How much to people like self-advancement? No, I’m not just talking about in a career, but rather in all aspects of life. The desire to advance and better oneself is a theme that game designers have often used in the RPG genre, especially online where one’s character more directly represents the player. Be it Maple Story, World of Warcraft, or Age of Conan, the primary driving factor that keeps us playing is the desire to improve our character.
This is the primary draw the designers of Elven Blood, The Royal East India Trading Company, have banked on for the success of their Facebook RPG. Maybe it is because I’m an RPG fan, but I rather enjoyed Elven Blood. Granted, I was a little confused at first, but I was able to catch on quickly.
You start the game as a measly level one elf, and like most online RPGs, you complete quests to gain gold, experience, weapons, and so on. When you select a quest, a text box generates what happened in a nostalgic, MUD/pen and paper-like fashion, and as you progress to higher level quests, an interesting storyline even begins to develop. Each quest also has a set of requirements in order to attempt it, such as stamina, equipment, and number of party members. If any one of these are missing, the quest cannot be started. You then use the rewards to buy new items to beef up your character and slowly work up your level. Unfortunately, you only have a limited amount of health and stamina, so you can’t go questing all day and have to wait a period of time for it to regenerate.
Here’s the kicker: There are faster ways to gain more health, gold, and so on through the use of what is called the “Elder Tree.” You start with 10 of something called “blessings” and use them to buy useful stats and such, but in order to get more you have to either (a) buy them via PayPal, or (b) complete sponsor offers. It may sound like a sell-out, but I have to admit, it is a good approach to monetization these days.
Of course, the true draw to Elven Blood is the wonderful social aspect it brings to the table. As I said earlier, you often require extra party members to complete quests. By inviting friends to play, they become part of your party and utilize what items you can spare. Nothing special, right? This is where the interesting part comes in: After leveling a little bit you can actually take your party out to hunt and loot other players! Attacking and defeating them allows you to garner extra experience and gold at no stamina cost! In fact, a common objective of players seems to be attempting to control the game as “Legends” vie for ranks among the bloodiest, deadliest, wealthiest, and most famous of all the elves.
The only downside to the game is there are no well polished graphics, no mind blowing sound effects, and nothing really extravagant. While it is rather popular (over 450k monthly users), it certainly isn’t for everyone and caters mostly to the fantasy/RPG crowd. Despite the presentation short comings however, the game is simple to learn and the desire to grow stronger was enough to keep me playing for a good while.
Overall, I recommend giving it a try if you have ever played an online RPG before. The game is well balanced with a number of different elements that are relatively easy to pick up on, and has a wonderfully creative way to acquire hits for their sponsors. More so than that, the social implementation is truly fantastic. Creating alliances and growing your party and character together with friends is always one of the best experience of any online game, and it is something made even better when you stand tall over those unwitting victims you just owned! Even though it is not the best presented game out there, it just goes to show that you cannot judge a book by its cover.