Top 10 Dragons In Gaming | Column from the Editor

Dragons have long been a part of general human culture, talked of in folklore, myth, as pieces of various religions and, of course, prominently found in entertainment. On paper, a dragon is simply an enormous winged beast with scaly skin. However, over the years, many different, unique and inspiring dragons have been released that have left their mark on gaming. Today’s piece touches base on the ten best dragons found in gaming.

10. Dogadon (DK64)

Overall, as DK64 was marketed towards a younger audience, Dogadon isn’t exactly mutilating the Kongs on camera or burning them to death like a truly fearsome, lethal dragon might. Arguably, that’s the overall beauty of his character, as he is definitely strong and intimidating while also boasting whimsical traits that make him reasonably amusing as well.

Dogadon is fearsome in combat, though his tactics are relatively generic for a dragon as he simply breathes fire and creates flaming shockwaves as his main methods of attack against the Kongs. Where his funnier side presents itself in combat is during his moments of vulnerability where the player is supposed to strike at him. After attempting to slam into the character, he will issue an unintelligible verbal insult out of anger and annoyance shortly before a TNT barrel should be dropped on his head by the player.

The settings Dogadon are fought in include the Angry Aztec and Fungi Forest. In this sense, he is also unique as one of only two enemies the player will encounter on multiple occasions.

9. Ango Natsume/Nightmare Dragon (Persona 5 Strikers)

The concept of the Nightmare Dragon is incredibly well written. Ango Natsume is an antagonist because he has plagiarized written works and become rich selling them, as well as the accompanying advertisement revenue and general positive PR they developed. In the Metaverse, he takes the form of a frighteningly powerful, well armored Dragon. It’s well written because the fight with the Nightmare Dragon cognitively interprets his real-world character beautifully. As the Phantom Thieves fight him and deal damage, eventually his armor will crack and reveal a fairly pathetic, lowly human man underneath the powerful armor; this embodies a man in Ango Natsume who failed as an author until he plagiarized well crafted works, the plagiarized works representing the Dragon skin and armor in the Metaverse.

The fight itself with the Nightmare Dragon is well put together as well. He poses a serious offensive threat, briefly gets stronger as the fight unravels, and only has a couple of weaknesses for the player to exploit, that they’ll probably need to do so in order to have a good chance at winning. As such, the Nightmare Dragon makes for a good pick on this list.

8. Fulminorax (Neverwinter)

It is here where the dragons on this list will begin to boast truly standout qualities, veering away from the somewhat generic fire breathing dragon. Fulminorax’s element of choice is electricity, lightning breath based attacks which will deal extreme damage and potentially kill the player’s character in just one hit. He is aided in this boss fight by the masterful Valindra Shadowmantle, who doesn’t directly deal great damage to the character, but has a menacing chokehold attack that will hold them in place — teammates of the character must quickly drive Valindra away, or her victim will be unable to dodge Fulminorax’s onslaught and will inevitably be easily killed.

Overall, this final boss fight served as a fitfully challenging, narratively satisfying end to the solid Sharandar campaign.

7. Dragon God (Demon’s Souls)

Speaking of Dragons which boast unique methods of dealing damage, here we have the terrifying Dragon God. So what’s Dragon God’s element of choice? Bold of you to assume he even needs it, as he proves perfectly content with simply punching the player’s character with a brutally strong fist attack which often kills in just one hit. He is in fact so strong that trying to directly deal with him using melee or magic weapons would prove laughably ineffective. The player must sneak through a narrow corridor and throughout the Dragon God’s lair, stealthily making it to a few different Ballistas around the area, whereupon they must successfully shoot him three times with these powerful weapons. If they’re detected even once in the process, they are basically screwed. That’s one terrifying assailant!

6. Salamence/Mega Salamence (Pokémon series)

There is often beauty to be found within simplicity, and the awe-inspiring Salamence is proof of this idea. Mega Salamence has also gathered a reputation for being among the best Mega Evolutions in all of Pokémon, being so powerful that it has consistently been an easy ban candidate from standard play in Smogon singles, while being a tournament-defining threat in VGC doubles.

Salamence itself has certainly been formidable across its history, with a very high Base Stat Total. Moreover, its backstory is simple but interesting — as a Bagon, it dreamed of the day that it would one day be able to fly, attaining that dream upon evolving into Salamence. As such, Salamence definitely belongs on this list.

5. Karrundax (Neverwinter)

Neverwinter is a video game based entirely off of Dungeons & Dragons. In DND, the concept of combat economy is very important for people who try to run a game. Combat economy is basically a fancy way of saying “strength in numbers,” as often the side with the most individual units has the advantage in combat. As such, a group of reasonably leveled players should have an advantage against a single target, even if that single target is a big, powerful dragon.

This is why Karrundax is such a well designed boss fight in Neverwinter. Karrundax is very threatening, but he comes with a large amount of cronies to fight by his side. These allies aren’t suffocating the player(s) but they’re just threatening enough to ensure that they can’t simply walk up to Karrundax and hack/slash him to death without contest. As a result, this combat encounter makes for a nice end to the Cavern of Karrundax dungeon.

Plus, Karrundax gets bonus points of being a talking dragon; much like Dogadon, he will taunt the players as they approach them. Unlike Dogadon, Karrundax speaks in clear English, calling the players ‘fools’ for attacking him.

4. The Ender Dragon (Minecraft)

Probably the most well known dragon in all of gaming, the Ender Dragon represents the final boss fight of Minecraft. Minecraft is a game with a rich history of both casual play as well as speedruns, so the Ender Dragon has an equally long history on Twitch or YouTube streams, with players meeting a devastating defeat at its hands, or slaying him and triumphantly gathering that personal best, world record speedrun, or simply completing the game for the first time. There is a fair degree of grinding and RNG the player must battle through to even reach the Ender Dragon, giving the fight itself more meaning.

3. Borealis the Freezing Fog (Elden Ring)

Imagine this: you’ve played through climbing a large mountain, fighting through plenty of menacing enemies in hostile weather conditions. You reach a frozen lake, with fog so thick that simply seeing your surroundings is impossible. You haven’t seen a Site of Grace in awhile, so you know you must be due.

Then, off in the distance, you hear a loud roar. On the bottom of your screen the “Borealis the Freezing Fog” name appears, accompanied by a large health bar. A large white dragon then storms into plain sight and does battle with you.

The introduction of Borealis is immaculate, arguably better than any other Dragon. The fight itself is incredibly challenging too. Borealis quite literally drips Frostbite, a very harmful mechanic that can deal serious damage to the character and slow them down significantly for a moderate period of time. Thus, getting close to him boasts significant risk. However, he also breathes Frostbite which deals large damage as well, so staying at a distance is hardly any safer. With his excellent mobility and flight capability, the player is going to be moving around quite a lot, perhaps fleeing the battle altogether, as it’s not hard to imagine this fight totally taking the player off guard and overwhelming them fairly easily.

Due to a beautifully crafted combat, excellent visual presentation, and overall unique design, Borealis rightfully deserves to be on this list.

2. Gorod Krovi Dragon (Black Ops 3)

The only regrettable part about this Dragon is that we are never given a name to call it by. However, everything else about it is perfect and really gives a strong identity to the Gorod Krovi map altogether. The dragon will spend the majority of the game harassing the player, threatening to burn the ground that they walk on if they get too comfortable staying in one spot for too long — this deters camping and forces the player to stay on the move, making for faster paced gameplay. The dragon will also actually help the player as well, providing reliable transport from three different areas towards a building which the Pack-a-Punch machine is found in. The Dragon can also help kill zombies if the player is able to obtain the Dragon Strike item, offering a useful diversion that will often kill an entire horde and get the player out of a bad spot.

The dragon is perhaps most well known for its impact on Gorod Krovi’s boss fight. It is actually the boss itself during the first half of the battle, as the player must join forces with Nikolai on his bipedal turret machine, fighting the fearsome beast off. The fight itself is incredibly chaotic, as the player will have to constantly stay on the move, unable to stay in one place for long due to the Dragon’s constant flames forcing them into taking cover quite frequently. Balancing shooting at the Dragon with maintaining cover is challenging when zombies get involved and begin pestering the player, making the fight a large thrill.

1. Darkeater Midir (Dark Souls 3)

This one was a no-brainer, as Midir has become a household name over the years as being one of the best boss fights ever developed, period, much less one of the best dragons. Midir is unique within Dark Souls 3 for having an adaptive AI, thus intelligently reacting to what the player is doing and not following an easily predictable pattern to be exploited. Midir’s attacks are frighteningly powerful, involving a nuclear set of laser attacks, a large explosion of abyssal darkness that will easily kill in one fell hit, and being unafraid of getting his hands dirty, eagerly slashing at the player with his enormous claws and sturdy tail.

Midir’s boss fight is relatively simple with an interesting dynamic; he takes much more damage from attacks at his head than anywhere else, but because most of his attacks are simple frontal assaults, trying to take advantage of this comes at the cost of leaving the player more vulnerable and requiring more precision in dodging Midir’s attacks. Yet, he takes such small damage from attacks dealt anywhere else that taking this risk is often mandatory in order to win.

Finally, the soundtrack behind Midir’s boss fight is legendary. It has two separate phases, reflecting Midir himself having two different phases to his fight. As such, Midir is a flawless video game Dragon whose placement on this list was very easy to determine.

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