‘Century: Age Of Ashes’ review: big dragon fights are hard to hate

How to train your dragon

Century: Age Of Ashes knows what it’s about, and it knows what you’re here for. As a dragon arena battler, the only thing it can offer you, and presumably the only thing you could want from it, is the opportunity to fly around on dragons and beat the fire out of other people hoping to do the same. There’s no need for anything beyond that really, and it’s almost refreshing to play a game that’s so straightforward with its aims.

Naturally, Century: Age Of Ashes kicks off with a tutorial. While the controls in the game are complex, I think it goes on a little longer than is needed and spends a touch too long on some of the simpler mechanics. That being said, it does do a good job of teaching you how to play, and as there aren’t many games like this around, it’s absolutely essential for new players because you’ll need to learn how to fly, shoot fireballs, breathe a flamethrower, and use your two special skills. There’s also a bunch of different pickups and environmental bits you need to master too.

Things go a step further though, by then giving new players access to a special 3v3 deathmatch game mode. This isn’t one of the main modes in the game proper, but it serves as a second tutorial of sorts, and allows you to get used to actually fighting against other players, which an AI just can’t manage to replicate. This mode is available until you hit level five, but you can always ignore it if you’re feeling confident enough to jump into the game proper.

The three modes the game currently has are Carnage, Gates of Fire, and Spoils of War, each of which is 6v6. Carnage is the most familiar of the modes, and is essentially a tweaked deathmatch. You gain points for your team by killing enemies, and if you can manage a killstreak, those kills will become more valuable. However, doing so will also put a target on your back, because killing someone with a killstreak is worth more than killing someone who’s struggling. This adds in an extra layer of tension, and highlighting those who are doing well helps keep them in check by making them easier to find, and often easier to kill as a result.

Century: Age Of Ashes
Century: Age Of Ashes. Credit: Playwing LTD.

Gates of Fire has you capturing a flag and then flying through special gates to earn points. It means that your team has to work together to protect whoever has the flag, and it can lead to some of the best opportunities to use the Century: Age Of Ashes movement systems, which can feel finicky at first, but are ultimately very satisfying once you’ve gotten used to them.

Finally, Spoils of War has you hunting down AI controller dragons that are carrying gold. You all have to go out, decimate those, and then carry the gold back to your base. The first round normally has no wrinkles outside of that, but as the game goes on, you’ll also have the opportunity to use a bomb to halve the opposing team’s coffers, which is deeply satisfying. All three modes are fun, and they all feel unique too, despite all using the same basic control mechanics.

All of these can be played with any of the three classes available. The only differences between them, aside from the cosmetics, are the passive abilities and special abilities. The Marauder can shoot out frost bolts to strip away shield or impede steering, but can also mark enemies so they can be shot at faster. The Windguard can imbue a friendly dragon with a fury to allow them to deal more damage and can also leave behind a giant poison cloud as they fly. Finally, the Phantom can go invisible, and can lay mines too.

Century: Age Of Ashes
Century: Age Of Ashes. Credit: Playwing LTD.

Each of these is fun to play, but you’ll almost definitely find your favourite and just end up sticking with them for the most part. There’s nothing to unlock for any of these classes outside of cosmetics, so there’s no difference between a player who’s sticking to the free-to-play side of Century: Age Of Ashes, and one who’s decided to spend a little money on the game.

There is, however, one cool little metagame in Century: Age Of Ashes. You will occasionally come across eggs you can hatch. You can only hatch one at a time, but to do so, you’ll need to complete missions in your matches. Once you’ve done so enough times, your little baby dragon will grow into a full-sized beast that can then be ridden by one of the three classes. It’s a really fun way to do cosmetics, and unlike the armour that you’ll barely notice, changing your dragon will definitely help you stand out.

I like Century: Age Of Ashes, but it’s not something that’s going to have me breaking from my other long-term commitments in gaming. It does feel as though it’ll need to be one of those games that require staying on top of too, because even only a handful of days into its existence, there are dragon riders who make others look like they’re riding geckos.

On the one hand, not having anything to unlock in terms of gameplay is a good thing, because it means players can jump in whenever they want. On the other hand, it feels as though Century: Age Of Ashes has nowhere to grow without that kind of feature. So, it’s a lot of fun as it is, but I’m not certain how much that will change going forward, which means I can’t say I love it.

Century: Age Of Ashes is now available to play on PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S

The Verdict

Century: Age Of Ashes lives up to the potential of letting you ride around the skies as a dragon and battle others to the death. It has a fun mix of modes, and the moment-to-moment gameplay feels good. However, it doesn’t quite have enough to hold the attention of some players as it stands.

Pros

  • Dragons
  • Excellent controls once you’re used to them
  • No reason to spend money if you don’t want to
  • Very pretty

Cons

    • Controls do take a while to get used to
    • It’s exactly what it looks like, with no added depth
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