Myth of Empires is a new survival-crafting MMO from Angela Game. I have to say, I was quite down on MOE when I started playing. I’m not really into survival crafting games myself. I just tend to get bored while playing them, and suddenly my doom fortress and llama mine don’t seem as satisfying as before. That being said, MOE does a lot right and is very absorbing. Not engaging, mind, but we’ll get to that later. It does what it means very well, yet it lacks staying power. The game is still in Early Access, meaning much of what I say here is subject to change, so keep that in mind.
Myth of Empires is available as Early Access on Steam for your regional pricing.
Story – A Premise of Greatness
Myth of Empires is one of those rare cases in gaming that doesn’t need a story to function. All it truly needs is context. The premise of MOE is that after a massive war knocked all the local empires down a peg, you are in the perfect position to establish a new one. With grit and determination, you could very well become the ruler of this world. As premises go, this works very well. It puts you in the right mindset and explains why everyone else seems to be doing the same thing. However, while MOE doesn’t need a story, it would only benefit from one.
As a quick caveat, I don’t mean MOE should become a story-based experience. Writing your own story in a game has worked before, and will work again. Instead, I believe this could be the perfect game for some environmental storytelling. A couple of discarded letters from a fallen empire, or some item descriptions telling the tales of peasants during the war would be perfect. As it stands, the premise alone is enough to get you started, but stories tend to be what keeps players coming back. I asked myself while playing, “would I come back to this game when the review was done?” The answer was no, because I simply had no investment in the world. Just a little bit of background story, for the weirdoes like me, would make a world of difference!
Gameplay – A Solid Experience
Gathering MOE Than You Need
Like most survival games, gathering will probably be 90% of what you’ll do in Myth of Empires. From the very onset, you are tasked with crafting an ax and a hammer for gathering, using only the rocks and sticks around you. From there, you’ll break down boulders, cut down trees, hunt animals and search for crafting materials all over for your empire. While most harvesting is done through the use of a tool hitting some unsuspecting part of nature, there are certain things you can simply pick up. Grass, loose rubble, and branches can all be collected by hitting a contextual button prompt when near them. All in all, it works pretty well.
I really like how gathering feels in MOE. You can almost feel the weight of every ax swing as you bury it into a tree. Every boulder explodes into pieces as you hammer away. It comes together to form a realistic, but not boring collection of resources. It’s a good thing too, considering how much you need. If I could change one thing about the crafting, it would be the fact that there aren’t uniform amounts. How many branches you get from a tree is dependent on how much you hit it. This leads to a weird scenario where cutting down a massive tree can give you less wood than cutting down a bush. While it isn’t a problem, it can be frustrating.
MOE Building Than You’d Think
Building in Myth of Empires has a very satisfying feel to it. Instead of just placing a wall, you get to see the individual pieces fall from the sky into the correct position, like wood Tetris. And like Tetris, once the pieces have fallen, they cannot be moved. Therein lies the biggest issue I have with building in this game. It punishes you for misclicking, or just building in the wrong spot, by forcing you to destroy structures if you want to replace them. This is especially frustrating because destroying a structure doesn’t give you the building materials back. Coupled with the large number of resources you need, and satisfaction wears thin. A good quality of life improvement would be allowing the player to simply move a wall.
The only other real complaint I have is that the game lies to you about positioning. A cool feature of building in MOE is that you can change how a structure, like a wall or piece of roof, looks by pressing T. It allows you to customize your base very simply, without having to shill out more resources just to include windows and the like. That being said, I tried for a good few moments in one of my sessions to place a roofing section as a corner piece on one of my walls. However, no matter how I lined it up, the piece was always reversed, the exact opposite of what the highlighted example showed me. I don’t know if this is a bug, or if it was due to a screw-up on my part, but some sort of explanation would go a long way.
MOE Combat Please
Yeah, these puns are getting a bit tortured. Not unlike the way to get followers! Seriously, you can torture vagrants to recruit them as camp workers, and warriors. The main point of this is to amass an army for the promised large-scale battles featured in the trailer footage. Don’t get too excited though, with the arbitrary requirements for getting vagrants into your camp, and their scarcity, it will take a very long time to get there. In the meanwhile, you can fight bandits and wild animals, even getting your warriors to help you. The combat system is very similar to the 8-directional system in Kingdom Come: Deliverance, to bring a bit more realism to fighting.
The 8-directional system is an odd choice. As we saw in KC:D, it works best in one-on-one duels, which isn’t really the kind of combat you get into in MOE. That being said, I think it works pretty well. Of the two times I had to fight, the combat wasn’t so complicated as to be frustrating, but just complicated enough to be tactical. I remember fighting a bandit with my bow and arrow, and almost losing because the throwing stones they used were simply faster than my arrows. It’s nice to see a combat system that rewards game knowledge in any situation. The problem here is exactly what I said earlier, I only ever got into combat twice. This could be improved with a roaming threat, like deserters from a previous war, or raiders.
Seeing MOE of The World
This section will be a bit strange but stay with me here. While playing MOE, I looked at the map and found it staggering. “Surely the world can’t be that big?” I thought, naively. So, I issued myself a challenge. I was going to walk from my starting location, very close to the bottom right corner of the map, and walk to the top left. I wanted to see how long it would take to get from one side of the map to the other just by walking. About an hour, two mountain-related deaths and one very angry wolf later, and I was only halfway there. Two hours to walk across the world might not seem like a long time, but that is an enormous map!
Having a map that size looks very impressive on paper and in announcements, but it isn’t really practical. I can understand the logic behind it. More space means players can build their empires undisturbed, but that’s exactly the problem. As I said above, you barely get into combat in this game, and I can’t help but feel that’s because no one has to fight over resources. The world of MOE is big enough for everyone, which kind of defeats the purpose of conquering it. A smaller map would force players to interact more, and create a struggle for resources, adding an extra layer of tension and challenge to the experience.
Graphics and Audio – Surprisingly Stunning
Myth of Empires is a very pretty game. Even with my old pc running it at the lowest settings, the game world is gorgeous. Water ripples away from you in ponds and rivers, plants sway in the breeze, and the player models look like actual people! Not to mention the small visual clues. I was hunting for some stone, which is a rare drop when breaking most boulders. However, I noticed that the boulders not covered in moss tend to yield more stone than rubble, and focused on those instead. Little details like that are wonderful additions to a game, bravo!
Sound-wise, the music is nice. It has a soft, calming effect that puts you in the right headspace for building. It does only play occasionally though, leaving large swathes of just ambient noise. Luckily, the ambient sounds do their jobs well for the most part. Crickets chirp, birds sing, and leaves rustle just enough to feel real. That being said, despite there being no wolves in my area, I heard a worrying amount of howling at night. There is also a strange clicking noise as you play, that I could never find the source of. It made me feel like I was being followed by invisible crabs. Other than that, no complaints.
Myth of Empires was reviewed on PC with a copy provided by Honest PR.