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Tribal Wars 2 is the sequel to a rather prominent figure within the early F2P MMORTS community and this is going to be my first impression review. My personal bias coming into this first impression is that I have played many MMORTSs but none to endgame and my favorite experience so far came from Clash of Clans.
So with that bias in mind, I can say that this game at least interested me. It has a pretty deep attack/defense structure that involves a lot of math and planning for each endeavor. Lots of units to produce with all sorts of varying stats that also are affected by different factors such as what structures you have built in your defending city or if you own a church in an area that you are attacking. But overall I found the combat near non-existent and mostly comprised of attritious gameplay. That isn’t very different from what we are used to in MMORTSs as most of the strategy and gameplay of these kinds of games is very meta, as in its about growing a guild/community and trying to conquer the world rather than a solo play experience. Tribal Wars 2 is similar to Game of War or other standard MMORTS.
Players start the game by following through a tutorial which is rather usual and personally I expected a more expedited process for a sequel game but found that not only did the tutorial feel redundant but the quests following the tutorial existed as a second tutorial in disguise and limits the players creativity right out of the gate. It also makes a bad first impression and shows us that Tribal Wars 2 will be a game about linear progression and will almost certainly be about who has the bigger army rather than a specialization of productions or uniquely organized defenses. In fact there is no real choice in this game other than the fact that players must choose which units to produce first and which buildings to upgrade in what order.
After the player is introduced to the game’s mechanics, they are left to their own devices which essentially equates to logging in, producing units, attacking some cities, logout, rinse and repeat. In other Innogames.com MMORTSs Elvenar and Forge of Empires, there exists a mechanic to allow players a choice of certain goods to be produced. This means that the player can choose to set a very long production schedule, log in once a day, collect, and pillage, or they can set really short cycles and consistently play the game with little downtime. The risk exists that players could have their goods stolen if they weren’t logged on to collect but still, that is an element that made the management of the city at least a little bit fun and seems unacknowledged in Tribal Wars 2 where gameplay is much more stagnant. The only way to break the stagnant nature of the game is with the cash shop because everything is gated by time and that time is not short.
Developing the city is rather boring as there is no management required so the true game feel is simply logging in, tapping at the screen, and logging out. A significant amount of time needs to be allocated to the game to even begin to understand its core concepts and even longer to take advantage of them. MMORTSs are known infamously for a few reasons and Tribal Wars 2 epitomizes all of them. Not only is the cash shop barren of any cosmetics but instead of the usual production hastening items, we get straight up buffs to defending or attacking units completely vanishing any doubt that this game was not pay to win.
Still, it is a free game and it is possible for any single person to build up a strong city. But like I mentioned earlier, this is not a single player experience. Some MMORTSs have interesting characters to guide us on our journey, sometimes with voice acting even! But Tribal Wars 2 has none of that, no PvE element, and the only true way to play the game is to join up or create a faction and sadly unlike Clash of Clans which is both popular and can be enjoyed alone, Tribal Wars 2 is completely reliant on its hardcore players which devastatingly lacks in numbers.
The game can also be played on mobile devices and its UI actually works really well with the platform and in my experience the performance was actually greater than the browser component sometimes and other times would completely crash. This was kind of sad considering how low impact the art and animations are for both the browser and mobile. Not the worst art I’ve seen but it’s animations were extremely dull. There is no identity between different cities like what we would see in Sparta: War of Empires with different skins or namely Clash of Clans where the layout of the city is not just customizable but actually relevant to the defense of the city.
I’ve played a fair amount of MMORTSs especially from Innogames.com and I can say with confidence that Tribal Wars 2 is the weakest link. I found Elvenar more interesting because of its board game feel, battle sequences and actual town building, or Forge of Empires which has infinitely more depth with its civilization and town progression. Tribal Wars 2 looks good as a Facebook banner, but all the real mechanics that would make it a great MMORTS are completely rendered useless by the lack of true content.
Now with all that said after a few more hours of playing I found out that they have a much simplified version of Elvenar/Forge of Empires production. A menu pops up when you log in to see your current production rate and to choose what product to make but it isn’t as fun or interactive as previous games.
Also my complaint about the tutorial only half way stands as it can be skipped and the starting period can be quickly expedited by using the gold that is allocated to the new player at the start. However, I would have liked to not have needed to spend the gold in the first place and the quest lines are linear anyways and require no actual thinking.
One thing not mentioned is the fact that cities actually grow and start looking like a real kingdom as you progress through the game and you can own multiple towns though I haven’t seen this myself and I have no idea how it works. It is also stated that players should strategically conquer areas because certain places have more or less of certain resources but aesthetically the map looks all the same to me.
I’ll admit that my first impression might be harsh but not only does this genre not lend itself well to first impressions but this game in particular focuses on endgame.
If you can start this game with a group of friends, it might just be a great time but as a solo player I find it hard to start.