Conquer Your Way to Glory in Our Forge of Empires Review
The lure of ruling one's own kingdom is a powerful one indeed. While we're condemned to be the office minion in the real world, we can conquer other lands and create a mighty empire in the online realm. The Forge of Empires browser mmo has been extremely popular for quite some time, and I thought it would be interesting to test my mettle and see how I would fare as a wise and benevolent (others may substitute bloodthirsty and cruel instead!) ruler. Let's see how far I can expand my dominion in our Forge of Empires review.
Let's begin our Forge of Empires review by giving a quick overview of this no download mmorpg. The player starts off with a small village that they build up over time. The basic units used in the game are gold and supplies. Players can build various types of houses to increase their population, and these types of structures generate gold over time. Players gain supplies by building resource manufacturing buildings, such as pottery or hunting buildings. Resource generating buildings can be used to craft specific items, such as the pottery building being used to create flagons and jugs. An additional resource is diamonds, which can be used to speed up production times, resurrect units, and other time-saving uses. One goal of the player is to keep their population happy, which can be done by constructing decorative structures (gardens, monuments, etc.) and cultural buildings, such as theaters. The more happy the population is, the better their productivity will be. Over time, the player can expand the size of their village by extending it outwards. Players also research technology to open up new buildings, unit types, and such, as well as to move them up the technological age ladder. The player begins in the Stone Age and then progresses through a number of ages, such as the Bronze Age, Iron Age, High Middle Ages, Colonial Age, Modern Era, Tomorrow, and The Future. Players can engage in trade as well as go on the warpath and conquer neighboring provinces.
All in all, the basic mechanics of the game are similar to other empire building games, but I have to say in this Forge of Empires review that this game really nails it. The introductory tutorial is quick and shows the player the basic ropes of the game. There is a steady stream of story and side quests that will help guide the player as they continue playing. The quests provide some nice rewards, and there are even special events that pop up that provide additional quests for the player to undertake. I tried my hand at the May Day celebration quests but was unable to finish them due to the limited time that I had.
There are some exceptionally strong design elements to Forge of Empires (which you can play for free here). First is that the UI is laid out in a clean and easily understood manner. Practically all of the information needed is displayed or is easily accessible. The building component of the game is extremely well done and stands above quite a few other kingdom building games that I have played. The player can select from a menu of different building types (which shows the costs associated with building them as well as their production) and then place them on the village's grid map. What really sets the construction aspect of this game above many others is its flexibility. The player can move buildings around later on if they need to extend a road or if they placed it in a spot by mistake. Players can also sell off buildings to clear an area in order to place a better building. All in all, the construction element of the game is really strong. My one quibble is that the player has to manually click on the buildings to gather gold and resources, unless they choose to spend some diamonds.
Another well designed aspect of Forge of Empires is its research tree. The player starts off with a number of Forge Points to spend on researching new technology. The player can buy additional Forge Points with in-game gold or diamonds, but the cost does go up with each purchase. The player does gain a free Forge Point every hour. What I really love about the research tree in Forge of Empires is how cleanly it is laid out. The player can easily see what they need to research to unlock better things, as well as the benefits for doing so. The research tree is broken down into sections based upon technological eras. The better the technology, the cooler the buildings and items that can be made, not to mention being more productive. A lot of games have very confusing research trees, but Forge of Empires keeps it elegantly simple and flexible, and one can clearly see the march through time as they make progress.
Combat is a way of life in Forge of Empires, and the player can expand their territory through force of arms. When a player scouts out a new province, they'll find that it will be broken into separate sections, each of which needs to be conquered. The player can negotiate to take control of a section by having specific goods with them (or purchase via diamonds), or the player can choose to directly attack. Another option before attacking is to infiltrate the enemy, which costs some gold. The effect is that a number of enemy units will begin the battle with some damage already inflicted. The actual battles are turn-based and take place on a hex-grid map. I really love the combat system in Forge of Empires as, unlike most other browser games, the player actually controls his units instead of just watching the action unfold. Players can take advantage of terrain, such as woods to provide defensive bonuses. The battles unfold as the various units take their turn, and the turn sequence is shown at the bottom of the map. The player can move and attack, with some units being melee while others can attack from a ranged distance. There is a nice bit of tactics and strategy used in Forge of Empires battles, and it's a welcome change of pace. Units will heal over time and losses can be replaced (or resurrected via diamonds), and the player can swap units in and out of their attacking army.
Overall, my final verdict in our Forge of Empires review is a definite thumbs-up. I really love how the various mechanics are designed to be simple to use but provide a great deal of flexibility. The construction, research, and combat aspects of the game really stand out, especially in regards to many other strategy games that I've played over the years. The game doesn't nickel-and-dime you to death, and there's always something to do. Plus, Forge of Empires is just plain fun to play if you're into being the undisputed ruler of your own kingdom.