War of Legends is Runescape developer Jagex's first foray into publishing. An MMO-RTS game, they discovered it when they outsourced some of the graphics of Runescape HD with the game's developers in China. Having worked with them before and finding the game fit well into their own business model and plans, they decided to partner with them to localize and publish the game in the US and Europe.
"We took a good look at genre in the western market and found it heavy with Arthurian / Roman / Fantasy and Tolkienesque themes," said Adam Tuckwell, Head of Communications at Jagex, with COO Rob Smith adding that they liked the back story that's based on Chinese Legend and Myth. The game is fully developed and about six months into its launch in China with Jagex localizing it for the western market.
The gameplay elements should be familiar to anyone who has played any games in the RTS genre. You build a city, man it, grow your army, supply your city, mine, harvest, manage your city, learn skills to better do everything, then attack other cities while defending your own. This was more of an interview and introduction to Jagex's latest venture rather than a preview, so we did not expand on the minutiae of the game as I remembered the Elvises (entertainer icons) I had to place in cities in a game called Civilization to entertain my people and keep them happy.
As an online RTS, players will have to remember that their cities are vulnerable to attack at anytime, even if they are off-line, and the heart of the online game are the alliances that you make with other players for trade, military campaigns as well as defense of your own cities and resources. Starting players will be immune for their first seven days of gameplay, allowing them to build up their cities, meet other players, and make alliances. Lest readers think that this is a pure PvP game, Adam was quick to mention that players can concentrate on the management aspect of the game, which would be the management of citizens, resources and building, which would be resource gathering, growing and trading , depending on their alliances to defend them and grow while supplying their armies.
As it is an RTS game, characters are selected from pre-rendered artwork, and the customization in the game is the look / layout and flavor you choose to build your city. Targeted toward an older audience of 21 to 45, Jagex expects players to dip in and out of the game.
"Players will certainly find lots to do for a two to four hour stretch of game time," said Adam, "but the gameplay does lend itself to the short fifteen to thirty minute sessions as well."
Players will be able to play the solo game if they wish, but the world conquering gameplay is far better accomplished in an alliance. This also segues back to the title of the game; War of Legends. A Legend is great hero that leads your armies. First, players have to build a Legend Sanctuary in order to recruit a Legend. The higher level the sanctuary, the higher level the hero. Then you have to build a Legend Pavilion to house them. Troops are assigned to them and their strength grows with each victory. As one can imagine, an alliance of 20 that's sharing resources could build a Legend Sanctuary and Pavilion in a much shorter time than a solo player.
As each server will handle 2,000 concurrent players and the world is persistent, this online RTS game certainly qualifies as an MMO. Players will also find quests in this game, just like an MMO. Known as tasks, they range from newbie to epic level tasks. Like all Jagex games, players can play large portions of the game for free. Items bought through the micro-transaction system in War of Legends are the usual "convenience" items which will allow players to affect the speed in which they build their cities, but everything which can be bought with real cash, can also be obtained in game with a little time and effort.
War of Legends is browser based, with low hardware requirements and playable on any browser capable of handling Flash. Graphics are a combination of 3-D sprites and 2-D isometric landscapes and as long as players have a Flash capable browser and an internet connection, they will be able to play War of Legends. Jagex believes that the gameplay will also lend itself to players hopping online during a break during their work day to check on their resources and alliances, perhaps help repel an attack. The game is currently in open beta and future development plans include the ability for players to log into the game with mobile devices.