Coming to PC l Published by Ubisoft l Developed by Ubisoft Montreal l Classification TBA l Supports 1-2 players l Release date TBA
“Free-to-play” is almost a dirty phrase in core gaming at this point in time. It is either used for games designed to suck every last cent out of you or it is the place that MMOs go to die. It is hard to think of more than a few examples of F2P done it a way that is both fair to the gamer and still allows the developer to make some money out of it. Ubisoft has the potential to change that with the appropriately titled The Mighty Quest for Epic Loot (TMQFEL) and from what I have played so far this could be the game to break the stigma.
The jokes came thick and fast and while there were a few misses, there were more than a few hits.
After seeing a few trailers on the net I was intrigued enough to check out the beta. So I jumped in and one surprisingly small download later, I started my quest. It was clear from the beginning that there was nothing even remotely serious about this game. The jokes came thick and fast and while there were a few misses, there were more than a few hits. My agent informed me that he was struggling for money and was going to turn me into his next big star to solve that problem. I was then presented with the character select screen where I could choose between a melee based knight and a ranged archer. I chose the knight and began my quest to claim all of the loot this world had to offer.
My first impression of TMQFEL was that it was a simple Diablo clone, but it wasn’t long before that notion was erased from my head. There were two distinct components to the game. The first involved action RPG style raids where I took my hero through multiple castles, defeating some wonderfully designed goons. The purpose of these raids was to reach the castle’s treasure room and take the goodies contained within, increasing my store of gold and life force, which was essential to the second part of the game, the defence. Taking many queues from the tower defence genre, I could upgrade my castle, place traps, populate it with monsters and build and enhance various buildings.
Unlike a tower defence game, I wasn’t battling against hordes of oncoming monsters but other heroes like myself. This is where the game had the most potential. My castle was up on the net for any enterprising hero to try to take down and in the process claim his or her share of my hard won gold. If a player beat my castle I was immediately informed and offered the chance to attack his or her castle in retaliation. I could also browse through other castles and try my luck against the wiles of any of the other players. This created an unlimited number of levels to attempt, and no matter what level my character was, I could always find plenty of castles to attack.
To further the social side of things, there were community competitions where leaderboards came into play and the best heroes could go head to head in timed events. It was clear that Ubisoft has plans to make this a thriving community, because even in this early beta the ease with which I could interact with others was impressive. From leaving comments and ratings on people’s castles to challenging someone to a competition, it was all very easy and painless, making my time in these parts of the game a dream.
…if what I have seen is a true indication, there will be a lot of fun to be had for the fiscally challenged.
It was hard to tell how much the free-to-play model will affect gamers who choose not to pay. There were some obvious things like speeding up building times and improving the décor of the castle, but apart from that I couldn’t see where the game intended to make money. Perhaps most of these features were hidden for the beta or it really is a game with a very minimalistic F2P model. I expect more monsters and hero types will be able to be bought in the future, but if what I have seen is a true indication, there will be a lot of fun to be had for the fiscally challenged.
I did have some slight concerns. Firstly, I noted very little in the way of castle variety. I attacked about 60 odd castles and there was little to no variance in the look of the arenas, making it a bit monotonous after a while. The other problem I encountered was that the hero could only equip four abilities at once. After playing games like Diablo and Torchlight, this seemed needlessly restrictive and it could lead to the combat becoming stale fairly quickly. Of course these issues may be ironed out before release as Ubisoft assures me that this is a very early beta and there will be plenty of changes to come.
I have been pretty impressed during my time with TMQFEL. There was a lot to like, including a great sense of humour, some wonderfully designed creatures and plenty of challenging gameplay. The real tick in the box for me, though, was the community interaction. It added another level of enjoyment to the experience for me. Barring the implementation of a terrible F2P model, I really think Ubisoft could be on a winner here. I am now quite excited to play the final build and that is the first time I can truthfully say that about a free-to-play game.