MDA & 8 Kinds of Fun: Dragon Nest

Dragon Nest is an mmo-rpg whose core mechanics are built around battling various monster bosses in order to craft gear that allows you to go up more final-style bosses, the dragons in a “raid” with 7 other players. 


Though leveling is a mechanic in the game, the game essentially locks you out of any of the core elements until you are at max rank, thus getting to max-level is always a given before you are able to truly engage with the mechanics of the game. Oftentimes, players describe Dragon Nest as a game you don’t really play until you hit max-level as the mechanics drastically shift at this stage. This resulted in a grind-like dynamic where the game can sometimes grow to feel incredibly stale as you had to fight a bunch of ridiculously easy bosses for weeks until you can finally do anything in the game.


 In many other mmo-rpgs leveling is a method to drastically increase power, and the leveling process is much more dynamic and allows you to access various features as you increase in levels, though this is kind of stripped away in Dragon Nest. Rather, the core mechanic of the game is after the leveling process, where you are left to try and craft stronger gear. As you progress through the game, there are different dungeons and boss battles you will be able to encounter. Each boss battle requires certain character stats in order to beat, so, when your gear is relatively weak, you want to fight weaker bosses until you are able to loot and craft gear that is strong enough to go up against stronger bosses. Once your gear is relatively strong and you’ve defeated all of the “nests” (boss battles with 3 other players), you can finally go up against the end-game content, the dragon raids. These raids are locked to only being able to be completed once a week, and they give you the most powerful gear in the game. As a result, these raids are also the most difficult content in the game, and are impossible to clear off of just strong gear alone. 


To beat the end game raids, one needs to master all of the fight mechanics of the dragons in the raid and dodge all of their attacks in order to successfully complete the raid. This mechanic resulted in a dynamic experience of community building and bonding, where “raid teams” would be formed amongst players to run “practice rounds” where players will practice going up against each boss before finally committing to the actual raid. Players would often need to practice for weeks or even months until finally being able to battle the raid bosses, and since raids were only a once a week event, clearing the raid felt euphoric as it was a result of a ton of practice and gear crafting. The coordination and weeks long practice with 7 other people for a raid forged a fellowship kind of fun as you would end up super close with the 7 other people you’ve been practicing with, and form a “raid team” that would grow to be some of your closest friends. Everyone going through the same journey of the long grind of getting good gear, and practicing to clear a raid together made finally beating the raid feel like a huge team accomplishment that brought everyone together.



Picture of the Desert Dragon — one of the final raid bosses

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