Conqueror’s Blade – First Look
First things first, I have to address the elephant in the room. A lot of people in the Steam reviews have been mentioning that this game is supposedly a virus. After conducting my own investigation, I can tell you it’s not true. Both Windows Defender and Webroot, my preferred antivirus, have not returned any positives for any of the game’s files. The game is perfectly safe to install. If you installed the game and got a virus, you probably picked it up from somewhere else.
Conqueror’s Blade is a slick combination of Real Time Strategy and Action-RPG that starts you off with a quality character creator. It’s no Black Desert Online, but there are more than enough options here to get something you’ll be satisfied with. Once you’ve made your character you’re plunged into a tutorial hub world where you’ll begin a gauntlet of tutorial missions that will help you understand the basics of controlling your character and entering battles.
Visually, Conqueror’s Blade looks great… when it loads correctly. A lot of the time I had the game load in black outlines of characters and environments with no textures that would last for more than a few seconds each time I entered a new area before everything would pop in. This minor gripe aside, the game has a cool pseudo-realistic medieval aesthetic. Even low level armor looks decent so you won’t feel like a complete chump as you race to catch up to higher level players. The game also supports 4K resolution, so if you’ve got a video card that can support it, you’ll really want to make sure you set it to that for maximum effect.
From a gameplay perspective, Conqueror’s Blade is a ton of fun. Charing around the battlefield and wiping out units feels a lot like a simplified Dynasty Warriors game. Attacks are bound to left click and hot keys, and each click of the mouse is an individual swing of your chosen weapon type. For my time with the game, I chose the Sword and Shield though it is possible to change weapon types if you so desire. While in a battle, you can use several hot keys to control your units and order them to do things like attack the area around you, join a formation, operate siege equipment and plenty more. Unfortunately, the game has you play individual battle tutorials to learn each of these different things and this is one of the first real stumbling blocks for Conqueror’s Blade.
I referred to the tutorials at the beginning of the game as a gauntlet because that’s what it feels like. After five hours of gameplay, I’m still completing tutorial missions. They’re constructed well, and they provide a lot of helpful information, but it slows the pace of the early game to a crawl. Doing them earns decent experience, which is your primary way of progressing as a character.
As you play through the missions and battles of Conqueror’s Blade, you’ll earn experience and gain character levels like in any MMORPG. Each level earns you stat points that you can spend on your stats to increase your character’s overall effectiveness and create a unique build. As you earn experience, your units will also earn their own experience which you spend in an expansive tech tree. Combined with bronze coins won for participating in battles, you spend these resources to upgrade and research new units for you to deploy on the battlefield. There’s another tech tree appropriately called the technology tree, but after all the time I’ve spent with the game, this tree has still not been explained or even unlocked for my use. This is the second half of Conqueror’s Blade’s tutorial problem.
For all the tutorials the game throws at you in your early hours with it, it does very little to explain the wall of features you’re slammed into after leaving the first tutorial area. There are food costs, collection experiences, farm and other resource nodes, an entire world map, and a new tech tree that go completely unexplained when you’re first introduced to them. The game leaves you to make a lot of assumptions and while this may be great for players who don’t appreciate “hand-holding”, a handful of tool tips would still go a long way to making novice players like myself feel more comfortable with these new features.
As for the battles themselves, they mostly function by having your team capture points like in any domination mode in an FPS. What makes Conqueror’s Blade stand out is that you can craft or unlock items to take into battles with you to give your team an edge. These can be anything from siege weapons to extra artillery in the form of cannons and trebuchets. These items take time to set up and use, and your positioning will be crucial to their success, but they can quickly turn the tide of a battle when they’re used effectively.
There are more than just capture points to worry about controlling, however. Replacing units when they’ve been wiped out requires that your team control a Supply point. Controlling one of these valuable objectives also allows you to heal up your units between skirmishes to better your chances of taking or holding an objective. Choosing when to resupply and when to go on the offensive is another key dynamic you’ll have to master to ensure victory.
That’s one of the major takeaways for Conqueror’s Blade. This game is hard and requires a ton of strategy and precise execution to win. This isn’t a bad thing, and in fact it’ll be a huge draw for those of you who are fans of hardcore strategy games. You’ll have to cooperate with your teammates and you’ll likely want to start joining battles with friends for maximum effectiveness. Difficulty aside, Conqueror’s Blade is still a fun game. I personally found myself losing interest after six hours or so, but fans of hardcore strategy games will have no trouble sinking their teeth in more easily.
As for monetization, Conqueror’s Blade avoids all the pitfalls of modern free to play games with ease. The game does feature an in-game shop but the only items you can buy are experience boosters, cosmetic skins, and premium account access. Having a premium account offers you extra experience, unit xp, and honor at a 30% increased rate among a few other benefits. The only reason I don’t see this as an issue is that battles give a pretty generous amount of experience in the early game and they’re fun to play, so it doesn’t feel like an artificial grind.
Honestly the only other problem I ran into during my time with Conqueror’s Blade was the occasional crash. This only happened when the game was trying to load to the character selection screen and it only happened two or three times over a week and a half of playing so it wasn’t a massive issue. This is something that can easily be fixed as the game receives more polish.
Overall, Conqueror’s Blade is a decent game that’s sure to challenge even more seasoned strategy game veterans. It is in desperate need of some polish and some more refined tutorials, but the foundation that they’re building on is solid. If you’re into hardcore strategy RPGs, it’s worth checking out.
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