I had the opportunity to access a very first version of Avalon Lords, a few days before its early access rollout on Steam.
After choosing my faction, I'm not sure where to start when I first launch the game. According to the press release, the game currently offers three modes:
- Empire mode : This six-player multiplayer mode allows you to fight against enemy factions in a campaign of several weeks where the control of territories will be the key to victory.
- Combat mode : the army simulator allows you to create armies to attack other players (or bots controlled by the computer).
- Conflict mode : this mode is the most classic and usual of the games of this genre. By developing and building cities, each player gains in power allowing him to create an army to conquer the others.
On the advice of the developers, I launch a Skirmish in Practice mode on the Avalonian Plains map. A quick tutorial appears but unfortunately the information is offset from the actual location of the buttons and I suddenly have a little trouble finding my way. On the display side, it is possible to change the zoom at will with the mouse wheel. It is really not very beautiful at the most, but it becomes prettier at the minimum (see the two screenshots below). Each unit is represented by a small group of people, which quickly gives a number effect representing many armies. On the other hand, moving the camera is quite painful, it sometimes makes great leaps, especially since the shortcuts are based on the American keyboard.
Fortunately, the developers have given me some tips that help a lot. I deliver them to you because without, it is really unplayable.
Basic game controls
- Right click and hold to move the camera right / left.
- Middle click maintained to move up / down the camera axis.
- Mouse wheel to zoom in / out
- Left click on a unit or building to select it
- Double left click on a single unit to select ALL troops of the same type
- Left click maintained to create a selection area (primarily military units)
- Left click to tell troops to attack or move, left click on a peasant to move, build or mine.
- Left click on a farmer then G to switch him to repair mode. Left click on a building to repair it.
- Left click on a building then Esc to destroy this building. 50% of the resources required for construction are reimbursed.
Now that I'm ready, I'm following the last piece of advice the game gave me and the peasants created from my castle. Then, to increase my population limit, I build one or two houses.
It is also possible for me to create other buildings: a mine (to extract stone or iron), a farm (to collect food), a sawmill (to process wood). Note that it is imperative to build the sawmill before you run out of wood! I put all these buildings next to their respective resources, trees and minerals being of course represented in the game world. I add a warehouse unlocked thanks to the sawmill near the most distant nodes in order to minimize travel times of my peasants. My peasants automatically go to work and the resource gauges are climbing correctly. In addition, on the map are arranged treasures that contain a large amount of materials and I send a few groups of peasants to collect as many as possible.
It's time to create some warships. For the moment, I only have the barracks and the archery (unlocked thanks to the sawmill) so I do so and I can thus create my first military units, swordsmen and short bow archers. It is important not to delay too long because the enemies are quickly curious and disembark. Some defensive elements can also be built: walls, wall gate and archers tower. The latter requires masonry to be able to be created (an improvement of the university).
In order to gain efficiency, buildings, including the castle, can be upgraded but no information is given on the perks given, just the cost. So it's the surprise: more life points (castle), new improvements, additional units (military buildings), more population (houses) ... In addition, it changes the appearance, from small buildings wooden to large medieval stone buildings (it is especially impressive for the castle which becomes a real fortified castle!).
It is essential to improve as soon as possible a little everything, especially the castle which limits the possibilities. I thus discover new buildings: the blacksmith offers military research, while the university is dedicated to civilian resources and the market to the economic aspect. On the military side, I get at level 2 of my castle access to the stable (scouts and cavalry) and siege machines (trebuchets, catapults ...). On the other hand, there is no tooltip for the improvements, therefore neither cost nor utility, which is rather annoying when you have to limit yourself to the name to guess and see by clicking if you have enough, or not !
Thanks to my overpowered army, created thanks to all the resources collected in the chests, I crush my blue neighbor (who previously took care of annihilating and therefore weakening on the yellows and greens). The army is really well rendered by zooming to the maximum:
Curious to see what the other modes have in store for me, I try to go in Empire mode because I would like to be able to expand my territory. After about thirty seconds of countdown, the fight is launched for the control of a sector. As no player decides to join me, 5 computers join the game (which is played 3 against 3). Suddenly, the course is similar to the training previously carried out (except that the AIs are a little tougher, certainly fixed in Normal mode).
So I quickly leave the battle to go to Combat mode. It all starts with the choice of army, then each player appears at a random location on the map. We must then try to kill the others with his little fellows. It is in this mode impossible to create peasants, so there are no reinforcements! Without too much difficulty here, I secured myself a great victory again!
The game is in early access, pre-alpha, and it shows. The interface really needs to be improved, the display during games, especially when several armies are involved, is messy and it lacks originality in general. The units are very classic, I feel like I have an Age of Empires (with multiple castle levels, the same units, similar upgrades) even though the graphics are clearly superior. But I expect more originality from a game coming out in 2016. Empire mode is a good idea, we now have to see once the game is launched if it will be really possible to have fun without being rolled over by a handful of ultra-experienced players. Avalon Lords: Dawn Rises has unfortunately not convinced me too much for the moment ... We have to see what the future will bring to this somewhat sad title, but this can only improve on this first core which has all the basics to do well. Fortunately, the developers have planned between 9 months and 1 year of early access which should leave time to improve all this!