Early Access Reviews

War of Conquest Review: Old School Empires

A network connection and perseverance are a player’s key tools in War of Conquest. War of Conquest is a free to play MMO wargame from IronZog. Players are thrust into the open world far in the west. As players explore, grab resources and fight they’ll gain experience points and each level will thrust them further east where greater riches await them.

The current War of Conquest game is a revamp of the classic game that launched in 2002 and was closed in 2011. Fans of the original game are credited with much of the Kickstarter funding and enthusiasm for the remake. The most generous of backers were rewarded with a 3D model of the game’s Orb of Destiny, a sought-after resource. With a goal of $7000, the game’s fans were able to go beyond and ultimately raise $8,698.

The gameplay of War of Conquest appears simple, but like other multiplayer strategy games, appearances aren’t everything. Players begin with one square and can slowly begin expanding their territory. While owning resources and territory players will generate two key resources. Manpower is spent when attacking enemy tiles and is important for reacting to aggressors. Energy is spent over time to power the structures that can be built on the player’s territory. Experience and Credits are also earned by controlling orbs. Orbs are rare resources that grant experience and Credits every hour. It’s worth noting that Credits are the cash currency that can be bought through the game. Meaning that players can earn Credits by holding orbs, doing in-game quests and completing raids.

In War of Conquest, the raiding system is separated from the main map. Raids are a way for players to earn experience while waiting for Manpower to regenerate on the main map. Players are given a home island they use to protect 3 crystals. Other players can play against their island to find and attack their crystals. In War of Conquest, this is called a raid. Players can’t actively defend against raids but have to trust in their defenses. Meanwhile, when assaulting another player’s home island, players can earn Credits, experience and a ranking in the raid system. Players can lose ranking when failing on an offense against another player’s home island. An increased rating means more experience and Credits when successfully mounting an offensive.

Experience is possibly the most important thing to earn in War of Conquest. Every level, players will be able to research a technology which can increase a variety of stats. These can increase everything from Manpower and Energy regeneration to a percent Experience bonus. These bonuses are an intrinsic part of the player’s nation. As such, the game is surprisingly forgiving when a player is wiped out by an enemy. All that’s lost when that happens is territory —which can be easily recovered— and the bonus from resources. Surprisingly the bonus from resources is small when compared to a nation’s intrinsic bonus, and players will even suffer a Manpower penalty when their resource bonus is stronger than their intrinsic abilities. This ultimately means that it’s easier to shrug off losses to other players.

One of the greater issues with a PvP game, especially one of this scale is community management. IronZog both runs a web forum for the game and is also active on the game itself. But being an older game it’s easy for players to become discouraged. For this reason, it’s important to say again how easy it is to recover. Players may be overwhelmed by high-level or high-skilled enemies if they extend too far east, or they may just be unlucky. The game doesn’t overwhelm players with setbacks.

War of Conquest has an intuitive interface with a simple appearance. Colored tiles mark territories and players can usually identify what sort of resource of structure is built based on the models alone. While it’s not a very flashy game, the graphics make it clear to the player what they’re looking at. The sound effects are equally clear and can help players if they hear tiles nearby being claimed by enemies. The music —while there— cuts in and out abruptly but fits the game’s pulp fantasy/sci-fi theme.

An old-school game for an old school style of play. War of Conquest is an endless uphill battle but it’s rewarding. Even when knocked down players can easily get back up with the nation that they’ve built. It’s an ever-shifting landscape of enemies and allies all in it together. Even when fighting one another all the players are friends joined in this grand journey eastward. The more mature of the game’s players will recognize this camaraderie, and that’s the good that ought to be pointed out. That despite the harshness of War of Conquest it’s a forgiving game with a strong community that’s waiting for new players to guide.

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