Where does 1100 AD fall in the grand line of copycat MMORTS games? Well, it's hard to say within a week, especially since I have not experienced much of what the game might have to offer like massive wars, alliances or world-changing events. But I can comment on what I found so far in this short week of playing.
Click past the cut and I'll tell you!
Luckily, the tutorials were understandable enough that I could accomplish several quests and move on with my city. The tutorials also had a "skip" button that simply move on to the next one, but I felt odd skipping some of them. After all, weren't those skills probably needed to accomplish other goals further down the line? If not, then why in the heck is the game attempting to confuse me by explaining those skills like a five-year-old explains how his favorite food is made?
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Even after much of my confusion, I found the seemingly HTML-based gameplay to be sort of cool. I love any game that appears to be constructed out of the basic stuff of the web. That means that the game will probably run on any device, or at least it will not require a high-powered machine. The older I get, the further away from those expensive gaming machines I want to go. 1100 AD is the sort of ugly design that I normally love. The thing feels rough and hand-drawn -- or coded, I should say -- and that means I can almost see the hands of the designers on the product. I like that... as long as it is fun to play.
"It works simply, but the quests are sometimes too hard to understand or mixed up just enough to make playing not fun."
That's where 1100 AD falls apart. It has standard MMORTS depth. It works simply, but the quests are sometimes too hard to understand or mixed up just enough to make playing not fun. The title is sort of hidden in Aeria's lineup, as well. Sure, I absolutely adore Aeria as a publisher, and I think that it tends to make great decisions about which games it will publish, but tossing games like 1100 AD onto the list spreads the lineup a bit too thin. 1100 AD needs more love, cleaner design and another pass in the localization department.
The game also features the standard (yet wonderful) hero mechanic that allows players to build up, outfit and level a hero unit. As I note in the video, an MMORTS is more like a standard MMO that goes to 11. The MMORTS not only features massive army battles, city-building, and open PvP but throws customization into the mix with heroes and special units. It's as though you are playing a classic avatar-based MMO, but one that is zoomed out to an eagle's-eye view.
I'll give the game some more time, but after this I am taking a break from the MMORTS genre. It's one of those genres that seems to have no players or that never gets much attention from major gaming sites, but when you log in to one and see the numbers of players who are heavily invested in the game, you know some fundamental type of fun is being touched on. Despite the fact that the MMORTS genre is the most underestimated genre in MMO gaming today, I grow tired of the same bland design like in 1100 AD. Yes, there are some gems out there, but I would rather look for gems in another genre for a bit. A week, at least. OK, three days tops.
Next week I will be diving head first into the snarky world of Kingdom of Loathing. I dislike snark, and seeing someone smirk tends to make my fist clench up, but it's high time I check out the indie title. I will be livestreaming my very first steps in the game, so keep an eye on our livestream schedule!
Each week, Rise and Shiny asks you to download and try a different free-to-play, indie or unusual game, chosen by me, Beau Hindman. I welcome any suggestions for games -- drop me a note in the comments or email! You can also follow me on Twitter and Facebook!