Evony. The Good, The Bad and The "I Need More Lumber"
By Jonathan (Ardua) Doyle, OnRPG Journalist
Hands up who hasn't heard of Evony. For the maybe two and half of you who just raised your hands, where have you been? Like it or loathe it, Evony has made itself known to the internet at large and boy has there been an impact.
That said, of all of you who know Evony is out there, how many of you know anything about it? I certainly had no idea about the game myself. Sure there has been negative press, sure there have been jokes a plenty aimed at it but for all that, I still knew nothing about the game itself.
Fortunately the Powers that Be sent me off to review the game and I was also lucky enough to be given a tour of it by VP of Operations Walt Yarbrough, his right hand man Darold Higa and Andy Rosenberg.
Go Play My Lord
Did you just call me "My Lord"? ...Shut up and write
First and foremost, Walt and Darold if you're reading this thank you very much for the tour. It was an eye-opener. You see, Evony it turns out, is rather like a browser game I used to play pretty heavily. Sure there is more to it with Evony but in heading off to review, I may have found yet another game to play with. ...I wonder if I can trade stone for more hours in the day...
Welcome, your majesty!
So the game! Evony Age II is an update to the original Evony game. Primarily it is an update dealing with the concerns of the original players. Tweaking, adding and generally giving the game a bit of a boost. For any one reading planning on giving it a peek, there's a tutorial now with a voice over that will guide you gently through the basic set up of a city. Upgrading? Oh she takes care of that, items, buildings, the daily prize wheel, all of it. If like me you enjoy RTS games and don't jump right into the skirmish settings where the whole tech tree is open, the Evony tutorial is a blessing. A wonderful little touch that I thought was quite clever is the fact that you don't have to sign up for the game until the end of the tutorial.
The curious amongst you can go and have a quick look at the game, granted with a generic name for your lord and city. Fret not though, for there are quests! More on them later but suffice to say, changing your name to something you want actually nets you rewards.
Age II: Age Harder
Age I of Evony had a basic quest system. This has been expanded and improved for Age II and linked very nicely with the beginners' tutorial. The majority of the quests are not repeatable and are essentially aimed at getting you set up. Every quest you finish brings you closer to the end game and the real meat of Evony, rewarding you along the way.
In a way it's almost like playing on rails, subtle rails though. Each quest reward and each building pre-requisite is designed to ensure that you create a proper resource base in your home city so that when you go to war, you stand a chance.
Giving you a boost along the way are a host of newbie bonuses like a 7 day protection against attacking or, importantly, being attacked. A newbie box of goodies with a second awaits you when you get your town hall up to level 3. Using Facebook connect nets you more rewards as well as helping your friends help you if they play as well.
Evony using Facebook Connect
To get from a completely fresh plot of ground to the massive military manoeuvres of the end game should take you (without spending a single penny/cent on RMT) three or four weeks. You get a week of beginners' protection and after that can try out armies on nearby NPC plots without necessarily attracting the attention of an alliance. From the first "Hello My Lord" to the first casualty you suffer, you are guided along to a prime starting position.
The Art of War
Endgame Endgame Endgame. Where every one wants to be. It's like New York but in this case New York is the kiddies pool. The world of Evony has massive battles, massive grudges and massive alliances. With alliances being able to hold 100 members, each member able to hold multiple cities and multiple armies, the amount of forces in play can go from tiny skirmish level scuffles to devastating tsunamis of incoming forces.
Not everything is about the alliance though, despite the fact that they surely help. There is plenty of opportunity to play Evony solo and only ever really deal with NPCs. You can close your gates to try weather an attack. You can put out contracts on other players if you yourself don't want to go up against them. You can even teleport your city somewhere else if you want to get a better (if random) position.
The item shop in Evony
That said, the real spice of Evony comes in real time. Skills, research, upgrades, building and attacks all have a down to the second time value. Attacking the NPC next door may be a 5 minute round trip, quick pop next door for some slaughter and cookies. That's real time on and offline. It's going to take two hours to make that hall? No problem. It means two hours unless you apply an item to speed things along. You can concentrate on other things if you want or simply just chat with folks in the game.
Attacking with your friends or trying to defend is where I want to be and where I am aiming to get. To that end I will be remaking an account to properly play (and if I am honest, try hunt down the Evony guys and throw myself at their walls for lawls). Why is that? Well... the game Evony reminds me of and what I have been guided through shows a vast and engaging endgame full of tactics, tricks and at times, nail biting terror. To fully explain all that lays there at the end game would likely triple this article.
The Elephant in The Room
Before I sign off I may as well get this out of the way. After all I know some of you are likely surprised by my positive tone regarding Evony. I know I was. I had seen the ads, formed an opinion and I was pleasantly surprised on seeing the game. Even the guys themselves are worthy of comment. Evony is being made and maintained by good proper talent. People who have worked for Mythic, EA, Turbine and more. The ads? Well I asked the guys about those. Part of it I know was due to outsourcing the ad campaign, but since Age II they're promoting the game.
The guys were fine with me asking about the ads and pointed out, rightly so, if nothing else Evony has made an impact. Why else would so many other f2p games be copying the advertising style (I'm looking at you Allods) or otherwise referencing Evony? Win-win for them then. As they said themselves, it's the job of the advertising arm to get people to the game and up to the game play to keep them there. If nothing else, as April 1st showed, they have a sense of humour about it all having parodied themselves.
Are they right to be confident? I think yes. If I'm a typical user of the internet Evony has gone from being that game whose ads interrupted my looking at lolcats to being that game I'm looking to crack open and play its socks off.
In the end there may not be a pretty girl waiting for you in Evony, but I will be. Bring it on!
- Improving game play.
- Better tutorial than before.
- Vast and exciting endgame.
- Some may find the time requirement to reach endgame a block.
- Occasional spam bots showing up (but swiftly dealt with).
- No boo....wait my editor will smack me. The normal lure of a Cash store (if you count that as a negative).
[Editor's note: I did smack him]