Durango: Wild Lands is edging ever closer to its full global launch next week, and has just arrived in this particular writer’s territory. It’s a pretty big game that’s going to take some time dig into, so we figured we’d run a review series to try and cover all aspects of the game. We’ll update this review daily until we reckon we’ve seen enough to give it a full score.

Durango: Wild Lands is quite the prospect on paper. It brings together the building mechanics of Minecraft, the survival of Ark, and the monster battling of Monster Hunter and wraps it all up in a neat little isometric MMO package that’s much more suited to mobile.

As soon as you boot it up, you realise that there’s an extra layer of polish here that you don’t often see in mobile games – particularly free to play ones. You select a character from a bunch of different NPCs on a moving train. Each character has a different appearance and will start off with a bonus in a particular skill like gathering, cooking, or combat.

Once you’ve selected you’ll explore the train and complete a few simple quests, including finding a child’s lost item beneath a train seat, ordering a hamburger, and checking out a ruckus. Well, ruckus is one way to put the train warping to a totally different world full of dinosaurs.

Durango: Wild Lands Takes Place in a World Full of Dinosaurs

You’ll get your first taste of combat against one of the giant lizards and it’s surprisingly strategic. Tap on a monster to initiate an attack then you’ll select from a bunch of different skills to unleash in real-time. Initially this is a simple auto-attack, kick, and dodge, but it grows over time as you earn more combat experience.

Monsters glow yellow when they’re about to attack and you have to hit the dodge button to have your character automatically dodge the next attack. It can be quite tricky to get the timing right on certain attacks but we really liked the strategy.

When the train eventually crashes and we’re revived by a mysterious lady called K, we get our first taste of survival in the world of Durango. The first hour is basically a massive tutorial, getting you to grips with gathering resources, crafting items, taking on quests, and battling more monsters.

It features Survival and MMO Mechanics, Which Go Together Well

You’ll meet fellow survivors (who don’t act at all like real people but hey, this is a pretty fantastical game as it is), craft yourself some pants out of leaves, and make a nice stone axe to hit trees and rocks with.

Eventually, you’ll take a balloon ride to a different island and start to build your own base. Initially, this will consist of a small sign and a makeshift tent but, given that we literally own the whole island, it won’t be long before we’re building new stuff.

This is when the game truly opens up. Once you’ve set up your base you can travel to different islands and scavenge for resources. These areas are where the MMO elements come in, as you’re actively playing with other players in real-time.

Day Two:

Durango really opened up today as we entered the Untamed Lands for the first time. This is where the game’s MMO elements come into play, as you’ll gather, battle, explore, and craft alongside your fellow players.

Initially, Durango wants to lead you by the hand and send you on a wide variety of quests. It will likely help out players that are new to survival games but it’s quite frustrating to everyone else – particularly after that lengthy tutorial.

Still, we tamed a dinosaur and made it our mount, which helped speed up our exploration of the island. We also crafted a massive two-handed knife and some bark armour, then honed our combat skills on a variety of dinosaurs.

This gave us a huge taste of the progression system in Durango, which reminded us a lot of RuneScape. You’ll endlessly gather and craft stuff to level up particular abilities. As your character levels up, you’ll unlock skill points that you can spend on new skills.

We Learned That Balancing Your Gathering Abilities is Key to Progression

These include new combat, gathering abilities, crafting, and cooking abilities – alongside many more. We learned that it’s best to keep a balanced upgrade path because you’ll need some of the gathering and processing abilities to craft certain other skills.

Questing isn’t all that intrusive once you’ve gotten the beginning bits out of the way. In fact, completing the early batch takes a few minutes tops per quest, and usually just includes gathering the things you’d gather anyway.

It also encourages you to get involved in some of the stuff you might have ignored. We were pushed to fish, for example, which was something we hadn’t bothered to do given that we got most of our food from fighting dinosaurs.

You’ll also gain reputation with a variety of different factions too, which will likely have some positive effect later in the game. We’ll have to stick it out though to see how it goes later in the game.

We’ll be back next week with more impressions of this awesome new survival game.