No, the title isn’t a joke — The closest thing to a Pokemon MMO that exists is its old rival from the 90s that was sometimes accused of being a ripoff. Get ready to delve into the Digital World in this review of Digimon Masters Online!
The main premise of the game is based from the universe and characters of the 2005 series, Digimon Savers. Players can choose their character to be modeled from one of four of the protagonists — Marcus, Yoshino, Thomas or Keenan — from the show, which can lead to some clone moments during gameplay, with customization limited to the outfits they can wear, which are purchased through in-game shops. After choosing one of the characters, you pick one of four Partner Digimon as your constant companion through the game.
The main difference between the Digimon are their type, with all Digimon having both a data attribute and a nature attribute that affects the damage it takes and how much it deals out. For data, they can be neutral, Data, Vaccine, Virus or Unidentified – each with their place in a rock-scissor-papers triangle, with Nature coming under ten different elements, including Fire, Thunder and Wood. Starting to see the Pokemon comparisons? Good, because it’s gonna get more obvious soon.
As you play, you have the chance to add to your roster of minions…erm, Digimon, by finding Mercenary Eggs from killing enemy Digimon, or receiving them as a reward for a quest. To hatch them, you must obtain matching data to their type of Digimon by scanning Digieggs which contain one of ten types that come under types like Beast, Dragon and Bird. You take the data, inject the Mercenary Egg with it three times in an incubator, and congrats! You have a new minion to play with!
The Digimon level up at a much faster rate than the Tamer (that’s you) meaning it can be beneficial to level up more than one Digimon equally. The higher level the Tamer, the more benefits you can unlock for your Digimon, such as longer evolution times. All Digimon have a base form that they exist in, but can Digivolve into stronger forms that are unlocked at Levels 11 (Champion), 25 (Ultimate) and 41 (Mega). While immensely more powerful that the rookie stage, having a digivolved Digimon puts a strain on your DigiSoul, or DS for short. The tamer’s DS regenerates when you don’t have your Digimon digivolved, or if you use a healing item. Fighting works with you sending your Digimon to fight another Digimon by bashing it, or using one of two special attacks that can be powered up through the use of skill points.
You can switch Digimon that are used to fight outside of battle, with a maximum of three Digimon initially able to follow you around. You can increase that total with purchasable items. Gotta love those micro-transactions! You aren’t stuck with three, though – you can deposit your mercenaries in a DigiArchive… and yes, most things in this game start with the prefix “Digi”. The sheer volume of game mechanincs, and the rather contrived way of getting to them can be off putting, but makes a surprising amount of sense when you’re playing.
There are main missions that require you to advance the story, side-missions that give you bonus exp and money, as well as daily missions that aid in your training. But I’ll admit, the story seems like a contrived way of dressing up the repetitive nature of MMOs that are kill x of these or collect y of these or pretend you aren’t wasting your time by doing z. It doesn’t help that you can really notice the glaring poor Engrish translation that is reminiscent of the original Digimon World.
I’m not a big MMO player, and have yet to find one that keeps me entertained, but Digimon Masters Online has done a better job than most to keep me amused. It might be the Pokémon aspects that are drawing me in, or it could be that I’m a sucker for nostalgia, but it is a fun time sink. It’s easy on the computer to handle, and despite the simplicity of it all, don’t see myself giving it up yet.
out of 10
- Many options for Digimon to use to fight
- Minimal strain on computer
- Closest we may ever get to a Pokémon MMO
- Still has MMO repetitiveness
- Poor translation
- Game mechanics take a while to get to grips with