Because you gotta keep players busy and bustling!
This post is part of a series on the mobile action RPG by Nintendo and Cygames, Dragalia Lost. For additional context, please read the earlier installments of this series.
Natalie Rambles About Dragalia Lost:
Chapter 1: Story and Aesthetics
Chapter 2: Systems, Gameplay, and Progression
Chapter 3: Quests, Events, and Endgame
Chapter 4: Summoning, Monetization, and Gacha
Chapter 5: Love, Loss, and Gripes
Chapter 6: Dragalia Digest and Developments
Note: This post was finalized on September 14th, 2020. Any changes to the systems, mechanics, and so forth announced or implemented after this date are not reflected in Chapters 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5.
Chapter 3-1: A Dilly Daily
As a gacha mobile RPG, the daily loop for the typical player in Dragalia Lost is what you would expect. Log in, get a small bonus, do daily quests, and complete daily rewards— doing your dailies at the kids like to say. Once that is taken care of, players are expected to spend their remaining reserve of stamina and getherwings on three things. Furthering along their progression by completing new quests and advancing in the story. Partaking in the ongoing special events in the game. And finally, accumulating valuable materials that will help them progress in the game, as you’re going to need a LOT of materials.
To provide some definitions, stamina is an auto-replenishing resource spent whenever the player partakes in single-player content and getherwings are much the same, but for co-op multiplayer content. Both serve the same basic goal of keeping the player coming back to the game and making them wait, causing Dragalia, and many games like it, to be gradual and persistent parts of one’s day, where players are intended to poke and play it in small bursts periodically. Or else they are just wasting a resource with a very clear maximum capacity and not getting more potential resources by clearing quests.
But before talking about regular quests, I would first like to talk about events.
Chapter 3-2: Events on the Horizon
Events are time-limited content bearing its own story, quests, and materials that the player accumulates over the span of several days, or even weeks, in order to obtain valuable resources, and diversify their experience in general. Events are typically the primary objective for players after they complete their dailies, as they offer elusive rewards and resources in exchange for playing the corresponding quests.
As to be expected, events come in a variety of flavors, but the general purpose and activities remain the same. Each event is attuned to a certain element and involves putting the player through a repeated cycle of quests they complete several times in order to obtain otherwise elusive resources, and perhaps some permanent boons that can help them with their path of progression
Raid Events are driven by co-op boss battles between four teams of four adventurers and a large and imposing foe in a variety of remixed encounters of varying difficulty. All in exchange for Emblems that unlock rewards once the player has a set amount, Blazons tickets that are used as part of raffles that grant players various materials, and a permanent addition to one’s team. Older events and their revived renditions offered an exclusive 4-star adventurer and a kinda crappy 5-star event welfare Max Unbound dragon. But newer events instead only offer an exclusive 5-star adventurer and items used to max out their Mana Circle all the way to 50.
When playing these events, players engage in a reward loop with a handful of quests to max out their emblem rewards for the event’s duration and obtain Blazons continuously. All of which is a fairly simple process that you can reduce to a few bullet points.
- Use stamina to embark on Boss Battles to earn bronze emblems and Otherworld Fragments.
- Use getherwings and Otherworldly Fragments to partake in Raid Battles in exchange for silver and gold emblems and (sometimes) Otherworld Gems.
- Use Otherworld Gems (but not Getherwings) to play EX/Extra Raid Battles to receive oodles of gold emblems.
- And on a daily basis, use Otherworld Fragments and getherwings to play Nightmare/Ultra Raid Battles to snag bronze, silver, and gold emblems, along with a randomized sampler of rare upgrade materials
Raid events themselves and the battles that players engage with while playing them, are perfectly fine and have the potential for fun, but in order to make the events welcoming to players of all skill levels, the battles in these events only last a few seconds in most cases. This is true from the beginning of most events to the end, regardless of whether or not veteran players have accumulated Raid Boosts, which boost adventurer stats and give them extra passive abilities during battle.
All the elements are there to make Raid Battles engaging and fun, but for the most part, it is a fairly mindless grind. You can admittedly handicap your team if you so choose, but so long as you are playing with other players, you aren’t going to see much of whatever fight regular Raid Battles offer… but there are two exceptions. You can turn the regular Raid Battles into substantial fights by starting the quest in a private lobby and embarking without anyone joining up, allowing players to solo content intended for four teams.
There are also Omega difficulty renditions of these Raid Bosses, but players only have a reason to clear these battles a single time. As opposed to the regular Raid Battles, which the game wants players to clear 25 times before the event concludes.
Facility Events have players hop between single-player quests in order to amass three core things: Event-exclusive materials that can be exchanged for resources at the event Treasure Trade. Reward points that distribute goodies when the player reaches predetermined thresholds, with the max being 1 million. And, most importantly, materials used to upgrade the event’s corresponding facility, which not only grants a permanent boost to the HP and strength of certain adventurers, but it also grants the player’s party the ability to deal extra damage to enemies within this event.
The gameplay loop of these events involves playing Boss Battles to accumulate facility materials, and after 1 to 3 runs, players will unlock the ability to play an EX/Extra Boss Battle. These EX battles can only be played through once at a time, but do not cost any stamina, and are a vital part to accumulating facility leveling materials at a rapid pace, along with a decent amount of reward points and other event-exclusive materials.
Once the player has built their facility to a set level, they unlock the ability to partake in Challenge Battles, where they fight against 5 waves of enemies in exchange for reward points and more event-exclusive materials. Thereby showering them with a deluge of rewards not readily obtainable outside of events.
It, not unlike raid events, is a grindy cycle that encourages players to repeat content for rewards, but with two core differences. One is that players can minimize their time in events through the use of special wyrmprints that are often distributed as part of the event. These wyrmprints boost the number of facility materials and reward points players obtain by completing quests, and when used effectively and on all party members, allow them to go through this content relatively quickly, while still earning enough event-exclusive materials to get the most coveted rewards.
In regards to what the player actually does, the encounters themselves are not particularly interesting, and once players are well beyond the Might recommendation, they can fairly safely auto their way through these quests while the game players at 2.0x speed. But until they get to that point, the battles can constitute a decent challenge, as players need to maneuver around a small room filled with spawning enemies with AI companions who lack the awareness of the typical player, all while being handicapped by the likely un-upgraded wyrmprints they are equipped with. It is a challenge for players to overcome on their lonesome, and unlike raid events, they cannot rely on the Might of other players to steamroll any threat within seconds. Well, outside of Boss Battles, which you can technically play via co-op, but… nobody bothers to do so.
Raid and facility are the primary flavors of events, and while the game has its own designations for other events, I personally lump them into two other categories. Collab events and glory events. Collab events are where Dragalia Lost crosses over with another intellectual property, such as Fire Emblem, Mega Man, and Monster Hunter, which tend to be some mismatch of Raid and Facility events with their own intended loop of quests, all of which have been different than the last. As such, I will not detail them in this post, Meanwhile, glory events are a new style of event that started cropping up with Nadine and Linnea’s United Front in June 2020, which are not technically called glory events, but I believe it is a perfectly valid designation.
Glory Events heavily recycle existing assets and content and guide players through a series of quests where they amass Glory points and Primal Crystals that can be exchanged at the event Treasure Trade. During this process, players are adorned with oodles of stamina items, and by the end, assuming their Might is high enough, their time with the event is spent partaking in a loop of a Master level quests and EX quests. All with the end goals of maxing out their Glory points to 2 million, earn enough Primal Crystals to empty out the Treasure Trade, and complete all the event endeavors.
They’re basically facility events without the facilities and associated boosts, and with different gameplay stylings that are officially used as the official names of these events: onslaught events and defensive events. Despite whatever the names might imply, both of these events sprinkle in smaller encounters against waves of enemies as filler for the ‘main’ quests.
Onslaught Events are battles where the player is shapeshifted into their dragon form and (either as a single unit or as a team of four dragons) must fight off against waves of enemies. It is a notable cosmetic change from controlling adventurers, and there is a certain novelty to playing as these dragons for a prolonged period of time. However, the dragon movesets are considerably limited, with each only possessing a basic 3-hit combo and a single skill, so there is not much that players can do other than dodge, attack, and charge up their skills.
Defensive Events task the player, or players, to run about a set map with the goal of protecting their base, or rather gate, from waves of spawning enemies, and possibly dealing with secondary mechanics, such as houses that are attacked and drawbridges that must be lowered. They are definitely the most different sort of gameplay seen in Dragalia Lost, tasking players with scouring a map in order to keep multiple mobs at bay, giving them a task more complex than their own survival, and while some think these events are lacking, I personally really enjoy them. They’re frantic, can be demanding, and while they are all very procedural, requiring players to do a very specific set of tasks, they have enough complexity and demand enough attention that I appreciated them on two levels.
I appreciate them as cooperative challenges, where players must band together, learn the fight, and split up, with each fulfilling a role and keeping specific mobs at bay in order to complete the quest as quickly and with as many bonuses as possible. But I also appreciate them as single-player challenges, as it puts a lot more agency on the player and their decisions. While it does take more research, time, and experimentation to clear these quests when playing solo, I enjoyed being able to push my management skills and team building to their limits and being rewarded for my expedient performance. It actually makes me wish these events were more common or fleshed out, as there are currently only two “real” maps despite there having been a total of four defensive events. I get that new maps take time to make, especially given how lush the environments are in Dragalia… but it would be nice if the devs at least remixed the maps a bit with new spawn locations or geometry. I like both maps, they’re great, but I went through each at least 75 gosh darn times at this point…
Overall, the events are a sort of microcosm of the same quest/reward/power gameplay loop that Dragalia Lost itself is founded on, and while I could criticize them for being very formulaic in their structure and gameplay, I do ultimately look forward to what every event will bring. From the new story that is placed front and center to the oodles of rewards, and the thrill of seeing something different. Events are the lifeblood of just about every gacha game or persistent live service like this, and while some things could be done better, I ultimately enjoy the staple of events Dragalia Lost has developed. They’re fun, the stories have been getting increasingly better, and they are celebrations in their own right, as players are rewarded with oodles upon oodles of goodies.
Chapter 3-3: Actually, Everything is an Event
So, you know how I just described the main types of events seen in Dragalia Lost? Well, in doing so I may have been misleading, because, based on the main quest menu, everything aside from the main campaign in Dragalia Lost is considered an event. However, the word event, at least in the world of gacha games, does not refer to a permanent fixture. It refers to something temporary, designed to keep players active, and different from the permanent content.
This is a point of confusion that dates back from this game’s first year, where its quests were segregated between the campaign and events via different screens, and rather than updating or relabelling these quests, the developers have stuck with the existing terminology. It is ultimately a minor issue, as anybody who I talk to about events could assuredly figure out that I actually mean “Limited Events,” but it is a particular bugbear of mine.
Chapter 3-4: The Permanent Events
So, I described what the time-limited content of Dragalia Lost is, but beyond that, what does one do on a daily basis, specifically? Well, apropos of a brief descriptor, here is what one does in every one of the little boxes lined up on the main Quest menu.
Avenue to Power: A wave-based quest against enemies that drop level up materials for adventurers, dragons, and weapons.
Avenue to Fortune: A simple map-based quest against enemies that drop a liberal amount of Rupies, which are used for constructing facilities, crafting weapons, and buying things at the in-game shop.
Elemental Ruins: A simple map-based quest with elemental hazards and enemies that grants players elemental orbs that upgrade adventurers and facilities, and some basic weapon crafting materials.
Dragon Trials: Boss battles against the five story-relevant dragons, the Greatwyrms, who drop dragon level up materials, dragon scales that upgrade adventurers and facilities, and dragon spheres that are used to get duplicates of the Greatwyrms and upgrade facilities.
Imperial Onslaught: Battles against a wave of enemies before a boss enemy appears, while avoiding hazards unique to each element. Each of which drops its own assortment of materials for crafting core elemental weapons and upgrading weapon-based facilities known as dojos.
Mercurial Gauntlet: A DPS test that asks players to defeat a stationary enemy that occasionally attacks teams within a set amount of time. Each successful clear unlocks a higher level with a girthier target and provides players with both immediate rewards and a more plentiful treasure trove of Rupies, Eldwater, and crafting materials on the 15th of every month. Unlike other quests, this is not meant to be repeated or grinded, and should only be visited as players reach DPS milestones and wish to test their might.
Astral Raids: Co-op battles where the player’s team and the teams of three other players band together to fight bosses from former raid events. These are available during weekends when there is no ongoing raid event and mostly exist as a way for players to get a periodic uptick in various upgrade materials along with augments, which are semi-permanent boosts to the HP and strength of adventurers and wyrmprints. For most players, they are a very minor occurrence that can be taken care of in five minutes but remain part of Dragalia’s game loop as these quests grant players access to augments that boost the HP and strength, which are always appreciated.
Void Battles: This serves as the mid-game of Dragalia Lost and is a series of boss battles that is predicated around a weapon-based progression system. However, due to how weapons were handled throughout the life of Dragalia Lost, the system does not really work as intended, and Void Battles in general mostly serve as a place for players to grind for a laundry list of materials. Augments, Rupies, tier 4 elemental orbs, void materials used for Mana Spirals, void materials for a bunch of other things, and the materials that lead them to create Chimera weapons.
Still, the battles within these encounters are frequently interesting, feature unique mechanics, and have a novelty to them that I appreciated, in addition to serving as an invaluable stepping stone for players in order for them to get used to and accustomed with what is asked of them from the endgame content, as the bosses have more aggressive attack patterns, and many mechanics overlap with those seen in High Dragon Trials.
Event Compendium: While the vast majority of events are only held on a limited basis, several facility events in Dragalia Lost have been revived and added to a pool of permanently accessible and downloadable events that the player can enjoy in their entirety. This includes the story, rewards, wyrmprints, and facilities that were originally distributed, albeit with some slight modifications. I highly recommend that new players check out these events, as they offer a collection of decent wyrmprints, Wyrmite that can be used for summoning, materials that can be otherwise hard to come by, and a facility that can provide a substantial boost to a team’s Might, even fairly early on in the game, and even when it is only upgraded by a few levels.
I honestly love the events Compendium, and my only real qualm with it is how limited its scope is, but I will get to my hopes and dreams for this section of the game in Chapter 5-4.
High Dragon Trials and The Agito Uprising: These are both MMO raid style bosses that represent the endgame for Dragalia Lost and while my thoughts on every other permanent quest category are fairly self-explanatory (you do ‘em, get stuff, and that’s mondo kewlzies), these both deserve their own individual sections.
Chapter 3-5: The Pedestal of the High Dragons
High Dragon Trials, or HDT, or Advanced Dragon Trials as the Quest menu calls it, represented the endgame for the first year or so in Dragalia Lost and serve as daunting battles where a team of four must battle against super versions of the dragons seen in the regular Dragon Trials, but more aggressive, daunting, and capable of whooping the butts of under-prepared adventurers.
Conceptually, I think these are a great idea, something for players to test themselves and utilize their accumulated Might by facing off an imposing and foreboding enemy who requests that players understand the mechanics at an intimate level… but I really don’t think they were handled or designed especially well. Now, a lot of the reason I say this can be attributed to the simple fact that Cygames designed High Dragon Trials around co-op, and many of the mechanics do not work as well when soloing these Trials.
This really was not much of an issue until this point, but the AI in Dragalia has flashes of both brilliance where adventurers avoid threats at the last moment, and instances where it gets confused, and decides to walk through a clearly conveyed beam of death because they want to keep attacking the enemy. This is not a huge deal in the campaign or in most other content, as the attack patterns are fairly simple, damage numbers are low, and most wounds can be addressed by a healer. But once you get into High Dragon Trials, one-hit KOs become commonplace. And even after the fights have been rebalanced, even when equipping everybody with a MUB level 100 Wyrmprints that resist 25% of all damage done by the corresponding High Dragon, this remains true.
In my own efforts, and by looking over what players have done, there are three primary ways that players go about solo clearing this content. Switch throughout the party during the battle to get all characters in their proper position at the proper time. Create a team that is so rich with buffs and healing that they can tank just about anything. Or maximize their damage so they can clear the boss battle within 1.5 or 2 minutes, which is typically the time when the High Dragons enter a new and harder phase.
Now, the natural alternative to this is just to play these Trials via co-op, as the developers probably originally intended. And when co-op works as intended, and all players know what they’re doing, it feels like being part of an SSSR-Murder-Boy-Hit-Squad. You go in, follow the patterns, and lay a vicious beat down on the scaley demi-god before they explode into chests of goodies rife for the pillaging. But while up to this point the players of Dragalia Lost tend to have enough information and understanding of boss mechanics to figure out the ideal strategy while fighting them, this is not true when dancing with the High Dragons. Their patterns are on a level beyond anything seen before in this game and require labbing and research before most players can surmount them.
One player not knowing what they’re doing can easily cause a run to end in failure. And while failure in these fights is completely understandable due to their complexity and an often low tolerance for error (bosses deal big damages with big ranges), it does not necessarily add to the experience.
When somebody else on your team is the problem, it is tiresome, as somebody else is not doing their job effectively, and they are wasting your time as a result. When you are the problem amongst your team, it sucks because everybody else needs to carry you, and if your team fails the quest, then it is your fault. When everybody is screwing up… then it’s actually really fun, because you are all just fumbling and learning bit by bit, and may or may not achieve victory before people start getting fed up and bouncing, leaving nobody with any reward. But at least some experience to help them achieve future victories.
Because of how inconsistent co-op can be (at least when relying on public lobbies), I found myself preferring to solo the High Dragon Trials instead. It is faster, your success and failure rest either on you or the party AI, and there is a greater sense of accomplishment that comes with each victory, as you did not need to rely on anyone to help you beat these devil-scented lizard-folk into submission. However, soloing also damn near requires that players have an ample amount of cumulative Might, and the recommended amount far exceeds whatever the requirement is.
Personally, I would recommend that players do not so much as look at the High Dragon Trials until after they cleared everything in the Void Battles, on both Standard and Expert difficulties, have crafted tier 2 Chimera weapons, and have obtained Max Unbound High Dragon Resist Wyrmprints, which are available via the Imperial Onslaught Treasure Trade. At this point, the player’s team should have a cumulative Might of somewhere around 17,000 – 20,000, which should be enough to start going through the various difficulties of the High Dragon Trials.
Prelude is an introductory difficulty that functions as a way for early-game players to lab and experiment with the fights more than anything else. The High Dragons lack their full toolkit, they deal far less damage, but it gives players an idea of what to expect. The required Might is 11,000, but it probably should be passed on until players have something like 15,000.
Standard is the regular High Dragon fight with no additional frills and is the first way players will earn Dragon Greatspheres, which are a valuable material for building facilities, crafting HDT weapons, and unlocking Mana Spirals. They open up once the player has 13,000 Might, but they vary wildly in difficulty, as each High Dragon has the ability to easily decimate an unprepared team, to the point where I did not solo clear all the Standard difficulty battles until I had something like 25,000 Might. However, 20,000 should be more than sufficient to start tackling High Midgardstormr, and trying these quests via co-op.
But the biggest hurdle players face here is learning the patterns and kits of each boss, which require a procedural and pre-planned approach, again, not unlike an MMO raid boss. This is fairly simple with High Midgardstormr, but it will take some research before players ‘get’ how to defeat the other dragons. Especially High Jupiter, who has mechanics that are pretty much only unique to himself, and the hardest attacks to dodge in the game, bar none.
Expert is the real meat of the High Dragon Trials, as it offers the greatest number of Dragon Greatspheres per run, and also drops both High Dragon tails (which are used to max out most Mana Spirals and to craft HDT weapons) and Horns as part of a weekly bonus. These require significantly more power, durability, and planning, as the margin of error is far stricter, and it is expected that players know the procedure of these battles front and back before they take the plunge. As such, I ignored the 20,000 Might requirement and did not start regularly solo clearing these Trials until I reached 28,000 to 35,000 Might, with High Midgardstormr once again being the easiest, and the hardest, at least to me, being High Brunhilda, who I still have not cleared on Expert without the aid of others.
Master, as the name implies, is only for those who have this fight down to a science, and have the teamwork and synergy necessary to be considered masterful in their play, to the point where I have never seriously attempted any of these fights. The Might requirement is 24,000, but from everything I heard, these fights are best only played sparingly, and that the public lobbies for these battles are a highly unreliable means of clearing this fight, so private lobbies are strongly recommended. Also, these quests, and the weekly bonuses for Expert, are the primary ways to get High Dragon horns.
To wrap up my thoughts on this segment of the game in a semi-cohesive manner, the High Dragons are very… mixed. They can be fun, they can be rewarding, and they offer a good hard challenge for those who want it. However, they also offer a low tolerance for error, have misleading Might requirements, and between the stress and confusion of co-op and the hurdle of managing a party when soloing, players have every reason to feel unnerved, irritated, and intimidated by HDT.
The best advice I can give to new players is to study, wait until you have what you need to take on this content, and keep a positive attitude, as these bosses are aggressive and genuinely hard to beat until their patterns are fully understood and mastered. Also, do not try to max out and craft everything you possibly can with the materials dropped from HDT, as the costs of doing so are absolutely absurd when you realize that even the best farming tactics still only produce 8 Greatspheres per run.
It is not worth investing 485 Greatspheres into obtaining a MUB version of each High Dragons, as the High Dragons are not especially good when compared to most other 5-star dragons in the game, and have no place in much of the endgame. However, I do recommend spending 5 Greatspheres to get a single copy of each High Dragon and keeping them for collection purposes.
It is not worth investing 816 Greatspheres into bringing the Fafnir Statues up to their max level of 30, because they reach a soft cap at level 16, when players only need to invest 176 Greatspheres into each of them. And even then, Fafnir Statues only improve the base HP and Strength of dragons, which, as I previously said, mean precious little next to their abilities.
It is not worth investing 806 Greatspheres into bringing the Dracolith statues all the way from level 21 to 30, even if doing so does boost total damage done when shapeshifted into a dragon from 20% to 50%. Personally, I say just bring them up to level 25 for 114 Greatspheres, as that gives you a 35% damage boost, which is a nice and reasonable number to stop at.
And it is abso-goldarn-lutely not worth investing 875 Greatspheres, 650 High Dragon Tails, and 150 High Dragon Horns to obtain a Max Unbound Tier 2 HDT weapon. …Which players really don’t do. Instead, they tend to craft a 0UB copy of a tier 2 HDT weapon and use 5-star weapon unbinding materials on them to Max Unbind the weapons. But even then, a 0UB Tier 2 HDT weapon costs 175 Greatspheres, 130 High Dragon Tails, and 30 High Dragon Horns. Which is a LOT. I get giving players a lot of endgame content to keep them busy, but that is just absurd, especially when considering how HDT weapons are no longer relevant.
Chapter 3-6: Doing The Dragons Dirty!
In recounting and describing the High Dragon Trials in this level of detail, I had to ask myself just how things managed to get this way and why they are like this. Well, I do not know the EXACT reason, but in reviewing the game’s development history, it is clear that Cygames made several mistakes with the High Dragon Trials, and has been course-correcting throughout this past year.
The first mistake would probably be the introduction of High Jupiter on July 26th, a fight that is easily among the most intimidating and hardest in all of Dragalia Lost, with a boss whose unique mechanics were on another level from anything seen before him. As a preemptive measure to this imposing encounter, Cygames paired High Jupiter’s release with the debut of Gala Cleo, a character who broke the meta of Dragalia Lost, and helped initiate a level of shadow element power creep that has been negatively affecting the game for well over a year. Gala Cleo quickly became a staple part of clearing High Jupiter, and those without her were left by the wayside.
That was pretty bad, as was the profusely difficult introduction of High Zodiark on September 26th. A boss so complex and demanding that people more or less stopped fighting him in co-op rooms a few months after his release. But I consider both of these to be small potatoes compared to the dumpster fire that was the updates to High Dragon Trials on October 11, 2019.
On this date, Cygames expanded the High Dragon Trials beyond their original Standard difficulty by introducing an Expert difficulty. This new difficulty was added to all 5 of the available High Dragon Trials at the same time, and its introduction was paired with that of High Dragon, or HDT, weapons, which proved to be a dramatic boost in power, and became staples of endgame content shortly after their release. This gave endgame players a LOT of content to chew on, and it was too much. Players felt pressured to clear and learn all five of these quests at once, and to craft HDT weapons so they could more easily tackle other content, all in order to maintain a sense of relevance in a rapidly advancing endgame.
However, Cygames felt that this was not quite enough for its players, and days later, on October 14th, they began releasing the Master difficulty of High Dragon Trials on a weekly basis, starting with High Brunhilda and ending with High Zodiark on November 11th. All of whom were only available for a single week before being temporarily unavailable until November 18th, when Cygames began a rotating schedule for Master High Dragon Trials.
But wait! It gets worse! At the same time as all of this crap, Cygames also introduced Time Attack Rankings for High Dragon Trials on October 11th, which rewarded the fastest 25 clears of all Expert High Dragon Trials with valuable rewards… that I cannot find any record of. These rewards were distributed on a weekly basis to all successful players until the final distribution on October 27th, when Cygames ended Time Attack for HDT, and for a simple reason. It made HDT toxic, alienating, and left many players unable to find public lobbies to play with other players, as so many were trying to be amongst the top 25. All while endgame players felt pressured to keep playing HDT in order to remain current.
It was a terrible display by Cygames, who mulled over this situation for months before releasing a substantial update in January 2020, which made HDT easier with the introduction of a revive system, extended the time limit to 10 minutes, and introduced the Mentor Bonus system, where players would earn Wyrmite (summoning currency) in exchange for helping new players clear Standard or Expert HDT. This helped a lot of players ease into HDT, and after the subsequent changes to the opening blast in May 2020, HDT became a far more approachable and welcoming place for beginners… and only beginners.
In short, because players were offered the valuable resource of Wyrmite for clearing HDT with new players and serving as a mentor, many players began using HDT as a place to farm Wyrmite, and if they entered a public room without a new player who would bestow them Wyrmite, then they would simply leave and keep doing this until they found what they wanted. This, more than anything, turned HDT into a crapshoot where brand new players were always aided by experienced ones. But when it came to their second clear, they were out of luck, and it became dramatically harder for them to find a spot in public rooms, as they lacked the experience for consistent clears, and they lacked the bonus that made these “Mentor Hunters” willing to aid them in the first place.
This is where we are at currently, and… it kinda sucks. But there is a more reliable, better balanced, and overall less toxic endgame environment for players to pursue.
Chapter 3-7: Ascent of the Agito
After making a ripe mess of High Dragon Trials and leaving the endgame players with a laundry list of tasks to complete, Cygames then introduced another pillar to their endgame content known as the Agito Uprising, with the first boss, Volk, having been released on December 26th, 2019 and the fifth boss, Tartarus, having come out just a month ago on August 28th, 2020. Like High Dragon Trials, these are MMO-style raid bosses against mostly singular in circle arenas that drop materials useful for both developing materials and crafting weapons… but better in just about every possible way, and there are six that come to mind.
One, the Agito bosses generally lack the same imposing and devastating attacks as the High Dragon Trials, and while players can have their runs ruined by a bad mistake, their failure tends to come more from a series of bad decisions, rather than being a bit too close to the designated danger zone.
Two, public lobbies are far more reliable than HDT, and while things can go awry some of the time due to inattention of just simple mistakes either by oneself or other players, I personally managed to get my success rate for co-op Agito battles in general somewhere around 85%, which is pretty good all things considered.
Three, the Agito are typically easier and more reliable to take on from a solo perspective, with Standard solo clears being a breeze for me, and Expert clears being something I am steadily nudging towards. Meaning that I can consistently and easily clear two Agito on Expert, but am struggling with the rest, mostly for DPS-related reasons.
Four, the Agito fights offer additional depth due to how each boss has multiple forms. Standard sees the players fight against their humanoid form, Expert has them start in their humanoid form before going full-on Altered Beast during the second phase of the fight. And Master cuts the preamble and just kicks off in a super-hard rendition of Phase 2. While this may seem like a minor note, multiple forms and movesets add a lot to a fight, force players to revise their strategy on the fly, and… I just think they’re neat, okay?
Five, the crafting and material system for Agito is astonishingly better designed. The Agito drop three tiers of materials depending on whether players are clearing Standard, Expert, or Master, and in order to craft things within a reasonable time frame, players will naturally gravitate towards all three difficulties. This keeps all difficulties populated and active, and makes it easier for new and growing players to join in while they are supported, guided, and carried by veteran players. All without the use of any sort of mentor bonus or the like. So long as you are trying, players are willing to put up with failure, as everybody is in this for a mutual goal of getting the valued materials.
Six, the crafting requirements, both in regards to upgrading the facilities and crafting weapons, are far more reasonable than those seen in HDT. By clearing each Agito battle on Standard, players are given enough materials to begin crafting an elemental tree, which provides up to a 26% boost to the HP and Strength of all adventurers of the respective element. The cost for this is rather steep at 805 tier 1 materials and 125 tier 2 materials, which roughly amounts to 100 clears of Standard and 25 clears of Expert, but I think this is well worth it, as these increases are substantial, eternal, and appreciated.
Aside from the facilities, Agito materials are used to craft Agito weapons, which cost 40 tier 1 materials and 30 tier 2 materials to craft, or about 4 clears of Standard and 6 clears of Expert. As I have been saying, these are THE weapons to craft, unbind, and strive for based on the current state of the game. And while ten clears might seem like a lot… you can do that in two days just by playing co-op, and this content is meant to last for quite some time, as after crafting Agito weapons, the endgame pretty much… ends. For now anyways
Okay, but what does each boss have to offer in particular, and what wisdom can I impart on players who want to enter this content? Well, generally speaking, you can put off the High Dragons and jump straight into the Standard difficulty of the Agito, get the materials to craft ONE Agito weapon, and then use that weapon in High Dragons. This progression system has actually been recognized by the developers themselves, and personally I flip-flopped between the two, taking on what my acquired characters and current equipment set were better suited for. Though I will say that, unlike HDT, the Might requirements for Agito are pretty accurate… assuming you are talking about co-op. If you want to solo this content, then slap another 5,000 to 10,000 Might onto the requirements.
Now, I COULD just leave it there, but I have been deep into the Agito as of late, and have some thoughts I would like to unpack about this quartet of edgy super bosses
Volk is the first member of the crew, but I would say that he is probably the most intimidating member of the Agito. On standard, his moveset relies on four core attacks. Charging and releasing himself at a character based on their proximity. Launching a series of purple attacks that have a wide range, deal big damage, and inflict immobilizing status inflictions. Inflicting plague on characters to weaken their affliction resistance until they are healed a sufficient amount. And creating bombs that can be disarmed by contact, but inflict an immobilizing status infliction based on their color, so you better know if your character resists stun or sleep, as flame characters typically only resist one.
None of this is very well explained to players, as the Agito lack a full moveset breakdown like HDT, so it is best to stay calm, lab it out, and watch YouTube videos to learn the hot strats. Which boils down to dodge, bring a healer (Halloween Lowen), and keep your distance if possible. However, this may be easier said than done, as the AI does not view Volk with the respect they probably should, and have a tendency of standing in the purple zone of pain and sorrow.
It is manageable in Standard, but when getting into Expert, the fight begins on a battlefield littered with bombs that the AI does not like to disarm. But through repetition and labbing, I did figure out a mostly reliable way to get through this part of the fight by switching between my Gala Laxi, Marth, and Halloween Lowen to disarm bombs across the battlefield. All before quickly pulling off a proper (Skill 2) heal immediately after Volk enters the next phase and inflicts my team with plague
And once I figured THAT out, once I got it down to a science that I could successfully repeat… 30% of the time, I was able to solo the Expert battle pretty easily, especially the second phase. While Volk phase 1 is a nasty murder-boy who will slice and poison your tuchus into mincemeat, phase 2 is a big old pussy cat in comparison, with only two moves that you really need to look out for. A homing tornado of death and destruction that can be avoided using the ancient art of running around the rim of the arena, along with a super move that will murderize every party member by dropping a moon on them, but can be circumvented by shapeshifting into a dragon to deal massive damage.
Ciella is probably the easiest of all the Agito to face off against when playing solo. Her kit consists mostly of choreographed red attacks, predictable and easy to avoid purple attacks, and unavoidable damage-dealing attacks that debuff character defenses. All of which any player entering the endgame should be familiar with, even if their exact interpretation may catch them off guard at first.
She hits pretty much all the marks I would like to see in a boss, with clear patterns that still require players to act fast and stay on their toes, and while her debuffs and unavoidable damage might be annoying to some, it can easily be circumvented with the use of a standard healer. As such, I thoroughly enjoyed my time labbing how to solo this fight before finding a reliable team involving Lin You, Lowen, Hawk, and Noelle, which has served me well through both Standard and Expert, to the point where I have never actually attempted this battle on Expert.
However, even with this team, I still found myself getting hung up when Ciella uses Cryogenic Meteor, a move that urges players and adventurers to rally behind a giant iceberg to avoid a wave of damaging water. Any player can clearly tell what is going on, at least after maybe dying once, but AI allies are not very receptive to this mechanic, and frequently wind up tanking the hit unless they were in an opportune position beforehand. Thankfully, the damage dealt by this wave is not a one-hit KO, and so long as I had a heal skill on the backburner, or managed to herd my precious
babies teammates in order to avoid the second wave. Beyond that though, she’s a good boss, and I look forward to battling her many times in the future.
Ayaha & Otoha are definitely an interesting boss, as they are two enemies who dart about the battlefield in synchronicity, come together for more powerful attacks, and merge for their transformed state, where they merge together and completely change up their skillset. I admittedly have not played the Expert version of this fight very much, and intend on learning it more in-depth later on, so I really don’t have much to say about it, beyond the fact that… she has a LOT going for her.
Naturally, the game staple of avoiding the purple attacks, and rolling through the red attacks remains tried and true, but once phase 2 kicks off, she has a lot of attacks that can easily trip up an unprepared player. She has an unavoidable arena-wide purple attack, cages that can immobilize adventurers, explosives that you need to guide into Ayaha & Otoha, lest the adventurer take massive damage. Oh, and she has a not particularly well conveyed purple attack that basically demands that the targeted adventurer rush to the top of the screen and tank damage via shapeshifting, while all others flee to the opposite ends while avoiding spontaneously appearing butterflies.
Overall, I think she is a cool fight, but she’s also pretty tough to solo on Expert. Your team AI simply cannot efficiently follow her during phase 1 due to how erratic her movement is, and in phase 2 their tendency to cluster together often proves to be a dramatic detriment.
Kai Yan is probably the best Agito boss for players to pursue when entering the endgame. Partially because his kit is not all too demanding once one gets the gist of it, but mostly because he is a boss for Shadow-element characters, and Shadow is notoriously overpowered (as of writing this post), so most co-op fights with Kai Yan only last no more 60 seconds on Standard and 3 minutes on Expert, where all a new player needs to do is dodge and attack while their teammates go through the very predictable motions of the encounter, where the player can easily succeed if they learn and take note of certain quirks.
Unbreakable satellites are fixtures that orbit around Kai Yan and both damage and inflict blindness on all who touch them, so be extremely mindful of them. Kai Yan frequently protects himself with a shield, and while this can be bashed away with enough damage, it deals damage to all who strike it and is best removed by using a character with dispel. Dispel is an effect that several Shadow adventurers can use, such as Gala Alex, (best girl) Nefari, Linnea, Bellina, Grace, the Mana Spiralled versions of freebies Cleo and Erik, and it’s also applied to the level 4 version of Ranzal’s shared skill. Fight For Survival and Every Man For Themselves are moves that urge players to rally together near the center of the screen to minimize damage as they are imprisoned in rings, but most of the time in co-op the DPS is so high that this phase is avoided in favor of phase 2, which is pretty straightforward. Avoid red damage, break the supreme satellites before they can slowly gravitate towards Kai Yan, and dispel the shields whenever possible.
The only problem I run into in this fight is when he uses supreme spheres for the second time. After this point in the fight, Kai Yan uses shields more frequently, and his Unbreakable Satellites become larger and more plentiful, making them harder to avoid. This, combined with AOE purple attacks that can or cannot be avoided often led to a death state whenever I tried the Expert fight solo. Once again, this is more due to my AI teammates not knowing what to dodge or how, and their tendency to run into Unbreakable Satellites, but I’m sure I’ll be styling on this fool once I get my Agito weapons all nice and upgraded. Or when I get more “on meta” with my shadow team.
Tartarus is easily the weirdest and most confusing of all the Agito bosses, as while he is a pretty standard boss for the most part, he has a few quirks that really ought to be tutorialized, and took players a few days to grasp. Throughout the fight, Tartarus opens 4 portals for a single character to enter where they battle a shadow version of Tartarus. Defeating the shadow forms weakens Tartarus’s abilities, every adventurer can only enter a portal once, and the first two portals are for characters with curse resistance while the second two are for characters who resist poison.
Periodically, he will use a move called Dimensional Shift, which locks a certain amount of players into purple spheres, immobilizing them. Players can swiftly escape these spheres by shapeshifting into a dragon, being near somebody shapeshifting, or near a dragon skill. However, the spheres double as shields and allow imprisoned players to not only avoid damage but shield other players from ordinarily unavoidable purple attacks. As such, it is recommended to do two things: If a player is targeted during Dimensional Shift, they should rally towards Tartarus himself and stay imprisoned until he releases his purple attacks and waves of darkness. Only then should they shapeshift into a dragon, and only ONE party member needs to shapeshift. The rest can hold their gauge for when they need it.
Keep this in mind, avoid his attacks as they are rife with afflictions, tank the shadow waves if you gotta, aim the purple attacks away from your allies, because duh, and the fight really is not that difficult to clear… assuming you have the right team composition. Because if you are not running with two curse resisting and two poison resisting characters, you’re going to have a bad time. This would not be an issue if the game better explained this, or made it easier to track which character resists what, but for a fight so clearly about this binary, it would be appreciated if a resistance icon were visible on, say, the co-op character select screen.
…Well, I say that certain resistances are required, but fans have been able to cheese the fight using shadow teams, or mixed teams like Gala Alex, Elisanne, Hawk, and Patia, in order to clear the fight in under two minutes on Expect in co-op. On that note, I have attempted to clear Expert solo, and it is rather tricky without a team equipped with Tartarus’s Agito weapons, as they increase the player’s dragon gauge, and this battle is predicated around shapeshifting. I would recommend cheesing it with shadow instead, but the rebalance patch due out in a few days from this post’s publication ought to make those clears a thing of yore.
In conclusion, the Agito are pretty complicated fights that take some time to lab and learn, but that is expected of endgame content in a game like this, and throughout all five battles, there is not a single fight I truly dislike or think is poorly designed. They’re reasonable, they can be a good challenge, and they are both rewarding and forgiving enough to keep players like me actively coming back to obtain greater rewards. Which is something I cannot say about High Dragon Trials.
Side Note: Agito content is currently being released at a staggered pace in Dragalia Lost. All mentions of drop rates, facility levels, Master difficulty, and tier 2 Agito weapons are based on what was seen around the Volk and Kai Yan battles. Ciella, Ayaha & Otoha, and Tartarus offer lower drop rates per clear, can only raise their facility to level 15 instead of level 25, do not have a Master’s difficulty battle, and players cannot craft tier 2 Agito weapons based on their drops. This is all expected to be addressed in future updates.
This concludes my thoughts on Dragalia Lost’s myriad quests and gameplay content. But I’ll be back tomorrow to discuss the actually most vital part of any game like Dragalia Lost. The gacha!