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Page 2 of 2Each time you defeat an enemy, you gain experience points. If you defeat all of the enemies in a battle, then you also gain a random piece of equipment, which might or might not be useful to your character. If it isn't, then you can sell it for gold or gift it to one of your friends. Any friend companions with you at the end of a battle also earn a small, fixed amount of gold, which they can pick up by visiting your castle (or by building a treasury in their castle).
As you explore maps and fight battles, you automatically trigger quests. These quests are not especially noteworthy (I'm trying to remember the specifics of even one of them, and I'm drawing a blank), but they give you an extra reward (usually experience points and gold, but sometimes a special item or crowns) for completing them. There are also achievements you can complete for minor rewards.
To help you in your travels, you're given a castle when you create your character. This is where you spend the gold that you earn in the game, and you can build things like crafting labs (to produce potions and bombs), worker rooms (to hire workers for your labs), taverns (to improve the happiness of your workers), furnaces (to improve the efficiency of your labs), and more. Castle rooms tend to be expensive, so you won't build up your castle right away, but crafting costs are surprisingly low, so once you have your castle set up, you shouldn't have any trouble supporting your character for the battles to come.
Guild versus Guild Combat
To invite a companion to help you in a battle, that companion must be in your guild. Guilds start out with a maximum of 20 companions but they can grow to 30 or more companions through the use of great halls, which you can build in your castle. When you start playing the game, you're given a handful of default NPC companions (including Hawke if you own Dragon Age II) who level up when you do, and you can also add in friends of any level.
To make DAL a little more competitive, BioWare added in guild versus guild combat, where you select three of your companions, but then instead of facing waves of regular enemies, you select one of your friends and face people from their guild. Since your friends' characters are generally way more powerful than regular enemies (especially if they've spent money on crown gear), these battles can be tough.
Unfortunately, you don't get much in the way of a reward for defeating guilds -- just gold and a random item, but less than you'd receive from a regular battle -- and since your friends aren't actually there to defend themselves, you also don't get the sense of satisfaction that makes player-versus-player combat so popular in MMOs. This is a part of the game that needs some work. I'd rather see some sort of castle defense mode here, or a true player-versus-player mode.
Raids in DAL serve the same purpose they do in MMOs. They give you a place for tougher battles and better loot, and they require you to have a competent guild. In particular, you have to defeat "camps" of enemies, plus an end boss, all within a limited amount of time (under two hours for the best rewards). These encounters require you to fight at least 21 battles, which means you need to have lots of energy potions available (you can only receive energy potions as gifts from your friends, or more rarely by playing a daily scratcher game for random prizes) and you need lots of companions to assist you in the battles (since companions require rest for an hour or more after they've been used).
Right now there are two raids in the game, one for minimum level 10 and one for minimum level 40 (BioWare has also announced a level 50 raid, and there's space for what looks to be a cooperative raid that you can play with your friends). The raids are much tougher than the other battles in the game, and they require some careful planning and thought to get through -- all of which is nice and somewhat surprising from a Facebook game.
The only downside to raids is that while most of DAL is pretty friendly when it comes to friends -- unlike other Facebook games, it doesn't require you to have hundreds of friends sending you gifts every day to be successful -- raids are more restrictive. You need to have some time to devote to them, you need friends to send you energy potions to you can visit the raid camps quickly, and you need competent companions so you can survive the battles (the NPC companions are a little bit iffy).
Like most free-to-play Facebook games, DAL faces a couple of issues, namely how to make the game fun enough to play for those people who don't spend money on it, while simultaneously preventing it from being too easy for those people who do spend money. So far I think BioWare has walked the tightrope pretty well, and I've enjoyed the time I've spent with DAL. Just be aware that the game is all about fighting battles, and there is very little in the way of dialogue or story. This isn't a typical BioWare game, although BioWare seems to be working their way towards this direction.
Finally, unlike the other Facebook game I'm currently playing (World Series Superstars, which I wouldn't recommend), BioWare has shown a willingness to listen to players and make adjustments based on their feedback. BioWare has also been consistent about updating the game each week, to the point where if you start now you'll probably have enough new quests and content to see to last you for the next six months. So DAL seems to be in good hands, and I'm optimistic that BioWare will keep it going in the right direction.
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