Remember Neopets back in the day? It was an online pet-raising community where you’d feed, play with and dress up virtual pets. It’s still around, but my tastes have matured since I was in grade school and I now prefer raising pixelated dragons, thank you very much.
A Review of Flight Rising
AKA Time to Get Your Daenerys On with Lots More Breeding
Flight Rising began as a concept between a freelance artist and sheriff’s deputy who met in World of Warcraft. Theirs is a story of dedication and surprise success through Kickstarter, which you can read about in this Polygon article. To sum up the game itself, Flight Rising lets you collect and breed dragons, allowing players to come up with their own unique combinations of genes and colors.
When you first sign up you’ll select a “flight” to join, which serves as your scaly family. Different flights have different dragon deities representing them, and can slightly impact your experience.
You’re given access to a flight-specific subforum based on your choice, though this doesn’t prevent you from friending or chatting with players outside your flight on the main boards.
Another aspect of the game determined by flight is the concept of dominance. Every dragon you raise will have the option of being “exalted” once they reach maturity.
From a lore perspective this means they leave your lair and go serve your flight’s deity, adding to their glory and power.
From a gaming standpoint, it means the dragon is permanently removed from your lair, but it does give you some treasure and contribute to your flight’s dominance score.
A high dominance score gives your entire flight some nominal rewards, including reduced marketplace and lair expansion prices, along with extra treasure and gathering turns.
These bonuses aren’t going to make much of a difference for casual players, but I can say that some members get extremely serious about dominance.
They churn out high level dragons (which contribute more points toward dominance) for exalting like it was their job. If it’s fun for them I say go for it, but I play FR with a much lower time commitment.
More Babies, More Options
The main draw for me and many others is the expansive breeding system. When you start FR you receive two dragons of low rarity. You can select the colors for one of the dragons, but the other is randomly generated. These beginner dragons have simple, flat colors without any unique effects.
That being said, they are your “progens” (short for “progenitors”) and can hold an important place in the hearts of players. Some people keep them for sentimental and/or lore-based reasons. They technically aren’t stuck with basic genes, as you can purchase more glamorous looks for treasure or gems. Cheaper still, it’s possible to apply a skin or accent item to cover up their looks.
Me though? I dumped those ugly suckers as soon as I’d bred and sold enough babies to buy something better.
Flight Rising has an auction house that I used with great aplomb to cash in my dragons and find the prettiest replacements my treasure could buy.
Why would anyone buy boring dragons when there are better options, you might ask? Primarily for exalting purposes. On rare occasions someone might buy a dragon purely for their color combination in the hopes of re-geneing, but this is an expensive process.
Over time, dabbling in the economy made me enough gold to purchase a few dragons that actually looked nice, though I had some help along the way.
The Right Look at the Right Price?
A useful tip for newbies is that a lot of seasoned players will give you nice-looking dragons for free when you join. Just go to the “Dragon Sales” or your flight subforums and look for threads promoting freebies.
People do this to share the love, but also because they want to spare their babies from exalting.
There’s an odd attachment you can form with your little dragons, and somehow it feels nicer knowing they might be bred a few times and cherished in someone’s lair rather than dumped for a quick profit.
There are also swapping threads where you can send a dragon to a player and receive one in exchange. These can be a grab bag—sometimes you get cool dragons and sometimes they’re a little wonky.
But at least when you’re starting out, it’s a good way to get some variety in your lair and try new combinations in breeding.
Making dragon babies is an easy process. You visit your nesting grounds, select a male and female dragon of appropriate age, and they’ll generate 1-6 eggs that have to be “incubated” (i.e. clicked on) over the course of several days before they hatch.
Take note that both breeds and genes have varying rarities, which means that if you’re going for a certain look, you’ll want to match your mates as closely as possible. I think it’s fun to keep a little bit of unpredictability in the mix, but others constrain their pairs to very specific looks. You can always visit the Scrying Workshop to see potential hatchlings before choosing which dragons will mate.
As your breeding pairs grow in quality, you’ll be able to sell them on the AH for higher prices, as players will actually want to keep them around.
Some people take this a step further and make hatchery threads in the forums where they sell a selection of highly curated dragons, usually to match a specific theme or look players enjoy.
This process of breeding, selling and buying dragons alone has kept me interested for nearly a year. Since FR introduces new genes (and occasionally breeds) on a regular basis I find myself returning, even if it’s only for 5 minutes a day to gather food and incubate eggs.
Presents for “That Time of Month”
Yet there are other things that keep FR fresh, including the monthly festivals. Each month there’s a celebration in honor of one of the flights, minus December which is centered around nocturnes (one of the dragon breeds).
During the last week of the month you can use your gathering turns to dig for festival-related goods and trade them out for limited items.
There are also unique skins and accents to be bought on the marketplace, which are actually created by other talented players.
I tend to pay attention to skins and accents since they change the physical looks of your dragon, which can produce some neat results. There are clothes and accessories if you want to literally dress your dragons as well, but I don’t know. For me it just seems wrong to put a dragon in pants.
On the other hand, I do like familiars. These are essentially pets for your pets. You equip them on dragons like an accessory and interact with them daily (again, with a click) to raise their affection, which eventually results in chests that provide you with treasure and items. I wish there was more you could do with them, but they add to the “Gotta collect ’em all” quality of the game.
I even know players that collect certain types of food because they’re cute, though you can only stash these in your inventory. Things like owls, snakes, rodents, chickens and baby goats. Hey, you’re raising dragons, remember? Some of those critters have got to go toward the greater, fire-breathing good!
The End Game is Up to You
It’s probably become clear by now, but FR doesn’t really have a “goal” for its players. Nothing set in stone, at least. There are achievements you can go after, but they’re simply for bragging rights. It’s up to you to decide whether you want to spend your time breeding, playing dragon dress up, hording treasure or competing in dominance battles.
There are mini games where you can earn treasure, and a battle arena where you can fight against other dragons or NPCs… but these areas are a little lackluster.
The mini games are simplistic and get tedious after a while, while the arena can end up draining you of any will to live.
Seriously, even players who regularly participate in arena hate the turn-based grind of smashing monsters over and over.
I haven’t focused on dragon battles, so maybe things are more interesting there, but the fights generally come down to who’s allocated their stats the best rather than any strategy. You’re going to be sitting in the queue for ages if you try fighting other players at a low level, for example.
A Talented Community
The final draw for me in FR is the community. It attracts a lot of creative types, and some people have built out entire backstories for their lairs and written lore for each and every dragon they own. It can be pretty fun reading what they come up with. Beyond that, there are a ton of talented artists who sell their work on the forums. Usually it’s for portraits of your dragons, but some take requests for other characters or people too.
This is just insane (in a good way) to me. Where else can you pay virtual money to get a custom commission of this quality?
Some artists only accept USD or gems, the premium currency, but a surprising amount will also take treasure.
This is totally their prerogative and I get trading a real talent to support a pastime—some people sell short stories, banners, animated signatures or more. But it’s amazing that this is all readily available for pixelated gold.
In short, Flight Rising is a simple game that’s given depth by the vibrant and interesting community surrounding it.
Flight Rising could be a great match for you if you’re looking for a pet-raising sim that won’t require a lot of your time. If you like the aesthetic and the idea of breeding dragons for fun and profit sounds like a good time, check it out.
The site is only open to new registrants for a couple of days every month in order to ensure the servers remain stable. Keep an eye on the official announcements page to find out when you’ll have a chance to get in on the fun.
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