Full Video Review and Gameplay - http://youtu.be/HEKJWlgYY_s
Let's talk gameplay, those familiar with traditional MMO's like World of Warcraft will have no trouble in jumping straight into this one. Character creation is simple and straightforward, sadly there’s not much in the way of customization here, just a few sliders with generic options. There are four classes to choose from, Warrior, Wizard, Hunter and Priest. Each offer their unique ability skill trees and are good for their respective combat role.
The combat system is somewhat traditional with a few curve balls along the way. You right click an enemy to enter combat and your character will auto attack. Beyond this are your skills and abilities, these are activated by either clicking the hotbar icon or using the corresponding number. You obtain your skills and abilities two ways, first you have a set amount of class abilities that you can unlock and upgrade through levelling. Secondly, the weapons and armour you use will also carry both active skills and passive abilities. This means that if you change your weapon you can end up with different abilities and this can change your play-style to some degree.
Questing in the game is very text book MMO, go to quest giver, do quest, hand in and move on. That being said I like how some of the quests tie into the games crafting which I'll go into in a moment. There’s plenty of questing content to go through in villagers and heroes in fact there's over 1000 quests and the storyline of the game plus it's expansion the fury of the stone lord is a fun story to go through.
In zones and dungeons on top of your run of the mill enemies and bosses, you also have bounty enemies. Bounty enemy locations show up on your minimap and offer great rewards, even better they are soloable. Meaning you don't have to miss out on the XP, gold and loot that bounties provide. Speaking of loot, there’s plenty to be had and its a well designed system. Loot from enemies will contain gold, animal parts for crafting, weapons, armour and more. Those who enjoyed Diablo 2 will recognise the name Steig Hedlund, Hedlund was the lead designer on the most widely loved Diablo game, he is also the designer of the item, loop drop and crafting system in Villagers and Heroes.
In my opinion the crafting system is one of the biggest draws to the game. There are 10 crafting professions: Fishing, Mining, Bug Collecting, Plant Lore, Woodcrafting, Smithing, Cooking, Tailoring, Gardening, and Ranching. Gathering resources is simple and straight forward, simply find a node be it a mining node, fishing spot etc and flesh it out. Nodes also have levels, so as you level your proficiency you'll be able to mine higher level nodes for higher and rarer materials.
There’s also Gnomenting with is short for gnomish augmenting, this is the crafting ability to combine crafted gear,elder gear from defeating lair bosses and rare randomly found exotic gear. The developers didn't want to have the most powerful gear exclusive to the end game bosses and wanted to make crafting more meaningful. It allows the player to combine different gear in the way of their choosing. Since about half the spells & abilities come from gear & weapons, this means that some very powerful and unique items can only be created and not looted.
The best thing about crafting is not only the amount of things your able to create but how easy and accessible the whole system is. It's easy to use, easy to get into and easy to progress. While the game is not a true sandbox, it has a lot of sandbox features, crafting feels more of a joy than a painful grind. Also due to the fact that crafting is very meaningful, it means that crafting benefits you overall in the game rather than it just being a separate part.
Another big draw of the game is the player housing and village system. Once a player purchases a property, they become part of that village. Villages are player created and there are two types, open where anyone can join or guild specific. Player housing itself is very customizable with not only the ability to customize the appearance of your house but the ability to both garden and ranch animals in your own land. It means especially those looking for an immersive experience you can live on your own little farm with crops and animals of your choice.
Villages themselves are also not just plots of land, they are upgradable. Villages can be levelled up by members of the Village with better facilities such as a forge and more. Villages can also grow and expand in size by opening up new neighbourhoods providing housing for more players. The developers are planning to push the village feature further in the future by allowing villages to create their own dungeons and having Village vs Village warfare, where by villages plunder each others dungeons for loot, special relics and more.
Now as I've mentioned the game is a free to play which means of course there is an in game store. However its certainly far from being pay to win. The contents of the cash shop are simply cosmetic items and items that provide boosts to things such as resource gathering. There’s nothing that could really be considered as pay to win. That being said the cash shop is a little pricey but there’s really nothing you need to progress or get enjoyment from the game, which is a good thing in my opinion.
Villagers and Heroes is one of those rare games that sure, it's not perfect and its no big budget MMO but what it is, is a joy to play. Its very rare that I play an MMO and don't feel pressured to be doing anything specific, or to be rushing through content. Villagers and Heroes provides a pleasurable gameplay experience. The way the crafting, player housing and village system is designed, it really promotes a sense of community in the game. Playing with other people to complete village projects and more is fun and a enjoyable experience. It's also a game that may well appeal to the roleplaying community as theres housing, crafting oh and chat bubbles.
If your an avid mmo'er who is looking for hardcore PVP or PVE, frankly you won't find it here. However if your looking for an MMO that’s a fun way to spend time playing with people that’s not too demanding on your time and energy then its right up your alley. The game is by no means perfect in any shape but the developers at mad otter have clearly tried to create a community focused game and have crafted the whole thing very well. I would also add that its a mmo that is very accessible to people who haven't played mmo's or are looking for a more relaxed casual experience with a good, helpful community.