Throne: Kingdom at War is a strategy and resource management game that comes from developer Plarium, you can visit the official site here. It’s a game that has been gaining a lot of attention, thanks at least in part to a huge marketing campaign featuring names as well-known as Megan Fox (for the similar Vikings game) and Fernando Torres. Right now, Plarium’s games have amassed a whopping 250 million registered users. So, they must be doing something right!
Throne: Kingdom at War is one of the company’s biggest draws. It has an appealing aesthetic that is clearly inspired by fantasy classics such as Lord of the Rings, and even Zelda (there’s a very familiar looking tree in the game!), and the graphics are more than capable of living up to the ambitious vision that the developers clearly had for the title.
But graphics and a slick marketing campaign do not make a great game. The real question is whether this is a satisfying experience that is worth sinking considerable time and effort into.
When you first load up Throne, there is a lot to familiarize yourself with – as there often is with a game of this nature. Fortunately, you’ll be handily guided through the experience by a female character who refers to you as ‘My Lord’ throughout. It’s a nice touch that immediately draws you into the world and helps you to get to grips with the many mechanics.
Your job is to build up your rule, by creating buildings and spreading your dominium. You’ll have a limited number of resources, which you must carefully spread across different tasks – such as constructing more buildings. Constructing buildings also takes time, meaning that this is a game that encourages you to dip in and out of to monitor your progress.
Players can also create new units and armies, but you can only choose one thing to construct at a time. What this means is that you don’t have the option to ‘queue’ a number of different jobs and then leave the game to do its thing. You’ll need to be vigilant when it comes to logging in and beginning new tasks – and this will be seen as a draw or a frustration by users depending on how regularly they are able to play.
Fortunately, there is more to keep you entertained here. Specifically, you have the option to go on quests, which challenge you to do such things as crushing a fledgling resistance, helping your farmers to keep their lands fertile, etc. These are also based on countdown timers in many cases, but that does mean you have a little more management to do each time you log on.
The big question: is it fun?
Well in a word, yes! There is always something strangely rewarding about building up giant empires and amassing influence – even when the logical part of your brain knows full-well that this doesn’t amount to anything outside in the real world. The fact that you can see the progress of other players on the leaderboard, pillage their empires, or even help defend your allies, also helps to motivate you and introduces a great degree of competition. You can even trade resources with other players on the server, and form clans. All of this creates a great community feel. Having a grand vision in sight – becoming the leader of a huge, leaderboard-topping clan, gives a really great incentive to keep playing. And while the game might seem simple, it’s these social interactions that result in incredible emergent gameplay and intrigue at times.
This game is ‘freemium’, meaning that it is entirely free to download and play (you can also download and install Throne: Kingdom at War here). This is always something to consider carefully though, because in the worst cases such games can veer dangerously into ‘pay to win’ territory.
It is certainly true that by spending a little cash, you will be able to accelerate your progress in this game. You can build more buildings and spread your rule much more quickly this way. But the great news is that you don’t have to spend money in order to progress. This is very much optional and if you’re smart, there are ways of working the system to your advantage – even through savvy political maneuvers with other players.
Sometimes, when real life gets a little dull, deciding to stage a coup against your clan lord only to have to defend your kingdom from assault can be just the distraction you need. If you put in the time and get past the initially steep learning curve, there’s a lot of rewarding fun to be found in Throne.