Draconius GO has been out for a few days now, growing from just 5,000 to more than 100,000 players in little over a week. We decided to give it a go and see how we feel about the whole thing.

Disclaimer: this review is not sponsored nor does it imply we’re switching to Draconius GO. We are writing this because we know that a lot of our readers are interested in an unbiased, fair review of this game. That seems to be a rarity these days, so there you go.

Copy me, copy you

Let’s start with the elephant in the room: Draconius GO is a Pokemon GO clone. There’s no running away from the fact that it’s almost the same game, with a different set of creatures to capture and spells to cast.

Everything we’re used to in Pokemon GO is already there – buttons are in similar (if not the same) places, you can hatch Eggs, you can catch monsters, you have a monster buddy and you have to walk in order to play the game. Of course, the monsters can evolve and they have individual stats and moves.

In addition to the familiar Pokemon GO formula, Draconius adds additional features, most of which are highly requested by the Pokemon GO player base:

  • Player vs Player combat that works
  • Quests, missions and treasure hunts
  • Creature tracking that works
  • Sensible rural game play
  • Remote egg hatching (via Mother of Dragons)
  • Pretty even spawns worldwide
  • Dragons. You can catch dragons.

Feature wise, Draconius GO is packed, there’s something to do constantly and the game play never really stops.

Admittedly, some of these features are not polished as they should be (capture encounter feels unnatural), but they are functional and present.

Rural game play included

Glossary: POI is a Point of Interest. We use this term to describe any structure on the map that you can interact with it.

Spawns and Points of Interest (Pillars, Portals, Arenas) work differently in Draconius GO. Rather then being base on real world locations, they are created by an algorithm. The algorithm loads the map data and determines where an interactive object (Arena/Pillar/Portal) should be created.

In other words, the entire world is, more or less, equally covered with interactable content. No matter where you go, you will still be able to find monsters, restock on balls and participate in normal Draconius game play.

There is no such thing as a “rural game play” in Draconius, it just works for everyone. If you don’t believe us, take a look at these two screenshots, taken at the same rural location in both games:

Rural game play comparison: Draconius GO (left) vs Pokemon GO (right)
Rural game play comparison: Draconius GO (left) vs Pokemon GO (right)

Although the Draconius system works great, we really missed the “built on top of real world” feeling that Pokemon GO’s locations offered. There is simply no sense of local discovery in Draconius, as most POIs are randomly placed. In addition, there are issues with bodies of water and POI generation, but devs have confirmed that they’re working on a fix.

Plus, we’ve found it was very difficult to talk about actual POIs as their names have no connection to the area around them:

“Let’s go to the Library of Immortal Fighters! Sure, where is that? Umm… no idea…”

Performance matters, especially on mobile

Lately, we’ve heard the following a lot: “Draconius looks like Pokemon GO 2.0.” Although we don’t agree completely, we understand where this is coming from.

The game simply runs super smooth on most devices where Pokemon GO struggles. No overheating, no lag, no lost distance. Battery usage is increased roughly 10-15% more when compared to regular Google Maps usage – not great, but not horrible either. Be aware that these numbers are anecdotal, but we never felt range anxiety while playing Draconius.

Scrolling, tapping, panning, zooming – it all works. No, it does not “kinda work”. It really works.

Prior to Draconius, we were stuck in this bubble where our devices and their performance was inadequate for serious AR + GPS gaming. Luckily, the Ukrainian based development team has debunked that in style: if your game is slow, it’s not slow because of it’s underlying technology. We refuse to believe that it’s possible that two games built on top of the same engine (Unity) can perform so vastly different.

Performance wise, Draconius is the clear winner here.

Communication matters, especially online

Although you are probably aware of this by now, Elyland has been working around the clock to make us and a number of other media outlets and influencers to care about their game.

Trainer Tips, Reversal and Lachlan have already either publicly confirmed that they’ve been contacted or they have already created content for this game. But that’s not all.

Behind the scenes, there are mailing lists limited to friends and partners. There are news that we receive days before they actually go live. There is communication between the developers, media and the community on every level.

This is great.

Franchise is king

If you made it this far into the article, you know how we feel about Draconius. It’s a great game that works great and has a great, communicative team behind it. But… it doesn’t have Pokemon.

We know it’s probably shallow and childish, but Charizard will always be Charizard, no matter how you slice it. Most of the decisions that we make about Pokemon are not rational, they never have been. For a number of us, Pokemon equals childhood and childhood is emotional.

Draconius has showed that it is possible to have a great experience while playing an Augmented Reality GPS based game, but they still need to show that you can capture the market without an established franchise.

Conclusion

Draconius GO is a great game, especially for Rural players. It is a clone of the Pokemon GO formula, but it’s an improved clone with some interesting features. If we were in your shoes, we’d give it a try to see first hand if it satisfies your AR gaming needs.

Will it “kill Pokemon GO”? We don’t think so, but it’s existence shows that this genre is not going away anytime soon. Competition is good and Pokemon GO players are long overdue for some love.

We recommend Draconius, not as a Pokémon GO replacement, but as a good AR + GPS game for anyone who’s a fan of the genre.

You can download Draconius here:

REVIEW OVERVIEW
Performance
Longevity
Originality
Character design
Overall look and Feel