Most MMOs have the players become the hero of their stories, often protecting some far-flung village or castle from the opposing evil forces and raiding deep dungeons for some gold and loot. While this formula is a time-tested one, MMOs of this genre are a dime in a dozen; having a game where you’re the hero tasked with saving the day and thwarting the bad guys over and over again can feel tiresome, played out and standard. It kind of makes you wonder if you could have a game where you’re on the other end of the hero-villain spectrum for once – on the side of the cowl-wearing, dungeon-dwelling, dastardly scheming bad guys.
Goblin Keeper, an MMO Economy Simulator browser game developed by Night Owl games, lets players have that chance. This game has players take on the role of an evil overlord hell-bent on seeking world domination. Armed with your very own dungeon, minions, orcs, warlocks, and other menacing creatures at your beck and call, you are capable of doing all sorts reprehensible and despicable acts onto the world. How does Goblin Keeper play out as a game? Let’s find out!
Managing Your (Evil) Empire
Most of Goblin Keeper’s gameplay revolves around how players manage their dungeons. Apart from recruiting and amassing creatures for raiding, technological advancements within one’s dungeon as well as proper resource managing are the proponents that drive this game. Players are rewarded with experience points and other incentives when they spruce up their dungeons with new buildings and equipment for their denizens to use. But in order to build such infrastructure, resources are needed to be collected first. Players’ starter dungeons provide the basic supplies required for the simple structures; more complex structures need more complex materials.
Technological advancements include building new rooms that provide bonuses in training your underlings, improve your warlocks’ research, storage capacity for your resources and food. As your dungeon progresses, you are given access to newer upgrades and new dungeons that can be utilized for expanding your kingdom.
Much like any other Real-Time Strategy games, Goblin Keeper also has an upkeep system that has players pay their dungeon denizens for their services. Minions are all paid via gold, which is not that steep, so long as players know how to control their spending; usually mining for gold should more than keep one’s income steady so that players can pay their minions.
While Supplies Last
Being an evil overlord, the task of world domination entails proper planning and having a well-oiled (and well-fed) army would be the first priority. Goblin Keeper works in this aspect as it has players create their own dungeon that they need to develop in order for their devious goal of taking over the Overworld to be a reality.
As Goblin Keeper plays both as a Real-Time Strategy and an economy game, players need to manage a working economy within their dungeons. This includes gathering resources such as iron, crystals, food, gold, and other basic items that are needed in creating the necessary structures that make up one’s evil lair, which are located conveniently within the numerous dungeons and chasms under the players’ starting mountain warren.
Once players have gathered the appropriate requisite supplies, then can now create their lair they way they see fit. This is vital as building the correct structures are needed to recruit your troops and increase your dungeon population.
What is Thy Master’s Bidding?
Amassing your army of minions is simple enough; one just needs to create the required room, craft the corresponding items, and place them in the correct space. Once done, a minion will be en route to your dungeon. Newly acquired underlings have specific uses within your dungeon as well as on the Overworld.
Goblins, like the game’s namesake, are your ever-loyal subordinates that do your every bidding. They are in charge of mining resources, building taverns and other rooms for your more specialized minions, and survey other dungeons and mountains for precious resources that are needed for upgrading your dungeons.
Other basic minions are the Orcs that act as the muscle and the ruffians in Goblin Keeper – they are used primarily as defense for your dungeons, but they are also used for raiding and pillaging Elven villages and cities that are situated near and at the base of the mountains where players’ dungeons are located. Warlocks are the ones in charge of researching new technologies in warfare, resource-gathering, and other proponents that would further develop one’s dungeon into a formidable fortress; they also serve as ranged spell-casters when chosen to accompany the aforementioned orcs with the raids.
Of course, these are not the only creatures Players will have access to other; more powerful creatures as they progress in the game.
Raiding, the Evil Way
Keeping true to the game’s promise of players experiencing what being a wicked overlord is like, Goblin Keeper offers players a different point of view with its raiding system. You can decimate and lay waste the Elven villages located near your evil mountain fortress, since it’s what evil overlords do. This is Goblin Keepers’ equivalent of Player-versus-Environment, and players can use this as another way to grind for experience points and gather other resources. Once you feel that your army is strong enough, you can try to take aim on more fortified strongholds to further cement your name as the resident-badass this side of the plain. Be careful, though, as previously raided Elven towns can rally with other cities and retaliate by raiding your dungeons.
When pillaging Elven villages becomes unexciting, players can also raid each others’ dungeons, as most players start their game in neighboring dungeons. This serves as the Player-versus-player and the co-op part of the game, and it can lead to some interesting instances with your fellow overlords who are situated within the same mountain; players can form an alliance with one another to control your side of the Overworld against those pesky Elves. But one should keep an eye out for your allies, as they can try their luck in overrunning and occupy your warren as well.
The raiding mechanic also presents a battle report that is essentially a replay of the raid you have completed or when you’ve defended your turf against unwanted visitors trying to lay claim on your dungeon. One thing, though, is that it would have been better if players can actually control their underlings while raiding; it would have been a nice touch, as it would give the game a true Real-Time Strategy vibe.
Nevertheless, the Battle Report is a nice addition as it makes the game a little diverse, in a sense, because you can actually feel the villainy of your actions as you watch the replays – the raiding of villages, strongholds and other players’ dungeons and taking their loot is just downright evil.
Rome Wasn’t Built in a Day…
Goblin Keeper, in essence, plays like an economic Real-Time Strategy game where it rewards players for development of their lairs and conquest. Mining and stocking up on your dungeon-exclusive resources can give you a boost in gold and experience; pillaging towns in the Overworld and other dungeons give additional experience points and resources that cannot be mined within one’s dungeon. It feels fulfilling when you see your dungeon progress as the game goes along – you have a sense that you’re on your way to becoming the biggest, meanest, most formidable Overlord with each new recruit, technological improvement, and successful raid.
The game, however, takes the Real-Time aspect in RTS too literally. Once the game progresses, mining for resources, waiting for room upgrades to finish and for new creatures to be conscripted take too long to be completed; dungeon, village and stronghold raid results also become a battle with time, as for some reason, each time you pick the same town to plunder, the battle gets longer to end. This proves frustrating at times because there are instances in the game where you’ve done everything you can do within your dungeon, with the upgrades and building of new rooms, and letting your army raid, that you end up wishing that you’re right in the thick of the action with your army rather than sitting in your lair, waiting for your resources and food to pile up (which, unfortunately, happens a lot in the later levels).
This timing issue can be alleviated by buying boosts in the in-game store; this serves as the premium items in the game. For the impatient gamers, purchasing these boosts will make their gaming experience more enjoyable, as they can automatically speed up the construction of buildings, upgrades, train more minions faster, and in doing so, level up faster as well.
But as the old saying goes, “Rome wasn’t built within a day”; players can opt to skip shelling out for the boosts and wait for their machinations to take form in their own pace, much like a brooding, scheming overlord should do.
Overall, Goblin Keeper takes a good swing at Economy Simulation games by working with a theme that makes room for imagination and fun. Having players take on the role of the evil overlord and trying to run a capable, formidable and imposing army is not as easy as it looks; it makes one almost understand why overlords tend to be evil and have a constantly bad mood. But give it time, a lot of patience and a crap-load of resources, you’ll be looting and plundering villages here and there in no time! Truly a fun game to check out!
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