Clash for Dawn Gameplay
Gameplay is centered around doing quests and crawling dungeons to advance your character, gain new weapons and items, and build up your mercenaries. At the start things go very fast, and you may find yourself up to level 30 or 40 in the first few hours of play. In the late 30’s things start to slow down a lot if you aren’t constantly spending Gems (and thus money) on the game. Up until that point though it’s a blast with little to no downtime!
The quest system is easy to use since there is auto-find, though it’s so easy it can become just a clickfest. I found myself rarely reading what the quests were about. They aren’t that interesting anyway. The UI isn’t that great, there’s a lot of clutter with about half the buttons leading to pay-to-win purchases. It can be confusing when starting out to find your way back to some features like the Wishing Well.
The Wishing Well is a type of investment/betting system where you throw Gold or Gems in and hope to get more back. Amazingly for a free-to-play game, the minimum payout seems to be 100%, so it’s basically free Gold and Gems if you can hold off on spending them for a while. There is also a “wheel of fortune” type feature called the CFD Wheel. This one is clearly weighted against the player, and is one of the more annoying features in the game because whenever someone does get lucky and gets the Gems it announces it on the screen for everyone. But you do get free spins so it’s not terrible. Just don’t waste Gems chasing the Gem payouts. While it appears at first that you’d eventually get the Gems since each prize you do get is removed from the wheel, you can actually only get 4 of the prizes before the wheel resets the next day.
You start out as one of the 4 basic classes: Warrior, Archer, Mage, and Priest. Each class can specialize later in the game. The Archer for instance starts out as a Novice, then becomes a full fledged Archer. After that they can specialize along two lines; Ranger or Sharp Shooter. Each of those sub-classes can eventually be evolved further with Ranger becoming Hawkeye, and Sharp Shooter becoming Deadshot. I used an Archer for my first character, and in most cases didn’t have to run around too much to stay alive while doing even level solo dungeons. In multiplayer dungeons though I had to pay a lot more attention to where I was positioned to stay alive.
Weapons, Armor, and other equipped items are an important aspect of your character, but like with the quests it’s very straightforward which items you will wear, and which you will sell off. A simple point system makes it clear which item is superior. Any enhancements you’ve made to your equipped items that would set it apart from other similar items will transfer over to new items if you change equipment. This is a very nice touch. Each equipped item can be enhanced at the Blacksmith (Hub->Blacksmith), generally using Gold and Enhancing Scrolls. Some milestones will require Gold and Siderolite (a type of rock you collect). The Siderolite is rather rare it seems. Also you can embed Skill Stones into your equipped items to give them bonuses. Each type of Skill Stone has it’s own bonuses, and has different levels. You can craft lower level Skill Stones together to make higher level ones.
You will also want to level up your skills as you’re going. This is done by clicking on the Hub, then going to Skills. Gold is used to level up the skills normally, but to unlock some milestones you will need to use other items. You can increase your skill levels as high as your character’s level, but not higher. Early skill levels are very cheap, but it becomes big Gold sink later on.
Mercenaries are your companions in the game, helping you out in combat. The Mercenary screen can be found right off the Hub. It has 4 panels: Equipment Catalog, Command, My Mercenary, and Mercenary Tavern. Mercenaries, like equipment, are broken into categories by color. White are the least powerful, with increasing power to Green then Blue and then finally the most powerful Purple.
The Mercenary Tavern is where you can summon Mercenaries to help you out. There is a Gold summon that costs 100k, though you can use it 5 times per day for free. There are two Gem summons. One costs 100 Gems and generally gives you a higher quality Mercenary than the Gold summoning. You also get to use this Gem summoning one time per day for free. The third type of summons is the 10 Multi-Draw. It costs 950 Gems and gives you 10 higher quality Mercenaries. So basically you get 5 Gems off on each Mercenary if you summon them 10 at a time.
The Command screen is where you can trade in Command tokens to buy Mercenaries and Mercenary Equipment. I haven’t yet gotten any Command tokens.
The Equipment Catalog shows you all the Mercenary Equipment that you’ve collected and crafted. This equipment is used to boost the stats of your mercenaries. You can Enhance your Mercenaries if you get all 6 equipment boxes filled. Other ways to increase the power of your Mercenaries are to Inherit and to Evolve them. Inherit allows you to choose to boost the Magical Damage, Physical Armor, Magical Armor, Max HP, or Critical Hit Damage of the Mercenary by “combining” another Mercenary. Be careful not to use your important Mercenaries as Inherit fodder, as they will disappear! Evolving requires having extra Mercenaries of the same type. I haven’t yet been able to try this out.
Guilds are an important aspect of Clash of Dawns. There are buffs you can get for your character by joining a guild that you can’t get otherwise, and there are Guild events which can also get you some nice goodies. In some events you can also get bonus rewards by completing dungeons while grouped with guild-mates.
Guilds have their own chat channels and rankings, and their own “area” as well.
In Clash for Dawn there are both solo and team dungeons. Early on all the dungeons are solo, but later on the team dungeons start showing up more often. This is part of why the game slows down in the later levels, as waiting for groups can take some time depending on when you’re playing and if you have friends to help you out or not.
Solo dungeons are far easier than team dungeons of the same level, even if you’re using a full group in the team dungeons. Also I’ve had lots of sync problems in team dungeons. I’ve found that even if I lose sync, if I hit “auto” my character will still fight … even though I can’t see anything but the damage numbers.
Each Dungeon can be fought many times, and once you have gotten an S or better rating (SS, SSS) then you can “auto” the dungeon. For those times when even auto is too boring, you can instantly beat the dungeons by using an item. Or even beat it 10 times in one click.
The Dungeons themselves look great, but having to beat each one so many times results in them eventually all becoming boring. A random dungeon generator would have been a great addition to this game.
The Arena is where you go to fight other teams (character + Mercenaries). These teams seem to be randomly generated in many cases at least, and the other team is always handled by the computer. Fights tend to be very short and bloody … the first hit is extremely important so even a little lag will waste you in any even matchup. As an Archer I had a much easier time with Warriors and Druids than with Mages. Though since you can mix and match your Mercenaries, there is a lot of variation possible.
I would have like it a lot more if the fights were more drawn out … maybe cut damage by 90%. As is, I usually start moving, try to get off a pot-shot ASAP, and then if it fires fast enough win a couple seconds later … if not I’m dead. I think I once had a fight go all of 10 seconds, but at least half that time was due to lag issues.
In addition to the Guild wars, there are open world PvP areas. This is one aspect of the game where you can participate as much as you want without paying a dime (or waiting for a daily allowance) for the opportunity. However, since there are no level restrictions this isn’t much of an option for new players. A level 50+ player will casually one-shot you (or on accident while attacking another player) as they pass by and that’s that unless you’re one of the highest level players on your server. Having areas for PvP for players of certain level ranges would be a great addition to the game.
Clash for Dawn is a game that’s great fun for 10 to 20 hours of gameplay. Definitely worth trying out. Graphics are nice if a bit cluttered. The main problem is it gets a bit too pay-to-win … or really pay-to-play … after that for my tastes. There’s just not much to do after the first few minutes each day unless you’re constantly spending money or are a high level PvP player.
A subscription MMO actually would actually be cheaper in the long run if you like to spend a lot of time playing. For a quick dungeon romp here or there, and for those who can’t spend much time playing, the daily “free play” allowances are more reasonable. For those players it’s a great game once you get past the UI issues.