Jul 29, 2013This review is to hopefully better balance out/inform others interested in this game from the currently 6 very short positive ads from "critics" I am playing it shortly after its release (July 25th) and the issues I talk about may be fixed/modified in future patches. I also want to be clear I am rating it a 7/10 and not 7 out 100. After playing this for 3 days I realized this game is 99% a pay PvP game. It clearly says its mainly for PvP if you read about it on the Apple Store and several of the review mention it (one actually says so in the 2nd paragraph…which I missed). Frankly there is no real false advertising here, some of the critics here failing to mention the huge emphasis on PvP. With so much emphasis on PvP with online games it appears I incorrectly assumed this game would be different.
If you don't want to PvP you are limited to about 20-25 contracts you can complete during every 7 days in real life (about 3/day which take 15-20 minutes each) or the odds become nearly impossible. With each win the enemies hit points are boosted by 3%. Do the math. The non-PvP part of the game will quickly be unbeatable during a given week, no matter what you do. Its just about impossible for your troops to survive with quite similar stats when the pretty solid and aggressive AI has 60-75% more hit points than you do. Especially since the units are pretty evenly matched stat wise (at least at 1st few levels.) Also, you are not just dealing with just one set of units. The game starts with 4 brigades. So you need to split those 20-25 wins between them and you can guess how slowly leveling will be. Months and months!
The $4.99 pay to play model is focused on either getting the very annoying (to me) ads which occur every 2 rounds in a battle removed (yes you just have to click them off). You probably get the elite units/brigades which do not come with the free to play game so expect to be owned by the people who paid in PvP. So again why 7/10? I am an optimist they might improve the non-PvP to make this more widely playable. Because the game is new, though its technically a sequel to Ravenmark: Scourge of Estellion which allowed those players to transfer their units over. I am an optimist and I see this could be an enjoyable game with a great deal of effort already. I hoping it all will be improved and worth paying the $4.99 to remove the annoying ads.
From my current experience with exposing these issues they may just be able to pull off a great non-PvP game/version in the future. Its just not here for anyone but a very casual player with this game right now… Expand
Aug 1, 2013Ravenmark: Mercenaries is the multiplayer focused follow up to Ravenmark: Scourge of Estellion, the single player strategy game from 2011 that was so big they only finished the story cycle in 2013. Any review critiquing it for its multiplayer focus is like a food reviewer critiquing an omelette for focusing on eggs.
With that out of the way, here's what you need to know about RM:M. RM:SOE had one of the deepest turn based systems on mobile platforms and was begging for multiplayer, and that's exactly what this game is all about. Both players give a limited number of granular and detailed commands to their forces while considering unit type, speed, etc, and then the turn plays out with both player's instructions being executed more or less simultaneously (sequenced by unit initiative) with often surprising results. It is an incredibly deep game where success is dependent upon solid tactical choices and prediction of your opponent. It is similar to previous games like Hero Academy, but with the volume turned to 11.
Currently, the game offers two varieties of multiplayer: random matches where reward and brigade experience is on the line, and challenge matches, which are played strictly for fun. A faster paced Arena mode with bigger prizes and ELO style rank competition is coming in the near future.
In addition to the multiplayer, the game does have single player components, but these are best viewed as a compliment to the multiplayer instead of any sort of solid alternative. Currently, there are only two forms of single player involvement, border skirmishes in the form of quick battles against the AI that are solid training grounds for familiarizing yourself with the units and mechanics, and the daily minor contracts. I would be lying if I said the minor contracts amount to much at all; they are little more than daily "slot machine pulls" that gives some currency and brigade experience and modestly alters your favor with the game's factions. Fortunately, the devs are extremely involved and responsive with the community and they are not only looking to revamp the anemic minor contract system, but have announced plans to bring in beefier skirmish type contracts with better story elements.
Now, the elephant in the room: yes, this game is technically freemium, and I have seen many reviews and comments taking the game to task for this; these people are wrong. The devs have gone out of their way to avoid unfairness in the freemium system used. There are only 3 brigades you can only "buy" (there are a total of 45 brigades in the game at launch), and they are given to you for the purchase of either the collector's edition ($4.99) or the elite edition ($49.99), and none of the 3 are considered to be elite, merely solid. Additionally, there are 7 brigades, again, no elite among them, that are provided as bonus rewards to players of RM:SOE. The remaining 35 brigades, including the elite ones, as well as any future brigades (and there are already more announced as coming in the first big update) can all be earned in-game without spending real money.
In other words, the only things you can't earn in-game are the 3 CE/E bonus brigades, and 6 of the bonus brigades for playing through RM:SOE (the 7th bonus brigade is a reward to very early players of SOE and no longer able to be obtained) and a handful of purely cosmetic banner options for elite owners. Beyond that, spending money just gets you access to the remaining brigades faster.
Now, the game is not without its flaws. In addition to the anemic single player options, matchmaking and participation rewards are in need of tweaking. Right now, who you are paired up with is truly random and first day newbs can find themselves up against players from the winter beta. This is aggravated because rewards are winner take all (and there is no sort of reward at all for challenge matches). This leads to the paradox of your average player getting most of their currency from the single player content of a heavily multiplayer focused game. However, the devs are aware of these issues and are working to fix them.
Conclusion: the game is free to try and, if you don't mind the ads, free to play as long and as much as you want. It is well worth the time it will take you to give it an adequate try if the concept interests you. Yes, it's a little rough around the edges at the moment and in need of some polishing, but there are few more committed devs out there. I've watched these devs support and continue development of SOE for close to 2 years now, so I have no doubt RM:M will only get better (and the game is already better than anything in this vein that has come before).
But, if you don't like the game, hey, it's not for everyone. Its origins were as a table top war game that was based off a D&D campaign the lead designer had been running for 8 years; that's not exactly mass market aimed.… Expand