Empire Craft Overview
Empire Craft is a medieval strategy game where players build cities and battle demons. The empire building parts of Empire Craft play similarly to FreeSky Online and Evony, players start with a single city which they must expand by adding barracks, warehouses, hospitals, taverns, and other buildings. Four key resources are required for construction, wood, stone, iron, and food, which are generated from special buildings. Players can upgrade their buildings to make them more effective and hire heroes to lead their troops into battle against other players and NPC demons. Diamonds serve as the premium currency which can be used to speed up production and access certain features such as the barter system. Players can earn some diamonds by completing quests but they must otherwise be purchased with cash.
Empire Craft Screenshots
Empire Craft Featured Video
Empire Craft Full Review
By, Erhan Altay
Empire Craft is the latest browser based strategy game out of China. Published by HiThere, which is owned by OPI, Empire Craft is very similar to Evony and IGG’s FreeSky Online. Players start with a single barren city and must slowly build it into a thriving metropolis. Like many other games in the genre, Empire Craft has a medieval theme but throws in some fantasy elements by allowing players to battle NPC controlled demons which roam the world map. Even with the medieval fantasy theme, this isn’t the type of game that takes a large time commitment. Instead, Empire Craft can be played in small bursts throughout the day at home or from work.
Why, Hello There!
As I mentioned earlier, Empire Craft is hosted on a new browser game portal that goes by the interesting title ‘hithere.’ The site publishes other browser games including Neverland Online and Age of Ocean with more on the way. A single sign up allows access to all these titles and email verification is optional to boot. Like many other sites, hithere offers ‘Facebook connect’ but I recommend creating a separate account, there’s no need to clutter Facebook with more annoying announcements and messages. After signing up, players will be tossed into one of the 13 servers randomly. Those who want to play with friends should head back to the homepage and relaunch the game so that they can change worlds. Each player starts with a city with a City Hall in the middle surrounded by walls. There are 29 empty slots which can house various buildings. Outside the city walls are four resource generating buildings, an Iron Mine, Sawmill, Quarry, and Farm. New players may be confused by this display. Those unfamiliar with the empire-building genre will especially feel overwhelmed. Luckily, there is a huge list of quests available under the ‘Beginner’ category to offer guidance.
Patience is a Virtue…
Within minutes, it becomes apparent that Empire Craft suffers from a severe case of Engrish. Most of the grammar is technically correct but I couldn’t help but laugh at the word usage. Here’s an example of one of the beginner quest’s descriptions: “We can translate your stone to REAL food,and of cause can be eaten and digested.That cost 15 diamands. We are NOT Alchemists, we ARE physicists.” Fortunately, most of the quest objectives are straight forward and don’t require reading the dragged out quest descriptions. Objectives range from constructing buildings, upgrading them, training soldiers, and sending them out to battle. The number of quests is measured in the dozens with each small step rewarding players with additional resources. In addition to the four main resources, there are three other important materials to keep track of. Gold is earned passively depending on the size of a city’s population and the current tax rate and is used to hire soldiers and heroes. These units have a continuous upkeep cost so it is important to maintain a large tax base. Magical crystals are used to research new technologies and most importantly Diamonds serve as the premium currency. Diamonds can be earned by completing quests but must otherwise be purchased using real cash. Empire Craft does everything it can to entice players to splurge on Diamonds since they have a whole host of uses.
Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend
As players build up their empire, they will quickly hit a brick wall in the form of long construction times even though Empire Craft allows two simultaneous construction queries at a time by default. This allows more versatility than similar games like Evony and Tribal Wars but comes at a cost. Most of the new wave strategy titles allow instant construction of buildings that take less than a certain amount of time to construct. This is not the case in Empire Craft. The only way to hasten construction times in EC is by spending diamonds. Diamonds are also required when ‘bartering’ which is the process of converting one type of resources to another. Other uses for Diamonds include searching for more heroes at the tavern and ‘refreshing’ your hero’s abilities. For players unwilling to spend cash on diamonds, getting past the beginner set of quests should take about a day of occasional play. It’s best to have another browser tab open or a magazine handy while playing Empire Craft, it is not the kind of game that requires constant attention.
New players are granted a 7 day grace period in which they are protected from aggression by other players. It’s best to use this time to build up a decent defense by strengthening the city walls, guard tower, and hiring troops. A warehouse is also a great defensive structure since it protects resources from enemy raiders. When attacking cities or hunting demons, an army must be lead by a hero. Heroes can be hired from taverns and can level up, equip gear, and learn skills. Several early game quests introduce players to hero maintenance and growth. Special items which are available in the cash shop can boost a hero’s experience immediately but the more general method is by sending out expeditions. Once a force has been hired at a barracks, players can click the ‘world’ button towards the top of the interface to access the world map. Scattered across this grid like map are empty plots, player controlled cities, and various demons. The strength of these demons is proportional to their distance away from any given player so newbies would do well to attack the nearest one first. It’s better to be over armed than under armed for any combat encounter in Empire Craft so players should amass a large army before attacking. An effective strategy is to have a ton of low strength units with a few powerful units thrown into the mix.
For Better or For Worse
There’s no escaping the fact that Empire Craft uses the same script as Evony and FreeSky Online but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Player will experience with those previous games will start with a working knowledge of this one. The visuals in Empire Craft are superior to those of FreeSky but fall short of Evony’s. One advantage EC has over both games is the simpler town design. Each city only has one of each resource generating building located on the same screen as the other buildings. In Evony, farms and such are located on a separate screen and players must construct multiple copies of each. By condensing all buildings to a single screen, Empire Craft saves a step and makes city management that much easier. So far, Empire Craft hasn’t found the same audience as Tribal Wars or Evony but hopefully that will change as the game is updated.
Final Verdict: Fair
Empire Craft is a beginner friendly strategy game that is sure to keep fans of the genre interested. By enticing beginners with premium items early on, Empire Craft helps draw players in, but with dated animations and slow paced gameplay it has a hard time keeping them hooked.