Rise and Shiny: Farm Fortress

Farm Fortress screenshot
Farm Fortress is a pseudo-MMO or social game that concentrates on pitting players against waves of enemies and even other players by utilizing protective barriers, weapons, and traps that are paid for with cash stolen from enemies. It might sound a little strange at first. I didn't really even enjoy the game until the lightbulb went off and I started to really plan out my strategy for defending my farm fortress.

Farming is one way to make money, but in my experience so far, the best way to get cash is to invite waves of monsters to attack your farm or to attack other players. Both activities can be surprisingly simple at first but quickly grow into a challenging job. But that's the fun of it! Over the week my farm grew into a pretty formidable fort, complete with turrets and indestructible walls.

Farm Fortress screenshot
You'll start off with a good-sized chunk of land, access to all sorts of plants to farm with, blocks to place to protect your fort, and different turrets and weapons to destroy your enemies. I did what everyone else probably does at the beginning and simply placed a few blocks, planted a few bits of cabbage to harvest for cash, and invited a wave or two of enemies to attack. If you do not feel up to inviting the enemies, they will come after a set amount of time, anyway, so I found it best to try a new layout and invite them right away to test it out.

Up to that point, the game was just OK, not really showing me anything special or even very social. If I wanted to, I could just ignore other players and fight NPCs all day, but I knew that eventually someone would catch a whiff of my newbie scent and attack. I decided to bite the bullet and attack another player.

Slowly I fought my way through enemy camp after enemy camp. I started to make some real cash as I broke through defenses (or found camps that had already been destroyed) and proceeded to "hack" my enemy's tent, a building that acts as a sort of headquarters. Once I'd completed my hacking, I would rush inside and steal the cash, sometimes making off with enough to outfit my fortress with even better guns or walls. Once in a while, though, I would come across a brilliantly defended fortress. I would look at the layout and steal ideas, leading to some of my best defenses yet.

That's when the game started to get fun.

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I have tried funneling enemies through brick walls or tunnels of bushes, but that often led to frustrating gameplay as I found it difficult to navigate the mazes myself. Then I decided to place fewer, more expensive yet indestructible walls in order to force players or NPCs into the cone of fire of my weapons. That worked much better, but I noticed that the walls might give players something to stand behind, protected, while lobbing grenades at my turrets. What was the solution?

I'm still figuring out the best layout, but I've noticed how tiny the population of the game seems to be. The chat barely moved, and I found so many seemingly abandoned camps that I wondered whether I would ever find another player. Throughout the entire week, I ran into one or two, but they would only say something in chat and then go silent. It was only today, as I write this column, that I received an email that a player had attacked me, decimated my fortress, and taken somewhere around 5,000 in-game bucks. Luckily my invincible walls still stood.

What was I going to do? To start over fresh seemed not only a little harsh but quite boring. Fortunately for me, the designers have added in some padding: I received a good chunk of change to rebuild with. I tweaked my layout, touched up some defenses, and tried again. But that let to only more questions.

Farm Fortress screenshotWhy wasn't I allowed to attack the player who attacked me? The game told me he was out of my level range, but was that because he had wrecked my fortress, taking me down to the lowest tier? Or is it that higher-level players can attack lower-level players, completely doing away with the balance I saw earlier in the game?

Secondly, is the game nothing but a constant push to the highest level? As my fortress grows, does that mean that the sole purpose of the game is just to continue to grow? I see nothing wrong with that, but I can imagine that after a while the game could be rather boring. Of course it's also possible that other players could continually challenge your layouts and strategies, driving you into an obsessive race to the Most Perfect Fortress Layout Ever In History title. As I sit here typing this I am eager to get back into the game to rebuild some more and to challenge other players and NPCs.

I'm not sure what happens with the game after months of playing, but I know that Farm Fortress is a unique pseudo-MMO that any indie dev should be proud of. There is a cash shop that sells extra "lives" that act as extra chances while on the field of battle, but I was content enough with the game without needing to spend any cash. Of course, I like to put money into a game to support developers, so I'm sure I'll be trying the cash shop on for size soon enough.

If you like tower defense and PvP, try Farm Fortress. No, it's not really an MMO, but it's definitely a neat title that runs great even on my Chromebook.

Next week I am poking my nose back into Global Agenda, a game that I haven't played in a long, long time. We were such fans of the game that the developers even made up special Massively-themed armor for us to wear, so I am eager to check it out again! I will be livestreaming the game on Monday, the 4th of July, at 5:00 p.m. EDT, right here on our livestream channel!

Each week on Rise and Shiny, Beau chooses a different free-to-play, indie, or browser-based game and jumps in head-first. It might be amazing or it might be a dud, but either way, he'll deliver his new-player impressions to you. Drop him an email, comment, or tweet!
This article was originally published on Massively.