Hands-on with card battler “Dragon Front Rising”

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Meta Quest: Hands-on with card battler

Image: High Voltage Software

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Dragon Front Rising is a collectible card game with a solo campaign, ranked matches, and a mixed reality mode. I tried it with Quest 3.

Collectible card games (CCGs) are an underrepresented genre in the Quest Store, and a genre I’ve never been exposed to before, which was reason enough for me to take a look at Dragon Front Rising.

The game has a long history. It was released in 2016 for Oculus Rift and Samsung Gear VR under the name Dragon Front. In late 2023, the studio released the quest version, Dragon Front Rising, which received its first major update a few weeks ago.

How Dragon Front Rising plays

In Dragon Front Rising, you use a pre-made or custom deck of 30 cards. In total, there are more than 500 cards to choose from, consisting of combat units, buildings, and spells. Many of these cards must be unlocked or purchased first.

The battlefield consists of 4×4 tiles. The first step is to place combat units in the first row of tiles. In the turn-based battles, you can use your units to storm the next tile or to defend the tile, but your units can only be moved forward, not sideways or diagonally. The goal is to get to the enemy side and destroy the enemy base with attacks, provided you have a clear path. Once in a match, you can lead a champion, a particularly powerful hero unit, into battle, which can turn the tide of battle or force victory.

There are seven different factions, each with their own traits, abilities and strategies. With the first major update, another faction has been added, which can be bought for $12.

A steep learning curve

I have to admit that as a CCG newbie, I found Dragon Front Rising difficult to get a handle on. I would win or lose games without really knowing why, and I didn’t understand how my decisions were good or bad. The tutorial seems to assume that you have at least some experience with CCGS.

Fortunately, there is an extensive campaign of single player missions where I can take it slow and try things out without making a fool of myself. But even these missions are not easy to crack. My first sense of success came when I started to build a deck that was more up to the challenge. But maybe I was just lucky, because as a complete beginner I have no idea what a well-balanced deck looks like.

Game scene with dragons in front of a mixed reality background.

The game’s mixed reality mode enables passthrough for the game’s background. | Image: High Voltage Software, Inc.

Those who like a challenge and complex game systems will surely find what they are looking for in Dragon Front Rising.

Whether you have to spend money to master the game offline and online, I cannot judge after my short playing time. All content can be unlocked by playing the game, including the eighth faction. The question is how long that will take without spending real money.

Detailed graphics, simple mixed reality mode

Dragon Front Rising is a good looking game on Quest 3: I like the mix of high fantasy and diesel punk, the units are nicely modeled, and the resolution is relatively high, which makes the game world look sharp.

When the mixed reality mode is enabled, the graphics are slightly downgraded, as less resources are available for rendering games when using passthrough. The mixed reality mode, which is only supported by Quest 3 and Quest Pro, is very simple: It fades in the physical environment, which is nice. Unfortunately, the rather large game world can only be moved slightly in space, but not scaled. So you can’t play on a table. The same inflexible perspective also applies to the VR version.

You can buy Dragon Front Rising for $20 in the Quest Store. The VR game is currently half the price.

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