By Darren Henderson (DizzyPW)
An old associate of mine backed by a new company sent me an invite I surely wasn’t going to refuse at E3. Especially after seeing just how much traction our site has had with Legends of Honor in the past couple months. For those not in the know, Legends of Honor is a browser-based real-time empire build and battle medieval title from the Hamburg, Germany company – Good Game Studios. While that label on the surface isn’t super exciting, no one can argue with the sheer success the game has experienced, particularly in the US and western European countries. But why? Fabio showcased the game and I picked out a few key features I can see driving Legends of Honor ever forward.
Not Reinventing the Wheel, but Motorizing It
Legends of Honor is essentially the culmination of a decade of trial and error in the empire building strategy genre. The core gameplay is what you have come to expect, but the polish and freedom is in a league of its own. Visually the game is stunning. Not only are the heroes animated beautifully on the battlefield, but even the cards representing your units carry quality you’d expect from a top tier CCG, yet with a distinctly European style that is a refreshing change of pace from the Anime art saturating online gaming.
But its the actually tactical real-time nature of the world map that pushes this game to the top of the trash pile of casual browser strategy games. Lords can micromanage their marching orders to outsmart their foes, set traps and ambushes, and all sorts of dastardly ploys to overcome a losing battle. Compare that to waiting 4 hours while your army marches across the map to a predetermined victory or defeat, and this feature is clearly a genre evolution. This makes even simple PvE mission runs exciting as you never know who might be lying in wait, hoping to take a piece of your empire’s pie. Considerations of terrain movement bonuses and avoiding locations that are easy to utilize for setting ambushes becomes a real concern whenever you send your troops out from your city gates. And being an actual active player and calling your troops back in full retreat can mean the difference between living to fight another day, or a full legion wipe. Plus with a huge variety of unit types with different strengths and weaknesses, and different tiers within those types, planning ahead to counter your opponent has never felt more impactful in the genre.
The faction system is another nice idea Legends of Honor has going for it. Rather than leaving guild formation open to the players who will inevitably flock to the strongest to suppress the rest of their server, Legends of Honor has 3 set factions available to join. These factions are more than simple labels, and players will not be able to join guilds from other factions, splitting the world map up into a three-way super brawl for control. Once choosing a faction, you aren’t locked in it forever. Plus incentives seem to be present to encourage members of the strongest faction to jump ship and quickly rise to the top of command of the weaker factions to keep server balance going strong. With 100k+ users active on a single server, and world map marching rendered in real-time, this game is certainly one of the most alive feeling games in the genre.
However solid Legends of Honor’s rendition of the genre might be, one thing is clear. No one wants to take the time to play games like this on their browser at a home PC anymore. Well I mean, no one I know. I still can’t argue with the insane player numbers currently enjoying this, can I? But Good Game isn’t resting on their laurels. At E3 they revealed their progress converting Legends of Honor to mobile, including a complete UI overhaul to compliment touch controls, simplified world map features to make the game compatible across a larger variety of devices, but otherwise nearly a 1:1 feature list from the existing browser game. With the game already soft-launched in select European countries, and a more global launch right around the corner, I imagine this game will have no problem exploding onto the iOS and Android scene as a huge portion of their existing playerbase hits the road and takes their empire on the go. Keep an eye out for further news of the US launch news in the coming weeks!