Age of Empires 2 was a great game, wasn’t it? I remember playing it for hours as a kid. It was perhaps my first gaming obsession. I remember recreating American Civil War battles using the level editor and the Chinese soldiers armed with hand cannons. I was weird.
Why do I bring this up? Well, when I had a look at the Kickstarter for Feudal Wars I got excited. Feudal Wars is a free-to-play RTS game built in HTML5, so you can play it in your browser. The developers site Age of Empires 2 as one of their favorite games, and a big influence for Feudal Wars. They actually use screenshots and gifs taken from AoE2 to illustrate what the game will look like!
Wait… hold on a second. That’s not Age of Empires 2. That’s actually Feudal Wars. Oh dear.
When I saw that first gif on the Kickstarter page, I genuinely thought it was from Age of Empires. It wasn’t until I looked at the rest of the page and watched the pitch video that I realized, no, that really what developer Christopher Scott and team are making.
Everything about it looks identical to that classic I played when I was younger. The isometric camera, the art style, gameplay mechanics, a focus on online play, the way the individual units move in perfect unison, even the font and the medieval road signs used on the title screen are the same. Look at the way the towers on the stone wall don’t properly orient when the wall goes diagonally! There are even people who worked on Age of Empire expansions and mods working on this.
Near the middle of the page, the campaign states in bold letters the aim of Feudal Wars.
“The goal is not to over-innovate classic RTS mechanics but instead fine-tune and improve upon them.”
I know a big part of Kickstarter, at least for games, is bringing back dead genre’s and spiritual successors to classic franchises. Microsoft released a new Age of Empires game in 11 years. I can also understand not wanting to mess with the formula too much, since AoE2 was so good. I’m not sure if I mentioned that yet.
But this is too much. It looks more like a mod for the original AoE more than a standalone, original IP. The only thing it has going for it is that it’s free-to-play and can be played in your browser. However, being free-to-play, there could be some microtransactions in the final game. Nothing like that is mentioned on the Kickstarter page though.
If I were a potential backer, I’d be more concerned about what the game doesn’t have. Stretch goals for the game include AoE basics like siege weapons, churches, priest units, and naval combat. They note that even if the stretch goals aren’t met, these features might still make it into the game. Even if they are met, they won’t be available at launch, giving a 17 year old game more features than its modern cousin. Welcome to 2016 in gaming.
Other than potential microtransactions, the Kickstarter page does offer a lot of information. Rewards are fully detailed towards the bottom of the page. There’s a breakdown of what the money will be used for, mostly art and UI improvements. Also featured is a heavy description of the gameplay mechanics (not that it’s needed, frankly) and a history lesson about, you guessed it, the history behind the factions. Mods will be supported from day one, and a map editor will be included in game. There are even some voice acting and music samples.
Feudal Wars looks like it’ll be a solid game, but mostly because it’s so heavily influenced by Age of Empires. Looking at the campaign, I have to wonder how Microsoft (owners of AoE) is feeling about this right now. If Keiji Infanue was worried Capcom would sue him over Mighty No. 9, then I can only imagine Christopher Scott and company are sweating bullets somewhere right now.
The Kickstarter went live yesterday, so there’s still plenty of time – 29 days – left if you’re interested. With a goal of $30,000, it’s already reached $4,372 at the time of this writing.
Track the progress of the Feudal Wars Kickstarter in our Campaign Calendar.