By Jordan Hall (ApocaRUFF)
It’s been over a year since we last took a look at Villagers & Heroes, the 3D Cross-platform MMO that allowed players to experience two separate portions of fantasy life: that of a villager and that of a hero. This is not a new kid on the block by any stretch of the imagination, having existed as early back as 2011 under a different name. However, it is one of the few MMOs that has managed to maintain a healthy development cycle since its become available. This latest cycle has given us a major improvement to the game: mobile. So let’s see what the new Villagers & Heroes mobile has brought to the game!
First and foremost, it’s important to say that this is NOT a separate game. This is the same version of the game you play on a desktop. The only major difference is the UI, which has been changed to better fit with mobile. You get all the features and content from the base game, so you’re not missing out on anything by going mobile. But there’s one important factor that I truly love about this new mobile version of the game: it’s on the same servers as the desktop version of the game.
Yep, that means you can be playing on your desktop and when you need to go somewhere or you’re away from home, you can simply hop on your Android and start playing where you left off. Not many MMOs have this. Some MMOs have mobile versions which are actually separate games, such as Age of Wushu and Age of Wushu: Destiny. They’re similar, but not the same game and not on the same servers. This is the kind of gaming tech that gamers have wanted for MMOs since smartphones became a potential gaming device, but it’s kind of sad that so few games utilize this.
Additions to the game
Since we last looked at the game back in July of 2015, there have been some decent changes to the game. The biggest and most important of which, in my opinion, are the mounts. When I last played the game I got a bit frustrated about how annoying running around could be. Having these mounts makes it sooooo much quicker, it’s almost like a completely different game. However, there has been a ton of changes made to the game since 2015 that I can’t even hope to list them. Instead, I suggest you check out the official Patch Notes sub-forum. You’ll notice a lot of story content has been added to the game, along with many tweaks to help the game become more streamlined and enjoyable.
Graphics & Controls
The game on mobile looks just about as good as the desktop version. This is because of the low-quality aesthetic the game has. I imagine that cartoony look is part of the reason this is one of the few games to have complete cross-platform gameplay. Modern smartphones can chew through the quality of graphics that Villagers & Heroes offers with no issues. It should be clear that I’m not complaining about the graphics, and if you read my original review of the game you’ll see that I feel that the style really lends to the humor present in the game.
The UI for the mobile version of the game is your standard mobile RPG/MMO set up. On the left is a virtual joystick that is used to control your character. On the right is an ability-wheel of sorts that allow you to make use of your abilities. Here’s another way that the overall design of the game really lends itself to mobile; Villagers & Heroes is not the type of MMORPG that requires tons of hotbars for cooldown rotations and buff spam. For the most part, I’m quite satisfied with the mobile UI.
Except for the camera. I feel like the devs could do even more to make the camera easier to deal with. Keyword being “feel.” While I think there should be more ease-of-use included with the camera, I’ll admit I’m not sure how it could be accomplished. However, as it is now the camera is a bit of a hassle to deal with and I got frustrated in some combat situations where I needed to rotate the camera quickly to start fighting the next target before I die. Overall, though, this is a minor issue and not big enough for me to mind it too much.
So How Does it Play?
The short and simple of it: fantastic. As I mentioned under graphics when discussing the UI, it makes use of the typical mobile MMO interaction. Nothing new there, which is good because it’s an excellent system. With the camera rotation (accomplished by placing your finger on the screen and moving back and forth), there was some frustration. But overall, it was a smooth experience that I was happy with.
General gameplay mirrored that of the desktop version of the game. It’s a mixture of sandbox features (the Villager side of the game) and RPG features (the Hero side). The housing is quite nice, and I enjoy that you can pick a house right at character creation. Which brings me to one of my favorite parts of the game; Character Creation. Villagers & Heroes does character creation right in every single way, at least for the type of MMO it is.
You won’t have a ton of sliders and options to make your character a unique snowflake. But what you will have is a story creation tool that is almost unparalleled. As you select your home, your class, your gender, your origin, etc… a story is written for you. Of course, if you’ve created multiple characters it’s not as amazing, but that first time you create a character will be quite memorable because of the system they have.
It’s simultaneously one of the more “meh” systems and one of the more exciting systems.
Questing is a lot more story-oriented than your typical MMO. Of course you still have your annoying chore-quests that have you running long distances to talk to NPCs, killing X of Y mob for no real apparent or noticeable reason, and we can’t forget how important it is to collect plants. Why is it important to collect plants? Well, the reason isn’t actually that good and it’s more of a filler task to give you a bit more experience while you complete that quest to kill fifteen wolves. I hate generic filler quests in MMOs with a passion.
Fortunately, generic filler quests aren’t the only thing in the game. In fact, while they certainly exist, they are overshadowed by the overarching storyline within the game. Early on you’re introduced to just how enticing the questing in Villagers & Heroes can be. With its humor and bad graphics, you’ll be reminded of some of the RPGs of your childhood from the days of the original Playstation and Nintendo 64. It’s these morsels that make Villagers & Heroes one of my preferred MMOs.
The Villager side of things offers more sandbox oriented content. I’m not saying the game is a sandbox. Definitely not. But it does have sandbox features. Things such as an interesting crafting system, player villages, and, of course, player housing. Like I mentioned, part of the character creation system is choosing your first house. In my opinion, the Village portion of the game is what makes this game shine and makes it so interesting.
You’ll join a housing zone, which is given a name such as “So-and-so Hamlet,” choose a housing plot and then get to work. When you set-up a home in one of these zones you join the community and work towards developing the village and the land around you with that community. It feels like a mixture of the systems present in Dragon’s Prophet (pre-defined Housing plots within a beautiful zone) and Star Wars Galaxies (the city system). It’s the best community experience that involves hosuing that I’ve had since I played Star Wars Galaxies, which is my all-time favorite game (MMO or otherwise).
Anyways, the house design you choose isn’t the be-all-end all. There are other templates to pick from, unlocked using gold and ‘tickets.’ From there you can customize the architecture of your template and then you can further paint your home. The main purpose of the house is to help fulfill the needs of your chosen Villager professions, such as ranching and gardening in plots attached to your house. Then there is the fact that it acts as a storage to keep your things in, too.
I’m really excited about the upcoming release of Villagers & Heroes on mobile. While on the desktop Villagers & Heroes is a game often forgotten, I feel like it will quickly become one of the shining stars of the mobile MMO genre. Other mobile MMOs simply don’t come close to offering the amount of features and content that Villagers & Heroes has, partially because of its age. There was a minor annoyance with the camera which I hope is improved in the future (and honestly, it may just be a personal preference thing and others may not notice or mind it). Overall, Villagers & Heroes Mobile will be a fantastic experience I suggest you head to the Play store as soon as its available and start playing!
Further Villagers and Heroes Mobile Gameplay Screenshots: