Knights of the Sky is a browser based free to play MMORTS, which recently went into the open beta phase. The game is being released by Atlus Online which is a division of Atlus, a major player in the gaming industry, known for their RPG and Strategy games. As for the game's creators, that role is taken by Joyport, a large developer/producer of browser based games in China.
Who will you fight for?
The first choices players are set to make is who they will fight for, and what they will look like. The game is split between two warring factions; The Empire, and The Federation. The decision for which you want to support mostly goes by personal taste, or if you're playing with a friend or not. Both sides have similar units and also share almost the exact same quest line. The point of having the multiple factions is however that the game is a PVP game that is setting two groups of people against each other for the control of the continent. This, while not the most creative move on keeping things almost exactly the same, it does make it easier to keep both sides balanced in a sense. It also makes a bit more sense since the two groups are not of different race (like human, elf) but instead are two governments on the same island.
After making the choice of who you're fighting for, you do get to name the lord of your empire and pick a face to go behind the name. The selection for faces is decent and it was easy enough to find one that I liked and decided to play using.
Another empire builder?
In essence the game is another empire builder, which is very common in browser based games. You gather resources; build up buildings to get better troops, and things like that. But with some of the more recent additions to this genre, the game tries to diversify itself from the normal ones you run into and try to make itself stick out a bit more.
How is it doing that? Well, in a lot of these types of games you're cast out into a random place in the world, not of your choosing. You're most likely surrounded by other players and the most you can do is grit your teeth, build up the best you can, and hope they don't rape and pillage your lands, repeatedly, leaving you broke. With this game however, your kingdom is portable. Instead of having the random plot of land in the middle of the continent, your kingdom is actually a floating island that you can move freely, which brings its own advantages and disadvantages.
The advantage is the freedom to move your kingdom where you need it and way from prying eyes, when you don't want it to be seen. Or if you want, you can keep it close to your troops in order to give them an easy escape and refuel the supply of soldiers.
One big disadvantage however is, that if you want to send out your ship into enemy territory, maybe to conquer some of their lands/or just raid their cities, well, you need to bring your island with you. The island and the ship(s) you have need to be on the same map. So if you're going into dicey waters, so is your island and you need to manage both the island and the ship in order to make sure both are safe. This does add a bit more strategy into the game since you do need to manage multiple units on the same map, and you may not want them all together all the time.
However, one nice feature on the empire building theme in this game is the tech trees. Eventually you will be able to build everything you can build, the game is just set that way, but they do have a tech tree for bonuses you can receive on the cultural and military front, as well as one for what you need to build to unlock other buildings.
The one for bonuses, is the research tree, and goes through academy. This is generally for building up bonuses in your empire and army. For instance at lower levels you can use it to get minor buffs to your troops and/or resource production.
The building tree does show you the requirements for each building type you want to build up as well as the ones you have already build. Strategy however is fairly lacking in this since unlike some empire building games where you pick where each building will go, this one instead uses the premade plots. So as you unlock a building it will show you the only place you can build and upgrade it from. This makes the game feel a bit less involved as you feel like you're headed in a straight and narrow path.
One odd thing about the actual building aspect of the game is the mechanics behind it. Typically in these types of games when you set to build something, you have to wait for time to pass and the building to be constructed before using it or benefiting from the higher tier building's rewards. This game is different in that aspect, since when you click to level up a building, it happens right away. That doesn't mean it got rid of the counter however. The counter still exists and is used more as a limitation for how much you can build and how often. The default amount for you to be able to build at once is three. So while playing you need to decide, "Do I build up this building three times now, or spread it across several?"
It seems wrong to call this a MMORTS
I don't actually agree with the classification of their game as a MMORTS, as it is a bit misleading; in essence it is actually an empire building turn-based strategy game. While yes you are free to move on the overview map at will, the actual combat of the game is turned based.
Getting a bit more into the combat, as I said it is turned based. If you have ever played anything from Final Fantasy Tactics, to Devil Survivor (an Atlus title), then you should know the gist of what this entails. When you get in combat you're put on a grid map, and the first thing you can decide is if you want to do the combat yourself manually, or let the AI handle it. Generally speaking, the AI is fine for handling normal mob battles, or when you're faced with a weaker enemy. It also is a nice feature for those who aren't too confident in their skills or just want to something else while combat ensues.
This also goes into the quality of the AI; the AI in the game does seem decent as I have seen in some they would rush my weaker gunner characters to try to take them out before going for my close ranged melee characters. This is better than some I have played lately where the AI would tend to do their own thing, like it was confused on the action it should take.
One thing that did stick out a bit on this game that I liked was that instead of just deciding the moves and hitting the enemy with normal attacks, your heroes can learn spells to use in combat and actually have a MP bar, which they can deplete on the enemy. This stood out for me since recently several of the games I have played lately lacked this ability and instead just had you hitting the enemy with your weapon and sometimes popping off a random skill.
An aspect of the combat I am undecided on is on how numbers tend to win the battle over strategy. On normal AI battles if you outnumber the enemy, you will most likely win, unless the enemy's troops are several tiers above yours. If they're only about one tier higher, you will most likely make it through without issue, sometimes without even losing any troops. This made things a bit uneasy for me since I do like the strategy over number aspects of games, and this turned it into a game of who bulks up their champions more.
White, Green, Purple, and Blue; which are you?
On the topic of champions you get, they did the standard line-up as they do in empire builders. You can get one of several types of champions based on rarity; obviously the purple is the best while white is standard, which is pretty much set in stone. White is also the most common that you will get. When you start out however you will start with a purple (your lord), green, and white. From there on you can build up your tavern in order to try to get a better chance in receiving a rarer grade champion. It does however seem fairly rare for you to get anything higher than white. In the time I have played, by checking my own tavern and even going to bigger cities mercenary guilds, I have only seen and been able to hire white grade champions, so it seems that getting anything above that is fairly rare.
Champions also have an affinity to a certain troop type. For instance some may have a defense or speed buff when using gunner type troops, while others would have it for another type. This does not mean however that you need to assign them those types of troops, they can still do somewhat fine with another type, it is just giving them what they're good with is the best way to highlight their talents.
Another thing about champions is that they do have a more standard RPG feel to them. As they level up you're able to give them stats, invest in skills such as spells, and equip them with items to help strengthen their troops. An odd thing about them though is that they do have the standard HP/MP bars that you see with typical RPGs, but they function a bit differently, at least the HP bar does. I actually found this bit of info by chatting with another player, but the HP bar acts more like a stamina bar than anything else. As you go through battles, you lose HP, you lose some if you flee as well and if you get down to 0 HP your character "dies"….Well, not really. While they state that the character dies, they instead are disabled for a set amount of time before they "revive". So in reality you don't really lose that troop member who has 0 HP, he/she just needed a rest.
Quests is what will keep you busy in the game
While the city building aspect is rather boring, and while you won't be pvping other players 24/7, they do have a very wide selection of quests for you to take part of in the game. The quests however, do not have much of a variety as they consist mainly of killing x amount of this unit, donating resources or gathering items from said troops. Some are a bit different to try to get you involved such as telling you to take over a resource node or a city, but generally they're the generic quests you can find anywhere.
But while they're dull, the thing is, is that there is a lot of quests to do. For the time I have played, I have always had a good amount of quests ready for me to do, from normal kill quests, to actual main story quests. Though the fact remains, this is what took most of my time in the game. Going out, doing the quests to get rewards for building up my empire. So while dull, it actually draws you in to do the most quest you can, and keeps you involved in the game. This is good since in these type of games, players are AFK more than they're actually in the game, since you usually set something to build, walk away, then do it again when you comeback. It also takes a bit of the tediousness away from grinding your heroes levels, since you actually have a purpose for being there and leveling them up.
A nice feature of the quest system, which pretty much you would be lost without due to the layout of the game is the auto path for quests. This isn't a typical mmo where you go out into the map, physically see the creatures you need to take out and go over to them. No, the map is flat, you don't see anyone else besides other players, so clicking on the auto-path will actually take you to where they can be found, and even start the fight for you. So if you have this mixed with auto battle, you can go through quests and progress through the game a lot easier.
PVP is the main part of the game
It is. PVP actually plays a fairly large role in the game, which is why players choose a side in the beginning, though you don't actually feel the heat of combat till later on, though you have the option to take part in it.
While generally speaking you are at peace with everyone in your nation, it doesn't mean that there isn't any friendly rivalry going on. On each map you go to, you have the option to take over cities and resource nodes. Resource nodes being areas where you or your guild mates can collect resources at a more rapid rate, so having control of these points is beneficial. So a guild or nation, who has more control over a map than the other side, will typically do better than those who do not. So it encourages even the peaceful to take up arms to try to advance in the world.
There are a lot of these types of games coming out right now. While this one tries to introduce more features to the tried and tested genre, it in effect succeeds and fails. It does well in the overall presentation of the game, but it does feel dull in some aspects like the city building, which felt hollow in comparison to some other games in the genre, which makes the strategy part of the game start to lack a bit.
|Decent AI||Numbers tend to outmatch wit|
|PVP content that has you fighting to control a continent with your nation||City building ultimately feels hollow|
|Nice in game chat and guild system|
|Easy to learn gameplay|
Self Introduction From Author:
|I have been playing mmos since about 1999, and haven't stopped since, and I cannot even remember when I started console/pc gaming. I'm an avid gamer who does dive back into the real world from time to time. My all time goal is to start my own business, but that is taking a side step as I am going through college.|
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