By Jordan Hall (ApocaRUFF)
Villagers & Heroes is a game where every player has two sides: Villager and Hero. The Villager side deals with crafting, resource gathering, owning a house, ranching, farming, and all the other stuff a villager is expected to do. The Hero side of things focuses on solving epic quests, slaying monsters, and finding epic loot! This is not a new game, though. Last year Ragachak took a look at the game after it had received a major expansion. Prior to that, as early as 2011, the game was known as A Mystical Land. Since then, though, the game has changed quite a bit. So much so, this latest expansion as been titled, Villagers & Heroes: Reborn.
Probably the most “cinematic” character creation I’ve experienced in an MMO. As you create your character, a nice British gentleman talks to you and narrates. As this is going on, some very soothing, yet epic, music is playing in the background at just the right volume. The UI of the character creation is amazing, as well. As you’re picking options on the left side, the right side shows a background story that is being generated based on your choices, telling the history of your character. So, while options may not be as abundant as in other MMOs, the experience was definitely top-notch. The only games I can think of that compare are single-player.
Once you’re out of character creation, the customization takes a bit of a dip. Character progression feels pretty linear, though you are given some choice. A lot of the time, you end up feeling like you’re doing the same thing every other player has done, in the same way, and in the same order. That’s not too odd, as a lot of MMOs give that sort of feeling. In the end, I have to say that a lot of the customization in Villagers & Heroes feels lackluster, but there are a few gems in there that lift it up to great levels.
The nicest way to refer to Villagers & Heroes graphics is “nostalgic.” If you’ve played (and enjoyed) vanilla WoW or even Runescape recently, you’ll probably find yourself having an indescribable sense of, “This is nice,” while playing. If you wanted to be mean, though, you could say that the quality is extremely low and there could be a lot of polish and updating to be done. On the other hand, the cartoony, low-poly, low quality texture graphics do fit the comedic nature of the game. As you play, you’ll often get the feeling that Villagers & Heroes is meant to be a parody of other MMORPGs of the past.
I didn’t run into many issues when it comes to controls in Villagers & Heroes. Occasionally, usually when running up a hill, I would get my character snagged on something invisible. That was the worst of it, though. The UI, since its update, has proven to be quite sleek and responsive. All-in-all, the controls worked as well as you could hope.
So far the community seems sort of small. As I was playing, I would feel myself lucky if I saw ten other people in a single session. I feel like as word of Villagers & Heroes ‘reborn’ spreads, the population will start to grow. A few people on the MMOHuts/OnRPG forums even decided to give the game another try after finding out some of the features they disliked from the game prior to the update had been removed.
Gameplay in Villagers & Heroes is somewhere between a typical themepark MMORPG and a sandbox. In one portion of the game you’re going around and questing or doing objectives, just like you would do in games like World of Warcraft. And then in the other portion you have what is almost a separate game focused on housing, farming, animals, resource gathering and crafting. Of course, you can focus on whichever portion of the game you want. And that’s what makes Villagers & Heroes so interesting to me, the mixture of what is almost two separate games into one.
Of course, the purpose of this review is to give an updated look at the game since its latest expansion. One of the biggest features of the update is, as I’ve already discussed, the character creation. Which turned out to be one of the best character creation processes I’ve experienced in an MMO. There’s also a few new locations, including an ‘epic’ storyline to complete. The gathering system revamp is noteworthy as well as marked improvements in terms of look and design to a few existing locations in the game. The last two big updates to the game are the new interface and the Rebirth feature, which allows you to “rebirth” your character, almost similar to the system you’ll find in games like Mabinogi.
Combat is your usual point-and-click system. I have to admit that, especially early on, I didn’t enjoy the combat system very much. I liked how much movement the system allowed for – you can jump and run around while casting as a mage, which is great. But each combat encounter was just a mirror of the previous encounters, using the same tactics and attacks. I would say that a revamp of the combat system should be worked on, as at times I felt bored to the point that I wanted to log out while doing some quests.
Speaking of quests, most of them appear to mimic the formula used in themepark MMOs. “I need X of Y which you can get by killing Z” is the sort of quest you’ll be doing often. A few of the quests, especially on Ethos Island (where you start) are actually pretty in-depth and enjoyable, on the scale of some of the stuff you might experience in SWTOR or The Secret World (minus the high quality voice acting, of course). The overall tone of the game, which is shown in the quests often, is quite light-hearted and often times comedic. This gives the game a sort of parody feeling, as if it’s a caricature of what you’ll experience in some other MMOs. One thing that was neat, and worth a mention, is that after you defeat a foe they’ll sometimes drop temporary buffs to help give you an edge in your next fight.
Gathering and crafting is pretty straight forward. The new gathering system has been made to be more “natural.” In the past, the Vim system was a source of great annoyance for players. With this new system, it’s been removed and a lot of people I’ve talked to have expressed an interest in coming back to the game because of this alone. The core of the gathering system is the “supplies” sub-system. For example, when you go fishing you need worms, right? There are different types and qualities of worms. Besides that, though, the gathering is pretty generic and boring after a while – you go up to a node and click, then you do an action and get a reward.
Crafting, while a bit better than your run-of-the-mill Themepark crafting, isn’t that exciting. There have been games in the past where I could dedicate hours of gameplay solely to crafting. Unfortunately, Villagers & Heroes did not turn out to be one of those. Of course, that is just my preference. I’m guessing a lot of people who try the game will enjoy the crafting system a decent amount, especially when paired with the housing and villages.
Housing in Villagers & Heroes is one of the key features in the game. Everyone likes a housing system, and this game does it right (in my opinion). You start with something basic, which you can choose at character creation. From there you can further customize, improve, and design it into something great. You can find a village which offers you a great many bonuses (on top of what your own house offers), too. In the end, this is probably the feature offering the most replayability in the game. But its also one of the last features you get introduced to, unfortunately. Not to say you’re going to play for a long time without getting to enjoy your own home, but I would have preferred it if I had been introduced to the housing a little bit sooner in the game.
Villagers & Heroes has turned out to be a surprisingly good game. Sure, it’s got more than a few rough spots. But it also has a lot of history, a decent fanbase, and some great features. My favorite feature being the housing, with my least favorite having to be the combat. What’s great about this game as it has something for most types of players – be you Villagers or Heroes. I would say that you should definitely check this game out, it’s free and has a lot of neat things to offer.
Features: 4/5 – Lots of good features, but some needing revamps.
Customization: 3/5 – Could use a bit more.
Graphics: 3/5 – While I like the nostalgic feel, I wouldn’t mind higher quality.
Controls: 3/5 – I ran into some minor issues, but nothing major.
Community: 4/5 – Small but nice.
Overall: 4/5 – A little bit rough, but well worth playing.
Want to see Villagers & Heroes in action? Catch our refresher video on our sister site, MMOHuts!