Off-Kilter Avarice Personified
I've been following The Mighty Quest for Epic Loot since it was first announced at E3. I'll admit, when I heard the pitch, I was... intrigued. The premise was simple: you have a castle, filled with loot. Your neighbor also has a castle, and it is also filled with loot. You must determine the best way to acquire your neighbor's loot, without letting them acquire yours.
I can't exactly recall the last time a developer thought to combine dungeon-building with dungeon-crawling; particularly in a competitive scenario. Assuming I'm not suffering from memory loss, TMQFEL (that's what I'm going to call it, from here on out) is a first in more ways than one. See, in addition to being among the first games of its type, it also represents Ubisoft's first foray into free-to-play.
My sincerest apologies; I know free-to-play is a dirty word for many of you, but I felt we should get that unpleasant detail out of the way first. TMQFEL uses three types of currency: Gold lets you purchase equipment, upgrade a few specific structures, and level up your character and Castle Heart; Life Force is used to summon traps and creatures, improve creatures and upgrade structures; finally, "Bling" is your paid currency. It can be used for pretty much anything: rushing construction on a building or for purchasing items and upgrades.
While you can get some Bling by completing quests, players who wouldn't care to wait (and grind) may instead choose to shell out. I understand it will eventually be used to purchase cosmetic upgrades, as well.
With that out of the way, let's get to the good part: TMQFEL is fun. Really, addictively fun. You can choose from one of three distinct characters (Paladin, Archer, and Mage) when you start the game. Each character has their own unique play-style; The Wizard is extremely adept at taking out huge crowds of foes, but he seems to have a bit of difficulty with bosses. The Paladin is a tank extraordinaire, and the Archer has a lot of crowd control and single-target damage at his disposal. You can choose to pay a small sum of gold to unlock the other two shortly after starting.
Since I'm partial to spellcasters, I started as the Wizard.
In actuality, you're only going to be playing as this character for roughly half the game, while attacking the castles of other players. In this case, TMQFEL is pretty much your standard dungeon-crawler, complete with ludicrous amounts of coin and magic items. There's one caveat, of course: upon entering a castle, you'll be given a countdown timer. Reach the end and defeat all the monsters in the boss room before the timer hits zero, or you won't be seeing a single coin from the vault. Gear plays a large role in whether or not you'll be successful.
I'm still working on getting my own gear up to snuff.
The other half of The Mighty Quest for Epic Loot - one you most definitely don't want to neglect - will be spent designing your own fortress, in order to prevent your rivals from stealing back your stolen loot. See, while you're off looting, other people are going to be eyeing your castle with avarice. Every time a player gets through your defenses, they make off with roughly 20% of your ill-gotten gains. On the plus side, you'll gain some loot from each player that fails to break through your defenses, and each one that succeeds will initiate a countdown timer during which you can't be looted again.
You can also add people to your friends list and challenge them to soldier through your fortress in order to achieve a certain time and loot value.
The dungeon construction was actually the part of TMQFEL that drew me in the most. Once you've all the requisite structures, you can start populating your castle with traps and monsters, redesign the layout, and upgrade your structures, character, and equipment. Although it's a bit more basic than most dungeon-creation games (at least at the moment), there's still a lot here to choose from, enough so that every castle's going to be a little different. Currently, I'm making use of several bottlenecks; these are both trapped and guarded by healer-tank teams. I'm planning to do a lot more experimentation once the gold and life force start rolling in; for now, I'm just going to kick back and hope no one crashes through to my vault.
Overall, The Mighty Quest for Epic Loot feels like two games in one, both of which are tied together by a marvelous, quirky sense of humor. The free-to-play elements shouldn't cause too much of a game imbalance, the dungeon-crawling mechanics are fast-paced and fun, and the construction side of things will add an awesome new angle of play rarely seen in games of this sort. In short? I'm excited for release day, and you should be too. Just don't take my stuff. I'll go after yours when your back is turned.
A gamer at heart, Nick started writing when he was a child. He holds a BA in English, works as a freelancer, and loves every minute of it. One day, he hopes to net himself a career in game design - but that's something for the future.
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