By Jordan Hall (ApocaRUFF), OnRPG Journalist
Conqueror’s Blade is a warfare MMO that spans the earlier periods of both Western and Eastern cultures. From Spanish Muskets to Kamakura Samurai, you will take control of legions from all over the world and do battle against other players. By combining tactics, strategy, and action gameplay, Booming Games is aiming to achieve a living world that offers something for everyone. There’s unit progression similar to whats found in War Thunder or World of Tanks, combat similar to what you might find in Mount & Blade (Single player) or Dynasty Warriors, and strategy similar to what you may come across in Europa Universalis. So, does Conqueror’s Blade deliver? It may be a bit too early to tell, but I can share what I’ve found while playing the Closed Beta.
Conqueror’s Blade has a fair amount of character customization, but nothing too in-depth. While there’s a lack of sliders, you do get a fair amount of pre-made options. Past being able to give your character a sick goatee, you have a few other avenues of customization. Namely, in choosing skills in your character progression, and choosing which paths of research/development you want to take for your troops. The reality is, though, you won’t be too different – on a character level – compared to other players of the same weapon type.
An alright selection of options.
Real customization in this game comes in the form of your strategy; that is, what you do before you go into battle. Which items you take with you, what spawnable siege weaponry you invest in so that you may bring it into battle, what units you choose. This is especially the case in the Overworld system, which I’ll get into later. So while, in a factual sense, there isn’t much customization, it feels like you have a lot of choices to make.
I enjoy this system of progression.
While Conqueror’s Blade certainly looks good, it isn’t exactly gorgeous. Models were OK, but felt like they lacked polish. Perhaps that was just because of a lack of graphical options that will be introduced by time the game launches. Textures mostly seemed to be of a lower quality, at least where buildings and characters were concerned. Also, the character design, at least for the players at lower and mid levels, was very lackluster. Not to say that there isn’t merit in following a more realistic and down-to-Earth style (see: Life is Feudal), I just rarely felt like an epic general because my character always looked less prepared for battle than his own troops.
Decent, but not quite what I hoped for.
Where the graphics shine though is in the world design, from the Overworld, to the battle maps. Whoever they had working on designing this aspect of the game had some real vision and it shows. The engine also does really well at producing accurate and detailed lighting, which means accurate and detailed shadows. Seeing flaming arrows and cannon balls soaring overhead on siege maps is a sight to behold. So, in short, while most of the graphics failed to impress me, I was far from disappointed.
The game is very atmospheric.
For the most part, the controls in Conqueror’s Blade were perfect. The only downside, I would argue, was that it can be difficult to remember all the keys you’ll need to use in the heat of combat. Learning what combos to use, remembering to activate your abilities in the correct moments, setting your units up for the best benefit in a certain situation… it all adds up when you’re also fighting other players and trying to stay alive. I’m not saying it’s exactly hard, just that it’s a different experience than what you would find in most MMOs.
During the Closed Beta, everyone from all regions were connected to the same international server (though I believe it was hosted in North America). I’m unsure whether or not this will be case at launch. This sort of set-up has some benefits and some negatives. One major positive is a truly massive population. The downside was that players tend to separate themselves by language, which means a fair amount of toxicity and animosity is generated towards certain groups with large populations by other groups. This toxicity can become borderline racist. I saw it happen in Age of Wushu, so I’m unsure on how I would feel if the game had one shared international community instead of being separated (by IP block) into regional servers.
As I said in the introduction, Conqueror’s Blade is a multi-genre spanning game. It’s got a little bit of something for most types of players. There’s even crafting. Personally, my favorite aspect of the game was leading the troops. In games that have tried similar troop-leading mechanics, they (at least to me) often felt more like a meaningless meat-shield. In Conqueror’s Blade, the troops felt meaningful and if you were under-prepared for the encounter, you could easily find yourself dying to troops alone without any player intervention.
These are some of my favorite units – at least as a low level – as the protection they offer me when trying to capture or protect points is unparalleled.
Each unit has various formations and abilities unique to them. For example, if you have a shield-wielding unit, you could order them into a close-knit rectangle formation. Then, you could order them to raise their shields, offering you (or perhaps another players archers) vastly increased protection. Or if you have a unit capable of it, they could array themselves into a nearly impenetrable block of shields. Or to put themselves in an circle around you, slowly moving with you and turning you into a turtle of devastation. And that’s just one type of unit. There are archers, muskets, cavalry, pikes, and more.
While it’s fun against NPCs, against other players you will often get frustrated.
Combat, at least in terms of player versus player, is in need of a ton of tweaking and polish. There are too many ‘broken’ weapons that offer unfair advantages. At first it was muskets – a female only class – but then it became apparent than certain other weapons had advantages. It’s not fun when two players can be play volleyball with a third player and put them into an infinite stun loop until they die. Heck, a single player on a horse can do about the same. There needs to be more balance.
Character progression is a bit simplistic. You will gain access to more abilities to choose from (and level up) as you gain levels, but overall you wont be too much different than other players of the same weapon type. Moves have various roles they fill. For example, there are block-breaking moves which have a fairly obvious purpose. AOEs, frontal cones, and pin-point damage dealers, too.
This system is similar to what you would find in World of Tanks, just replace ‘Research Points’ with ‘Honor.’
Unit progression, on the other hand, is a bit more complex. There are three major types of units: Melee, Ranged, and Calvary. The progression for these are similar to what you would find in World of Tanks or War Thunder. By participating in battles you generate Honor (essentially ‘Research Points’ in other games) and gain Silver. I rather enjoy this set-up, as it makes you feel like you’re actually progressing – something that most games nowadays struggle at. I do feel, however, that the progression was a tad slow in the beta. (Unless you’re using the EXP boosts, that is… which I mention in the ‘Cash Shop Woes?’ section.)
If Conqueror’s Blade was simply a battle-centric game, it honestly wouldn’t have that much promise. Good thing it isn’t. By giving players an Overworld filled with various fortresses, cities, towns, villages, and resource-gathering nodes to fight and take control of, the developers have elevated Conqueror’s Blade from a simple battle arena game into a true living world MMO.
This is where the ‘real’ game starts.
Players will need to form caravans with their units and wagons, ensuring they have the rations to feed themselves and their troops before leaving, to travel the Overworld. As players travel, other players traveling will be able to see them. If those players are hostile, they can choose to pursue the other player and initiate a battle. If a player goes unhindered, they can make their way to various nodes on the Overworld and take them over, enabling their House or Kingdom to gather resources and/or taxes from it.
The developers ensure that the Overworld will play a major part in the game by making it so certain resources required for all but the lowest tier of units and craftings can only be obtained from it. That’s not to say that players are required to participate: There is a market where players who do participate in the Overworld can sell their goods to any player who has the Silver (such as those that stick purely to queue-based battles). If you can’t tell, this mechanics has me really excited.
Joining a good Kingdom is paramount to having fun in Conqueror’s Blade.
Players have two main methods to organize themselves: Houses, which are essentially guilds in most MMOs, and Kingdoms, which are collections of Houses who ally themselves together. During the Closed Beta I joined a House, which then joined a Kingdom. Because of that, I was able to participate in and experience the excitement (and frustration) the Overworld offered. If you want to enjoy the full experience that Conqueror’s Blade offers, you’ll also want to join up with a House with a solid Kingdom.
Cash Shop Woes?
There was only a very small glimpse of the cash shop (‘Mall’ in Conqueror’s Blade) during the Closed Beta. What we saw were two types of cash shop items: Silver bags, which give in-game currency, and EXP boosts, which can vastly increase the rate at which you gain experience. Now this isn’t exactly pay-to-win, but it will give those with a wallet a hefty advantage in the early game UNLESS the developers decide to postpone making the cash shop available for the first few weeks of the game. I don’t see this happening, though. The experience boosts aren’t too broken because they have level limits. IE, the 6x experience cannot be used unless your character is under a certain level (35, I believe). So, while this may offer an advantage for players in the early game, during the mid and late game it’ll act more as a catch-up mechanic. One that is, unfortunately, behind a paywall.
Stuff like this has me worried for the games future.
During the Closed Beta, Conqueror’s Blade proved it was a solid game with a ton of potential. Exciting combat mixed with intense strategy is always a fantastic combination. Sure, there were some worries (unbalanced weapons and the cash shop), but I feel like the developers will likely be able to steer the game in the correct direction. I hope, anyways. I’ll definitely be returning for the Open Beta and Release, as the game offered way too much to put down. So, should you give Conqueror’s Blade a try? Definitely.
- Features: 4/5 – Tons of great features.
- Customization: 3/5 – I’d appreciate a bit more.
- Graphics: 3.5/5 – Just short of being impressive.
- Controls: 4/5 – Solid.
- Community: 3/5 – Still up in the air.
Overall: 3.5/5 – Hopefully this will increase into a 4/5 at release.
Note: A key was provided for preview purposes.
Conqueror’s Blade Beta Screenshots