Big Huge Games wants to take you from the Stone Age to the Space Age to let you conquer the past and dominate the future all on your handheld device, PC or Mac. Pretty impressive, no? It is, especially when hearing about it from one of the creators behind DomiNations, Tim Train.
Brian Reynolds & Train worked both worked at Firaxis Games and later founded Big Huge Games where they were integral in the development of Rise of Nations and other strategy games for PC and console. Later, both moved to Zynga East where they were instrumental in helping Zynga haul in over $750M. When that studio closed, the pair decided to bring Big Huge Games back to life and to strike a deal with Nexon, a relatively new entrant into the quasi-MMORTS games market.
The newly reborn studio’s first title is DomiNations, a strategy game with big aspirations. We had the opportunity to chat with Big Huge Games’ Tim Train about DomiNations and how it wants to become the Civilization of this generation and more by being a ‘take along’ mobile strategy game as well as a more traditional PC/Mac title.
“We are taking DomiNations to the mobile platform and want to be the guys to make the history version of Civilization. We wanted a game set through all of human history. You move from the Bronze Age to Classical Age to Gunpowder Age, and everything in between. There are seven different asymmetric nations (different powers & units) and very in-depth core mechanics to master. We have given our players more to do for city building and battling than most games of this type.”
DomiNations contains familiar features that strategy players are used to: City building, city defense, resource gathering and more. But players will also be able to take part in army vs army warfare and bring diverse units into the fray including cannons (slow but packing a big punch) and elephants, to name but two.
Players begin their journey during the Dawn of Civilization and learn to hunt and gather resources, to explore their surroundings and to find treasure chests to open and start building up their own civilization. Typical components to do so include roads, farms, caravans, etc.
From there, it is a matter of “leveling” up one’s civilization to move it to the next Age. Depending on what Ages have been conquered, players will have unique abilities, units and powers.
Some of them include:
Mercenaries are also crucial to a player’s success. They can be hired right from one’s control center and housed in a specially constructed Mercenary Camp. They are, however, one-time use units.
Players can also gain access to special units, or Generals, including Cleopatra, Napoleon, and Alexander the Great. Generals get unlocked in Medieval and one new general each time after that.
Every 2 ages, players can also build one of four wonders that give special boosts and bonuses. Players are given wide flexibility when choosing which wonder to build and that decision is big and impactful throughout the game.
For now, DomiNations currently goes to the Enlightenment Age and features eight unique periods in history. Eventually it will go all the way through to the Space Age. 8 ages right now.
For those interested, DomiNations is free to play, though there is also an in-game shop where players can purchase items right within the app. Train assured us that the shop does not contain anything that cannot be earned through playing the game so there is not even a whiff of ‘pay to win’.
When asked about some of his favorite parts of DomiNations, Train said, “My favorite age is the Gunpowder Age – a pivot point in history. You feel like you can beat up on people. I love the artwork on Cleopatra on her horse and when she stands in the castle. And then there is the cannon --- I love how siege weapons change the combat in the game. You need to be careful and skillful and to keep troops in reserve to protect cannons.”
DomiNations is doing quite well on both Google Play and iTunes. It’s a fun game with more depth than expected. If you’re looking for a mobile Civilization fix with an historical bent, this is the game for you!
I've been playing this one since its launch, and the clear vibe they're going for is a "more serious" Clash of Clans". It's not at all like Civilization, and if you're only interested in the city building aspects you're going to want to save the game's real money currency or be forced to spend your cash to keep your town and resources safe from random attacks. There are guilds, but you'll only really use them to get and give spare troops, and there's little to no real interaction with people outside of guild chat. So, unlike our own Beau Hindman, I wouldn't exactly call this an MMO... it's a "Not So MMO" like his column's title suggests.
That said, DomiNations is fun. It's great for 3-5 minute spurts, which is how long most people tend to play their mobile games at any one time. I still wish the actual combat was less of a "do you have enough units" zerg-fest, and more of a strategic war, but BHG clearly went for simplicity over complexity because it works for other games of this nature. Bottom line is the app is free, and if you like Clash of Clans style strategy games, you'll probably find a lot to like about DomiNations. Give it a whirl.