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Dawn of Fantasy: Kingdom Wars

April 27th, 2013 Leave a comment Go to comments

I dabbled in this game’s Beta for a little while and enjoyed my experience, even if I wasn’t fully sure as to what I was doing.  Essentially, you’re a leader who’s in charge of building up a small settlement from scratch.  You’ll be collecting resources, completing quests, and participating in siege battles to “level up” so to speak.  It’s an RTS in the sense that you’ll be constructing various buildings to improve your settlement, but it’s drawn out to the point where it takes longer to do so.  You’ll have the option to play online with others, hence where the MMO part comes into play.  This game draws some similarities to “Age of Empires Online”, but is more adult in nature and does some things pretty unique to the genre.  Before I get into all of that, I’d like to thank the folks at Reverie World Studios, Inc. for providing me with a free review copy.

Dawn of Fantasy: Kingdom Wars

Dawn of Fantasy: Kingdom Wars (PC)

The main menu allows you to play with either the online kingdom or kingdom wars modes, participate in a skirmish battle, create maps with the editor, and adjust game options.  In the options menu, you’ll be able to toggle some graphics settings, change the audio volume, and adjust a few gameplay options.  Much to my surprise, there wasn’t an option for screen resolution or the ability to toggle fullscreen.  You can set the game to launch in fullscreen before the game boots up, however.  I personally had a hard time reading the text, as I felt it to be too small.  I really would have liked a way to decrease the screen resolution / increase the text size due to my poor eyesight.

Before we get into all of the modes and how they play, it’s worth mentioning the differences between the three races featured in the game.  The Orcs are all about offense, having the ability to create an army quickly and en masse.  Orcs can build structures anywhere they wish and use looting tactics to help them gather resources.  Elves, on the other hand, favor a defense posture having the best archers in the game.  They rely heavily on magic and have a more automated economy in the late game.  Humans are well-rounded, with the unique ability to build farms.  They have a wide array of tech upgrades that can cater to both offensive and defensive play.  If you’re familiar with StarCraft, Orcs could be compared to the Zerg, Elves to the Protoss, and Humans to the Terrans.  There are multiple game slots available so that you can switch between games, should you want to try them all at once.

Dawn of Fantasy: Kingdom Wars

You can also select your starting location, which affects what kind of resources you’ll primarily have access to.

The online kingdom mode is where you’ll possibly be spending most of your time.  As the name implies, it’s an online experience that allows you to interact with others that are trying to do the same thing you are: make your small settlement bigger and better.  When you start out, you’ll be given quests by the NPC near your town hall.  I recommend that you do them straight away to help you get acclimated to how the mechanics work.  The interface takes some getting used to, especially due to the text size issue I mentioned above.  Once I got used to where everything was and didn’t need to read the tool-tips, navigating the interface and instructing my troops became much easier.

Like in “Age of Empires” and other similar RTS games, you’ll have a number of resources to manage.  Food, wood, gold, and stone are required to construct buildings and spawn units.  To earn these resources, you’ll primarily use worker units.  Peasants (human faction), for example, can be instructed to gather a particular resource via a radial menu.  If that resource is not nearby, they’ll become idle, to which the game lets you know that so that you can assign them something else to do.  Influence is another resource which can be gained via quests and other methods (including real cash).  Influence allows you to upgrade certain structures to make them more efficient, among other things.  I’m not crazy about spending real money to make my settlement grow faster, though it’s worth noting that it’s 100% optional and not required to access any of the in-game content.

Dawn of Fantasy: Kingdom Wars

If you want to grow your settlement, you’ll need resources, and a lot of them.

The rate of progression is quick at first, but some buildings require thirty or more minutes to build them.  I’ve found however that the game will still run when alt-tabbed or closed, which allows me to collect resources and construct buildings while going about my day-to-day business.  There was skipping every now and again, but nothing that broke the gameplay.  I wasn’t able to lower the graphics settings and keep them lowered, so I couldn’t determine if it was due to a hardware or network issue.  Some quests will task you with attacking enemy NPC mobs scattered around your starting area, so you’ll get your first taste of combat straight away.  Attacking is as simple as selecting your units and right clicking on the enemy unit.  Your units level up and gain skill points, which you can assign to make them stronger and more durable.  I try to involve all of my units when combat is involved, just so I can help them all gain XP and level up.

Eventually, you’ll be introduced to the world map, which is a gateway in regards to interacting with other players and NPC towns.  Players can send armies across the map with relative ease, whether it be for peaceful or malicious reasons.  Trading is also possible via convoys, though you’ll want to ensure that they have an escort.  This is where the game truly shines, especially if you have some friends available to grow and prosper with.  While I didn’t see any other players on the world map, I could search for PvP battles as well as send resources to anyone on my friends list via the social button in the upper right hand corner of the interface.  It would have been great if I could have actually seen my friends’ towns on the world map and interact with them directly.

Dawn of Fantasy: Kingdom Wars

While visiting another town, you can buy and sell goods. Bring a horse cart if you plan to buy a lot!

The kingdom wars mode is similar to online kingdom mode, but with a few minor changes.  For one, kingdom wars mode is a single player experience, set up in the style of the board game, Risk.  You won’t have to deal with building structures or managing an economy, leaving more time to focus on military pursuits.  Skirmishes are also available via the main menu, which is primarily there to help train you in siege attack and defense.  It would take too long to go into each mode in detail, but they’re a nice change from playing in the online mode.

There is room for this game to improve.  As I mentioned above, the text size was a problem as was the lack of a screen resolution setting.  The audio and custom video settings, for whatever reason, didn’t want to save.  I’d put the audio on “2”, only for the system to reset the level when a new track began.  I have evidence of this in the first video linked below.  Some of the game mechanics could have been easier to manage, I feel.  I would have liked a menu in my home town’s interface that allowed me to trade with another NPC city without having to send armies across the world map and navigate multiple menus.  You can trade via a market, but the diminishing returns are pretty crappy.  Trying to differentiate between livestock of the same type (and other units) when trading between menus was troublesome.  This holds true for a lot of other gameplay mechanics in that some are needlessly tedious.  For example, trying to find the right building to spawn a unit in skirmish mode can be difficult in a larger city, since all of the structures tend to blend together.  Other RTS games include build menus that separate the different building types with tabs…I’m not sure why that couldn’t apply here as well.

Dawn of Fantasy: Kingdom Wars

Fun to watch, difficult to control.

“Dawn of Fantasy: Kingdom Wars” as a whole is a good game.  With some polish, the game could turn into something great.  Regardless of its problems, I found myself spending hours wallowing away in my little settlement, watching my peasants go at it with ruthless vigor while I mocked them by dangling a piece of cheese pizza in front of the monitor.  Having three different races to play provides a lot of replayability, since you’ll be sinking a lot of time into learning the ins and out of each race.  If you’re willing to be patient and overlook some of the game’s annoyances, you’ll find a lot of great ideas waiting for you with open arms.  Here’s hoping that the developers stick with this game and introduce regular updates to improve upon the current experience.

Final Verdict: 7/10

You can learn more about “Dawn of Fantasy: Kingdom Wars” by visiting the following websites:

http://dof.reverieworld.com/

http://store.steampowered.com/app/227180/

http://www.desura.com/games/dawn-of-fantasy

You can watch video play sessions here:

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