Because when you engage with a live service, extensive tutorialization and external information gathering is a necessity to ensure an even remotely optimal play experience.
This post is part of a series on the mobile action RPG by Nintendo and Cygames, Dragalia Lost.
Natalie Rambles About Dragalia Lost – 2021 Remix
Chapter 1: Story and Aesthetics
Chapter 2: Play and Progression
Chapter 3: Quests, Events, Modes, and Endgame
Chapter 4: Summoning, Monetization, and Gacha
Chapter 5: Petty Quibbles and Miscellaneous Desires
Chapter 2-1: Do the Dragalia
In Chapter 1, I detailed what Dragalia Lost is about, and how its aesthetics are superb, but what exactly do you do in the game, and how does it play? Well, as a gacha game, its game loop should be fairly familiar for players who have dabbled in the genre before. It is a menu-driven affair broken up between story segments, various bite-sized quests that defer resources onto the player, and said resources can be used to accumulate power. And Dragalia’s approach is no different. The game has players go from quest to quest to amass resources, spending those resources to amass more power and take on more difficult quests.
Every quest sees a merry band of four adventurers, each with their own set of equipment, skills, and abilities marching through a geometrically simple map or just fighting a boss in their own arena. They’re straightforward, easily digestible in short bursts, and unless the player is overpowered, or just autos their way through these quests, they offer just enough mechanics to engage with before players are granted resources or rewards for clearing a quest.
But unlike most games of this ilk, Dragalia differentiates itself by being a real-time action RPG where players need to manually dodge and strike enemies, rather than relying on menu-based inputs and turn-based systems. Instead, the player must hold down and drag a finger to move, swipe to dodge attacks, tap to strike, press and release to perform a force strike (charge attack), and tap the icons aligning the bottom of the screen to use skills.
When compared to console-style action RPGs, the sheer number of things the player can do in these combat encounters is rather limited. That’s because this game is designed to be played with a single finger, and because the true depth of Dragalia’s gameplay comes from everything surrounding the player’s inputs. From learning the patterns of enemies and bosses, getting your numbers big enough to tackle content, mastering the mechanics pivotal to success, preparing for the content you plan on taking on, and learning how to effectively use the few tools available to you.
Admittedly, the importance of these things is not communicated to the player during the early stages of the game, where players can clear through content by enabling auto-play. But once you get to the mid-game, you dearly need to stop, pay attention, recognize patterns, and learn the needed techniques and technicals, or else you’ll get toasted, roasted, and deaded within seconds. As such, there is definitely a level of skill demanded of the player if they want to pursue continued success. But by being relatively lax with its inputs, I find the combat system to be far more approachable than standard character action games. Or it would be if it was explained in a touch more detail.
Live services as a genre are notorious for building on a set of mechanics and never properly going back and tutorializing them, and Dragalia is no different. The game has a tutorial for its basic mechanics, but as things changed in version updates and mechanics have been overhauled by patches, there is a lot of information that new players can’t really pick up on without consulting the community on Reddit or Discord, or checking out beginner’s guides on the Dragalia Lost Wiki or YouTube.
The game tries to explain these things, such as with this lovely post by the dev team from back in October 2020, which explains how to farm for rupies, how to properly dodge attacks, and where players should focus their resources. Or The Royal Regimen, an in-game checklist of things for players to do with accompanying rewards… that has not been updated since May 2020. However, a lot of details about certain mechanics are relegated to update posts you need to dig to find nowadays.
This ranges from basic things, such as how enemy attacks in Dragalia typically come in two forms. Red (or yellow) attacks that can be avoided using the plentiful invincibility frames of a character’s dodge or a skill animation. And purple attacks that you cannot avoid under most circumstances. Or the mechanics unique to most unique boss encounters, as they all have their own disting quirks. You can read up on unique boss mechanics in their details section before embarking on a quest, but it is still very possible for players to miss or misunderstand mechanics without looking into the community a fair bit.
I would, and do, criticize this approach. However, these live games are designed around the fact that people create, compile, and curate information for them. And for as much as part of me thinks that a game should strive to be as self-contained as possible… video games have pretty much always been designed with the knowledge that players can consult resources to help them with their performance, progression, and completion.
Chapter 2-2: Buffs, Elements, Afflictions, Nihility, and Dispel
…But before I start talking about progression, I feel like I should do my part and explain a few things that I feel might confuse new players or non-players, so let’s do that.
Elements: Every adventurer, dragon, and most weapons in Dragalia Lost are attuned to one of five elements (flame, water, wind, light, and shadow). Outside of a select few niche applications, about 90% of all content is contained and designed around the use of a single element. So for content where the enemies are attuned to wind, players will want to use flame adventurers with flame dragons and flame weapons. This is seen as common knowledge in the community, but I can see why a new player might assume that rainbow teams are superior.
Afflictions: Something that has become prominent in Dragalia for a while is the affliction system, where enemies can afflict onto adventurers and adventurers can afflict on enemies. It is a standard RPG trope with poison, burn, frozen, and myriad other afflictions, but in Dragalia, they take a strongly prominent role. Afflictions are a key component of adventurer kits, are a key component of various bosses’ toolkits, and are something that enable adventurers to deal dramatically more damage with the use of affliction punisher effects that let adventurers deal more damage when an enemy is under afflicted.
They are yet another key component of Dragalia’s current systems, a factor to consider when building teams for certain content, and something that drives many endgame fights, especially after a new wave of afflictions have been added this past year and enemy affliction resistance became a factor to consider in modern content, where boss battles are long and it is easy to hit the maximum number of times an affliction can be applied before the boss becomes immune. Which gave way to a second generation of afflictions (scortchrend, stormlash, shadowblight, and flashburn) and adventurers with skills that lower affliction resistances.
Buffs: Buffs are pretty much what they sound like. Temporary boosts to adventurer stats over a period of time. However, buffs really became prominent after the Version 2.0 update introduced a doublebuff meta. In Dragalia, a doublebuff is a passive effect where, when an adventurer receives a defense buff, then a secondary buff will be triggered. Strength doublebuffs boost strength, critical rate doublebuffs boost critical rate, and healing doublebuffs activate a regen effect that lasts as long as the defensive buff.
The doublebuff system allowed players to dramatically increase the power of their teams while cushioning damage with layers of extra defense and gradual healing every 3 seconds. It lets players tear through content, and is a foundational part of auto-play compositions. However, it was also seen as a bit too effective, as players were able to power through or cheese their way through content by abusing this system. To the point where, in March 2021, Dragalia began introducing content where it was impossible to enable doublebuff and most of the common buffs were unusable. All thanks to a little something known as Curse of Nihility.
Curse of Nihility: Nihility is a long-lasting debuff inflicted upon adventurers by certain bosses that makes them unable to get most generic buffs (see the Wiki for a full list). This made many adventurers who relied on generic buffs to become basically unusable in this new content. Including Grace, who was the MVP of Dragalia Lost for nearly a year before her entire shield-based kit was rendered worthless in this new content.
A lot of players disliked this approach, and I am inclined to agree. Nihility basically locked characters out of new content, and made most content featuring Nihility feel slower due to the lack of a regular damage buff. Also, it made the skill for the Agito weapons more of a hindrance than an asset, and I still do not know why certain adventurers are affected by this. Such as Ilia, whose unique secondary skill is more or less useless, despite being a core part of her kit and a buff unique to her.
Amps: In order to provide a source of buffs that could be used in Nihility content, the developers saw this as a prime time to introduce a new generation of buffs known as Amps. Amps are buffs that are passively activated by adventurers by using skills or meeting certain requirements that gradually build up over the span of the encounter, starting as something insignificant and only applied to a single adventurer before developing into a Team Amp that affects the entire team, and can be levelled up as other adventurers activate their Team Amps.
Currently, there are strength amps, defense amps, and critical damage amps, all of which are pretty self-explanatory. But in order to effectively use them, players basically need to have an entire team of amp-enablers, in order to maintain a Team Amp. Otherwise the Team Amp will never get past its first level and will fade after 30 seconds of use.
This could eventually push players into using adventurers who only use amps, but in their current form, they are merely a nice bonus to the DPS of certain units, and an even nicer bonus if players can synergize a team of three amp units to semi-reliably maintain a team amp for the entire duration of a fight.
Overdamage: Speaking of lateral ‘gimmick’ buffs, overdamage is an effect that provides an additional hit of damage to an adventurer’s attacks. The damage increase is not especially substantial, and the hook of this ability is more that it allows adventurers to meter meet hit-count requirements seen in certain boss encounters. Such as Trials of the Mighty and The Agito Uprising: Legend Difficulty.
The effect is only primarily available to a small collection of healers, but it lets these healers contribute to team-wide DPS and makes it easier for adventurers to activate hit-based mechanics, such as flurry strength.
Dispel: Dispel is an effect that certain adventurers have access to either through a skill or ability that enables them to remove a buff from an enemy, or group of enemies. While this does not immediately sound especially useful, there are several bosses in this game who buff their defensive or offensive capabilities, and the only way to combat this is through the use of dispel.
It is borderline essential for many endgame fights, and there is no in-game way to determine which adventurers have access to this effect, let alone which adventurers have it as part of their kit. To use the fully upgraded renditions of the story characters as examples, Euden can shapeshift into a dragon and, with each strike, dispels 1 buff from the target. Ranzal’s first (faster charging) skill inflicts dispel. Luca has dispel on his second (slower charging) skill. While Cleo can dispel via a force strike after using her first skill. Honestly, answering who can dispel and how effective they are is a tricky question, and I would recommend checking the fan wiki for an up-to-date list of adventurers who can dispel.
Chapter 2-3: Spirals, Systems, and Success
So, Dragalia Lost is a game enjoying and unlocking stories big and small and a simple yet deep combat system about battling assorted baddies. But the glue that holds everything together is the progression system meant to endear players to the game and keep them coming back for hundreds of hours, as it is the way of any successful mobage (mobile game).
But before describing this game’s myriad systems in detail, I want to talk about Might. Might is the cumulative representation of a party’s power in Dragalia Lost, it is what gates players out of and pushes them into new content, and it is the numerical manifestation of their accomplishments in the game. It is a number derived from the HP and Strength (the only adjustable numerical stats in the game), along with the associated numerical values of active skills and passive abilities of one’s team. Each team consists of up to 4 playable Adventurers, the Dragons they are equipped with, the Weapons they wield, and the Wyrmprints they carry, all buffed by Facilities the player has built throughout the Halidom.
Each of these five factors have their own unique subsystems and minutiae that could warrant their own guide, but they all follow a few universal concepts… except for Facilities, which are kind of their own thing.
Leveling: Adventurers, dragons, weapons, and wyrmprints all have corresponding levels that determine their HP and strength, and all of these can be increased by using corresponding materials. Adventurers use crystals, dragons use dragonfruits, weapons use whetstones, and wyrmprints use holy waters. Adventurers technically receive EXP from completing quests, but the amount is often low, and crystals are readily available, so they are seen as the preferred method of leveling.
Unbinding: When first received, dragons, weapons, and wyrmprints have lower level caps and are not at their full effectiveness, but they can be upgraded through a process known as unbinding. Where the player invests a set sum of materials to upgrade the abilities, skills, and level cap of the dragons, weapons, and wyrmprints, while unlocking better versions of passive abilities and/or active skills. Once the dragon, weapon, or wyrmprint has been unbound the maximum number of times, it is at its full effectiveness and has been Max Unbound, also known as MUB. When you initially receive most dragons, weapons, or wyrmprints, it likely has 0 Unbinds, or is 0UB.
Augments: As one plays Dragalia Lost, they will find various ways to obtain items that increase the base HP and strength of their adventurers, dragons, and wyrmprints to up to a certain limit. While this means relatively little from a glance, these little suckers certainly add up. Adventurer and wyrmprint augments can be semi-reliably obtained via certain Void Battle Quests, Advanced Dragon Trials, and The Agito Uprising. While dragon augments are only available via giveaways and weekly bonuses.
Summoning: In gacha games, much of the player’s progression is limited and led by the act of summoning/pulling/drawing new things in exchange for either a freemium currency awarded by completing feats or premium currency that players can buy. What players obtain is based on a probability table, and is often denoted by a rarity system. In Dragalia Lost, players can summon adventurers and dragons. Duplicate adventurers are automatically converted into a valuable resource known as eldwater, while dragons can be converted into eldwater at the player’s discretion. I will explain the summoning feature in detail in Chapter 4-1.
Rarity: Like many games of this genre, every equippable and adventurer in Dragalia Lost has a designated star-based ranking with it, which is relegated to 3-stars, 4-stars, and 5-stars… for the most part. Between adventurers, dragons, weapons, and wyrmprints, all of them handle rarity a bit differently, and as such details will be provided in each corresponding section.
Re-Rolling: When starting Draglaia Lost, players have the ability to summon 50 adventurers and dragons via the Tutorial Summon Showcase. Players are encouraged to use this feature before starting the game proper in order to get quality units who can help them throughout the game. Generally, players are encouraged to re-roll until they obtain several 5-star dragons, specifically limited Gala dragons, which are only available during set intervals, and are considerably stronger than most other dragons. Adventurers, meanwhile, are a more complicated question, and the most common answers are to try and summon limited Gala adventurers and Grace, who is a key component of auto-comps with certain content.
Honestly, this is a feature I never made use of, as it was introduced well after I started playing Dragalia, but I feel like I should mention it here regardless.
Chapter 2-4: All The Warriors and All The Waifus
Considering that Dragalia is an action game and that every adventurer has their own assortment of active skills, passive abilities, weapon types, element, and sometimes unique mechanics, it should be no surprise that the playable characters are the most complex part of the game. There are over 270 adventurers in the game as of writing, and getting a handle on which characters are better than others and how to synergize them around can be rather overwhelming for new players.
To circumvent this, the game encourages players to use the optimize feature to generate a team, while instilling players with a few core tenants: Teams should generally be the same element, which is readily doable since players start with a team in each of the 5 elements (flame, water, wind, light, and shadow). Teams should feature multiple weapon types. And a healer (a staff-wielder) is an essential part of most team compositions.
While useful early on, the optimize feature can discourage players from recognizing the depth that is hidden behind and associated with each character and their kit, encouraging them to not bother with the minutiae and insinuating that it really does not matter that much. Which, for the early game, is pretty much true. The road throughout the first few chapters of the story, and to 15,000 Might is a lax one where just about any team, including ones made of the 25 freebie characters all players have access to, is completely viable.
It is only after that, and after what very well may be dozens of hours, that players really ought to stop and recognize just what they have. When they should look at the active skills of each adventurer closely, their passive abilities, and their co-abilities (passives shared with the entire team) in order to understand which characters are good for them and which they want to invest in.
I consider this to be a fairly substantial issue with the game, in that there are not many in-game aids to help players in the team-building process beyond the optimize feature, the Might of a given team, and the aforementioned general advice. Instead, it is recommended that players look beyond the game to learn what characters are considered good. Ask the community for help, which they will happily provide, try to find up-to-date character breakdowns, and build teams based on the fragmented information you can parse together.
All of which can make it difficult for new players to get a grasp of who they should devote their initially limited resources into. And while I want to tell players to “do whatever, dude,” after the Version 2.0 update from September 2020 rebalanced the game dramatically, that is not necessarily good advice once you get into the later parts of the game.
Rarity: While it is common for rarity to denote the quality of a unit in a gacha game, that is not necessarily the case in Dragalia for three reasons. Firstly, adventurers can be promoted to a higher rarity with the use of Eldwater. Secondly, rarity does not necessarily denote the quality of an adventurer, as there are plenty of lower rarity adventurers with a place in the endgame. Including the first batch of story units (Euden, Ranzal, Elisanne, Cleo, and Luca). And thirdly, while there is a sizable selection of lower rarity 3-star and 4-star adventurers, the game more or less stopped adding new ones around May 2020. Because of this shift, rarity as a concept is not that much of a factor in the game in its current form, and aside from specific upgrade material costs, I would say that the only meaningful difference between adventurers of different rarities is that the lower rarity units need to be promoted to be fully upgraded.
Promotion: This is a fairly simple process of taking an existing adventurer of lower rarity and upgrading them to a 5-star, expanding their level and Mana Circle caps and giving them a slight stat boost, all in exchange for Eldwater. Every lower rarity adventurer can be upgraded this way, and the costs of upgrading are universally 2,500 Eldwater for upgrading 3-stars to 4-stars, and 25,000 Eldwater for upgrading 4-stars to 5-stars.
Mana Circles: While leveling characters results in basic stat boosts, Mana Circles upgrade the skills, abilities, and overall kit of every character in the game, at least until they reach a cap. 3-stars can only upgrade 30 nodes, 4-stars can upgrade 40, 5-stars can upgrade 50. The first 40 of which are unlocked using mana, elemental orbs, and dragon scales, which are easy to come across. But in order to get to 50 nodes, players need to use elusive items like Champion’s Testaments along with a total of 73,000 Eldwater. Which is a considerable sum.
So, once a character is at 50 nodes, they are fully upgraded and fully awesomely powerful, right? Well, not quite. You see, power creep and units getting invalidated by new ones is something of a common trend in any game with a prolonged and active development. From trading card games to these sorts of live services. And in Dragalia Lost, the developers chose to combat this problem through the implementation of Mana Spirals.
Mana Spirals: These are little more than expanded Mana Circles that are only available to certain adventurers. These boost adventurer level caps from 80 to 100, upgrade their 2 active skills and 3 passive abilities by another level, and overall makes these select adventurers somewhat to dramatically better, with the effects being more and more pronounced as they go from 50 nodes to their new cap of 70 nodes.
However, upgrading these 20 new nodes means that more resources are needed. Which is where things get complicated, as there are two different types of Mana Spirals. The classic type that (as of writing) most adventurers use, involves investing additional resources into adventurers, particularly items from High Dragon Trials and certain Void Battles.
This method worked, but in April 2021, Dragalia changed the way new mana spirals were added and began gating mana spirals behind adventurer Convictions and Devotions earned by playing the Trials of the Mighty quests. Challenge battles that rotate on a weekly basis and each battle rewards players with materials to unlock the mana spirals of a specific adventurer. I will discuss my thoughts on this in more detail in Chapter 3-6, but the bottom line is that this makes upgrading adventurers a slower process.
Shared Skills: Skilled Shares are pretty much what the name implies. Skills of adventurers that can be shared with others and equipped into the third or fourth skill slot of the leader adventurer in a team. This can give characters or teams access to afflictions, buffs, extra healing, or a skill that compliments the team in some other way.
Starting out, all story characters will have their shared skills unlocked by default, and in order to unlock new shared skills, players need to upgrade adventurers to 50 mana circles and spend a designated number of elemental tomes to unlock the shared skill. With elemental tomes being a resource obtained as a reward during certain events, and something that can be purchased using premium currency via the game’s shop.
Shared skills add another dimension to character building that players can get very serious about if they want to. But for a lot of players, they really only need a few shared skills to get by, and there is nothing wrong with the ones unlocked by default. Personally, I would recommend the shared skills of Patia, Templar Hope, Sha Wujing, any healer with regen, and an additional shared skill with the dispel effect. But beyond certain auto-play team compositions, I do not consider shared skills to ever be pivotably important.
Recommendations: Overall, investing in adventurers is a fairly complicated question for players to answer without following the community a fair bit, and while I want to say that the game is fairly loose with what options work, that is not necessarily true for the latest series of endgame content, Rise of the Sinister Dominion. Where players will typically struggle without certain staple adventurers, or will be kicked out of co-op for not having one of 5-10 ‘meta’ units. However, for the earlier content, there are a lot of alternatives that could be used and most other battles or co-op lobbies are nowhere near as selective as they once were.
If you still want to know who to invest in, the best way to do so is to look into the community for aid, consult tier lists, or maybe even the DPS simulator. However, I will reiterate that Euden, Ranzal, Elisanne, Cleo, and Luca are all worth investing into, and I will give a list of 10 3-star and 4-star adventurers who I think are well worth the investment:
- Xania (Flame Wand) is an excellent burn enabler who, when fully upgraded, is able to dish out massie damage.
- Templar Hope (Wind Sword) is a buffer who is a staple in many doublebuff team compositions as he can boost team-wide attack and defense at a rapid rate with the correct loadout.
- Karina (Water Axe) plays a strong role in a lot of water adventurer content, as her first skill deals damage proportional to the amount of buffs she has, which can be used to absolutely decimate certain bosses if you are running a doublebuff composition.
- Amane (Light Wand) is a solid unit with ample paralysis capabilities and doubles as a self-sufficient support unit who can heal and buff herself, making her exceptionally tanky.
- Althemia (Shadow Wand) is capable of dealing massive damage against foes who can be reliably poisoned… assuming she remains at full HP at all times.
- Patia (Shadow Lance) is a buffer who is a staple in many doublebuff team compositions as she can boost team-wide attack and defense at a rapid rate with the correct loadout.
- Halloween Lowen (Flame Staff) is easily the best flame staff in the game, as he provides regen, defensive buffs, and can increase max HP throughout encounters. The only drawback is that he is only available during Halloween-themed summon showcases held twice a year.
- Lowen (Wind Staff) is a rock solid healer with regen, defensive buffs, and can increase max HP throughout encounters. The only thing preventing him from being the best in his element is how he does not provide as much regen as others, but is still usable, if not preferred, in all wind content.
- Ricardt (Water Staff) is a budget healer, and while he is a far cry from monster-level healers like Sandalphon, he has enough healing at his disposal to be useful throughout all water content.
- Vixel (Light Staff) is not the best light healer, that honor goes to Hildegarde, Vixel is the most accessible healer with access to an ample supply of regen, and with his Trials of the Mighty mana spiral, he is usable in endgame content.
Chapter 2-5: Weapons Are Still Kinda Wack
Unlike adventurers or dragons, which are mostly obtained via summoning, weapons are a craftable piece of gear that grants adventurers additional stats, an active skill, and passive abilities, while also providing slots that players can use for wyrmprints, which I will explain in the next section. For now, let’s just talk about weapons.
In Dragalia Lost, weapons are upgradable pieces of equipment that follow a largely linear progression system that emphasizes upgrading weapons more than crafting new ones. After crafting them initially, they upgrade the HP & Strength of the weapon using whetstones. Unbind the weapon so the player can further upgrade their weapon. Refine the weapon so the player can further Unbind a weapon. Unlock additional wyrmprint Slots for the weapon. Create multiple Copies of the weapon, which is not useful in the vast majority of circumstances, as most team compositions do not feature two adventurers with the same weapon types. And finally, unlocking passive Weapon Bonuses, which are passive HP and Strength boosts
The general suggested upgrade path goes as follows:
Core Weapons: As the player starts out, tutorials will urge them to fully upgrade, unbind, and create 4 copies of all non-elemental 3-star, 4-star, and 5-star Core Weapons. These are the player’s starting weapons, and they really have no greater purpose or utility beyond that using them to get through early game content. What might confuse some people as, after unlocking the non-elemental 5-star Core Weapons, players are introduced to elemental 5-star Core weapons.
Elemental 5-star Core weapons are a remnant from the game during an earlier stage in its life, and players are strongly advised to ignore them for any purpose other than obtaining every Weapon Bonus.
Chimeratech Weapons: Instead of staying with Core Weapons, players should then move onto Chimeratech Weapons, which players can craft using materials dropped from the Chimera Strike encounters found within the Void Battle quest section. These are elemental 5-star weapons with the fairly unremarkable passive ability of a gradual strength boost, but they represent a dramatic increase in Might compared to what came before them.
Partially due to their sheer numbers and the power boost seen by upgrading them, and the fact that, as elemental weapons, they offer a 1.5x Might boost to adventurers of the same element. Chimeratech weapons are the gateway from the early game of Dragalia Lost and their key to take on content with a recommended Might level of 20,000 or higher, meaning you are going to spend a good deal of time fighting these Chimeras.
However, players should not feel intimidated to move beyond Chimeratech weapons after a point (I’d say that 4 or 5 unbinds on each weapon and the wyrmprint slot are sufficient). Because once the Chimeratech weapons bolster a team’s Might well into the mid 20,000s, it is time to start thinking about Agito weapons.
The reason I say this is largely due to rupie costs, as it costs 733,500,000 rupies to max out every Chimeratech weapon, but it only takes 342,000,000 rupies to get to 5 unbinds on all of them. While Chimeras are a great place to farm rupies, offering something like 500,000 rupies for every Expert difficulty clear, that is still a LOT to farm.
Agito Weapons: Agito Weapons are the 6-star weapons of Dragalia Lost, and have been THE endgame weapon since… pretty much their inception. As such, it should not be surprising to hear that they are particularly deep buckets demanding copious quantities of resources, while offering incrementally more power as they are upgraded.
Getting Agito weapons is the hard part, as The Agito Uprising represents a major difficulty spike and features a lot of mechanics that can overwhelm new players. However, video footage of all can be found easily on YouTube, which display the mechanics in motion, and help players learn each Agito’s kit of tricks.
Starting out, players should focus on crafting weapons of all types, get the first extra wyrmprint slot, start upgrading the Agito tree facilities, and then focus on unbinding the first four stages by fighting the Standard and Expert variants of the Agito battles. During this period, the strength of your team will skyrocket before it begins to plateau as players start to take on Master difficulty to get 8 unbinds. After which, the weapons are mostly done aside from an optional second refinement and 9th unbind, which offers an extra 10 HP and 24 Strength. Also known as basically nothing.
However, there are two interesting things about the Agito Weapons. The fact that they have a unique skill that switches between two different skills, which vary from element to element. And the fact that they have access to two additional wyrmprint slots, unlocked by completing Rise of the Sinister Dominion quests, which were the endgame content introduced after The Agito Uprising. Personally, I recommend playing Standard and Expert Agito fights before moving to Standard Rise of the Sinister Dominion to unlock the first wyrmprint slots for all weapons, then taking on Master Agito, and finally Expert and Master Dominion.
Tangent aside, once you unlock them, the Agito Weapons should be the weapon you use, outside of very rare and niche circumstances that most players will not encounter. Which begs the question of what are the Void Weapons and High Dragon Weapons about? Well… the short version is that they were part of a mistake made by Cygames during the first 13 months of Dragalia Lost’s life. See Chapter 3-5 for more details. But let’s focus on their current use and why people might want to use them.
Void Weapons: Void Weapons are a unique case in Dragalia Lost, as their primary purpose is to offer Weapon Abilities that are useful for taking on Void Battle content. Weapon Abilities are passive effects that apply to all weapons of the corresponding elements and weapon type, but there is one Weapon Ability that is useful when taking on other content. The High Dragon Bane ability is a 30% buff to damage done to the High Dragons in the Advanced Dragon Trials, and make the content far easier and more approachable.
Or in other more direct terms, the purpose of upgrading Void Weapons is to unlock Weapon Abilities, and make the Advanced Dragon Trials easier. Afterward, players would want to unlock the Weapon Bonus as well. This used to be a massive farm, but the recent drop rate overhaul of September 2021 boosted the Void Battle drop rates by a factor of 5 to 50 depending on the material.
This basically eliminated the grind present in Void Battles. What used to be an ordeal became a series of quests that players only need to play 10-ish times before putting them aside for over. This in turn makes it FAR easier to get the High Dragon Bane ability, but it still costs 215,350,000 rupies to get the ability for every weapon. Which, in the current economy of Dragalia Lost, is a pretty penny.
High Dragon Weapons: These weapons were formerly the best, but have since been outmoded by Agito weapons. Currently High Dragon weapons’ usage and purpose are very niche, and the only reason why most players invest in them is to get the Weapon Bonus. Aside from this, they are weaker and less versatile than the Agito weapons, and cost way too many resources and rupies to be worth the investment.
As a whole, weapons are probably the one area where I think Dragalia Lost’s design is exceptionally sloppy. The developers clearly had a vision, but they had to change it repeatedly and based on negative feedback, resulting in a system with copious scars. It works, but the more I think about it, the more perplexed I get. There actually is a good reason why the weapon system is currently like this, but I’ll save that story for Chapter 3-7.
Chapter 2-6: Lenticular Trading Cards of Passive Power
Despite the complexity of crafting weapons, they are fairly straightforward numerical increases, where their goal is universal, and their value can be easily represented using a number. But that is absolutely not the case with wyrmprints. Wyrmprints are accessories that players equip into weapon slots, similar to how weapons in Final Fantasy VII have a set number of materia slots, except wyrmprints only offer passive abilities.
These range from skill hate, skill damage, critical rate or damage buffs, extra buff time, affliction punishers, and so forth. That being said, the general rule is that every wyrmprint only does one thing, every adventurer can only equip a certain amount of wyrmprints, and while players have a lot of options with 300+ wyrmprints in circulation, things generally go back to a few staple builds. For DPS adventurers, you want to increase their strength, skill damage, and give them affliction punishers. While buffers and DPS units work best with skill haste, buff time, and one recovery potency wyrmprint.
Wyrmprints are generally obtained via a few methods, including completing quests, rewards for completing endeavors, or distributed as part of an event. But the simplest and easiest way to get wyrmprints is to visit the wyrmprint shop, where players can purchase wyrmprints in exchange for eldwater. You search for the wyrmprint you want, spend a resource on it, and it is added to your collection, with nothing gating players away from most prints… unless they are either tied to an event or are only available at certain times.
What’s tricky about wyrmprints is that there are three different types:
- 5-star wyrmprints, which are the most powerful and most expensive to upgrade.
- 2-star, 3-star, and 4-star wyrmprints, which are cheaper to purchase and upgrade but often less powerful.
- Wyrmprints obtained from the current endgame content, Rise of the Sinister Dominion, colloquially known as Dominion wyrmprints.
By having these three types of wyrmprints and a total of 7 slots to use in Agito weapons, the game simultaneously limits the player and gives them ample room to be crafty and creative with their builds. And an added layer of complexity to this system was introduced with wyrmprint affinities.
Affinities Bonuses: These are passive effects that kick in when the player has equipped a set number of wyrmprints with matching affinities. These effects range from affliction immunity, which is a godsend for certain adventurers, extra buff time, extra skill haste, or attack mods. I personally quite enjoy this system, as it urges players to get crafty and creative with their loadouts, but the graphics used to distinguish between these variants are… kind of terrible. There are 16 affinities, but 9 of them are white icons on a purple backdrop, and 5 of them are white icons on a red backdrop.
Upgrading Wyrmprints: In order to level up wyrmprints, you use holy water materials that are obtained from events, High Dragon Trials, and The Agito Uprising. However, the real currency needed to upgrade them is eldwater, which is primarily obtained by summoning, periodic events, or by farming chapter 13 EX1-2 of the main campaign on very hard during double drop promotions. You need eldwater to unbind wyrmprints and unlock better versions of their passive abilities, and to generate extra copies to use.
This adds up very quickly, especially for 5-star wyrmprints, and it is such a high investment that I would actually advise players to generally avoid most normal wyrmprints when starting out. Instead, I would encourage them to invest in event wyrmprints.
Event wyrmprints are my unofficial name for wyrmprints obtained from various events happening in-game and found in the Event Compendium. And the primary reason why I recommend using them is that they had a reduced upgrade cost, allowing players to save on eldwater.
A 4-star event wyrmprint costs 750 eldwater to MUB and 850 eldwater to make an extra copy. While a normal 4-star wyrmprint costs 15,000 eldwater to MUB and 17,000 eldwater to make an extra copy.
While a 5-star event wyrmprint costs 1,500 eldwater to MUB and 1,700 eldwater to make an extra copy. While a normal 5-star wyrmprint costs 33,000 eldwater to MUB and 37,000 eldwater to make an extra copy.
Sadly, there are only a few wyrmprints with reduced costs that new players can readily access. However, there are several quality wyrmprints players can obtain via the Event Compendium, which I summarized in this little graphic I spent WAY too much time on.
Also, The Floofiest Bed, Kunoichi Charisma, and Initio’s Sentinel are all event wyrmprints with reduced costs, but they can be obtained via the Wyrmprint Shop.
I would recommend that players start by investing into these event wyrmprints while spending large sums of eldwater on adventurers, before going to invest in some staple wyrmprints. Such as skill haste, buff time, doublebuff, affliction punisher, and weapon-based skill damage wyrmprints. Because looking at my current teams, those are what I primarily use even as I take on the endgame super bosses, so they are definitely good investments.
Dominion Wyrmprints: Wyrmprints obtained from the Rise of the Sinister Dominion quests (Dominion wyrmprints) are different from usual wyrmprints, as they are not unbound via eldwater and are instead unbound using materials from Rise of the Sinister Dominion quests, and the same goes for creating duplicate copies. And seeing as how the only thing you can do with these materials is upgrade wyrmprints, the only choice to make is which wyrmprints should be unbound first. And the answer to that question is “any wyrmprint with a psalm effect,” as they help negate the requirements to receive an affinity bonus.
Chapter 2-7: Dragalia is Lost, but Dragons Aren’t
Dragons play an important part of Dragalia Lost’s core identity, mechanics, and are about half of its namesake. But despite so much emphasis being put on them, they are fairly simple to grasp mechanically and serve three primary purposes.
The first is the fact that adventurers can shapeshift into dragons once they accumulate enough dragon gauge, allowing them to take on the dragon’s form, use their unique skill, and deal massive damage. These shapeshifts only last a few seconds, but are a core part of combat in Dragalia Lost, due to how they can not only decimate enemies and provide buffs or banes, but they are also an efficient means of tanking big damage. Hell, certain boss battles are built around that mechanic.
When not in dragon form, dragons serve as stat boosts to the adventurer they are equipped to. When equipped they can provide boosted HP, extra strength, increased skill damage, affliction bonuses, skill haste, and many more. These are what you actually want to consider when looking at dragons, and it is fairly easy to divide dragons into several categories and find their accompanying niche.
- Strength boosting dragons are good for any offensive unit, as strength directly increases damage and more damage is always better.
- HP boosting dragons are good for healers, as HP is a key part of how much they heal their allies before, and the healer is the last unit you want to die, so you may as well make them tanky.
- Skill damage dragons are good for adventurers with multiple offensive skills, or ones that already deal massive skill damage.
- Skill haste dragons are good on both healers and buffers, as the faster skills are used, the greater the healing and buffs are over time.
- Dragons that boost both HP and strength tend to not be especially optimal, but they are a good way of getting both a bit of extra cushion on flakey adventurers without fully sacrificing their DPS. Also, they work on healers in a pinch.
There are some exceptions to this rule, but dragons tend to be fairly simple, and so long as players focus on the relatively straightforward abilities over the Might, they should be golden. Unfortunately, the path of progression for dragons is one significantly more staggered and slow than any other progression system in the game. This is due to a lot of reasons, starting with how, unlike adventurers, dragons occupy a very unambiguous tier system of usefulness.
- 3-star dragons are garbage all-around and should be put aside as soon as possible.
- 4-star dragons are reliable standby, can be used well beyond the mid-game, and provide significant stat boosts.
- Event welfare dragons (dragons that were given away as part of raid events during the first 1.5 years of the game’s life) are technically considered 5-star dragons, but they are generally worse than their 4-star equivalents.
- 5-star dragons are the dragons that players should work towards, but they need to be unbound to truly unlock their full potential.
Unbinding Dragons: While Version 2.0 overhauled the way unbinding worked for weapons and wyrmprints to something far more intuitive, dragons are the odd one out and… I really don’t like the system, but I will get to my criticisms of this in Chapter 5-5. For now, dragons are unbound using three methods:
Using other copies of the same dragon with the same name and illustration and sacrificing one to enhance the abilities, skill, and level cap of the other. This is an option for every dragon of every rarity.
Using Moonlight Stones to unbind 4-star dragons and Sunlight Stones to unbind 5-star dragons. Which is an easy and simple way to unbind dragons. While Moonlight Stones are abundant, Sunlight Stones are far more elusive and most would advise only using them on dragons who cannot normally be summoned, such as Gala dragons.
Using Draconic Essences, which are available exclusively for 5-star dragons and are obtained by playing main campaign quests on the Hard and Very Hard difficulties. Every day, players can obtain a maximum of 6 Dragonic Essences per dragon, and once the player has amassed 50 Dragonic Essences, they can unbind the corresponding dragon. Meaning that dedicated players can get a 5-star dragon fully unbound in roughly a month. However, there are frequent double drop promotions going on in the main campaign, which allow players to gather twice as many Dragonic Essences in a given day.
Now, is there any other purpose for Dragonic Essences other than unbinding dragons? No, at least not yet. However, in September 2021, the game did introduce a fifth unbind for select dragons. These fifth unbinds boost the dragon level caps to 120, gives their abilities a small buff, and introduces a passive strength buff that, while limited, makes them a more viable tool for players without access to the latest and greatest dragons
Dragon Copies: While players are generally advised to only keep one MUB copy of each dragon, players do have the ability to maintain multiple MUB copies of dragons, and there are instances where this is strongly advised. When starting out, players will want multiple copies of 4-star dragons to fill up their teams. And I have definitely run team compositions where having extra MUB copies of 5-star dragons came in handy.
Disposing of Dragons: Unlike wyrmprints, weapons, and adventurers, dragons have a set number that players can store before they need to either buy more storage or go to the collection section of their team menu to exchange the dragons for eldwater and a paltry sum or rupies. I do not like this approach, as I get real bad anxiety when disposing of items in games, and it took me genuine months of playing this game before I discovered this was even a feature. Meaning it is super unintuitive. I seriously think that dragon upgrading needs a major overhaul, but I will save that prolonged diatribe for Chapter 5-5.
Also, and this is a SUPER IMPORTANT PRO TIP, but all new players should grab the Mini Greatwyrm dragons from the treasure trade. They cost basically nothing to obtain, you get 5 copies to combine into one MUB unit, and they offer a buff of 30% HP and 30% strength to all adventurers, which makes these free bonus dragons better than most 4-star dragons.
And no matter what you do, NEVER dispose of the Gold Fafnir dragons obtained via treasure trade. They are a massive help when players need to farm rupies, and once they are gone, they are gone forever.
Chapter 2-8: Always Be Constructing — Or Your Life Is Inert!
Adventurers, dragons, weapons, and wyrmprints. All of these things are a way to amass Might and progress through the game, but they are isolated systems that only affect one’s team when they are in use. This is how most RPGs operate, but Dragalia also features a way to passively, permanently, and universally improve the stats of all adventurers through the Halidom. The in-universe base of the protagonists that serves as the resting place for facilities. Facilities are monuments that bestow permanent passive HP, strength, and damage upgrades onto adventurers or dragons of a corresponding weapon type or element.
I downright adore this system! I think facilities are a great incentive for players to amass materials, while providing them with a goal that they know will benefit them in the long run. I think facilities are a great way to keep players engaged and coming back, because they will likely be able to build a new facility every few hours. And I love the sense of growth, development, and progression to be had with constructing facilities and watching numbers go up and slowly amount to something substantial.
When starting out the game, does an extra 2% in HP and strength to all adventurers of a given category really amount to much? No, not really. Does it make much of a difference when you are applying this bonus to a bunch of fully upgraded adventurers? Again, no. But by upgrading all the facilities, by slowly crawling at the goalpost, by making investments over a long stretch of time, you can more than double the HP and strength of all adventurers. And that… that is really nice.
Not only because of the net numerical effect, but because of the journey to get there. My path to getting here was filled with grinding and investing or using these facilities as a way to motivate my progression through the game, and it was worth it for a lot of reasons. The numbers that were boosting my adventurers and dragons. The sheer spectacle of a fully decked out Halidom adorned with all the facilities arranged in an aesthetically appealing and spatially conscious manner. And the burning sense of pride and accomplishment the likes of which I have not felt since I completed the National Pokédex in 2014.
My Dojos are donezo! My altars be boppin’! My trees are at SSR dankness! My event facilities are maxed! My slime statues are coated with dust because they’re outmoded! My dragon facilities are at their caps! And I even upgraded my Rupie Mines to level 45, because why not!
However, this all can be imposing to new players, and to them, I have some simple advice:
- Try to upgrade your fixed facilities— your Halidom and Smithy— as soon as you can because they open up extra mechanics.
- Once you get situated with the game and feel like exploring, go to the Event Compendium and start developing the event facilities you get from there. Most elemental event facilities offer a max of a 9.5% bonus to HP and an 8.5% bonus to strength, and while it is a grind to get there, it is worth it in the long-term.
- Hustle Hammers are tools used to immediately finish the construction of a facility, but only a limited number of them, roughly 200, are currently available to all Dragalia Lost players. As such, players are encouraged to only use them if a facility will take more than a full day to construct and if the player has the resources needed to upgrade the facility to the next level.
- Most facilities have soft-caps where they start demanding more and more resources in order to reach their full potential, and it should not be the player’s primary objective to surpass this soft-cap, as players inevitably will amass the resource they are short on just by playing the game normally.
- Beyond that, remember ABC: Always Be Constructing, and keep on leveling up facilities, as it never is a bad investment.
Chapter 2-9: Multiplayer Mayhem
In talking about all of these progression systems, I failed to mention an incredibly useful tool as part of one’s path of progression. As a live service, Dragalia Lost naturally has multiplayer features, and these primarily take the form of co-op. The vast majority of quests in the game can be played with other players through public or private lobbies that allow for players to combine their strength and take on content.
Other players act independently, shapeshift into dragons at their own accord, and can offer players something they might be lacking in their current team. It adds more variety to the game as you never know who exactly you will be paired up with and what adventurer and equipment they will be using. And for new players, co-op is the best way to clear new content, as they will more often than not join with veterans who can help carry them through new content and allow them to meet the milestones they need in order to progress deeper into the endgame.
But beyond that, co-op multiplayer is a large component of what one does in Dragalia Lost, and while I am typically not big on multiplayer, I actually enjoy pairing up with random players in this game. Every battle plays out a bit differently, even if the boss and general team composition are the same. You indirectly learn a lot about other adventurers by playing alongside them. And there is a sense of teamwork and comradery felt as players communicate to one another with stickers and throw themselves into routine dailies and new challenges.
The only problem is that not all players are equal, and for every master player, there are three that are okay, and one that has no idea what they are doing. This can be frustrating at points, and has pushed me away from playing certain endgame quests in co-op, but I have come to appreciate the random element of it in more manageable, less intense, quests.
Chapter 2-10: Become An Auto-Maniac!
Any gacha game veteran would be familiar with the concept of auto-playing content. Having the game play itself and allowing the player to reap the rewards in exchange for energy/stamina. It is a genre staple, and how players typically grind or farm for content. Dragalia Lost, despite its action-oriented gameplay, is no different in this regard, and players are strongly encouraged to make use of its auto-play and auto-repeat features to amass materials quickly. …At least once their teams are at a sufficiently high level of Might.
Now, some game-likers might look at this and ask “what’s the point of putting an auto-feature in a game when the fun part of a game is actually playing it?” Which I think is kind of missing the point. You see, in a lot of RPGs, the ‘fun part’ is not necessarily the minute-to-minute active play. It is the steady accumulation of skills, stats, and overall power, allowing the player character(s) to decimate opposition.
This realization, combined with the less intensive nature of RPGs, caused many console-style RPGs to adopt auto-battle systems, and the trend quickly carried over to mobile RPGs, where the system was used to retain user attention while making grinding/farming far less mundane. And while one might comment on how it is thoughtless, there is actually quite a lot of mechanical understanding, kit-building, and playing-the-game required to reach a point where players can reliably auto their way through content.
As such, it is rewarding to assemble an auto-composition that works, but many bosses are so complex and need such specific accommodations that I would recommend that players check out DragaliAuto.com, a fan resource that collates autoplay compositions shared by members of the Dragalia Lost community. I use this site, or compositions that were brought over to it, all the time when accumulating materials, and the game was clearly designed around this idea, so it’s hard to really justify calling this “bad design” or anything of the sort.
Chapter 2-11: Did I Mention Depth?
I have talked so much about this game, but at the same time, I feel like I am just scratching the surface of its mechanics. Despite being a mobile game, a game on a casual platform, Dragalia Lost has the depth of an MMORPG— which it technically is— a Mobile Multiplayer Online-only RPG. Between the sheer quantity of tech that is employed here. This is easily one of the most mechanically deep and complicated games I have invested myself in, and I really appreciate that. It keeps the game engaging, it is always evolving, and I find the core underlying gameplay and progression systems engaging enough that I want to see how things grow with new adventurers, dragons, and so forth.
However, all of that is meant to be learned as the player progresses through the game. Like any online multiplayer social game, Dragalia Lost is best when you are playing it with others, when information is shared, and when you as a player can experience intrinsic growth by accumulating knowledge and skills as your characters and teams extrinsically rise in Might. And even if I really have been doing a crummy job on the whole social aspect, as I just pull tech from Discord, Reddit, Oasis of Maniacs, and YouTube instead of talking to people, I have still experienced this multifaceted progression system, and I love it.
I love the sense of progressing in a game, of making my characters better, of being able to do more, and being able to breeze through what were once daunting challenges. I love the progression system in the game because it is constant, it is persistent, and every day brings with it new growth.
Admittedly, not as much growth seeing as how my facilities are upgraded, my Agito weapons have been 8UB for months, and I have been able to take on all new content day one or day two. However, there is alway something to strive for, something to amass, and I enjoy getting closer and closer to that goal. However, for all my boasting, I have not fully explained how Dragalia Lost works, and the cycle of content that the player engages with while spiraling higher and higher as they progress from the path of a beginner to that of a master. So, I’ll do that… Next time!