So, I’m writing this because I’d like to bring an unvarnished perspective to how the game is experienced by people that are completely new to the game. I’m in the middle of two games so far, one in the 8-player tutorial game and one in the 64-player game.
I’d like to preface by saying that I absolutely love this game and plan to become a premium player so that I can play more games in the future. Any comments that come off as negative are meant as ways to address some of the features that might push new players out or not keep old players in. With that said, here I go.
Starting off, I’d like to talk about the tutorial game and address 3 big topics. Mechanics, diplomacy, and the help section.
The mechanics of the game are slow enough that you can figure out what’s going on while you play. There were times when I realized something before other players and managed to get a leg up and other times when they did the same. This left an incredibly satisfying feeling and gave me the idea that I really understood the game. I especially like that the mechanics force players to focus far more on cooperation and diplomacy than just outright warfare which is both costly and incredibly risky.
The diplomacy bit is probably the most controversial bit of the game while also being the biggest draw. I’ve seen on multiple threads and topics that people fear stabbing their comrades in the backs and acting in self-interest for fear of a bad reputation. I have 2 feelings on this.
This is totally understandable. While playing this game I really feel as if I formed a social connection with the people remaining. Especially so in the case of people I formed informal alliances with, traded tech with, went to battle alongside, etc.
I also feel as if the “Winner Take All” end goal forces very unnatural “Geopolitical” reactions. Just thinking about it for 2 seconds makes one realize that a solution to this problem would be very complicated. Going in the opposite direction of a “Top X Take All” might make for more congruent and natural geopolitics but it disincentivizes players to go for the top prize and could make games last years rather than weeks. As well, making games totally anonymous could lead to complete and total lack of “reputational investment” on the part of players and lead to backstabbing for backstabbing’s sake IE trolling. Either way, I personally think this is the hardest part of the game to manage and I think that the team and IHG has done an excellent job so far.
Finally, the help section…
There are certain things that could be done differently if I’m being honest. I’ll list some of the issues I had but I absolutely don’t want to make it seem as if the help section is worthless because it’s not. It’s incredibly useful and 95% of the reason I can understand the game.
The youtube videos. There’s no need for the music. It just makes it hard to understand the speaker. I’m not quite sure why the decision was made to make speaker volume and music volume equal but yeah, it’s not necessary
The section under formal alliances reads:
“In games that have the feature enabled, you can enter into a Formal Alliance with another player.”
This doesn’t really tell the players new to the game that Formal Alliances are not normally turned on, that they’re a feature the game creator has to actively choose. This led to some awkward moments as I didn’t realize the option had to be chosen. For example, in my 64 game I had made an informal alliance with someone who was caught between me and another player. They have essentially zero places to expand to and I knew that. Wanting to avoid a costly war in the early game I suggested an an NAP and planned to ally later on only to realize that the option to do so wasn’t available.
I’ll admit that this is partially my fault for not seeking out clarification. But other players (assumedly new as well) also thought that Formal Alliances were a default feature and not one that had to be selected. Honestly, I think a simple text change for clarification and a reupload of the youtube videos without the music would help in this regard.
Now as to my experience with the 64-player game.
It becomes very apparent very quickly that many players dip out after the first few days of play and that this might be a regular issue. Obviously, many players are gonna be made losers if several players gobble them up from all sides in the first few days. Understandable to dip out after that. But my first game had a player in the #1 spot for stars dip out. I was seriously concerned that he was about to overwhelm me before I read that he’s AFK. I had a whole alliance planned around dealing with him which is more funny than anything.
Lastly, I saw that some threads saying people enjoy roleplaying in this game so I gave it a shot. On like the 5th day. Probably should’ve thought how other players might feel about their military partner suddenly roleplaying as both a diplomat and an emperor. So lesson learned, find a roleplay game BEFORE you decide to start roleplaying.
Anyways, those were my thoughts. Sorry for the long wall of text but I just wanted to allay my experiences. I’m loving the game and might go premium sometime in January. I’d appreciate any and all feedback or maybe even your thoughts and experiences from when you were a new player as well.