Warrior Epic : Free to Play and Worth the Price!

I have spent the better part of the past few evenings playing a new Free-2-Play game called Warrior Epic.  This game was just launched this week and is, at it’s core, a Diablo clone.  But it is a very good Diablo clone and well worth the price of the game.  (Free)


In Warrior Epic you play as a leader of a warrior hall.  You have to take out your individual warriors and run missions either solo or in groups of up to four other players.  The missions maps are somewhat randomized and you could run the same mission instance several times in a row, and while the objective doesn’t change, the map layout and the enemies inside will vary somewhat. 


But other games have done randomized missions and instances that scale to the size of the player group before, clearly there must be some innovation here to make it interesting for a seasoned MMO veteran.  Three features of the game really stand out for me as being innovative (read not what WoW, and therefore everyone else, is doing). 


Firstly there is the skill system and it’s skill tree.  As your warrior level up in missions you will obtain skill points to spend on your skills.  Each class starts off with three basic skills.  Skills usually have a cool down and can be either active skills or passive skills.  Active skills have cool downs and are your usual run of the mill more powerful attacks.  Passive skills function as buffs to your warriors.  You might have a 5% change to strike nearby enemies or a 15% chance to parry the next three attacks against you for example.


I know what you are thinking, nothing-new there.  Wrong.  The skill tree allows for a level of character customization that goes beyond what most any AAA MMO out there has to offer.  Each of your skills can be improved by spending the skill points you receive for leveling up.  A base heal might heal for 4 points of damage and be on a 25 second cool down.  Once you reach level two and have two skill points to spend you can improve that skill based on your own choosing.  You can either increase the amount of the base heal or decrease the cool-down.


Other abilities function similarly.  Do you want a heavy hitting special attack for 100 damage useable once a minute or want to be able to hit for 20 damage every 15 seconds?  The choice is yours and the possibilities for customization are nearly endless. 


Another interesting aspect of the game is the spirit system.  Once one of your warriors is killed in a mission they return to your warrior hall as a spirit.  At that point you can either use some prestige (points earned by completing missions) to revive the warrior or utilize some of the unique spirit features available in the game.  Warrior spirits can be “equipped” by your living warrior for a one-time use in a mission.  Calling on a warrior spirit will unleash a powerful attack, based on the level and strength of the warrior being called.  Additionally you have the option of permanently sacrificing your warrior to bind the warrior spirit to a piece of equipment to strengthen it.  Customization of gear and equipment is another facet of game play that you don’t see every day.  Also completion of missions award animal spirits that can somehow be used to upgrade features of the warrior hall.


Lastly there is the function of the warrior hall itself.  There are various rooms available in the hall to allow further customization.  You start off with a basic barracks able to hold 4 warriors, a sanctuary (where the spirits go), and a war room for hosting missions with other players.  Other rooms can be added such as a workshop to make equipment, but they require you to spend the purchasable gold to upgrade your warrior hall.  Also you can decorate your warrior hall as you see fit, but that also costs gold and doesn’t seem worthwhile to spend $1.00 on some new curtains.


Supposedly buying upgraded furniture for your war room will provide buffs for you and your party as you go out and mission.  I am sure at the high end you will see the min-max players seeking out the best buff pieces for their halls.  Unfortunately I can’t seem to find any documentation about how exactly this works and don’t want to drop the cash on an upgraded table or new tile floor if it ends up being just cosmetic.


Gold for the game is purchased through the website and added to your account in just a few minutes. 500 gold is $6.25, which equates to each gold being worth about $.0125.  The item shop has the usual assortment of buff potions that you see everywhere.  Most potions have 5-10 uses and cost about 100 gold.  Gold is still available to players for “free” as there is an interface to sell your leveled up warrior to other players for gold. 


Overall, my experience with the game has been very good.  It has the typical Diablo like movement and typical Diablo like breaking of pots and opening of chests everywhere.  The customer service has been rather good and the interaction with the development and support team on the forums has been superb for the past few days. 


If I had to offer some critiques I would have to say that the game suffers from lack of documentation on both the official website and in game.  Many features aren’t explained or are poorly explained.  Also the game scales upwards as you add other players and running in any group larger than two pretty much requires that you have a healer present.  Only one of the four basic classes starts off with a heal spell, thus healers can be hard to come by.  No doubt this was done on purpose to get people to buy the 100 gold-10 use full heal potions. 


Also the game suffers from the lack of a way to socialize and see other players.  You enter the mission through a lobby system and appear directly into the hosting player’s war room.  There is no town or city to explore and interact with your fellow players. 


So if you have some free time please check out Warrior Epic.  It is an enjoyable game made by a smaller and responsive game company that is really taking some intuitive leaps forward that you won’t see out of the big guys who are too afraid to differentiate themselves from the WoW model.


~ by Centuri on May 22, 2009.

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