It has been just over a month since Conqueror’s Blade let down the drawbridge and demoed castle sieges to the world. Now, My.com has given MMORPG.com a glimpse of how the game’s Developer, Booming Games, plan to put the massive into their medieval MMO. Maybe you’ve tried out the recent tests, challenged fellow commanders in the field, or laid siege to a castle but Conqueror's Blade has a whole different world to explore.
If you haven’t had an opportunity to play the recent Conqueror’s Blade beta tests then you might not be familiar with just how impressive this Chinese invader can be. Coming out of the minds of Booming Games, Conqueror’s Blade takes titles like For Honor or Mount & Blade and blows it up into a whole world of blistering action, huge battles, and visceral warfare. As fun as the carnage we’ve already experienced is, My.com is about to ratchet up the stakes with the announcement of a new series of beta tests. This weekend, we got a glimpse of what’s to come. Commanders who have already had an opportunity to try out hot join battles and castle sieges in Conqueror’s Blade will be familiar with the basics of battle and the carnage of sieges. However, this time Conqueror’s Blade is about to inject the massive into MMO, cutting a swathe across the open world.
INTO THE OPEN WORLD
As in previous beta tests, commanders entering Conqueror’s Blade for the first time get the opportunity to create a custom character, choosing from one of 10 classes and selecting their own country of origin. This might seem a little superfluous but it all eventually folds into the final outcome, pulling players from similar regions together. Just look at what happened in Atlas when Chinese guilds got together. Thankfully for new players, starting out in Conqueror's Blade will not be quite as brutal as a pirate’s life. Just like in previous tests, Conqueror's Blade deposits beginners into a piece of neutral territory. Picking a starting realm allows commanders to sharpen their blade in hot join, hone their craft in safety, and begin to build their army. While we could delve deep into those systems, you can check out some of the recent test footage recorded by House Gaiscioch.
Where upcoming CBT’s will differ is the introduction of Conqueror's Blade’s very own open world, taking the skirmishes that we experienced during our last look and putting them into a fully formed open environment. Stepping out of the safety of starting cities allows commanders to drag their armies into a world made up of several domains, all of which are available for players to explore. As you step out into the plains of Conqueror's Blade things take a slight turn. Booming Games switches things up a little, borrowing a trick or two from Total Warfare and moving to a top-down isometric view of your troops. Pulling back out doesn’t just give a better perspective of the rolling hills and foggy moors, it allows Booming Games to fit a dynamic environment onto the screen with little to no lag. As commanders drag their conscripts across the hills, anybody looking for a bloody nose can find skirmishes as they occur in real time. PvP battles, PvE encounter, and castle sieges all occur in real time in the open world. Using a range of weather effects, which are coming sometime after the next testing round, commanders will be able to sneak up on potential enemies before getting up close and back down onto the battlefield. This early incarnation of fog effects are the only element of the weather system that My.com had on show for us so far but it is an addition that could prove interesting when Conqueror's Blade expands into more northern territories, bringing biting snow, insufferable storms, and Vikings. That’s right, Conqueror’s Blade is visiting Vikings in the future.
While Conqueror’s Blade plans to launch with a vast variety of territories, things shouldn’t sprawl out of control too quickly. Players will be regionalized based on their country of origin with the intention of working towards a single server experience, in the future. What this means for testing and launch, is lots of room to roam, find your feet, and make yourself at home. Home, in Conqueror's Blade, is your castle and the open world provides ample opportunity to construct or claim, your own residence in a variety of ways.
For players that want to found and build their own fortress, the open world is key. Like any good MMORPG, crafting, resources, and an internal economy exist to facilitate this, as well as pushing exploration and conflict. Scattered around the opening areas, plenty of common resources are available to gather, allowing commanders to build a basic force of followers or establish the first vestiges of civilization out in the open world. These resource nodes vary in scarcity, however, and are not just clustered around the easy to reach areas of the world. As players, branch out into new realms and delve deeper into the game’s upgrade systems you’ll find that this demands greater quantities and more valuable components. It isn’t just your castles and forts that are a resource drain either. Troops require armor, siege weapons need to be built, and the internal economy is always after your hard-earned silver.
Thankfully, the internal economy doesn’t have to be a drain on you. Commanders with a sufficiently advanced fortress can choose to offer NPC services, adding a tax on top to generate some solid income. While this might not be the end of things and the team at Booming Games, are looking into ways to tweak the internal economy during testing and this should system should provide a good incentive to players to get out and claim territory in the wild.
If you just cannot seem to settle down, the distribution of scarce resources riffs on something we’ve seen before in Archeage. While nipping out to tangle with some PvE bandits can still drop rewards, the scarcest materials take a bit more effort than this. Trade caravans are available to hire for commanders interested in getting a little more coin for their efforts. Transporting resources for silver, the game’s main currency is very much a risk-reward sort of operation. While Conqueror's blade requires valuable materials for high-level progression, getting them means going out into the far reaches of any Kingdom, crossing paths with PvE bandits, allies, and more than a few mercenaries who can raid you for your cargo.
ALL OR NOTHING
Loose to any of these and it will quickly eat into your haul. In the open world, things aren’t as simple as hot join combat matches. There is no safety net when taking on opponents. Lose a troop and you will need a replacement, with new armor and weapons. The risk here is that commanders can come out with nothing in the end. However, get through this perilous journey and the game’s internal auction house awaits. Accessible from cities and towns with an auction NPC, the auction house is a mature version of player to player trade that we’ve all come to expect from a good MMORPG. It pools available items from across the game, providing a balanced and active economic system that should hopefully feel fair to those risking their necks. How this plays out with Conqueror's Blade’s open world PvP system, we shall see fairly soon.
With so much building and resource management to a fortress, it probably seems like a lot of wasted effort. Wouldn’t it be easier to just go steal one instead? Yes, and no. Conqueror's Blade is a feudal affair that involves one of my favorite open world combat concepts, the fortress siege. While we’ve seen these in previous test phases, things are a little different in the open world. As we have already said, there is no safety net here. Approach a target in the open world and commanders can establish forward bases, plowing resources into items like medical stations for your troops before pushing on into the expansive combat we’ve already seen on display. Actually, engage in a siege and you will be committing those resources. Siege engines are spent and with up to 1000 units engaged on screen, troop losses are not automatically replenished. While your allies and enemies can’t loot your dead corpse for coin, there are spoils for the victors here.
For players willing to defend their territory there are rewards for surviving an engagement, which should soften the repair bill and the cost of replacing any troops lost in battle. It has also been confirmed that taking a fort will be significantly more difficult than defending it. In a move that I personally think is smart, Booming Games are looking to solve the problems of off-peak castle sniping, that plagues this sort of scenario, by setting predetermined windows where forts can be attacked. Owners of a castle can set a vulnerability timer, with a specific window. The current intent is to have territory like this venerable twice a week, at a time of the owning party’s choosing. This allows commanders to customize the system to suit their own ability to adequately defend a city. It also means that you can book a battle with your bitter rival, knowing that your resources will not be wasted on either side.
These configurable timers should also allow for better proactive management of territory held by guilds. Investing in gaming communities into MMOs is a crucial step in ensuring that there is a reason to keep on coming back into the fray. So, it is no surprise that we will see Houses becoming more relevant as Conqueror's Blade approaches launch. Not only will the configurable siege timers allow Houses to organize a good force across a range of territories, but it will provide similar benefits to the in-game alliance system, providing Houses with the option to help or hinder their allies ahead of these sieges. Houses are not just about pooling resources, however. Gaming communities have their own identity and much like the cosmetic progression systems that permeate the game, we will find houses with a multitude of ways to make their mark on the world. One of the most problematic is always the guild emblem. While My.com has already run a competition to design a banner, in the run-up to the launch of Conquerors Blade, they continue to wrestle with the age old problem of time to obscenity. While a number of predetermined guild banners will be available and the option of producing custom banners is still under debate, the community team did admit that cultural sensitivity, personal preferences, and just plain creative rudeness are all problems that have to be tackled in a situation that will eventually look to gather onto a single server shard.
Guild banners are not the only way that you will be able to leave your mark on the world. My.com confirmed that Conqueror’s Blade will contain customizable skins. This easily identifiable add-ons sit on top of crafted troop armor, player character clothing, and drape your trusty steed. These won’t provide any stat bonus and will be available through in-game rewards and the game’s marketplace. This should allow players to make sure their enemy know who is coming to take their territory. It also opens up the prospect of a cosmetic monetization system which, as we’ve seen in games like Guild Wars 2 and Warframe, can work wonders for keeping the player base on board. While My.com haven’t confirmed anything regarding the final monetization model, this is a promising indicator.
With everything we blitzed through in under an hour, I am slightly overwhelmed at the depth of Conqueror’s blade. It promises to be a grand combat simulator that takes the tactical systems we’ve seen in games like Total War, the dynamic open world of games like Dark Age of Camelot and Guild Wars 2, all while maintaining the sort of investment that could make this a great MMO. What we will see over the coming beat tests is quite how My.com and Booming Games react to emergent player behavior, how well the incentives to engage with every part of the game work, and how long it takes Booming Games to take us north. Ok, I just want Vikings. If you ever wanted to own your own castle, then the open world awaits you when Conqueror's Blade arrives. Until the next test phase arrives, you can check out the official website to find out more information.