Be sure to read Bill Murphy's Gods & Heroes: The Official Review.
Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither was this MMO. Taking MMORPG.com’s “Best in Show” award at E3 2006, gamers have been waiting for a long time to traverse Roman lands and engage in some of its mythical wonders: was it worth the wait or is this another Duke Nukem Forever? Here is my two cents.
Gods & Heroes isn’t going to blow your mind with its unique approach to gameplay, and ultimately wallows in age old concepts. The four classes available at present are varied, and each have a distinct and separate feel in their different play style. Further customization are available with a lazy talent tree system that feels lifted from any title of the last half-decade, but this will only ever feels as a tacked-on afterthought. The combat also borrows heavily from other games as we see hotbar abilities punctuate auto-attacked fights, and after an hour or so you may be scratching your head and wondering where you have seen all of this before.
Following this, it figures that the main focus of the ensemble, at this point, is around the idea of questing. Bog standard missions of collect/kill X of Y are present, and by level 10 you will have butchered so much wildlife that you will begin to feel a little nauseous. Sadly after half a decade of development, there is no real originality to be found here, and with no crafting system to speak of, nor player market, there is little to the ensemble but a quest grind.
It is another disappointing case of an unfinished MMO reaching launch too early, but in defence of G&H the quests do their job, the hotbar-oriented combat is fun, and the exclusive mission based grind is not something new to the genre. It isn’t novel, it isn’t creative, but with intriguing elements such as the minion system, and with a beautifully expansive map, it definitely isn’t broken.
Where the title looks a little stale and the questing tedium begins to annoy, G&H’s creativity comes some way to alleviate the bitter taste of slaying your umpteenth bandit. The aforementioned minion system is a great distraction which allows a player to recruit a number of NPC allies, and further command them into war as comrades. The nearest example to this element of the game would be EverQuest’s mercenary system, but G&H adds more in the way of customization, and also by allowing multiple units, each with an individual class, which can be used to your advantage. While it is an interesting concept, you can be forgiven for solemnly shaking your head in realisation that AI-driven counterparts have taken root in a genre that is supposed to be multiplayer.
Another slightly unique aspect to the title is the player-owned Estate. During the lacklustre opening sequence of the game, a scroll of text describes how your abode was pillaged, and your family slain. While the latter obviously lost their “release” button, the former can be rebuilt and occupied once more. In your Estate you can find vendors, and access certain stat menus and other advancement panels. It is in interesting concept, and one that progresses with your actions as things rebuild over time and completed quests - but again, this is something we have seen in so many games and ultimately will only appeal to a select few.
Strictly speaking, launches are usually horrible and developer Heatwave has done little to buck this trend. G&H suffers from a number of bugs, and we are definitely a dozen patches away from playing the finished product. With a mere promise of upcoming crafting, which is as of yet absent, and with some annoying AI glitches in the minion system, this is one game that could definitely use a quick once over with the figurative polish. The only positive respite of all of this is that the MMO doesn’t suffer from the awful lag that has been prominent in several recent indie launches. One might say “every cloud has a silver lining” and all that.
Gods & Heroes is a visually attractive game about 75% of the time. Greenery flourishes magnificently, villages that sit by the river look homely and quaint, and combat paints a brilliant picture of brutality – at least some of the time. While the title can look gorgeous, it can also look unrefined, dated, and rather ugly. These moments come far and few between, but it does spoil and otherwise striking looking MMO.
Of course it is always nice to share, the unspoiled, pretty Romanic sights with others, and G&H inspires some of that “old school” MMORPG grouping that seems now to be spoken of in such hushed tones. While there aren’t too many people crowding city hubs, there are enough players to make the game active, and with areas such as the dungeon-hub “Vents” the game is more than alive with parties grinding together. To aide this is also the “Global” chat channel which is usually buzzing with activity, and more than enough tribes have sprung up to make even the most anti-social adventurer feel welcome.
While Gods & Heroes is an enjoyable, albeit seriously flawed experience, I cannot see the lasting appeal of this game without major updates. The level curve is steeper than other games, and with nothing but quest grind and the odd-opportunity of grouping, there is nothing much else to keep a player around. Simply put there are better games with more things to do out there, and I cannot see how this MMO is going to keep many people after their first subscription bill.
With all of the collected negatives in mind, Gods & Heroes is one that is difficult to recommend, just yet. For the retail price, plus $10 a month of subscription, this product does not yet feel worthy of its price tag. While I wildly discourage the idea of this becoming free-to-play, I feel that the developers need to get pull out all the stops and add in the sorely missed content such as crafting, auction houses, meaningful trade, and more interesting questing. It is a sad tale because at its very core, this is a game with potential but is woefully unfinished.
It is my own personal hope that Gods & Heroes holds out to become the game it could be, but with a saturated MMO market and with a community that will cry murder at the first signs of a bad deal, I can’t foresee a bright future at this point. It needs crafting, it needs an economy, and it needs more content. Wait for the patches, and hope that the player base holds out: Rome isn’t finished just yet.
Final Score: 5.9