Whenever I’m playing a game that doesn’t really have an ending I like to set a goal. Something to work towards while playing. In Splatoon 2 I wanted to make it to S rank in all modes. In Super Smash Bros. Ultimate I wanted to get one character into Elite Smash. In Has-Been Heroes I wanted to unlock then beat all the bonus challenges. I’ve been playing a lot of Dragalia Lost over the past year and all I want to do is make the character Melody as strong as she can possibly be. The only problem is that Cygames won’t let me.
People who don’t play Dragalia Lost are probably curious about who Melody is and why she’s so great. She is one of many unlockable adventurers in the game. Every adventurer has a unique personality that you’ll get to know through story content, adventurer stories, or castle stories. These are delivered in a pseudo-comic book style where pictures of characters appear with text below them. I happened to like all of the stories that involve Melody the best.
Melody has a lot of admirable qualities. For example, she sets achievable goals. Her number one goal in life is to be a successful maid. She’s grounded. Melody knows who she is. That is a maid first-and-foremost and an excellent blade user second. Additionally, Melody has a positive attitude in the face of adversity. The castle story “Maiden Mishaps” features her out running errands for Cleo, the head caretaker of the castle. She decides to treat herself by buying a cute porcelain puppy figure, but during the story she accidentally breaks it. This doesn’t get her down though. She resolves to try again and not break the adorable canine statue this time.
Her adventurer stories and castle stories are also hilarious. There aren’t many chances for physical humor since the images doesn’t move too much, but Melody’s stories somehow pull it off. Previously hinted at with the Mr. Woofers incident, she is incredibly clumsy. This is used in humorous ways whenever a story focuses on her. In her introductory series she joins the castle as a maid on a probationary basis. Unfortunately her lack of grace causes her to mess up a lot of the tasks she’s given in dramatic ways. Everything is a tripping hazard to her. She loses several days worth of laundry. She even manages to create an explosion in the kitchen by causing enough flour to become airborne it could combust.
It isn’t that Melody isn’t capable. She can accomplish whatever she puts her mind to. She learned how to wield a katana by trying to help her former employer train. She made a miniature Halidom, the castle’s name, using one. She just psyches herself out. That’s something that has happened to everyone. She’s relatable. Melody is also High Mercury viable which means I can use her in end game content unlike most three-star adventurers.
I want to invest in Melody because she’s a great character. This is where Cygames keeps stopping me. New ways to upgrade adventurers are constantly being added to the game. Dragalia Lost plays similarly to Monster Hunter. You’ll take a team into challenges that drop materials used to craft better items or build up facilities that improve specific units. When I first decided to make Melody the best she could be there wasn’t nearly as many things I needed to level up. Her adventurer level needed to be maxed out along with her Mana Circles. Weapons, wyrmprints, and dragons have levels attached to them that required completing. Facilities like the blade dojos, Wind Dracolith, and Wind Fafnir all needed to be fully built. This sounds like a lot, but, at the time, it seemed very achievable.
I didn’t realize at the time how long it would take. Adventurer levels and Mana Circles take five minutes since everyone is drowning in that currency. The same can be said about the currency needed to level up her weapon, wyrmprints and dragon. The real bottleneck would be unbinding her items and building her facilities.
Unbinding is the process of using duplicate items to unlock higher levels for that item. You need five copies of any item to unlock all of its levels. Late game items are rare and expensive. I had a plan though. Items known as Sunstones and Damascus Ingots act as surrogates for any duplicate weapon or dragon. I could use these to max out her weapon and Dragon. This would free up my excess stamina to be spent farming the water Imperial Onslaught for Blade Dojo materials instead of the wind Imperial Onslaught for weapon materials. Daily rewards from fighting Midgardsormr would be enough to max out the Wind Dracolith. The Wind Fafnir would take a while since those materials are farmed in end game content, but, hey, I have time, right?
Nope! While I was doing all of this Cygames was continually releasing new ways to level up adventurers. First, on June 25th they increased the max dojo level from 30 to 35. This dramatically lengthened the time it would take to finish farming the Imperial Onslaught. Leveling the dojo from level 30 to level 35 required collecting an additional 700 Dyrenell Aureus. The average amount that drops from one Master Imperial Onslaught run is about three. This isn’t including the four other kinds of building materials and gold needed to level a dojo.
Not ideal, but again, the Wind Fafnir was going to take forever to upgrade anyway, so back to farming. Unfortunately, Cygames released another new method to level up an adventurer with augments! These are special gems that you can use to further increase the power of any dragon, weapon, wyrmprint or adventurer. They initially only dropped on weekends during special events known as Astral Raids - souped-up re-runs of former raid bosses - or as a special prize during other events.
These were incredibly rare and hard to farm for a long time after their implementation. Cygames recently added new ways to farm augments, which actually did help a lot. Their action on making augments more readily available was due to augments being the key to accessing the next strength modifier Cygames added on October 11th, Elite and Master High Dragon Trials. These are a new form of end-game content where the already difficult High Dragon Trials are made even harder! The barrier to entry of Elite Dragon Trials is having an adventurer decked out with augments. That means having all 100 strength and health augments on an adventurer and having all 100 strength and health augments on at least one wyrmprint. Clearing an Elite Dragon Trial rewards you with materials to craft an even more powerful weapon. When you’re trying to make a character as strong as they can be, stronger weapons are kind of a necessity. Also, the addition of a better equipment type almost entirely invalidated all the resources I spent on Melody’s weapon to that point.
Any augments I had were going to Melody because that’s part of the goal I set. I needed to clear the trial that drops materials for wind weapons. That would be Midgardsormr, but Melody can’t clear that trial due to being the wrong element. Vanessa, my strongest fire character, wasn’t strong enough to enter Elite High Midgardsormr rooms, so I had to clear Elite High Mercury to build a water weapon for Elisanne, my strongest water adventurer, to clear Elite High Brunhilda to build a fire weapon for Vanessa to farm the materials to build the sword for Melody. Entering the other Elite High Dragons required farming augments and building dojos for Vanessa and Elisanne. I’ve actually somehow managed to do all that and build Melody’s Tier 1 High Dragon Trial weapon, but now I have to do the whole loop over again to build her Tier 2 High Dragon Trial weapon! By the time I finish all of that Cygames is likely to add the new bosses that were teased earlier this year or add those additional mana circle levels.
Normally, a developer adding more content to their forever game would be considered a great thing, which this mostly is. Besides Advanced High Dragon Trials having a ridiculously high barrier to entry, I love all the new reasons to keep playing Dragalia Lost. This is just the first time that a developer has actively made it harder for me to accomplish a goal I set in a game. That has everything to do with the type of game I’m playing, so I shouldn’t be surprised. I just wish Cygames would let me promote Melody to be everything that she could be a little faster. At least before they add the next way to beef up your adventurers.