asked of it.
There is a lot of good things to say about Dreamlords, not only that it’s free, but also that Lockpick Entertainment has created a worthwhile gaming experience suitable for both experienced and beginning MMO players. Best of all, though, it’s free to all.