Review: King of Avalon: Dragon Warfare01 Aug 2016 8
Review: King of Avalon: Dragon Warfare
Released 14 Jul 2016
King of Avalon is a Free-to-Play strategy/MMO whose lore is based on Arthurian legend. While it’s not such a far cry from the ever popular tolkienesque high fantasy I do like seeing game devs dipping into different mythos and legends. Despite this breath of fresh air though King of Avalon goes for the tried and tested genre formula you’ll recognise from Game of War, Vikings: War of Clans and other games of their ilk. It even shares a similar art style with them. This has the dual effect of being on the one hand slightly predictable, and on the other a bit uninspiring.
As the Lord of your castle you are tasked with building and upgrading various economy, military, research and defensive structures. Building them is a standard F2P affair with wait times that start off at a few minutes at first but then extend out to hours depending on the building and what level you’re upgrading it to. As always you can pay gold (premium currency) to finish a build instantly or you can use speed up tokens that sometimes drop after PVE battles. These can knock off between five minutes to an hour from wait times. Despite being F2P I couldn’t find anything that could only be bought with premium currency like special units or character portraits, which is a positive, at least. There are starter packs you can pay actual money for which give you XP and resources, so getting a leg-up is definitely easier if you have money to spend.
Developing and upgrading your castle allows for you to amass larger and better armies which, outside of PVE, you use to attack and defend against other players. To what end I’m not quite sure yet, but before long I figured picking a fight with a player a couple levels above me was a good idea - I’m smart like that. After sending a scout out to asses their defences and watching my army march across the map for a good ninety seconds I was surprised by the lack of a battle screen of any kind. Not even a post-battle screen! Instead I just got battle noises and a fairly janky looped animation of my men taking out their rage on thin air. Once the battle was over my army phase-shifted out of existence and I received a small message at the top of the UI telling me my forces had been wiped out in their foolhardy assault. My foe decided to exact their revenge and successfully raided me, but again there was a supreme lack of fanfare. More importantly it felt more like a slap on the wrist than a severe blow. All my buildings were still intact and the only negative effects I could see was that my score dropped very slightly and my wall/gate was a tad on fire and in need of repair. None of this would be so bad if the battles were fun but they are essentially non-existent and the game doesn’t even go into any detail about how you’re supposed to win them. Numbers, I guess?
I feel like King of Avalon’s alliance system may somehow play a part in making raids more important but the alliance I joined seemed more than content to sit in a little cluster in one area of the map. We spent days staring down our (sort of) arch nemesis, the dreaded other alliance, who had dared to cowardly huddle together in the clearing adjacent to us. The game mentions numerous times how you can co-operate with other members of your alliance for events and other PVE things, but anytime I tried I was put back in my place and essentially told either I or my allies had to be higher level and have a certain prerequisite building. This smacked of duplicitous design and felt akin to a PC MMO preventing you from partying up until you reached level 10 or something like that – just with less sign-posting. King of Avalon seems to inhabit that new breed of MMO where having other people simply being visible while you grind away is enough to satisfy the 'multiplayer' portion of the acronym.
Speaking of grinding, King of Avalon’s PVE portion allows you to send your ever obedient army out to murder a variety of fantasy creatures, for their heinous crimes of…...standing menacingly? They come at a variety of different levels but at the end of the day all you have to do is make sure whatever force you send out to dispatch them has a bigger number than they do and victory shall be yours. Oddly enough in all of the instances where I hadn’t bothered reading the numbers and my army was defeated I incurred no casualties. It made me wonder once again how badly I would have to mess up before the game truly punished me in any way, but then modern F2P design has never been considered 'punishing'.
In terms of visuals King of Avalon is unquestionably pleasing to look at with its lovely pre-rendered backgrounds and your personal castle looks especially picturesque. The UI is slick and simple with no glaring responsiveness issues that can often plague games like this. I do find it a bit difficult when it comes to collecting rewards or reading messages. For instance to receive a scouting report I have to leave the main screen, go to the messages screen and then access it under the reports tab. This could just as easily be displayed on the main screen when the scout returns. As I mentioned earlier the game’s animation can be a bit janky with my army strolling across water a couple times or fighting units that had been killed before they arrived. The camera is also a big issue as it suffers from the age old strategy game affliction of not letting you zoom out nearly enough so navigating it quickly becomes frustrating.
At the end of the day King of Avalon is in no way an offensively bad or broken game, despite the fact that I've expressed a lot of dissatisfaction over the course of this review. Most of the game’s positives are in similar games that deliver a fuller package, and ultimately Avalon lacks imagination. It’s like those B grade action movies you find on Netflix starring Dolph Lundgren or some other star past their prime. They’re simple fun if you’re bored but you can easily find the same formula done better in other places.