The obtusely named Century: Age of Ashes is an upcoming competitive dragon-riding game with an exceptionally narrow scope. Century is a game exclusively about riding dragons and shooting fireballs at other dragons. While there’s quite a bit of depth to the different dragon classes and some nuance within each competitive game mode, Century’s approach to gameplay is singularly minded: make dragon-riding fun. Dragon riding is not a facet of Century’s gameplay, it is Century’s gameplay. For that reason, Century may very well turn out to be the best dragon-riding game yet.
Frankly, dragon-riding games are an underserved genre. Despite how much dragons are universally beloved, dragon riding games are few and far between. With some luck, Century could end up being the definitive dragon-riding game. In anticipation of its release, here’s a list of the best dragon-riding games ever made. You won’t find any critical darlings or household names here, but for the people that played and loved these games, these are cult classic titles with enduring legacies.
By far the best-known game on this list. Panzer Dragoon is a series of rail shooters that originated on the Sega Saturn in 1995. Last year, Sega released a remake of the original Panzer Dragoon, while a remake of the sequel, Panzer Dragoon II Zwei, is currently in development.
Panzer Dragoon games are also incredibly focused experiences. Light on story and runtime (the original game is less than an hour long), Panzer Dragoon games are all about intense, twitchy action. Audiences today will likely find the series inaccessible thanks to its unforgiving difficulty — a tradition that extended even to the 2003 Xbox game Panzer Dragoon Orta — but the challenge is part of its charm. A new VR entry in the series is currently in development. A trailer for the new game, Panzer Dragoon Voyage Record, premiered during UploadVR’s 2020 VR showcase.
The PS3 launch title Lair is most commonly remembered as the dragon game that forced you to use the Dualshock 3’s fancy new Sixaxis controls. While launch titles that show off a console’s new gimmick are common, Lair had a particularly hard landing with players because, well, it turns out sixaxis is pretty terrible.
Looking past the controls, Lair was an ambitious title in a number of ways. The game featured a classic fantasy story that took place in a beautiful, fully realized world. Each mission had a ton of variety and really pushed the hardware to its limits with large-scale battles and wicked fast action that defied fame-rates. Soaring over a massive battlefield to roast hundreds of soldiers feels like something out of Game of Thrones — a decade ahead of its time. Sixaxis controls pretty much died with Lair, but this dragon-riding game was so much more than its poor control scheme.
Draken: The Ancients’ Gates
Speaking of unfortunate titles, Draken: The Ancients’ Gates was a PS2 game that combined 3rd-person action RPG gameplay with dragon riding combat. This hidden gem was a precursor to the kind of immersive RPG games Bioware would later become famous for. It is probably most notable for the relationship built between the main character, Rynn, and her sentient dragon companion Arokh.
Compared to the rest of the games on this list (and Century), Draken 2 probably struggles the most with its dragon-riding gameplay. Arokh offers an enormous amount of control in the air and has the ability to strafe and hover, but the airborne combat sections are some of the weakest parts of the game. Arokh is the best dragon on this list, but not necessarily the most fun to ride.
Is it fair to put a canceled game on a list of best games? Absolutely not, but I for one have not and will not ever get over Scalebound and what could have been. The Xbox-exclusive dragon-riding RPG from PlatinumGames looked like a cross between Devil May Cry, Draken 2, and Monster Hunter, and it might have been everything a dragon fan could ever want. PlatinumGames, known for the Bayonetta series, Astral Chain, and Nier Automata, was developing Scalebound to be their RPG-focused masterpiece, but after more than four years of development the game was eventually canceled by Microsoft in 2017
The cancellation of Scalebound is a bitter pill to swallow in part because we had seen so much of it over the years. Platinum even released an 8-minute gameplay trailer in 2015 that showed off a pretty exciting combat scenario. It looked polished, it looked fun, but unfortunately, we’ll probably never know what Scalebound could have been. Scalebound may only be a dream, but it still makes the list.
This is an awful game based on a terrible movie adapted from a forgotten children’s book. It’s ugly, critics hated it, and there’s nothing remarkable at all about the dragon-riding. However, a list should always have at least five things, so Eragon miraculously makes the cut.
Its one saving grace is the co-op, a feature that can turn even the most incompetent game into something relatively enjoyable. During the dragon-riding levels, one player controls the dragon while the other person controls the rider and can fire arrows from the dragon’s back. Even a terrible dragon game is better than no dragon game…right?
Next: Pokemon Let’s Go Pikachu Is The Only Pokemon Game I Completed The Pokedex For, Here’s Why
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Eric Switzer is the Livestream News Editor for TheGamer as well as the lead for VR and Tech. He has written about comics and film for Bloody Disgusting and VFXwire. He is a graduate of University of Missouri – Columbia and Vancouver Film School. Eric loves board games, fan conventions, new technology, and his sweet sweet kitties Bruce and Babs. Favorite games include Destiny 2, Kingdom Hearts, Super Metroid, and Prey…but mostly Prey. His favorite Pokémon is Umbreon.
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