Do you know what I really like? Satire. Especially satire in videogames and especially smart satire in videogames doubly so. Ubisoft’s new free-to-play title, The Mighty Quest for Epic Loot, is a wonderfully batty game that’s smart with its satire – and one of the more surprising reveals during this year’s Ubisoft Digital Day.
A game of two halves, MQEL (sounds like something from web development) is a simple affair where you, as a ‘hero’, are master of your castle, which you can build up and add rooms, and then fill those rooms with monsters and traps to prevent any other would-be adventurer from raiding it for loot. That’s not to say you can make it impossible, but you can certainly make it challenging. MQEL joins a spate of other Dungeon Keeper-inspired games where you are partly playing the nemesis.
There’s a few pre-determined areas and areas where you can’t change so much: there’s always got to be an entrance, for example, and a final room, and a middle courtyard that connects the two, but you can add in more rooms that go around them, and block off routes and create dead-ends. Rooms can be more standardised or thematic, as are the monsters you can place inside the rooms.
Each room has something called a ‘defence area’ which limits the range in which the heroes can aggro, but also prevents people from creating scenarios that are too hard. The ‘final’ room, or inner sanctum, has a larger defence area but the creators don’t necessarily want it to be a boss fight every time — just make it a challenge.
But it’s not all about building and waiting for unsuspecting adventurers to fall foul of the décor, as you also must yourself venture out to other castles –- either player-created or ‘officially’ supplied ones –- not only to level up your hero but to also get loot which you can then invest back in your own castle.
Everything costs money, and there are several ways to get it. Another way apart from questing is simply ‘harvesting’ money from any monsters that you lay in your castle, as it’s all meant to be part of a cycle where things feed into each other. Castles makes money, which you invest in your hero, which you use to go out and get loot, which you invest back into your castle, which makes more money, and so on…
The Mighty Quest for Epic Loot looks funny, charming and has two separate yet interesting gameplay modes that feed back into each other quite nicely. We suspect only the most dedicated of fans will actually keep the cycle going ad infinitum, but provided Ubisoft can keep supporting the game with new environments and more importantly new ways to build dungeons (so they don’t look all samey), then this could be a very interesting title indeed.
As far as monetization goes, there’s in-game currency and premium currency, and everything in the game can be bought with either. It’s not necessarily pay-to-win, just pay-to-play faster. Which is nice.