Much as I love EVE and STO and space games in general, my roots are in fantasy. I have thus far resisted the urge to spend more money on a fantasy subscription, though I do envy my brother’s dual EVE/LotRO status at the moment. But sometimes you get lucky with something.
My brother, searching for cheap prices on Europe Universalis III, which he’s been wanting to buy for awhile now, stumbled across a game called Mount & Blade, which had a free unlimited trial to level 7. Since they were both by Paradox, who also puts out some other games we’ve enjoyed, he decided to try it out and called me in as well. We fast found out that the game was offline (though an online standalone expansion is being release later this month). We also fast found it to be addictive. Why do I mention it here? Because alot of you are EVE players, and the big draw of EVE is its sandbox mentality. This game echoes that perfectly.
At first I was disappointed that the game (Which functions much like an MMO btw, hence our confusion) had no spells, mana, or magic. Instead it concentrates on being a pure Medieval simulation, though not historical at all, taking place in a fantasy kingdom with fantasy cultures, which though, are based on real life ones. You have your Nords (Vikings), your Vaegirs (generic barbarians), Khanates (Mongols), Rhodok (English I think), and Swadia (Frank/Germanic looks like). But I got over the lack of magic quickly. There is still plenty of customization in your weapon, armor, and fighting style choices. And the combat is based on skill – not just your skill sheet based on your level, but also some kinesthetic ability with the mouse and keyboard combo. It takes some getting used to, but is not so hard its a turn off. It plays like a cross between an MMO and a semi-real time version of Heroes of Might and Magic.
Character creation is fun, and meaningful. The tutorial is solid, and if its not enough, you are started at some Training Grounds where you can whittle away additional time honing some skills before you start adventuring in the big bad world. Interaction and Diplomacy are huge. Like the common merc solider toady you are, you’ll have to do some menial tasks for the Lords before they will really respect and trust you with some of their wealth and power..and perhaps one day a fiefdom of your own. Or go Robin Hood on them and ride around aiding villages. Remember the old game Defender of the Crown? This is like that but on steroids.
Graphics aren’t great, but they aren’t a turn off either. And there is a satisfying “thunk” in the audion/video interface when you axe connects with that irritating highway bandits chest too. And best of all, if you like the trial, the game is a mere $10 on Amazon.
My recommendation? Get troops early and often – usually recruits from the villages – and take them to the training grounds. Sparring with them a few times will level them into decent line troops. If you can get your band up to 30, you should be a match for most random groups of bandits, looters, and deserters. Yes deserters. The five kingdoms and their related vassalages often get into full blown wars, which is difficult (alot more tougher npc’s running around to dodge or fight) but also provides some quick advancement (rescuing a captured Lord has its privilages). The new expansion will allow you to go one step further and take on the Throne, as well as gather political marriages and expand the strategic vision of the game by adding on to kingdom management.
Anyway, now you know why I haven’t had much to say about EVE in the last couple of days eh? This has let me scratch my sword and shield itch without breaking the bank. Give it a shot, see what you think.