World of Battles starts off strong, it looks pretty cool at first glance, and it appears to allow you to control massive armies of riders, archers, giants and other fun units as you clash against equally massive armies. You do see a lot of combat in the game, and it is from the massive-army school of design, but unfortunately, the game quickly and regrettably drags itself down into a standard pit of grinding.
I started to see the end of this tunnel of drudgery near the end of my week with the game. It started off by giving me some basic tutorial tips and then pushed me into quest after quest that had to be completed before I was able to move on to the next one. Each step sucked the fun out of the game and made it seem as if I would never be seeing the massive battles and castle bombardments that the game's trailer promised.
The main issue I have with World of Battles comes down to polish, or lack of polish. It is a good-looking game, but strange-looking as well. The fonts are hard to read. The animations are nice but repetitive. The music is OK, and even though the art work that appears during the cutscenes is sometimes incredible, its quality is not reflected in much of the rest of the game.
Some MMOs just fit like a glove -- even if you do not enjoy them, you recognize their craftsmanship. World of Battles isn't comfortable, and if there is one type of MMO that should feel almost instantly warm, bloody, and inviting, it's a game that is all about massive battles with monsters.
I hate when an MMO forces me to do something. Yes, I know that many MMOs are built almost entirely on the idea that players love a hamster wheel of content so that we can claim glory when we finally make the damned thing stop moving, but I have never bought into the idea that a game should be forceful and bland instead of easy and fun. The MMO market is absolutely chock-full of games that are easy and fun with optional depth and that remain entertaining for years and years. See Free Realms, Mabinogi, PlanetSide 2, RuneScape, and many others. An MMO that is based on a premise that reads like something out of a 10-year-old kid's fantasy like World of Battles should be easy and fun. It should be so easy and fun that it is simply impossible to put down. Note that I am not saying that easy and fun means stupid or silly or way too easy. Giant army battles should simply be effortless.
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I started off in World of Battles being told what to do. I have no issues with going through a tutorial or multiple tutorials, but I get grumpy when the game starts to feel like work. There was one quest that was sort of fun. Then another. Then another. Then I take a look at the world map and am told that I can't participate in world conquest -- you know, the coolest and most "massive" part of the game -- until level 7.
Sure, level 7 comes quickly enough. But why was I doing this busywork, repeating what seemed like the same battles over and over, to get to the real meat of the game?
Eventually I leveled up to that very meat. And to my surprise, I started to enjoy myself. Each section of your army, from archers to pikemen (or pikewomen, in my case), has a sort of rock-paper-scissors weakness and strength against other units. You need to figure it out, but once you start to do that, the game becomes much more entertaining. Wide-open battlefields stopped becoming a nuisance and began to give me a chance to spread out and strategize a bit. I'm no general, but I started to do some real damage to my enemies.
As usual, I put some cash into the game to test out the in-game cash shop. I acquired VIP status, which gave me army buffs, discounts on new troop purchases, and other seemingly minor tweaks to gameplay. I spent the last part of my virtual funds on some new troops and kept moving on. I started moving down the line of quests and used much of the in-game gold that I earned while playing to buy more new troops and outfit the ones I currently had, but then I came across an escort mission that drove me nuts. I repeated it again and did better the second time, but it just wasn't fun and I failed it once more.
You'll have access to a set of advisors that really only serve to show you what you can unlock at later levels or to give you news about what you just unlocked or earned; there's another advisor who will give you a list of missions that you must finish in order to gain enough experience to eventually move on to higher levels. The main issue is that if you fail a mission, you get no experience at all, meaning that you are forced to repeat it over again. I was 12 experience away from a level and had to repeat a mission three times so I could level. All of those poor, poor Amazonian warriors lost... and no ding.
I wanted to like World of Battles, I truly did. Massive army battles and multiplayer combat normally would be a dream. The game just needs tweaking, however. It needs to be smoothed out and polished. You can still find some fun in it, but don't be surprised if it aggravates you more than thrills you.
Next week I will be looking at Heva Clonia Online. As it is right now, it doesn't look as though it will be much different than many other titles, but I have been surprised in the past. I'll livestream the game on Monday, the 21st of October, at 9:00 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!