State Of Free-to-play: Kings Road
So we're back with our semi-regular feature focusing on some interesting free-to-play games that are appearing on the market.
This week's entry has managed to catch our attention because it's almost time for Diablo III's first expansion pack, Reaper Of Souls is due out next week and it provides an entertaining activity to indulge in while Reaper Of Souls downloads from Battle.net.
Kings Road is a browser-based action RPG that is definitly cast in the Diablo mold. It follows heroes as they embark on a series of quests down the once great Kings Road in search of fortune and glory.
The Kings Road was once the greatest highway in a fallen kingdom but now it's a very dangerous route to travel with mythical beasts and bandits and it's up to the player to make it safe again.
The game is a very simple and entertaining game. It plays on a simplified version of the Diablo control system. Mouse button one does all of the hard work from selecting locations to move to to attacking the myriad of enemies that will beset your quest.
Players have access to their character's special abilities from a selection of five hot-slots mapped to keyboard keys 1 thru 5. There are three classes – archer, knight and wizard – and they do exactly what they say on the tin. Each has their own selection of active and passive special abilities that are unlocked by levelling up. Active abilities can be mapped to the hot-slots and they are subject to a cooldown period before they can be used again. They're also powered by mana so the player must use they carefully or keep a good supply of Ale around to top up the mana bar.
The whole game is accessed from a central hub from which players can teleport to the various regions along the Kings Road to carry out the quests. There's also a blacksmith, a store, a kindly fellow that allows you to use your skill points from levelling up and another generous bloke that allows you to change your class.
The other cunning similarity to Diablo is the ability to play through the quests with up to two friends alongside. It also allows the opportunity for players to form guilds to quest up and down the Kings Road righting wrongs and killing monsters.
Free-to-play always comes with a catch and that catch is microtransactions. In Kings Road, they're visible but not invasive and for the most part they don't interfere with gameplay. The game uses a monetized lockbox system in the form of chests dotted around the game's levels but, unlike a lot of other free-to-play games that use this system players can open these locked chests can be unlocked without paying for it.
Throughout gameplay players collect gems which can be used to unlock chests and purchase a variety of other things like additional inventory slots. These gems are awarded for completing quests and scoring achievements but they can also be bought with cash which is where the microtransactions come in. Players can also buy skill points to help them level up but everything you can buy can be achieved if you play the game enough.
What is refreshing is that Kings Road doesn't ram the microtransactions down your throat. Yes, they are visible enough to make you aware for them but not so much that they interfere horrifically with the way the game plays unlike recent controversial titles like EA's free-to-play reincarnation of Dungeon Keeper.
As Kings Road is a browser-based free-to-play title it's pretty undemanding on hardware and iut doesn't even require downloading hefty plugins for whatever browser you're using. If you're interested in some casual questing head over to Rumble Games website to check out Kings Quest.