Dofus Review: A pretty gem with one too many flaws

I’m just going to start with this. I hate the standard MMORPG gameplay. I hate cool-downs, auto-targeting, and watching arrows curve to hit me because the shooter’s accuracy stat defeated my agility stat. I often look at games with a system like this and wonder, “Why don’t they just be honest and make it turn-based? It’s all decided by ability scores and dice rolls anyways.” Dofus, while quite enjoyable in many ways, has made me eat my words on that opinion.

Set in the same universe as other games from Ankama like Gobbowl and the upcoming Wakfu, Dofus follows the structure of a typical MMORPG with quests, mobs, and dungeons. One thing Dofus gets right is a refreshing variety of classes. I tried to avoid MMORPG tropes like the healer and warrior classes, ultimately settling on a Sacrier; a warrior class that dishes out more damage the lower its health points are. The poor soul I dragged into the game from my local group of friends played an Ecaflip, a “gambling” class with abilities that at any point could help or hurt it.

After creating my character and being disgruntled that all the My Little Pony names had been taken, I was placed in a fairly robust tutorial that did a perfectly serviceable job explaining how to get started and even sent me off with some starting gear. Within ten minutes of playing Dofus, I realized two things: none of the game’s fun sense of humor was lost in translation and it’s a very pretty game. Everything from the bizarre, eagle-headed guy who gave me the tutorial to the innumerable boars and demonic roses I slaughtered had an anime-inspired, yet unique charm that you don’t often see in free MMORPGs.

It was entertaining to see some legitimately clever self-parody in the dialogue blocks that precede each quest. That said, it’s been proven many times that parodying the mechanics of other games doesn’t make those mechanics any better. At least 80% of the quests I performed in Dofus involved simply running around the map talking to different NPCs. This was a chore since the game uses environment cells and movement is governed by where you click. Basically this means you have to click the edge of the screen and wait for your character to run across the entire cell to get to the next one.  Some kind of screen scrolling would have been quite welcome.

In an attempt to cure the boredom of following the green arrow on my map, I took to attacking random enemies to get some combat in. This didn’t provide much of a reprieve since the turn-based combat is agonizingly slow. The battles take place on a grid that allows you to place your character on predetermined squares before each fight. The tile setup reminded me of Gladius and Final Fantasy Tactics, except that I could only control one character at a time. This isn’t inherently a bad thing, but when you’re facing multiple enemies it gets boring pretty fast waiting for your turn. Thanks to the nature of my class, letting four creatures hammer on me while I built up my strength for some noticeably powerful punishment was at least pretty satisfying and helped alleviate some of the boredom. Teaming up with my Ecaflip companion and planning our battle tactics made the combat a lot more interesting even if the gambling nature of his attacks ended up healing the boar that was busy ripping out my intestines almost as often as hurting it.

The game also falls short with the crafting system. It was easy enough to figure out what ingredients I needed to craft a particular item, but there is a chance your attempt will fail. Since I only needed ten pieces of wheat in order to craft five wheat flour bags, yet ended up having to gather twice as many to complete my objective, it’s a pretty high one. I cannot fathom why failure is even possible. What does it add to the experience to repeatedly fail at crafting something that you gathered the exact ingredients for? I could understand that in a system that involves experimentation, but all the recipes are laid out for you at the crafting table.

My experience with Dofus was an unpleasant one, but even though it fails in many ways I just can’t help but respect it for being an MMORPG that dares to defy the norm. Even though it’s poor combat and crafting make me appreciate what those systems have become in other games, it has classes that can control time and cast spells that are constantly on the fence between risk and reward. Give it a try and see for yourself how potentially different games of this genre could be. It’s free, so what have you got to lose?

One Comment

  1. mataro

    It is a P2P game,and let me tell you…. it is worth paying for it if you enjoy a unique kind of MMO… it only has a little F2P section(like 2% of the whole world)…

    3 things called my attention in your review….

    To me dofus is not quest focused… it was an unfortunate mistake of you to take the quests when you were so little level…quests in this phase of the game are just so you discover the world and the Lore that most MMOs lack… you really need to enjoy the artsy stile of the game to enjoy these quests…Dofus is more about leveling, trading and exploring all of the kinds of battles that you can have….

    The combat… yes it is not as fast as the other MMOs, but the fact that you chose a class that can only attack at really short distance didnt make it better… i can imagine how you had to invest turns just to get to your opponent… neither a Sacrier nor an Eca (a gambler) are good choices for beginners… it is also worth mentioning that the game is strategy based… you should not be able to judge the combat until you reach high levels and acquire spells that can totally change the tides of the battle in just one turn(im not just talking about damage), at which point you get really interesting battles that include a lot of team work…and hell… a lot of strategy…that’s why it is kinda slow paced…

    Then you tried crafting… which is a big part of the game… the thing is… you really need to level it up for it to be significant…. as you level it up there is an ascending curve of success… until you get to never fail a recipe again…. which represents you getting better at whatever you are doing… it is also very regarding to level up your profession for it can make you rich in no time if you know how to use it… in the end… the crafting system is one of the things that keeps Dofus alive… there are no NPC selling gear…. and no gear is given at the end of quests… Dofus has an economy based only on the players… the players craft and sell the items on market places… and no intervention from Ankama is given…. it is just the way Dofus does it… thats why the crafting system might be different from what you may have experienced before on other MMOs… it is difficult but incredibly regarding….


    It seems to me that first looks just never work on Dofus… people can not catch a glimpse of the world that is waiting for them until they leave the beginners section….

    I believe you had a bad experience with the game because it is just way to different of an MMO…. and because the experience that you can gather from your first hours of gaming can not let you picture how the game is in reality…

    if you want to try the game again… i would recommend you to get a Cra(class) to begin with… just get out of the beginners zone and explore… you will find what Dofus really is… and also… dont do quests until you are high level…

    PD: has been some time since i tried my English… please… be gentle… 😀