HyperDragons is a Chinese decentralized game on the Ethereum blockchain developed by Launch Studio (GeniusGam Pte. Ltd.). The game is one of the most played Ethereum DGames currently available. Not that anyone saw this coming when the game launched late March 2018. The game averaged around 100 DAU when it launched and saw a decline in popularity from its launch until early December 2018, when it only averaged 25 DAU.
Then, seemingly out of nowhere and almost from one day to the other, hundreds of people started playing the game, averaging over 400 DAU from December 2018 onwards, which placed it firmly into the top ten most-played Ethereum DGames.
There’s almost no information to find on the HyperDragons website about its development team. The only piece of information available is a link to their white paper on the Dragon Series Token (DST), HyperDragon’s in-game currency. The link to their general white paper doesn’t work and their social media channels only provide game updates. The only thing you can do when visiting the HyperDragons website is play the game.
Before we start the review, I want to clarify something that I only found out when I was deep into my research. HyperDragons runs on both the Ethereum and the Ontology blockchains. Ontology is a promising Chinese blockchain linked to NEO. HyperDragons partnered with Ontology late December 2018 to create HyperDragons Go. HyperDragons Go is not the same game as HyperDragons. While both games have the same design aesthetic and share a few key game features, they otherwise differ quite drastically.
It’s hard to say which “instance” of HyperDragons the developers are focusing on or whether they wish to eventually merge both games. There’s no indication whatsoever of the existence of another instance of the game in HyperDragons or HyperDragons Go, so it’s a little bit unclear. Regardless,this review will focus on HyperDragons, i.e. the instance running on the Ethereum blockchain.
The basic premise of the game is not too dissimilar to Blockchain Cuties Universe. You buy a cute pet dragon that you can use to breed or fight other dragons with. There’s no intro dragon you receive in the beginning of the game, but you can browse the three main tabs of the game - Castle War, Marketplace, and Arena - without needing a dragon.
The HyperDragons Homepage
Luckily, buying a dragon is nice and cheap. At the time of writing, the cheapest dragons went for 0.0029 ETH. Add gas fees on top and it should cost you less than a dollar to buy your first dragon. Important stats to look out for are a dragon’s generation and its mining power. Contrary to other DGames, the higher a dragon’s generation, the stronger they’ll be. The higher their mining power, the more DST they’ll be able to mine (more on that shortly). Dragons also have cooldowns that indicate how long you’ll be unable to use them after fighting, breeding, and mining.
The Ontology version of HyperDragons has genders, as well as genetic and skill diversity, something that the Ethereum version of the game doesn’t have. As such, dragons on the Ontology blockchain will be more varied and breeding will produce more random results. However, dragons share the same design aesthetic on both instances of the game. In fact, I wish there would’ve been a bit more distinction between cheap and expensive dragons. After all, if you’re spending 1 ETH on a dragon, you’d want it to look a bit better than a dragon you spend 0.01 ETH on. Currently, this isn’t the case.
Fighting Other Dragons
Once you’ve bought a few dragons, you have two options. You can either draft them into the Castle War or you can draft them into the Arena. You have to choose between one or the other. You cannot use a dragon in both parts of the game at the same time; you’d need to retire and re-draft them. As such, if you wanna play both parts of the game, it’s better to have at least two dragons.
The Arena is where you fight other dragons. At any given point in time, there will be at least three contests available for your dragons to participate in. The novice trial, which is where you can understand the game mechanics and earn some DST without a registration fee. A junior championship contest, for dragons between generation 0 and 25, which costs some DST to enter, and a senior championship, for dragons between generation 56 and 80, which costs the most DST.
What’s cool about the Arena is that you can fight, but you can bet too, even if you don’t have a dragon. Go into one of the contests currently going on and bet some ETH or DST on the dragon you think will win. The odds are clearly displayed and it’s a fun way to earn some extra crypto (or lose it). What’s also quite nifty is that you can see each battle individually, but also how dragons are progressing in the contest on a nice flow chart.
The actual fighting itself is no different from most other DGames. Each dragon takes turns to attack its opponent and its stats and skills determine the outcome of the fight. If you’re in the top four of a contest, your dragon will get glory. The more glory, the more mining power your dragon will have.
Which leads me to the second big feature of HyperDragons, and the one I find most interesting: Castle War. You own a few floating islands with buildings on them. Each building has a separate function. The buildings on the smaller islands produce either sand, crystal, or elixer, three valuable resources that you need to upgrade your buildings, defends your islands and attack other players’ islands.
What’s most interesting about Castle War is that you can mine for DST with your dragons. The higher your dragon’s mining power, the more DST it will mine. DST is a real cryptocurrency: it’s an ERC-20 token released the 14th of February 2018 at an initial issue price of $0.045. There will only ever be one billion tokens available, fifty million of which have been allocated to HyperDragons.
Currently, 1,354 dragons are mining for DST. That probably means there are a few power players with many strong dragons mining for DST. And why wouldn’t you? Every eight hours, your dragons will yield you DST, which you can use in-game. DST is useful to hatch dragon eggs, register for Arena matches, participate in prediction games in the Arena, and to improve the buildings on your floating islands.
Or you can decide to sell your DST. HyperDragons is the first game I’ve encountered that has a decentralized exchange integrated into it. In fact, the game partnered with DDEX to allow players to trade DST in-game. Buying DST will require you to wrap your ETH, because ETH isn’t an ERC-20 token (ironically), but wrapping and unwrapping ETH can be done 1:1 and at no cost. Unfortunately, the integration with DDEX in HyperDragons is currently still slow and laggy, and it seems it’s not a liquid market at all. It might not be easy finding a buyer or a seller for your DST.
Being able to mine for DST with your ERC-721 assets (i.e. your dragons) is unique and exciting, and the in-game integration with a decentralized cryptocurrency exchange is an ambitious, great idea. Additionally, many of the issues with HyperDragons seem like teething issues that could be resolved over time. Dragons could be made more diverse. The team could put more information about themselves and about the game on their website. The integration with DDEX can be improved technically.
But much of that will depend on whether the team chooses to focus on HyperDragons or on HyperDragons Go. Personally, it feels like HyperDragons Go has the main focus of the development team, but my guess is as good as yours. Ideally, you’d want both games to merge together, so players can play the same game on different blockchains. Currently, however, both games feel too different for that to become a reality soon.
I had many questions: Is this an Ontology game or an Ethereum game? HyperDragons Go is hidden away when you type in “HyperDragons” in Google, but it feels like the better game. What will happen with the assets on the Ethereum instance of the game if the developers focus more on HyperDragons Go? Will there be some transition? I believe HyperDragons would benefit strongly from some clarity on this.
HyperDragons has a few good ideas that can make it a worthwhile game to play. But gamers need to know which instance of the game to play. The lack of (English) communication about this holds the game back from reaching more DGame players.
If you'd like to play HyperDragons, head on over to The DGaming Store where you can check it out.