Conqueror’s Blade is one of your best choices when it comes to experimenting that Game of Thrones warfare sensation. Sure, there is a notorious shortage of dragons in Booming Games’ medieval sim, but the lighting is infinitely better than the one seen – or rather not seen – in the battle of Winterfell.
Having direct control of a general and dozens of units at your command, Conqueror’s Blade doesn’t lack thrills, castle sieges or Wilhelm screams, for that matter. It’s an exciting alternative to Mount and Blade, a beautiful chaotic mess that brings more to the table than you would initially expect.
I Siege You
Conqueror’s Blade gets the ball rolling with an unlikely but far from unique component, a questionnaire that is meant to kickstart your Warlord selection through means of a few choices. It will serve as the basis for your character stats, but your choice of class is of uttermost importance. There are 10 classes to choose from, with two of them being exclusive to the female Warlord: dual blades and short bow.
To say that your class choice will determine your play style is an understatement. This decision is crucial, as your performance on the battlefield depends on how well you can make the best of your character’s skills. Conqueror’s Blade is no stranger to a little bit of stun lock and you can also get stuck in the middle of the enemy troops with no chance of slashing your way out, so you have to think things through before diving headfirst into the heat of the battle.
Picking a ranged class such as Musket or Bow will let you target your foes from the relative safety of a soldier barrier, but you’ll miss out on the devastating swipes of the Nodachi or the piercing damage of the Spear. It’s always a tough ordeal to choose your starting class, so don’t worry if you feel tempted to restart with a new character later. Combat is a bit clunky and could be improved, as I’ve experienced collision detection issues that didn’t do the game any favors.
Conqueror’s Blade isn’t just about castle sieges, but this is undoubtedly its main selling point, the feature that stands out when you watch any trailer. It’s impressive to watch and even more jaw-dropping to participate in such kind of emergent gameplay, with dozens of players haplessly running around as all hell breaks loose. Sieges play very differently depending on your side of the barricade, a random selection that will make you defend your enemy’s assault or, in case you’re the invader, command your troops to use siege towers, battering rams, ladders, calling in a trebuchet strike and whatever means you have at your disposal to breach the castle’s defenses.
It’s impressive. It’s noisy. It’s brutal and distressing, with corpses of soldiers and horses lying on the ground everywhere you look. It’s not as bloody as it could be, but the battlefield will inexorably see some red splatters here and there, irreparably tainting the formerly yellow deserts or the green pastures.
Field Battle is another one of Conqueror’s Blade’s highlights and a game mode where you’ll spend quite some time. It’s a relentless back and forth between capture points, as both teams feel helpless between successfully guarding a flag and daring to conquer another one. Teamwork is utterly important in order to avoid futile travels to the closest flag, with no Warlord staying behind just in case the enemy decides to make a move. In the end you have to be smart with your units, use them to your advantage instead of going full-on Rambo. Chaos won’t get you anywhere – tactical mindfulness will.
There are other game modes such as Expeditions and Deathmatch, with the latter being an all-out skirmish between Warlords, with no units involved. Territory Wars only takes place a couple of days each week, but this is the most striking event for high level players.
It’s Dangerous to Go Alone
Conqueror’s Blade has a fully functional war system and capable of delivering some truly massive and epic showdowns. But since this is an MMO, there is a progression system and the grind that usually comes with it. I didn’t find it to be overly punishing, contrary to my initial expectations, as you can reach level 30 in just a few days if you set your mind to it. While castle sieges and field battles are your primary means of leveling up, there are quests to help you as well, some of them intrinsically connected to the battles such as killing a given number of archers.
Better yet, there is a whole open world out there for you to explore. It’s not your standard open world from an MMORPG, as it feels more like a strategic map instead of a sprawling world without boundaries. You can develop and upgrade your castle by gathering resources from the surrounding lands, exploring farms, quarries and other places that will grant you essential resources. You can even attack other castles and units out there in the open. This tactical map almost feels like a second game on top of the playable warfare parts, adding significant depth to a game that wasn’t too shabby to begin with. Joining a House will surely expand your chances of success, as you and your fellow Warlords take on castles from rival Houses.
On top of that, there are trees for everything that you can think of. A skill tree for your character, a unit tree to unlock and upgrade the three types of troops (melee, ranged and cavalry), a technology tree related to the production of resources, and a mount tree… just kidding, there is no such thing, although I would love to see elephants and camels thrown into the mix. Who knows, maybe further down the road this will become a reality.
Currently in open beta, Conqueror’s Blade features some of the best medieval battles that I’ve witnessed in a video game. It’s exhilarating, occasionally frustrating as well, but a successful siege is an immensely rewarding experience. It may be a bit rough around the edges when it comes to character combat and those loading times did get on my nerves, but other than that I didn’t stumble upon any glaring game-breaking issues.
Ultimately, Conqueror’s Blade delivers what it sets out to do – to offer a remarkable, vicious battlefield that will drain you and beat you to a pulp, and I’m having one hell of a time trying to keep up with its bloody clashes.Related: Booming Games, Conqueror's Blade, Medieval, My.com, Open Beta, Preview