Dragons in Video Games: A Look at the Beastliest and Best

Mythical, Cultural

Dragons: the mythical creatures of myth, legend, and lore that have persisted in the human consciousness and culture through fantastical tales and literature across the centuries. Whether you're thinking of the traditional dragon of European and ultimately Middle Eastern/Greek mythology or the much-adored Asian-style reptile of fiction is less relevant than the very fact you are here to read about them in the first place. So ubiquitous is the myth of the giant, reptile-like creature that you have them occupying rather large roles in a number of modern-day video games, and this article exists to take a look at some of the biggest, best, and generally most impressive dragons that play significant roles in some of the most influential media of our time.

Skyrim

Skyrim

There are many factors that make Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim the game to silence all other fantasy-based open-world RPGs: its epic scope; its unbelievable environments; the fact that you can choose whether to play it in third or first-person perspective. Few aspects of the game are as memorable as its complex mythology however, and specifically said mythology's staggeringly comprehensive set of dragon species which form an important part of the premise of the entire game. You therefore will struggle to find a game which takes the inclusion of the creatures in its lore or the portrayal of dragons in general more seriously than Skyrim.

Alduin

As its millions of fans will attest to, there are many kinds of dragon that you will encounter in Skyrim. The most important dragon to mention here however - playing an integral part as the antagonist that drives the plot of the game - is the terrifying Alduin. So terrifying and destructive is this dragon that those who live in Skyrim refer to him as the World-Eater. The legend-within-legend in Skyrim infers that Alduin may be the offspring of the Dragon God of Time, who also happens to be one of the nine divines that comprise a significant part of the game's lore and general dragon hunting in Elder Scrolls V.

Other Variants

Since this is a game that revolves around exploring the environment occupied by dragons, you will frequently encounter a number of other dragon variants in the game which are inevitably less terrifying than Aldiun yet still formidable opponents with different abilities and attacks according to the specific variant you're dealing with. First you've got the standard brown-coloured dragons, which are the weakest that you will encounter in the game. However, you'll soon encounter other types such as Blood Dragons, Frost Dragons (which use frost breath and are vulnerable to fire attacks), Ancient and Elder Dragons, as well as Revered and Legendary-type dragons as well.  

Dragon Age: Inquisition

Lord of the Rings Dragon Attack Canvas Art

BioWare's  Dragon Age series of games is a long-running franchise that has for years specialised in the action-packed fantasy role-playing genre, set in a time and location that involves encountering a bunch of very powerful, very nasty, yet very impressive dragons. Though comprehensive enough to stand on its own (it has three titles to date as well as a number of successful spin-off titles), the lore and general mythology of the Dragon Age games isn't quite as broad or - dare it be said - impressive as the exhaustive detail involved in the Elder Scrolls lore. Dragon Age: Inquisition is the latest dragon spectacular in Bioware's popular series of games.

Still, there is a total of ten so-called 'High Dragons' that you will encounter at various stages throughout the game with many of them being more gloriously terrifying than even Flemeth from Dragon Age: Origins. Each of the ten dragons has a dedicated pattern of behaviour to consider when going up against them, with different flight paths, varying properties/strengths/weakness/attacks, and of course different environments that they inhabit.

The first High Dragon you'll go up against is Ferelden Frostback in the hinterlands, and he is resistant to fire attacks, vulnerable to cold attacks, and can summon dragonlings as well as inflicting elemental fire damage. Many dragons later, you will encounter Gamoran Stormrider with a resistance to electricity yet a vulnerability to spirit attacks.

The more impressive and fearsome dragons appear later in the game however. Special mention should go out to the Archdemon , who is one of the two main-quest dragons and also the final boss of the entire game. This dragon should only be fought if you're at least level 17 (though closer to 20 is more sensible), and he has no discernible weaknesses or resistances. The Archdemon's morphology is terrifying in itself: a spiky exterior threatens anyone who even looks at him as he stands on all fours, his barbed tail culminating in a sharp point at the end and ragged-looking wings that look as though they have withered from the darkspawn present within.

World of Warcraft

World of Warcraft

The mythology of World of Warcraft easily rivals the complexity of the same in the Elder Scrolls series. This is of course WoW's main appeal: a body of lore so comprehensive that anyone looking for a bit of escapism is dragged by the arm into a fictional world so steeped in back-story and made-up history that many participants become the stereotypical WoW nerd, sitting in his or her parents' basement, never to see natural light again. The only thing that equals the staggering complexity of the WoW lore in general is the attention that its creators, Blizzard Entertainment, has paid to weaving dragons into the staggeringly multifaceted MMO environment of the game.

The game's developers ensured that dragons were woven into the lore of Warcraft by having the Dragon as a species appear as the first intelligent life forms in Azeroth (the world in which WoW is predominantly set. The dragons here are known to be more intelligent than even the humans that inhabit the world; dragons are said to have knowledge of their ancient natures, with some possessing the instinct to reform and reshape the land around them whilst others wish to protect, at all costs, the forests or other surroundings. All dragons are of the Mage character class in the game, with each possessing supernatural powers and abilities that serve to differentiate them from each other.

Only when the dragons reach maturity do they come to possess the powers and general qualities that make them distinct from each other. For example, you have a number of different types of dragon that the mature creatures of the species evolve into: Black Dragons, Blue Dragons, Bronze Dragons are just a handful of the types you will encounter in the game. Expansions to the core World of Warcraft game also brought with them new dragon types, such as the Infinite Dragon of The Burning Crusade, or the Twilight Dragon of the Wrath of the Lich King expansion.

The World of Warcraft mythology in general is so painstakingly comprehensive that it is understandable that its fans have developed a reputation for sometimes being a certain kind of person (i,e. one that cannot deal with reality). However, for fans of dragons in video games, World of Warcraft is the ideal world for one to bury themselves in for hours, if not days at a time.