Godsrule: War of Mortals review

Godsrule is a new browser-based strategy game from Sega and Gogogic. It’s currently in open beta and available to play on the open Web.

Godsrule is a free-to-play social strategy game similar to those frequently seen on Facebook and elsewhere on the open Web. Players divide their time between building up their home base to improve their resource and troop stockpiles, battling computer-controlled “ruins” to gain experience, and battling other players for dominance over the game’s persistent world map.

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The building component is rather conventional for the genre. Beginning with a small, poorly laid out base, players must build new structures, move existing ones and make use of them to collect resources, train troops and prepare for battle. Over time, players will upgrade their buildings to gain access to more effective troops and more efficient resource harvesting, and must balance their expenditure to ensure that they have enough space for their troop population to expand as well as enough room to store all their resources. As usual for this type of game, almost any activity requires a period of real time to complete, and this may be bypassed either by expending the game’s hard currency “orbs” to construct/upgrade/train something immediately, or by purchasing “speed up” items to reduce the countdown by a specified interval.

In the building component, the player regularly receives quests with generous rewards to encourage them down a good development path. Unfortunately, some of these quests have significant errors in them — in one notable case, the player is instructed to train a non-existent troop type that is presumably only relevant to the other of the two factions it is possible to control in the game. A little experimentation reveals that all the quest is asking the player to do is construct the next available troop type, but this will likely prove confusing to some. It is an error which should have been caught during testing, really, since it occurs so early in the game.

godsrulefeatureUpon attacking either a computer-controlled ruin or loading troops onto a ship to battle another player, the game switches to its combat screen. Here, players are put into a square arena and able to summon their troops one by one up to a particular limit. These troops may then be commanded in real-time, similar to how popular standalone real-time strategy games unfold. The interface is a little clumsy, however, as most conventional real-time strategy games allow the user to select multiple units by clicking and dragging a box around them — here, since clicking and dragging normally scrolls the screen around, it is necessary to click a small and not-very-obvious button at the side of the screen to enable group selection mode.

The aim in each of the battle sequences is to capture a relic. This simply requires the player to direct troops to attack it. Player-controlled relics are more difficult to capture than those in the computer-controlled ruins. Meanwhile, as the player is attacking the relic, the opponent’s forces are automatically summoning new troops. It is possible to destroy the opponent’s “summoning stones” for a temporary reprieve from the onslaught, but they often come back within a few seconds. More often than not, the most effective strategy is simply to “Zerg rush” the relic with the strongest possible units to capture it as quickly as possible — units are fairly disposable, anyway, so it’s easy enough to replace any that are lost in the attack.

Herein lies a bit of a flaw with Godsrule — it doesn’t really go far enough with what it clearly wants to do. While the ability to take direct control over one’s troops immediately sets this game apart from numerous other self-professed “hardcore” free-to-play strategy games, the boring square combat arenas offer little in the way of tactical play. There’s generally no cover to worry about and no environmental hazards, so despite the ability to control units independently, there’s really very little need to do more than select all of them and systematically defeat the enemies one at a time. The asynchronous nature of combat also means that it never really feels like you’re actually outsmarting another person, either — PvP battles just end up feeling like slightly more difficult PvE combat, and that is only because the relic takes longer to capture in most cases.