Dragalia Lost: Making a Solid Start

So, you decided to give Dragalia Lost a go. A free-to-play mobile game from Nintendo can’t be that scary, can it?

Well, if you’ve never given a game like this a shot before, there’s a surprising amount of depth to the overall affair that might not be immediately apparent. Dragalia Lost does a better job than most at introducing new progression mechanics gradually, but it can still be a little daunting if you’re a newcomer!

With that in mind, I present a selection of advice for those new to the game — particularly if you’re new to free-to-play mobile gacha RPGs in general.

Don’t Sweat the Gacha

This is probably the most important tip I can give you. With this type of game, it’s easy to get overly wrapped up in the “gacha” mechanic — the “Summon” system whereby you expend premium currency to draw new items and characters. But, probably more than any other game of this type I’ve played, Dragalia Lost is not a game in which you should get too obsessive over the gacha — or too upset about what you draw.

There are three reasons for this. Firstly, the draw rate for high-rarity (five-star) stuff is very low, so in any given draw or 10-draw you’re not very likely to pull a five-star — and there aren’t even that many five-star characters, dragons and wyrmprints in the game at the time of writing.

Secondly, and perhaps more importantly in gameplay terms, lower-rarity characters are absolutely capable of holding their own in combat. As we’ll discuss in a moment, Dragalia Lost is as dependent on skill as it is on behind-the-scenes RPG-style number-crunching, so with the appropriate equipment and levelling there’s no reason you can’t plough through the game’s content with the four-star characters you get as part of the main story, and three-star characters from the gacha. It can actually be quite an interesting experience to figure out the best combinations of characters from the squad you manage to cobble together.

Plus remember that even three-star characters still have their own Adventurer Stories, which reward you with wyrmite… which can be used to do more summons!

Finally, don’t let your hunger for an elusive five-star bait you into spending more money than you can afford on the game. At the end of the day, it is just a game, and you can have a perfectly enjoyable experience without paying a penny. This should go without saying, but don’t let it have an adverse impact on your life or finances!

Push Onward

It’s not long after the game’s launch at the time of writing, so there’s not a huge amount of side content to distract you from the main story, but I will emphasise this: progress through the main story as soon as you can, because this is the primary means through which you unlock a number of systems in the game.

Most notably, partway through chapter 2 you unlock the ability to upgrade weapons, and at the conclusion of chapter 2 you earn the ability to forge weapons. After chapter 3, you unlock Dragon Trials, which allow you a means of getting more dragons as well as other useful upgrade materials.

There are six chapters in the game at the time of writing, and a Hard mode unlocks once you’ve beaten them all.

Mad Skills

As we’ve already noted, rather than being a turn-based affair that is almost entirely reliant on stats, Dragalia Lost’s action RPG stylings require that you demonstrate some skill along the way rather than just blindly hack-and-slashing. In most story missions, you probably won’t have too much difficulty so long as you’re close to the recommended Might value, but when it comes to things like the Dragon Trials and the Avenue missions, you’ll want to pay a bit more attention.

The most important thing to get the hang of is controlling space. Familiarise yourself with the maximum range at which your character can attack with their weapon — you might be surprised at how far away characters like Elisanne can stand and still hit, and characters like Luca and Cleo are explicitly ranged characters — and try to keep enemies at a distance as much as you can. Don’t let yourself get surrounded, and it’s always better to break off an attack to move out of danger rather than keep blindly hacking away.

As part of this situational awareness, don’t stand in the area-of-effect (AoE) markers! These show where a large enemy attack is going to happen, and they will gradually fill up to show you how much time you have to get out of the way. Use the quick dodge-roll (flick the screen) to get out of danger as quickly as you can, and note that in most cases you can still avoid an attack if its animation or projectile misses your actual character model. If you’re a veteran of Final Fantasy XIVnote that Dragalia Lost handles these AoE markers a bit differently to what you might be accustomed to — FFXIV determines whether or not the attack hits when the telegraph disappears, whereas in Dragalia Lost the telegraph disappearing simply means the actual attack is starting.

Besides, this, familiarise yourself with your characters’ abilities and make good use of them at appropriate times rather than simply when they become available. Pay particular attention to how your character’s Focus Strike works, as you’ll need this to break guards, and different characters implement this special attack very differently! Also note that if you need a big AoE attack, shapeshifting into dragon form involves a large circular AoE around yourself, so this can be a good means of clearing out trash enemies as well as laying the smack down on a boss.

When fighting bosses, note that when they enter Overdrive they not only become more powerful, but they also gain new attacks. Unless you’re on a tight time limit, take a moment to observe what they do and be ready to dodge. Then take every opportunity to deal damage and knock their mode bar back to Break, because they’ll be completely vulnerable for a short period while broken. This will be where you’ll do the majority of your damage and probably make the kill.

Might Makes Right

Your main measure of progression is not character level, player level or anything like that — it’s your Might rating. This is a numerical representation of your parties’ overall levels of power, and is calculated as a combination of several things: the characters in the party, the weapons they have equipped, the wyrmprints they have equipped, the dragon they have equipped, and the levels of all of the above.

There are several ways to raise Might, so if you find yourself up against a quest with a high recommended or required Might rating, make sure you’ve been through all of these:

  • Level up your characters. This can be done either by simply using them in quests, or by using metal crystals acquired as treasures. The daily “Avenue to Power” quest has a high drop rate for metal crystals, and the first two times you run this per day rewards you with an extra pile of crystals, too. If you can’t be bothered to actually run the Avenue to Power missions, after you’ve completed them once, you can use the daily Skip Tickets to “complete” them and get all the rewards without actually having to play them.
  • Unlock nodes in your characters’ Mana Rings. This is an easily missed component of the game, but it’s super-important. Each character has a Mana Ring, in which you can spend mana (acquired via a variety of means, including using friends’ characters as Helpers and having your friends use your character as a Helper) to unlock various nodes. These fall into several different categories: increases to HP and Strength have a direct impact on the character’s Might rating, but the “New Adventurer Story” nodes also tend to carry either an HP or Strength (and, by extension, Might) bonus, too. Abilities, meanwhile, provide both passive and active skills that will be of benefit. For any characters you’re planning on controlling directly, make sure to unlock their Focus Strike, as this is the best way to break the guard of armoured enemies.

  • Level up your weapons. Weapons can be levelled up either through the use of whetstones, which are acquired as treasures, or by combining them with weapons of a lower rank. Starter weapons are level 0 and cannot be upgraded, so you’ll need to find or craft other weapons to be able to upgrade them. And don’t forget you can raise the level cap of a weapon up to four times by “Unbinding” it — combine it with another copy of the same weapon.
  • Craft new weapons. Once you unlock the Smithy, take a moment to craft weapons for any new characters you put into your party. If you have the resources to do so, immediately craft five copies of the weapon so you can fully Unbind it immediately, then get to levelling it up. This can be a very quick means of raising Might. Weapons tend to affect Strength more than HP.
  • Level up your wyrmprints. This works much the same as with weapons, only you use holy water instead of whetstones. You can pretty safely use two- and three-star wyrmprints as level-up fodder; you’ll pull four- and five-star wyrmprints relatively frequently when you summon. Remember you can Unbind wyrmprints in the same way as weapons — fuse them with a copy of themselves up to four times to raise their level cap. Wyrmprints tend to affect HP more than Strength, and often carry passive abilities, so take a moment to check their details when choosing who gets what.
  • Level up your dragons. The main way you’ll do this is with Dragonfruit, which can be cultivated in the Halidom once you unlock it. Note that this is different from raising your Bond level with the dragons by giving them gifts; the latter doesn’t affect their Might, but allows you to remain transformed for longer and also unlocks story episodes that reward you with precious Wyrmite.

Note that pretty much all of the helpful upgrade materials — crystals, whetstones, dragonfruit — can be acquired through the easily-missed daily Item Summon. Tap the Shop button on the main menu (to the right of the Endeavours button), go to Upgrade Essentials and tap the Item Summon banner. You can do this once per day for free; further Item Summons cost Wyrmite, getting increasingly expensive each time. Save your Wyrmite unless you’re rolling in it and just remember to do a daily freebie Item Summon. You can also spend Rupies on some of the more valuable, powerful upgrade items — though they’re quite expensive.

Jolly Cooperation

You can play the whole game solo, but it’s worth engaging with the online cooperative mode at least a little. Not only is it fun to play with actual live other people, you also get significant Wyrmite rewards for each new player you party up with. Co-op is also a good means of clearing content you’re struggling with solo — if you just can’t quite get your Might high enough to comfortably clear a difficult encounter, try jumping online and see if people can help out.

Related to this, don’t be afraid to send friend requests to players whose Helper characters you use, or that you play alongside in co-op. There’s no obligation to actively do anything for your friends, and both of you get helpful rewards any time you use each other’s Helpers — so the one thing you should do is head over to the More > Friends > Helper Settings page and assign your best character as your Helper to make people more likely to use them.

Get to Know Your Troops

In the Castle screen, there are buttons for Adventurer Stories and Dragon Stories. You unlock a character’s level 1 Adventurer Story immediately when you recruit them, with others unlocking as you activate nodes in their Mana Ring. Dragon Stories, meanwhile, are unlocked at various milestones in the dragon’s Trust meter — visit the Dragon’s Roost via the Castle menu and give them gifts to increase this.

Not only are the stories entertaining and fun, but they also reward you with Wyrmite for watching them — so it’s not only worthwhile to check them out from a narrative perspective, it also brings you ever close to that next 10 draw.

Building a Happy Home

Finally, don’t neglect the Halidom. You can produce helpful resources with facilities here, including rupies and dragonfruit — so don’t forget to go and collect them every so often! Getting into the habit of doing this before you start jumping into questing for a daily session is a good thing to do.

Also of note is the Smithy building, which can be upgraded to increase the range of weapons you can craft, and the elemental shrines, which provide passive bonuses to characters of the matching element. Be sure to both place these structures and spend some Rupies on upgrading them a few times — it can really help boost your power levels.

Levelling up the main castle itself increases the available area you have to build, but note that some castle upgrades require a particular “facility level” before you can start on them. To increase your facility level, build all the facilities available to you and then upgrade them as much as you can. While you’re doing this, you’re increasing your overall production and buffs to your characters, so there’s no real downside!

Hopefully that’s been helpful to some of you! If you’ve got any of your own tips, feel free to share ’em in the comments. And I’ve still got a few spaces on my friend list if you want to add me in the game — search for ID 47704804874.


More about Dragalia Lost

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