Set in the realm of magic, elves, and kingdoms, Haven takes all of the familiar mafia-style elements – leveling, quests, battle, and so on – and adds in a bit of flair of its own.
The story is a bit weak, as the player starts as an ancient hero of prophecy called Skybrand (who looks like he goes to the same stylist as Zorro). Anyway, after the intro story, it’s off to doing quests.
Each quest has the now-standard “progress meter” in which you develop a level of mastery for it by repeating it umpteen times. For each one there is a small blurb of flavor text that incorporates a small element of story, and each one requires various equipment, soldiers, and a particular general.
These generals, more or less, work the same way they did in Castle Age. Essentially, they must be selected as the primary general (conveniently doable from the quest page via a pop-up prompt) and as players earn overall experience, so does the general. This, in turn, allows that non-player character to increase its own statistics of strength, agility, intelligence, health, courage, and willpower.
Likely, it is the latter two that raises the most eyebrows, so to clarify, these increase the rate in which the general gains experience and their maximum health respectively. Nevertheless, strength, agility, and intelligence might not work exactly as one would think.
These actually increase the abilities of three separate classes that you or your generals can become. This are warriors, rogues, or mages respectively. For the record, it is a bit unclear as to what these three stats do specifically,as the only direction is that they “increase your abilities.” Presumably, these increase your overall combat capability for that class (i.e. damage, defense, health, etc.), and the general’s stats are added to yours, but it is hard to tell for sure.
However, these classes are there for more than just the heck of it. The three are basically rock, paper, and scissors with each one being strong against one, while weak against the other. This comes into play in battling other users. As an example, if you play as a warrior and choose to fight a rogue player, you still have a very strong chance to win, even if they are at a higher level than you.
In regards to battling, players can either duel or invade that person. Unfortunately, it is very unclear as to what the difference between the two, because each time one was used, the battle results looked the same. If you win, you gain experience, gold, and something called Victory Points.
However, to earn these points, one must fight players higher level than themselves, and sadly, the battle rankings aren’t organized very well as you will see users ranging from level one to 40+ sometimes, so a little bit of browsing is needed.
Regardless, these points are actually a very nice incentive to battling; even to players that don’t really care for this sort of thing. The more you fight other users, the more points you earn, and in turn, increase your rank and title (rank one being Civilian and rank 19 being Warlord). As users reach the top tier of each ranking group – broken up by fours – they earn unique and powerful weapons and armor.
This is actually quite valuable, as these items are not easy to come by. Even in the shop, the beginning items are a couple thousand gold and it takes a good while before you can buy even one. Furthermore, there are weapons, shields, helmets, breastplates, and so on, so becoming fully equipped is certainly a task. On the other hand, soldiers, which also boost stats, and estates, which earn periodic income cost significantly less by comparison. We’re not sure why a soldier costs 10 gold while a sword costs 1000 but oh well.
Another interesting element to Haven is that player stats are handled a bit differently. No longer do users have to worry about giving up stats like attack and defense in order to have more stamina and energy. Each level earned through questing and battling earns both skill points to put into energy and stamina, and upgrade points to put into the three class stats – strength, agility, and intelligence. Moreover, if you feel the need to change your class, you can use five skill points to switch.
These high energy and stamina pools certainly help in allowing the user to do more, by themselves at any given time, and is a bit more fun, actually. Of course, as the game goes on, these larger pools are certainly needed, as quests also give you reputation for given areas. This isn’t anything significant yet, but it does have potential.
For each level of reputation a player earns within a quest area, the “people” of that area pay tribute to the user (namely with increasing amounts of gold). From here the player can choose to take the offering or be gracious and tell them to keep it. Player choice like this is always great, but there doesn’t seem to be any reason to be gracious, other than a line of text that says thanks.
Of course, this repeated questing uses up energy. The stamina, on the other hand, and beyond fighting players, is also used for battling bosses. As players find rare items, or complete quests, they can summon massive creatures to battle. Attacking them eats up stamina, and these creatures have massive health pools. However, like in Castle Age, users can issue a Call to Arms on their Facebook feed, asking friends to attack it as well. For each swing they take, experience is earned, and it is a pretty generous amount.
As an additional social element, players can also appoint friends to special slots called “Oath Knights.” These jobs – War Monk, Thief, General, etc. – will grant players significant percentage bonuses to everything from stats to gold and rewards. Granted, this is nothing that hasn’t been done before, but the significant reward for doing so in Haven certainly warrants a mention.
Overall, Haven is a pretty solid RPG from the game-play standpoint. It is a bit lacking in the story department and not wholly original on some major elements (generals, bosses, etc.), but the new features it introduces are definitely noticeable. Frankly, what it really needs is a bit more clarification on what some of these new things do, as the player really does just make educated guesses on a lot of them, and your standard role-playing player likes to be informed so they can make the best decisions each level. Nonetheless, the game only came out this week, so expect it to improve.