A couple of weeks ago, I signed up on Ubisoft’s website to put into a draw to get a closed beta key for Mighty Quest for Epic Loot (from now on: MQ). Now, you can just buy into the beta at three price points (€10, €40 or €100) but as it’s ultimately going to be a free to play game, buying in seems a bit silly to me. I mean, you do get some bonuses such as getting more ‘blings’ (the in-game currency), extra inventory space, hero skins etc. but the price seems a bit steep in my opinion, particularly as it’s closed beta and the game is changing all the time. Anyway, you can do what I did and just put down your Ubisoft account details and wait patiently (and hope for some luck) for a key. There’s also giveaways which you can find online too if you’re really interested.
So what is this game all about? Well, I’ve heard it described as half-Diablo and half-Dungeon Keeper and I think that’s fairly accurate. You control an adventurer (classes available so far: knight, archer and mage) and you level up with exp which grants you new cool skills to use. And of course, you can equip all the loot you’ll be getting.
You spend half your time raiding castles in Diablo-esque combat, picking up loot and trying to make your way to the end treasure room within the time limit set. Make it to the end and you loot the big chests and make off with lots of gold and life-force. There are computer-generated dungeons, but the best part of the game is raiding other player’s castles. You see, raiding their castles actually takes away their supply of gold and life-force. A successful raid on a reasonably levelled castle gives you more ‘crowns’ but losing will incur penalties. Plus of course, all that shiny loot.
This brings me onto the other half of the game: building up your own castle and defences. You use the gold and life-force that you gain from raiding to spend on upgrades to various things in your castle. Your castle is reasonably customisable. You can put in different rooms with different layouts. You can put down an assortment of traps. Best of all, you can put down waves of monsters and for some of the bigger ones, choose how they’re going to attack. So you go away for a few hours and return to see how your castle has fared against the legion of adventurers trying to loot your treasure. You get a really fantastic breakdown of how adventurers did, and you can even watch their castle run through so you can see where your defence works and where it doesn’t.
Ok, so how does gameplay work in reality? Well the design of the game seems to be structured around quick-burst sessions. It’s the sort of game you might check in on once or twice a day and then play for maybe 30 minutes. The castles are really fast-paced and generally small enough to finish in less than 5 minutes (though I am low-level and that might change). The game rewards you for leaving it for a few hours, as your castle keeps generating gold and life-force whilst you’re away. Some people may love this, and I personally really like that it just plugs a small gap in my life rather a huge all-consuming one. Others might feel there’s not enough content yet to really absorb you for any amount of time, and that’s a justifiable attitude to have. It is closed beta after all.
The combat is serviceable but I do think it could do with some tweaking. The lack of ability to rebind your keys (short of going through config files which is way too tech-y for me) is particularly annoying. I find myself as the archer often clicking to attack but misclicking and ending up just running straight into the enemies. Still, the combat is fairly compelling and whilst it’s not as deep as true Diablo-style games, I think the fact that the combat is only half of the game can justify it being a bit more of a shallow experience. I would love to see some more cool weapons though (you know…epic loot!) but being quite low-levelled, I wouldn’t be surprised if I don’t see that for a while.
What about the pay model? Well, it’s free to play, which always rings alarm bells for some. So far though, there’s very little you can buy with blings. Only a few monsters can be bought (and they’re not even overpowered), you can speed up construction and there’s some upgrades which require it. A few weeks ago, there was a patch which allowed people to buy everything with blings but that was met with huge controversy. Luckily, Ubisoft reverted that patch after seeing all the player feedback. The problem with this game is that it is in closed beta, and things can change. Right now though, I don’t think there’s a problem with the pay model. At the moment, it seems that you can play through the game completely adequately without ever spending any money. I hope Ubisoft go in the direction of vanity purchases for monetisation purposes. I mean, it seems fairly obvious that the potential for vanity stuff is super high in a game where you customise a castle, have a hero which can be re-skinned and have monsters which could also be re-skinned. I’d be totally ok with that.
Overall, Mighty Quest for Epic Loot has a lot of promise. I think that as long as Ubisoft don’t mess up the pay model in a pay-to-win way, this could be a very fun game for a lot of people. It’s got both casual and hardcore appeal, because it’s the sort of game you can jump in and out of all day (or spend all day grinding if you so desire). I think the premise is really interesting and the way it handles PvP is really unique. As it is closed beta, if you’re interested, wait for a key; I don’t think the pay-for bundles are worth it at the moment as the game just doesn’t have enough content to justify those costs. And of course, everything could change by release date, so if you’re interested upon its release, make sure to read updated reviews.