Like the wildly successful Clash of Clans, Dragon Storm is a kingdom-building game with a competitive edge. Players create their own worlds, shore up defenses, build attacking forces, and then head out to conquer the competition. The story's built from fairly traditional fantasy fluff where the world is under attack from an insane dragon overlord, and surviving humans take to the skies with the remaining, noble, dragon eggs in gigantic airships.
The first order of business is to get your fledgling airborne kingdom up-and-running. You build barracks to train up troops, construct and expand farms and mines to increase your resource generation, and so on. You're limited in where you can place these constructions though, which is unfortunate and removes a great deal of agency from the player.
If you want to speed any of this up, you can spend some of the Crowns you're given at the start of the game. The tutorial system doesn't really teach you how to play the game, rather it teaches you to burn through this starting currency as quickly as possible. Every building you construct or upgrade takes time, and you can only build one at a time. In terms of gameplay and personalization, it's inelegant to say the least - if this isn't a hearty shove towards the in-app purchase store from the game designers why not simply give players these facilities rather than force them to arbitrarily build them?
Once you have built your fortress in the sky, you can take part in the game's campaign. Here the viewpoint switches to a top-down grid, and you choose which troops to send into battle to claim land and defeat enemies. Combat is automated once it begins and - again - it takes time for your troops to both march into and return from combat. This area of the game also isn't explained very clearly at all, and if you head into it too early then your expensive (in terms of time and currency) troops will be decimated by the AI opposition.
If you'd rather go to war against other players, you can either join an Alliance or go it alone in the PVP section of the game. Here you can choose a target and order an attack, with resource spoils going to the victor - thankfully, if you want to avoid terrible losses, you can upgrade your kingdom's vault so as to store resources safely.
Looking at all areas of Dragon Storm, it's hard to see how the significant proliferation of construction and upgrade timers won't lead to it becoming a pay-to-win game. Being a member of an Alliance provides some protection from assailants, but the in-app purchase store itself rings alarm bells. If you want to purchase more Crowns in the game, they're available in an assortment of packs - note, however, that in the UK shop the first option presented is to buy 200 Crowns for Â£6.99, but scroll all the way to the right and you can get 100 for the cheaper price per Crown of Â£2.99. Very naughty, to put it mildly.
What we're left with then is a game that looks fantastic, and has a sprinkling of strategy in the wider game, but is unashamedly built around extracting money from players first and foremost. Those with a great deal of patience - or a great deal of money - won't be bothered by these problems, but we found the monetization to be overbearing, turning the game into a spreadsheet that's as expensive as it is pretty. Unless you have deep pockets, there's simply not enough gameplay here.
What's Hot:Outstanding artwork and unusually slick server performance for the genre.
What's Not:A dominant cash shop is laid on top of rather thin gameplay. You'll need a great deal of patience or a great deal of money to get the most out of the game.