Golden Age Online: A New Style of Empire
By Remko Molenaar (Proxzor), OnRPG Journalist
Golden Age Online is a game published and developed by AeriaGames and like the name tells you it takes place in the medieval years of Europe. You can choose to play as a Knights Templar, a member of the Ibero Alliance and a Rhine from the commerce guild. Golden Age is a browser based role playing game and has different points of view. Like most games of its type, Golden Age is based around building your city and making a bigger army to defend yourself with. You will also need to buy other facilities to keep your upkeep the best and to attain more items that are needed. However RPG-esque side scrolling hub towns add an element of personality to the gaming community that most games of this genre fail to achieve.
The key to this game is upgrading your facilities so you acquire more resources and thus can build a bigger and more advanced army. These soldiers can be assigned to follow one of your hero characters to create squadrons for conquering new regions on the map. If you're new to the strategy empire building genre, the hub city is filled with NPCs that can assign you simple tasks to teach you the basics of the game.
The picture above is the overview of my capital. In this overview you can quickly identify all of your constructs and their current level of upgrade. They greyed out facilities represent potential buildings you can place if you're willing to spend your resources to acquire their features. The menu is much cleaner than most games in this genre and every button is properly labeled to help you navigate your governing menus.
If you're in a hurry to build your empire quickly, you can always return to Sanctum City to find more quests. These quests will force you to utilize your military strength in order to crush foes and collect rewards such as gold and new equipment.
This equipment is vital for building up your hero units. Without powerful hero units, your armies will falter on the battlefields so be sure to pass out each piece of equipment you collect to your favorite heroes. As such micromanagement is a key skill to have as you will need to keep an eye on both the progression of your heroes and the construction of your empire.
Beyond equipment, you can also choose the direction your hero progresses as he gains experience. For example, the above hero can be specialized in strength, vitality, and/or intellect. Each one of these statistics have different advantages on the battlefield but early game it seemed like strength was the only stat I needed since enemy units never dealt enough damage nor was my hero particularly weighted towards an intellect build. It should be noted that various equipment can further bolster your hero's stats, such as a knife I found early game that offered both vitality and intellect.
Golden Age brings the side scrolling style to the empire building MMO genre. It makes the game unique by offering players a way to interact and trade with each other with personalized avatars that I have never seen done for this type of game before. The UI is well designed and the tutorial is, if anything, overbearing so players new to the genre should have no issues adjusting to the game. My only real gripe was purely aesthetic.
Golden Age uses an almost identical map to the Northrend expansion by World of Warcraft. It drove me crazy as I felt I was playing the same gaming world in a different genre! Anyway at least there is plenty to explore in the world so your armies will never be at a loss of what to conquer next. Golden Age is currently in Closed Beta but should be entering open beta sometime this week. It's not often we see something new in the strategy empire building genre so I definitely recommend checking this out.