Dragon Quest Tact hands-on preview for Android, iOS

I spent some time recently with the upcoming mobile Dragon Quest title, Dragon Quest Tact, scheduled for release sometime in Early 2021 on Android and iOS. As the name implies, this is a tactical/strategy game set within the Dragon Quest universe, incorporating a whole host of mechanics and monsters culled from the popular JRPG series. 

In Dragon Quest Tact you?ll build a team of five monsters to bring into battle against CPU controlled teams, spread out across a variety of modes. The gameplay is shown from a top-down view, with each monster on the battlefield taking turns moving and performing attacks along a grid-based playing field. It?s very much in line with other, similar strategy mobile games I?ve played, and if you have any experience with the genre, you?ll understand the mechanics of Dragon Quest Tact quickly. 

Like other free-to-play games, Dragon Quest Tact incorporates a stamina system that will dictate how much actual playtime you can devote to the game per session. While still not in a finished state, the stamina system seems fair enough, it took quite some time for me to hit a point in the game where I needed to wait for stamina to refresh, and I was able to make it through about 5 or so story chapters before that point, which ended up being quite a few battles. 

Also like other free-to-play games, you?ll be acquiring new monsters in one of two ways. Completing some story missions will gain you new companions, which can be played over and over again for additional chances. Or you can opt to use in-game currency to take a spin on the Scout system, which works like other ?gacha? style games. It?s probably way too early to talk in-game rates for powerful characters and so on, but I was happy to see that I could opt to build up my team through gameplay and potentially ignore the Scout system altogether. I?d imagine there might be a point in the game where you?ll need to pull stronger units in, but in the content I played so far, I did pretty well with the characters I was acquiring through completed story missions and didn?t find the lone ?S? rank monster I pulled to be excessively powerful compared to the normal units. 

It?s also worth mentioning that Dragon Quest Tact supports multiple team set-ups, necessary due to the various elements that each monster possesses. There?s a lot of elements, more so than your typical wind, fire, ice, water, and earth that you?ll see in most games. So you?ll want to build-up a few teams with both mixed and focused elements, useful for tackling a variety of modes. 

The core loop of the game, as far as what was available in this build, is to focus on upgrading your characters in a few different ways. One is through standard experience in order to level up each character, which you?ll gain by completing any stage or the daily, focused experience stages where you?ll fight Metal Slimes. Another upgrade path is through equipment, which again has its own set of stages. Each monster can hold one piece of equipment, and each equipment item can be upgraded via the Alchemy Pot. The equipment also has it?s own unique characteristics, favoring things like magic or attack, so you?ll want to outfit your monster with the appropriate gear. 

A third upgrade path is via the Rank Up function, which will require you to obtain a variety of rank up gems (again, another mode) in order to rank up a character. Doing so will allow you to unlock a character?s level cap, so you can pour more experience into them to make them stronger. The fourth upgrade is through Awakening, which unfortunately was not something I was able to encounter while playing. And the fifth upgrade is through each monster?s ability, where you can either upgrade existing abilities or give them all new ones. Again, each of these upgrade mechanics (minus Awakening) had its own mode for battles, giving you quite a bit to do even when you hit the endpoint with the story. 

Outside of focusing on upgrades, there were two other modes available in this early build. One was an all-encompassing Event mode for special, limited time battles. The other is called Battle Road. This mode felt pretty unique, in that you weren?t using the full roster of characters available, but were instead starting off with lower-ranked monsters you?ve unlocked and using them to participate in increasingly difficult battles. It seems worth playing so you can expand your focus on low tier characters in an effort to build up your entire roster more evenly. Also, Battle Road has no stamina cost associated with it, at least in this early build, so it?s a mode you could essentially play as much as you want. 

Dragon Quest Tact certainly seems interesting in this early stage, and is something worth keeping your eye one for the full release next year. I?ve always been a fan of the monster designs (and names) in Dragon Quest, so having a game focused on the monsters exclusively is a plus. The strategic approach to gameplay feels unique for this franchise and does require some thought when putting together teams, placing units, and attacking, leading to more thoughtful gameplay than other like-minded mobile titles. We?ll likely do a full review when the game launches next year, but until then, keep an eye on this one.