Durango: Wild Lands rolled out slowly across the globe this month, finally launching this week in most territories. It launched early where this particular writer is based, so we ran a review in progress in the lead up to review to give those of you who couldn’t play some early impressions.

Now that the game is out proper, we decided to finally put a score on those opinions. We’ve spent a bunch of time with Durango over the past week and finally feel ready to lay down the final verdict.

If you’ve just started playing, make sure to check out our beginner’s guide to help get you started.

What’s Durango?

Durango is a brand new mobile MMORPG by Nexon that rips up the rulebook. There’s no autoplay and no MMORPG. You’ll have to do literally everything yourself, including crafting all of your own gear, taming pets, and building your own base of operations.

It’s a surprisingly hardcore MMORPG that has more in common with the likes of Ark, RuneScape, or Minecraft than Lineage 2: Revolution or AxE.

It actually requires a fair bit of good old fashioned hard work, grind, perseverance, dedication, and skill to master. There are a ton of different crafting skills to level, and most of them relate to each other in some way.

So you’ll have to work hard to get the best gear and master the game. You really can’t just pay to get to the top, though you can to get there faster. PvP should be fairly balanced as a result.

How Does it Play?

It’s a super smooth experience. Rather than opt for 3D visuals, Nexon has opted for an isometric 2D camera with 3D character models, which is much more suited to mobile.

The controls are streamlined too, consisting of a simple joystick to move around and the ability to tap on everything to interact with it. The few virtual buttons are pretty much dedicated to combat.

Crafting is very deep, and does require a lot of menu fiddling admittedly, but Nexon has clearly worked on minimising frustration. The crafting menu is basically a collection of recipes, and you can tap on any of the ingredients to check how to get them.

If any of the ingredients require crafting, you can tap to quickly move to the section of the crafting menu that lets you craft that particular item. Then, it’s a simple case of selecting how many of that item you’d like to craft, selecting your ingredients, and crafting it.

Is the Combat Any Good?

Combat is surprisingly strategic in Durango, which is incredibly welcome in the age of autoplay. You’ll tap on an enemy, hit attack, then tap to provide a variety of instructions to your character.

You can instruct them to dodge the next attack, use a skill, or change stance. There are a variety of different stances available, from defensive to berserker, and you can swap between them seamlessly once they’re unlocked.

Different stances use different skills too, or at least interact with certain skills differently, so swapping to a different stance is a decision to really consider.

In terms of skills, there are a wide variety of these that you’ll unlock as you play. Skills can be tied to stances and weapons, your defensive or offensive abilities, and more. So, much like with the crafting system, it pays to vary up your skills.

What About Building Bases?

That’s pretty standard stuff, but it follows the if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it mentality. It’s just the exact same system as Minecraft, Ark, or Don’t Starve, with you gathering resources and building a variety of useful stuff out of them.

You can build places to sleep, craft, tame animals, and store your stuff. Given the persistent nature of the game, you can’t just build it anywhere though, so Durango lets you claim your own territory on a variety of tamed islands – named such as they’re the only locations in the game without dangerous dinosaurs.

You won’t spend as much time in the tamed islands as much as you do the untamed, but they’re an excellent place to stop off when your inventory is full or you fancy a chilled out crafting session.

Is There Any Character Development?

Absolutely bucketloads. You’ll gain character XP by performing pretty much any action in the game, and separate skill XP depending on the action you perform. For example, if you chop down trees you’ll gain XP for resource gathering and for your character.

Level up your character and you’ll earn skill points that you can spend on a wide variety of perks. You’ll unlock these perks as you level up your individual skills, and they let you craft with different resources, build better gear, or provide you with new options in combat.

There’s an absolutely enormous perk tree here that would put the likes of Skyrim or Fallout to shame. We particularly appreciated the sheer amount of skill points you unlock when you level, which gives you a lot of freedom to unlock new perks. We never felt like we were in danger of running out or had to make a difficult decision, which gives you more freedom to explore.

So, What’s the Verdict?

While we’re still yet to dig deep into the PvP aspects of the game – we’re a little intimidated by it, if we’re honest – we can say safely that Durango: Wild Lands is totally worth the wait. It’s so much more than just another mobile MMORPG.

It’s a surprisingly deep and hardcore survival simulator that forces you to get stuck right into crafting your own gear and base right from the get-go. The combat will also take some getting used to too, given its strategic nature.

Our only real criticism is that navigating the menus can be a little finicky at times but that’s the price you pay for the level of depth on display here. If the compromise was a more streamlined menu but less depth, we would probably have more complaints.

Ultimately, if you’ve been desperate for a brand new mobile MMORPG that doesn’t include a hint of autoplay or P2W, Durango doesn’t disappoint. We’re just as surprised as you are. Now, please bear with us while we dive back in to craft a new set of armour out of dinosaur bones.