An impressive MMO that focuses on melee combat in a detailed, competitive game. Set during the ancient Chinese dynasties, the game has a great deal of fun.
Considered for Steam's Greenlight by the community, Tigerknight: Empire War shows why this was not an erroneous decision. Development teams NetDragon and Oasis games bring an inception of what is shaping up to be a very successful game. This is especially true with their accolades, being a part of the “National Top 30 Cultural Enterprises” for two consecutive years as well as “Chinese Top 100 Technology Enterprises” four years in a row. While still in development, the team hopes to create a beautiful rendition of the dynasties while utilizing the benefits of free-to-play on Steam.
This game has already gained some momentum months after its October release, blending elements of RPGs, MOBAs, and melee-combat. With the momentum, they have in just a few short months it's interesting to see where the end goal finishes.
TigerKnight:Empire War is not by any means a narrative-heavy game. Which is okay, this game doesn't really call for a large narration. The game's focus is on the experience of battling and getting cooler gear. Only in the Epic War Mode do they offer any sort of story. The story is broken down into three short sections, and I have only been able to unlock the first scene of the story (which is easy mode). You will have the conclusion to the story on Medium and Hard difficulties. On the other modes, they give a quick narration on the loading screen. The narration doesn't effect the game overall. If you want to have some back story, just read the little synopsis during the loading screen. Other than that, this game is about sheer animosity.
If you have played either Dynasty Warriors or Chivalry, this game will seem familiar. There's a pretty big learning curve overall to the game as a whole. The controls take some getting used to alongside understanding how to navigate through the menus. You can sharpen up on your skills in the training mode where you can learn how to optimize your attack, parry, archery, and sweet horsemanship skills. I really recommend spending some time here to become familiar with the mechanics of the game so the game doesn't feel too overwhelming. Rather than pressing buttons to attack, you use the cardinal directions on your mouse to dictate your attack. Though it may sound strange, you will instantly understand after playing the game for a little bit. Impressively enough, this game is in beta and they have an incredible amount of detail already put into this game.
Starting off, you create your character from scratch and you can add the features that you would like to see on your character. From here, you are given basic armor and weapons, horses, equipment for the horses, etc. Victorious battles are rewarded with copper and prestige, which will help unlock more gear and upgrades for you and your militia. One of the features that this game offers is side missions where you perform specific actions, such as killing five Generals in a siege battle. You receive extra copper and prestige, and for certain missions you will receive exceptional gear.
There is a lot of information to take in when beginning to play this game. Though it is overwhelming at first, you'll slowly become somewhat familiar with things. Though it feels like you're kinda forced to figure some things for yourself because of a lack of explanation for certain aspects of the game.
This is the meat and potatoes of the game. There are a few different modes that you have three different modes to choose from: Command Mode, Duel Mode, and Epic War Mode. Each one's a little different from one another, adding slightly different dimensions to the game. Command mode is where you play as a general and you command a small platoon of twelve to fourteen soldiers. It's setup in an MOBA-like fashion as you decide where you want to spawn on the map, giving you the chance to attack or to be on the defense. As you battle for position on the map, you gain chances to replenish your militia to get back into the fight because it is one death per match. You battle until the last player on the team is brought to his fate. One of my favorite things about this game is the kill scenes, getting to relish in your victory or suffer an agonizing defeat. I got a lot more play out of Command mode due to the variety of maps, which made the grinding feel less senseless.
Duel Mode is a more traditional head-to-head PVP. Split into two teams, the goal is to reach the kill limit before the other team (or duke it out until time runs out). You have the ability to respawn and get back into the fight and gain vengeance on the delinquents that ganged up on you. The downside of this is that there is only one map, so the mode can get very stale very quick. You must rely heavily on your fighting skills in order to thrive in this game mode. It may be slightly difficult starting off due to the armor and weapon differences, so you will go up against more experienced adversaries. There are also times where the matchmaking will be pretty uneven. There was once a match where it was 4v1... poor guy.
The Epic War Mode has a little more narration, though there isn't much. The game is broken into three separate events. First is a one-on-one event (first team to 5 wins), then it becomes a 1v5 boss battle. The final scene is a siege battle where you and your team must either defend the castle or bring the siege tower to the castle. I have yet to be on the defending side during the siege battle.
Performance & Graphics
Since this game is still in beta there are quite a few issues with the game. There is a lot of latency in the responsiveness of attacks and commands especially when fifty AIs are swinging and hitting everything, the game begins to bog down a little bit. But, this doesn't happen in every game mode, it seems the latency is more in the Epic war section of the game. The graphics are very well done, using the unreal 3 engine, just seems to loose a little bit of it's luster due to the lag. But, I expect the game to shape up much better down the line.
The background music is created by the composer who also worked on Final Fantasy XII, Hitoshi Sakinoto. The music feels like the subtle winds blowing before the battle begins, with deep battle drums and ancient Chinese flutes. The voice acting in this game are in Chinese, but they do use subtitles. Most of the contact sounds are pretty spot on, and they don't hold back with the sounds of flesh being sliced or blood gushing.
This is a game attempting to create a pretty detailed experience, being able to level up almost every aspect of the game creates more desire to play. If you want to get cool stuff you're going to have to grind out the matches and get the currency to do so. That being said, the game can get very stale and confusing. With a lack of maps and explanation to certain mechanics, you feel like it's just a clickfest until the match is over. With the amount of grinding you have to do to fully experience what there is to offer, I think I should feel more accomplished after dedicating over 40 hours to TigerKnight:Empire War.
Where the game is at right now for being on early access, this game feels like a normal game. Oasis Games & NetDragon have laid a very solid foundation. With consistent updates and constant interaction between the developers and the end users, this game is being built by the community. While some people may see Early Access games may be problematic, I see it like watching a child grow. As you spend more time with it, you become more attached and give it good influence.
If you like competitive games as well as Medieval style battling, then give this game to try. It's free! This game also has DLC available for purchase if you want even more content. TigerKnight can be pretty fun at times, and I look forward to seeing where this game will be in another three months.