Avalon Lords: Dawn Rises is a multiplayer-only, real time strategy (RTS) game in Early Access. When I say multiplayer, only I mean that there is no single player story mode. There are only single player practice rounds. At the start of the game you choose one of five factions to join, each of which gives you a slight bonus to things like starting gold and reduced resource requirements for certain units. From here you can play three separate types of games:
1. Empire: This is the largest. It pits you against other players or AI for control of the world. You battle over different regions in the name of your faction. There are a lot of teams on the board and this game can take a while to play through.
2. Conquest: This is the standard match. You start with a castle and a few peasants who can build or harvest for you. You slowly build an army and take on other players or AI in practice.
3. Battle: You create an army list by choosing from several units, then you just send your army after your opponents.
Playing against the AI is a huge pain in the ass, especially for someone who has rarely played RTS games. The AI builds much faster and more efficiently than you do. It can create huge armies very quickly and wipe you out by the time you create your first few units. I’m sure someone with much more experience in this genre could deal with the enemy a lot easier. However, since there is no way to change the AI difficulty, new players are for the most part shut out pretty early on. Playing the practice modes was about as much as I was able to do. Every time I tried to get into a human match the game reminded me that there were only 4 people playing. I waited in a queue for a while but was eventually unable to find a game.
In terms of game play, there really isn’t anything new or interesting here. Everything Avalon Lords does has been done already (and much, much better). The tech progression is fairly bog standard. You build buildings to get different units. You upgrade those buildings to get better units. You can build places that will research buffs for your units, or what have you. You have a central focus on gaining resources like iron, gold or wood with peasants in order to build. There’s really nothing in this game that you wouldn’t find in any other RTS. On top of that, the generic medieval theme has been done to death.
The controls are finicky and unpleasant when you try to drag over a bunch of units to select them, or try to move the map to get to where you want. You sometimes end up on the complete opposite side of the map from where you intended. The developers have recently announced that they are making the game free-to-play. So in the future be wary of this game not only being out-shined by other RTS games (including many free ones), but also being filled with micro-transactions. This is speculation, so we’ll just have to see.
The most fun I had with Avalon Lords are the short battle games. Here you just choose units for your roster and send them out against your opponent. I found it was best to send them all in one large clump, since that’s mostly what your opponent will being doing. Here you just watch them all fight and die. Then the game ends, nice and simple. No resource management or building nonsense; just a quick fight. You can choose the configuration of your list so that you can have all archers or crossbowmen, or all weak sword guys, or heavy shielded guys…or any combination thereof. It’s over in under five minutes, and then you can do something else with your time.