Let me tell you about Illyriad
is a browser-based MMORTS that stands out from the crowd by offering real-time skill training, a robust and simple trade system, and open-world, hardcore PvP. I love it because I can play for literally 20 minutes a day or sit and blow three hours on a gaming session. It is a game of choices
. The artwork has a hand-drawn quality to it and all of it runs within HTML5, making it flexible across all platforms. More choices, see?
Most of the MMORTS titles I come across offer a cash shop or microtransactions that truly do sell power. I love how wonderful Evony
looks and plays, but you can literally buy goods with real-life cash. The same is true of many titles. When it comes to combat, most of them are sort of babyish. Sure, someone can attack you and take some of your stuff, but you are almost always guaranteed some sort of safety system that keeps plenty of goods around for the next round. In other words, you are never truly "out." This has created a popular culture of "farming" players, the same players who smack-talk each other in these titles and warn that they "will farm the crap out of you." They can do that because there is no real price to pay. Well, in Illyriad
, a player can wipe you off of the map almost literally, leaving you with nothing but the skills you learned and any goods you might have protected in a vault. This has created a quiet tension in the game, as if everyone is pointing loaded guns at each other. War takes money and time, time that allows your enemy to gather his friends.
So how does real money work in Illyriad
? Simple. You spend cash to buy prestige and then spend that prestige on a few things. You can slightly buff your defenses and the output of your resources. You can even buff the combat effectiveness of some of your troops, but as James Niesewand
told me in a live video interview
this year, the amount is very small and is only one of many, many factors in combat. You can also spend prestige to speed up building times on buildings. Even with all that, a player cannot speed up skill learning. As in EVE Online
, players nominate a skill that is learned in real time. One skill can take days to learn. These skills are often needed to build certain buildings or to perform certain tasks. As in other PvP games, items mean nothing without the skills to use them. Illyriad
's payment system is easy to understand, it's cheap, and it doesn't significantly affect gameplay.
is a bit more complicated. To be honest, I am not a huge fan of the way it divides players into groups so much, but at the same time I can appreciate the need for it. Essentially, free players can enjoy a feature-rich, immersive game that will run on almost any device. So why subscribe? Well, paying members get a lot
more. Here's a basic rundown of the benefits of subscribing:
Over 150 extra quests
Nine extra skills to train
Twenty minigames for members only
A larger world to play in
The ability to own and build your own home
No advertisements on the page
More content updates
A loyalty reward system that can be used to buy emotes, outfits and more
Now, does this mean that free players are stuck in a world that is covered in ads and offers no excitement? Not at all. As I said, I am normally not a fan of such a harsh financial divide, but RuneScape
is so chock-full of adventure that even a free player can play for hours and hours without ever needing to subscribe. I didn't subscribe for the longest time simply because I found myself enthralled with quests, exploration and roleplay. I finally decided to sub when I noticed how dirt cheap it was, although now the price has gone up
. I took my time and caught a huge sale on a six-month subscription. That grandfathered me in to the lower price of $5.95, and as long as I do not let the subscription lapse, I can keep it at that lower amount. In my opinion, the game is one of the best games around, even after 10 years, and especially when compared to the same-old-same-old designs of games like Star Wars: The Old Republic
. This is a case of paying a subscription not only because it is cheap but because the game is damn good.
Who wins in this round? Well, they're both great. RuneScape
does offer tons more "gameplay," but it's many years older and is also a different style of game. Illyriad's
payment model is simple, and players do not need to do math just to figure out how many rubies or pieces of copper they need to exchange for in-game cash. I like simple.
So it's a tie! I'm going with Illyriad
for simplicity, but RuneScape
gets the nod for just being that
good. I have never once said I was "against" subscriptions. I have said they can
be a waste of money, they can
be nothing but an attempt to get something from a playerbase without having to deliver anything, and they can
be silly. Not in all cases, however. RuneScape
might have that annoying wall up between paying and free players, but with all of the younger players in the game, I can almost see the need for it. The free version gives players a chance to try the game out (for a long, long time), and the subscription gives them en entire new world of fun.
Each week, Free for All brings you ideas, news, and reviews from the world of free-to-play, indie, and import games -- a world that is often overlooked by gamers. Leave it to Beau Hindman to talk about the games you didn't know you wanted! Have an idea for a subject or a killer new game that no one has heard of? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org!