Ubisoft showed up to E3 2013 with a suitcase full of exciting game trailers for fresh additions to long-standing franchises like Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, and brand new IPs including open-world action-adventure Watch Dogs. Buried in the mix was a trailer for a free-to-play fantasy RPG, bearing the tongue-in-cheek title The Mighty Quest for Epic Loot. The game is currently in closed beta, but Game Rant had the opportunity to roll up its long, mystical sleeves and get stuck into the serious business of questing.
The promotional material so far has brought to mind games like Dungeon Defenders and the Orcs Must Die series, and the comparison isn’t all that far off. The Mighty Quest for Epic Loot is simultaneously a tower defense and a tower attack game, with most of the active gameplay oriented towards the latter.
The player is immediately dropped into the floating world of Opulencia, with a picture-book intro explaining that jealousy and in-fighting caused the land’s inhabitants to install “hearts” into their castles. These allow their castles to float amongst the clouds, thereby making them more difficult to raid… in theory.
Currently, there are only three character types available, and since The Mighty Quest is a fantasy RPG those character classes are, of course: a mage, a knight and an archer. As is usually the case, the best choice out of these is the archer, since he is not only able to take enemies out from a distance, but also has an eyepatch and a pet hawk that can be trained to peck out the eyes of foes. What’s not to love?
The early gameplay is disconcertingly easy, as the player character’s boss/business partner Cornelius assists in the conquering of the first region. The world then opens up to include not only the next set of pre-designed locales, but an entire world of castles built and defended by other players. Be warned: taking on castles even a few levels above the player’s experience is apt to leave one bloodied under a wave of monsters.
Luckily those monsters come in all shapes and sizes, with different capabilities: from the tiny, easily-crushed Snotters to the enormous Count Snottingham and Pete Poundmore. Unfortunately, the camera is fixed at such a distance from the action that it’s difficult to see these creatures in all their gruesome detail, often blurring into a stampeding mass of things that want to kill you.
Actually, the camera control might be the most dangerous enemy in the game; during raids it is permanently fixed at a Diablo-esque top-down, diagonal angle that’s zoomed out just far enough to see enemies in the immediate area, but not far enough to give a greater perspective on where you’re going. The camera is more of a hindrance than game-breaker, but simply adding the ability to zoom in and out or rotate (as you can do when inside your own castle) would clear up quite a few frustrations.
Protecting one’s own castle is where the tower defense aspect of the game comes in, though enthusiasts should be warned that this element is slightly less complex and interactive than the raiding component. The only way to prevent other players from robbing your own stronghold is to set up a series of traps (such as sticky floor traps and flamethrowers) and summon hordes of creatures to keep them from reaching the heart of the castle. The PvP castle takes the raids farther, allowing would-be invaders to leave feedback and suggestions for improvement on an opponents’ castle (or a triumphant message instead).
The castles themselves are customizable as well, and while base-building is satisfying, castles sharing the same decor and appearance means there is little to distinguish one’s own castle from those being raided. For a game with a substantial emphasis on grinding through identical castles to build up strength and take on the next boss, the lack of variety is noticeable.
Tonally, the game is not dissimilar to Orcs Must Die, a humorous and self-aware take on age-old fantasy gaming tropes, poking fun at generic gameplay and story-telling even as it indulges in them. While older audiences will recognize the more sophisticated humor, there’s plenty here for kids as well, in the brightly-colored aesthetic and the juvenile-yet-satisfying feeling of being pelted by snot.
Despite the wholesale monster slaughter, the game is an entirely bloodless affair; while missing the joyful, cartoonish gore of similar titles, parents can let their children loose on the game without fear of nightmares.
Aside from the challenge of having to simultaneously attack and defend, most aspects of the game are standard for the genre; manage your health and mana during battle, use experience points to level up, collect wardrobes full of clothing that will be sold without ever being worn, and use potions to boost chances of survival. That’s not necessarily a bad thing; after all, there’s no need to fix what isn’t broken.
With its creative and often humorous take on dungeon-raiding, The Mighty Quest for Epic Loot is bound to be an addictive world for many, though it currently suffers from the limited choice of character options and castle customization.
One thing the game definitely gets right, however, is forcing players to use every skill at their fingertips; button-mashing won’t be enough to stay alive beyond the first stages. Since each new skill comes with creative results, there is plenty of incentive to keep progressing, with a style of attack that is constantly evolving. There is definite work to be done, but enough of the core experience is capable of keeping dungeon-crawler fans (of any age) happy.
Finally, it’s worth mentioning that you can fill your castle with an army of chickens, thus recreating the mass Cucco attack from Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. In fact… every player should do this at least once, if only for nostalgia’s sake.
The Mighty Quest for Epic Loot is currently in closed beta and will be out on PC release later this year.
Follow Hannah on Twitter @HSW3K.