Fight or Kite: Conqueror’s Blade brings Dynasty Warriors vibes to the MMO genre

    
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This last week was a bit light in the gaming department. It was turkey time for me and many in the US, so I hope you all also had some time to kick back a little. What time I did have to put towards gaming has been spent mostly playing single player games or MultiVersus, though I have ratcheted my time down significantly.

However, when I saw that Conqueror’s Blade was going to put out an update with a focus on ancient Persian military forces, I simply had to give it a download. After all, we’ve done the Romans, the Egyptians, and the Greeks a bazillion times! We’ve got medieval Teutonic knights fighting samurai and vikings all over the place. But Ancient Persia was one of the largest empires the world’s ever seen, and yet outside of Age of Empires II and the Prince of Persia series (which was very sadly assassinated), we don’t actually have that many games, much less MMOs, with a Persian theme. The original Guild Wars got close with the Dervish class, but I haven’t seen much in MMOs beyond that.

So let’s take a quick peep over at the news for Conqueror’s Blade and see what it added. We’ve got some scimitar-wielding warriors, nice. A camel-riding cavalry, which is a bit more Arab than Persian, but I suppose elephants would’ve been too different from horses to model. The Hashashins are another solid-looking addition. They’re assassins but appear to be taking the Frank Miller approach to Persians. Lastly, we get a look at the new weapon class shown off in the spotlight video, which looks like Princess Jasmine decided playing the pretty bargaining chip wasn’t working for her anymore and she’d rather just murder a bunch of fools. A cool concept, but we may have jumped the shark on that one.

Unfortunately, as cool as all that stuff is, it literally dropped on Thanksgiving in the US, so I haven’t played the new content yet. So before the patch, I tried out the existing game to see how it works and gauge whether it could hang on to my attention another couple of weeks to find out what all the new update is really about as well.

An interesting mix of MMO mechanics that ultimately feels like a typical multiplayer arena

You know, looking at the videos and screens of Conqueror’s Blade, I really thought that it looked good, just not much like an MMO. The graphics and animations are solid. The idea that you can control a whole unit of warriors is pretty unique too. But I had my doubts about the MMO-ness of it. From an outsider’s perspective, it sure looks a lot like some of the recent multiplayer arenas I’ve seen. It reminded me a bit of Warhaven. Yet, from its own description, it’s billed as a “tactical action MMO,” so you’ve got to wonder if there’s more to it after all.

Well, I fired it up and my definitive response on whether it’s an MMO or not is a big… “Maybe?”

Honestly, it’s sort of hard to tell. There is certainly more going on than in your typical arena game. You actually get to create your own character, which I’m always a fan of. You have gear to equip and upgrade, and as you level you need to spend your attribute points to improve your stats. After the tutorial, you’re even dropped in a city with a bunch of other players running around. So all these things are highly RPG and very MMO.

Yet the gameplay so far as been very lobby arena-ish. While you are indeed in a city populated by other players, the quests so far have just been a one-dialog interaction that points you towards a series of menus to click around. And when I say a series of menus, I do mean a series. You’ll open one, which points you to another, then another, then another, until eventually you’ve clicked all the boxes and you’re ready to play again. The “playing again” part is where you simply open the PvP menu and join a match.

There were several dialogs that mentioned the open world combat and even guilds – known as Houses in-game. I haven’t played enough yet to see whether the Houses will include a guild hall or are just a light way to organize players, but hopefully I’ll see more of that soon. Also there is a large world map that seems to have areas divided up and under control of various groups – presumably players.

In summary, the game is more than meets the eye, but I’m just not sure how deep the rabbit hole goes yet. That’s really promising, actually. It’s got me locked-in enough that I want to know more. What can I do by joining a House? Is the open-world combat really your typical MMO persistent world (doubtful) or is this more like Classic Guild Wars’ lobby-instanced world (hopeful)? Or is it actually further removed from MMO worlds and more akin to joining an arena that represents this slice of the map (expected)? I’ll need to keep playing to answer these questions.

Combat is very reminiscent of Dynasty Warriors

I teased it at the top, but the feeling you get while fighting in Conqueror’s Blade really brings me back to playing Dynasty Warriors. You play as a general, and you have a set of units at your command. In Dynasty Warriors the units typically ran their preset paths and you simply ran with them to kill the other army, but here you actually need to organize and control the units.

Going into a battle, you can set up a number of units you’d like to have available to you during the fight. However, only one unit is out at a time (at least at my current level that’s the case). During the fight, you can find supply points that will allow you to resupply your troops (arrows can run out during a fight) or even swap your current unit for one of the others you’ve set as available. You have a few commands for each unit from follow, attack at will, and hold position. In addition to those, units will have a few skills that you can use as well. Overall, it’s a really satisfying experience.

Then there is your general character, which lets you run around and lay the smack down on the enemy troops. Just as in Dynasty Warriors, these opposing soldiers are mere fodder for your hero: You just slice and dice away. You’ve got five skills of your own including an ultimate ability. Since there’s so many abilities between yourself and your troops the game uses a control scheme similar to those found in many FPS games, deploying Q, E, R, T, and such for your personal skills. The 1 though 0 keys default to unit controls mostly. It’s taking me a bit to get comfortable with it, but it isn’t outrageous.

Now, since the gameplay is so similar to Dynasty Warriors, that means there are potentially tons of units on screen at anytime. This can be pretty taxing for your PC if your rig isn’t up-to-date. My machine is getting up there in years, but as someone who plays primarily MMOs on it, I’ve never really had any issues before now. Even when playing New World with the graphics set to medium-low, I think the game still looks amazing and plays smooth.

That is not the case here. Never in my gaming career have I felt like my rig was so potato. It’s really quite sad. I’ve got it set to trash quality, and yet it’s still not great. Sad. Of course, it could also be a server side thing; I don’t really know. Maybe they could use a nice and powerful engine. Just keep that in mind if you’re running an older rig like mine.

Game modes aren’t limited to just PvP

At my current stage of the game, I haven’t experienced everything the game offers yet, but I can already see the various game modes awaiting me through the menus. It certainly feels like Conqueror’s Blade is primarily PvP-centric, yet there are clearly PvE modes and events.

I am hopeful that the PvE modes offer some activities that Houses can participate in together – something that maybe acts like a dungeon. Since players’ armies are built of units that have various advantages and disadvantages against differing unit types, it could make for a fun organized event where you and your team need to strategize about who brings which unit types and when you swap them out.

So those are my first thoughts on Conqueror’s Blade. There’s a lot to experience here, and I know I’ve only just scratched the surface. I didn’t even get to explain how detailed the unit trees are or how you can level up and customize your build. Hopefully I am able to spend more time and get a bit deeper into it in the coming weeks. I’ve got to get my hands on that new Persian-themed update, after all. It’s free-to-play, and the game has regular updates so check it out – maybe I’ll see you in game!

Every other week, Massively OP’s Sam Kash delivers Fight or Kite, our trip through the state of PvP across the MMORPG industry. Whether he’s sitting in a queue or rolling with the zerg, Sam’s all about the adrenaline rush of a good battle. Because when you boil it down, the whole reason we PvP (other than to pwn noobs) is to have fun fighting a new and unpredictable enemy!
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