So you can imagine how happy I am when I find real, persistent MMOs that are available for my HTC Inspire Android phone and iOS. Yes, there are more of them out there than you might think. Let's take a look at a couple of new ones that I have found.
After navigating my way through a series of often untranslated or confusing login pages, I took the tutorial and found myself in a small town with many other players around. As soon as I saw the other players, I was relieved. As I mentioned earlier, "MMO" seems to mean different things to different developers, so I was happy to see that it means the same thing to Winlight, publisher of EKO:TW, as it does to me. I took my first few quests and set off into the world beyond.
The story and setting of the game will not be surprising. What is surprising is the combat system. It's a bit reminiscent of Final Fantasy XI in the way it locks players into combat with a creature, and all normal movement controls are used to adjust positioning during the fight. It works well for smartphone play. I have found that the more frantic the combat, the more uncomfortable it can be to play for extended periods. If you have to slash your fingers around or constantly tap the screen, the phone moves around and you find yourself adjusting it more than you'd like. The combat in EKO:TW is straightforward, is slow but not boring, and occasionally features neat effects.
There appears to be some level of customization in the game as well. Players can "fuse" items together, making them stronger or visually different. There is a cash shop that generally sells potions and other standard items, and the game has real-time chat too. Basically, if you can find it in a standard, downloadable MMO, you'll find it in EKO:TW. The only point of comparison I have for it is Vendetta Online or Pocket Legends, but EKO:TW feels more like an MMO that has been shrunk down to smartphone size than those other two. The screen even flips between horizontal and vertical modes but plays the same during both. While there are plenty of examples of botched translations or blocky characters in the game, overall it feels complete. I've yet to see how deep the gameplay goes, but I plan on wasting several hours of my evenings on the couch playing this one. You can check it out for $4.99 on Android or for free (as of the time of this writing)on iOS.
"I like this design because it works great for the phone. A player can click, wait, and see the results."
Combat consists of selecting an enemy and watching what happens. There might be a lot more to it later on in the game, but it appears the point is to outfit your ship and prepare for the worst, not click your way through combat. I like this design because it works great for the phone. A player can click, wait, and see the results. It's not boring, really, and it does help with playing on the smaller devices.
I wish more mobile developers would use representative gameplay instead of trying to literally recreate the standard PC MMO experience on a four-inch screen. Sure, it can work in some cases, like EKO:TW or Pocket Legends, but indie developers especially need to think outside of the box when making their games. As long as they think out of the box when it comes to graphics and avoid using stock images like the ones in TIB, the market will continue to grow.
Each week in MMObility, Beau Hindman dives into the murky waters of the most accessible and travel-friendly games around, including browser-based and smartphone MMOs. Join him as he investigates the best, worst, and most daring games to hit the smallest devices! Email him suggestions, or follow him on Twitter and Facebook.