The Experience From New Player to End Game

The early game experience is one of the most important parts of the game, as that’s when players get to experience what the game is like and decide if it’s something they want to keep playing or not. Now that I’ve made it to level 50, I thought it might be valuable if I offered my experience of playing through the game from the beginning until now, as well as ways (based on my experience and that of other players) to improve the progression of the game to retain more players. Some other players (like Sibelios) already have excellent shorter posts on the experience, so I thought I’d offer a heavy detail version, with absolutely everything I can remember about my experience (with parts of it double-checked with a new account to make sure I was remembering things correctly), in case any of it is useful. Because of this format, it’s rather long and rambly, so be warned. I’ll post my suggestions a bit later in a separate post that references this one, but for now, here’s my experience of the game!

Note: I initially played this game briefly right when it came out in early access, then quit, so my experience is a bit different than that of someone who has never played the game at all before. However, in the intervening time, I forgot most of my experience with the game, enough to make it a mostly new experience for me. Plus, a lot has changed, so that served to make the experience a new one as well.

Also, one other thing to note is that I’ve played Challenge of the Warlords quite extensively and dabbled in Marvel Puzzle Quest and some of the other spin offs, so I’m already familiar with the franchise and the way PQ games work in general.

Beginning Tutorial

The game immediately drew me in right from the start. I liked both the player character’s personality and Eveline’s personality, and found them both interesting characters. The beginning is the typical opening of having someone find your tutorial character in danger, but seemed done a bit better than usual due to the great dialogue and the personalities of both characters. I appreciated having a default female character as well, as too often it’s a male character as the default instead. The portrait for the female character also looks to be that of someone with dark skin, which excited me initially. I was later disappointed when a closeup on the character creation screen revealed her to have light skin and red hair. I think it would have been much cooler to have a dark skinned default character, as that’s more rare. However, it was still nice to have a female default.

The beginning tutorial was great. I found that it contained comprehensive but simple explanations that tell you exactly what you need to know. It also is broken up into sections nicely, and each guides you through just enough to know what to do, then immediately lets you experiment a bit with what you’ve just learned. The order of the tutorials is good as well (show how to make matches and damage enemies, then show you can make multiple matches per turn, then show how to use spells).However, I did later find that the game did a good job of seeming to teach me everything but actually neglected a couple of important concepts. The list of things the game doesn’t explain (either now or later on) includes:

  • that you can tap on an enemy or gem for more information
  • that casting a spell doesn’t end your turn
  • elemental weaknesses and resistances
  • enemy mana and enemy skills (that they gain mana from your matches, etc.)
  • sets
  • melee damage vs missile damage (this apparently is different from skull and elemental damage, and is instead an extra division of skull damage that seems rather arbitrary and confusing and that the game never even mentions)
  • battles tab
  • kingdoms
  • multiplayer/parties
  • the stars on the left side of the battle screen that seemingly affect the chest you get at the end of battle

Character Selection

Next, I was able to create a character. I was immediately impressed by the character creation screen. I liked how the characters are laid out by class and gender, with a lot of different species options. I liked how you could click on a character to see a cool animation and see their basic spells and description too. And the message at the bottom to click on a character to find out more was important, because it let me know that I could explore the class options without making an accidental selection.

Most of the characters looked very cool. I liked how all the designs looked functional, with all of them incorporating bits of armor in some way. None of the characters are overtly sexualized either, and though I wasn’t fond at all of the female Necromancer’s boob armor and loincloth outfit (to the point I chose to play as male Necromancer instead when I picked a Necromancer, because I couldn’t stand looking at her the entire time) I could tell it was done to follow the older styles of outfits, and not with the purpose of sexualization. The female Paladin even has full, functional armor and pants! Which was very exciting.

One thing I was slightly disappointed by was that species and animation were locked and you couldn’t change them separately from gender. For example, I would have liked to be a female dwarf berserker or a female minotaur paladin, instead of these options being locked to male-only. Still, there were enough cool options that I didn’t feel too restricted, and the females weren’t limited only to the more elegant species (many times if there are species that are different between the genders, females will get cute options like bunny girls, and males will fierce options like foxes or wolves).

I agonized over my class selection more than necessary, as there was no indication that I could play as multiple classes on the same account. In the end, however, I selected a Paladin, remembering all the time I played as the similar-seeming Knight in the first game, and with that the tutorial was complete and I got to see the home screen for the first time.

Chapter 1

I immediately liked the home screen (note that it was the 1.2 screen at this time). I found it nice and easy to use, with everything important right there. I was, however, left wondering a bit what exactly to do next. You’re just kinda left on the home screen with no clear objective. (Sure there’s the next story objective on the screen, but I wasn’t sure if the game wanted me to look at my gear or anything first.) I poked around in a few menus, discovering that I could change characters, and finding the goal screen, then eventually found my way to where the game wanted me to go: the next story mission.

I immediately was amused by the dialogue. “I got scratched, didn’t I. And hit in the face with a club.” Some great lines. I like how the game gives you a reason to be underpowered for a bit compared to usual and was glad that the story side steps the typical amnesia trope (it veered close enough that I got worried for a minute). Other aspects of the story I liked: the game gives you a clear reason to be doing what you’re doing and for running errands for people (you’re actually looking for work), and a good reason to travel with Eveline. Your character’s motives and personality are clear right at the beginning, and they have a great personality (humorous and quick witted but not the expense of making sense, practical but kind-hearted, and eager for a fight/to test their skills, but not a dumb, muscle-bound brute).

The game continued to scatter bits of tutorials throughout fights as I encountered new things, which was nice, and I got and equipped my first pieces of gear. I liked the small bit of accompanying dialogue about the helmet fitting well.

I fought my way to part 2 (again having a moment of wondering where I was supposed to go after I finished part 1), and met Toragon. I liked Eveline and Torgon’s interactions right from the start, and was pleased that the starting cast of characters were ones I all liked. I encountered my first dialogue choice and had a bit of panic over whether or not it affected anything. I was both relieved and disappointed to find that it didn’t.

I reached level 3 and unlocked Kingdoms. It honestly seemed a bit too early to introduce them. At this point, the player isn’t even sure they want to keep playing, so making them available at this point increases the number of dead kingdoms with early players who quit. It also requires the player to side track and learn something new that’s completely different from the other important concepts the game is in the middle of teaching. The player also shouldn’t have been playing long enough to be bored and need a diversion. So I think Kingdoms could have been introduced later on, perhaps after chapter 1.

In any case, there was no tutorial on Kingdoms, but I was familiar with similar systems from other games, so I thankfully didn’t need one. I found the menu was easy to use and looked nice, though it was hard to find any kingdoms other than the 20 it first shows you. I ended up having to do searches using each letter of the alphabet one at a time to look at all of the available kingdoms. So it would have been nice if there was a refresh option that showed 20 more kingdoms randomly. Or if there was a way to view all of the kingdoms (perhaps using tabs with 20 kingdoms each).

I eventually found some higher ranked kingdoms with more people (which I was hoping meant they were more active) and joined one of them. Then it was time for more story fights.

As I completed stages, I noticed that sometimes it would remain on the same part and not advance, and I had to go to that part again for another conversation or fight before it would complete that part. I remembered from when I had first played at launch that it was intentional. Back then I had wondered if it was some sort of bug not letting me finish stages, before figuring out that stages just had multiple parts. So I was less confused by that this time. (I know this is something that was fixed in 1.3 with the addition of a progress bar for each part that shows how many battles and conversations each part has, and I’m very happy with the change.)

I continued to love the story. It was just the perfect amount of everything. The next few parts showed Torgon’s backstory, as well as bits of information about the current state of things, with mentions of the Dragonguard, ect. There continued to be numerous great lines, such as “the armpit of Agaria”. One thing did strike me as a tiny bit odd: how the Knight Commander was referred to as “sir” instead of “ma’am”. The game adjusts pronouns for your character, so if they can do that, it clearly had to be an intentional choice to call her a male pronoun. I guess maybe it’s related to her being a knight and not her gender? Still, it gave me a bit of pause each time I saw it (it just didn’t seem as natural).

As I did stages, I was excited to get my gear piece by piece (and I liked how it was tied into the story). I was motivated to do the next stage to see what piece I’d get next.

I reached the chest system, and remembered what a pain it was (it was a large part of the reason I had quit originally). I was disappointed to have to wait an entire hour to get a small amount of resources. Also, I was very excited to get and open my first diamond chest, just to have the results be disappointing. That made me feel disappointed, and like I shouldn’t expect to feel rewarded in the game. Also, having to wait to open chests and not being able to get rewards from dungeons due to not having enough keys or chest slots made me feel like I was being punished for playing the game. Clearing stages and getting basically no reward after (because all of your reward is inside a chest, which you then have to spend more resources on or salvage and get no reward at all), and having to wait an unreasonable amount of time for a tiny reward wasn’t fun at all. Having a chest slot locked behind VIP, as well as bits of the shop, was also frustrating. This time, I was prepared for it though. so I was able to suffer through to enjoy the rest of the game. Also, the time reduction from minions helped with the frustration about waiting unreasonable amounts of time for chests.

One thing I did do that really helped, was bought the VIP for a month with some gift card money. That one extra chest slot and the extra shop slots made the experience feel much less restrictive. Best iap purchase I’ve ever made. (It would have been nice to not have had to make it to not feel frustrated with the game though.

I liked the way you got a piece of equipment from Toragon each chapter, which made the first chapter very rewarding to play through. I had extra motivation to do each stage quickly so I could complete my set of equipment. I liked the way it tied into the story as well.

I continued playing until I cleared chapter 1, having a great time doing so.

Chapter 1 to Level 20

After the first chapter, I felt like the game was lacking a bit in giving me a path to follow to progress, but there were new modes to unlock up to level 11 (and tutorials directing you through each new mode), so that helped give me a goal to work towards. I continued with Chapter 2, being somewhat disappointed that it didn’t feature anything like Chapter 1, where you got a piece of equipment for clearing each stage. For that reason, clearing stages in Chapter 2 felt less worthwhile.

I got to level 8, unlocking Dungeons, Hunts, Challenges, Events, and PVP along the way. Each of these modes seemed interesting, and I enjoyed trying them out. I was already familiar with them, from previously, but had forgotten about them, so it was still exciting to rediscover them. Dungeons are the standard thing I knew I would be playing lots, and are pretty enjoyable. The only thing annoying about them is the lack of full auto (it pauses twice to make you pick bonuses). Challenges were frustrating, because so many of them were so high above my level. Events were a mixture of interesting and frustrating because of the level scaling. The guaranteed chests and extra exp made Hunts the most exciting of the modes to me. PVP was a standard experience, and thankfully didn’t have any extremely annoying parts to it. I found the color limited tournaments interesting (but of course couldn’t participate at my level). I did wish I had unlocked these modes just a tad bit earlier, as it felt like there was a small gap in content before I could access these.

At level 11, I unlocked Quest Pass. It frustrated me a bit, because I’ve seen the concept done better in other games.and the menu for it is also poorly designed in my opinion. It was nice to have some quests. However, other games have both regular quests AND a rewards system that gives . Also, all the good rewards are locked behind VIP. And it was frustrating that this was separate from the other VIP.

After lvl 11, there are no more hints at all about what to do (with no more new modes or content to unlock to provide them) so I felt kinda like the game just abandoned me on my own. I did know from my previous playthrough that Northelm increases inventory slots and chest slots, and I wanted to unlock him, so that helped. I also knew about character switching to progress, which helped as well. I finished Chapter 3 and did Northelm’s sidequest, then created a couple new characters and finished Chapter 3 and the side quest with them as well, so that I could evolve Northelm. At this time, I switched over to Mercenary as my main, as I found I liked their playstyle most. I dabbled some in Multiplayer (remembering that the lack of auto in it was annoying) and met some nice players there. I discovered that the players have formed a system where high level players help lower ones through dungeons, which helped me level up and get some good chests.

At this point, I remembered that events (which in this game are called Seasons) unlock at level 20. I was sad I couldn’t participate in the Season earlier, and felt frustrated that they unlocked so late. I made getting to level 20 my goal so that I could do the Season. I did more story missions and Multiplayer, and leveled up some. I also started trying to track down specific spells and pieces of equipment from dungeons. I decided to try to get a good weapon, first going after a red Firewalker Spear, and then later a red Essgard Flail, as I discovered through talking to other players that that’s a better weapon for Merc. It took me almost a full month to get one. During this time I evolved over 50 weapons (using every single source of shards I had to do so) and spent time in Multiplayer getting high level chests almost every single day with no success. I hit a wall where I couldn’t progress in the story due to not having a good weapon, as all of the enemies were more powerful than me. And because enemies increase in power based on your level, not your gear strength, I ended up not being able to do any dungeons, events, or challenges by myself, and had to rely solely on other players helping in Multiplayer to clear stuff. I also finally reached level 20 and was able to do some of the Season, but I was eventually stuck because I was too low power to beat chapter 2 without a good weapon. I had really hoped to get the Flail to drop before the end of the event so I could beat it, but it unfortunately didn’t happen.

A few days after the end of the Season, I finally got the red Flail to drop, and was very happy. However, my experience shows both the problem with the level scaling and the way elements on weapons currently work. It’s not fun to have a moving goal post for power, and to always feel underpowered (even when I did have appropriate equipment, I found the enemies powered up faster than me). And getting gear in a specific element is really hard right now.

Other things to note are that during this time, I felt like I was always short of gold, even after spending a long time using dungeons to farm gold, which was frustrating. Also, I kept running into the inventory cap and having to play inventory Tetris. I rushed levels on my other characters and did Northelm’s sidequest to evolve him (and was just barely powerful enough to get through the necessary content), and enjoyed the blissful feeling of not having to salvage gear after every single battle. However, this only lasted for a short time before I was back to having to wrestle with the cap again. I also started running into the resource caps, and seeing things in the shop I couldn’t buy because of the gold cap. I wanted to evolve Auri to fix this, but found I couldn’t, as her Crystal was all the way in Chapter 8. So I was stuck with these problems for a while.

I also only got 1 relic after scavenging thousands of items (and even now have still only gotten the one), so scavenging equipment felt disappointing. I preferred the system where players merged duplicates instead.

I spent a long time wishing I had more dungeon tickets, just to happily discover there was a crafter for them. I wish you were able to get them earlier. And also, Mutiny has only given me dungeon tickets twice despite me continually crafting with her, which is disappointing.

Skirmish mode seemed rather useless compared to Dungeons. I started out doing Skirmishes and always being disappointed at the resulting chests, before I found out Skirmish chests give worse rewards than dungeon chest because they can’t drop some things Dungeon chests can. After that, I never did Skirmish for chests, and have found doing Skirmish pretty useless.

Daily rewards (even VIP ones) are pretty bad. Between that and not having regular daily quests (just quest pass) I didn’t feel much incentive to log in daily. The community is what kept me coming back to the game.

Your PVP rank being locked to trophies, and the trophy requirement being so high, eventually felt restrictive. I was too high level for my bracket well before I was able to move up. Also, Gong giving extra PVP tickets was kinda a negative, as I felt there were too many PVP fights to do each day. I don’t think anyone wants to do over 35 PVP fights every single day.

My last comment relates to Kingdom Defense: this system is geared towards fully maxed players, at the exclusion of newer players. WIth the dragon level always being so high, I could never get any rewards from it (and even now at 50(36) I still can’t reach the lowest tier of rewards).

In terms of the story, I continued to enjoy the characters and their interactions. I found Gong annoying though. I know in some ways, he’s supposed to be, but he doesn’t really have a redeeming quality that gets shown off. Mostly he just bumbles around and messes things up. I did think that the reference to Challenge of the Warlords, and Gong’s reason for eating everything was pretty cool thougH.

Other than that, the story continued to be thoughtful and have deep ideas. However, I was bothered by how stereotypically species and characters were presented. Red dragons are all angry and selfish, dark dragons are all evil, orcs all love fighting, etc. It’s hard to sometimes have good, thought provoking ideas when you’re starting from a flawed base. I would have liked some more nuance in how different species were presented.

Levels 20-50

After getting my flail, I was able to clear a bunch of content, which was very nice. I enjoyed the feeling of being able to actually do content. The feeling didn’t last long before the enemies became too powerful for me again, though. I ended up having to go back to Multiplayer until I could gain some levels and evolve my equipment to be more powerful. From this point to level 50, I remained too underpowered to do Dungeons and Events, and even Hunts a lot of the time too. So I mostly had to stick to doing story and Multiplayer. And no longer being able to do the daily Event served to help keep me underpowered, as I couldn’t earn gear and marks from it.

I joined a more active kingdom during this time, and the gems from the Bazzar were very nice. Also, the community, both in my kingdom Discord and just in general, was really great. It’s part of what kept me playing.

I learned from the community several things the game never explains: what the difference between melee and missile damage is, how which slot spells are in has an effect, that the stars are completely random

The story continued to be pretty good, but there were a few bits of it I didn’t like, like how Gong ate elves. The story sets itself up as serious and deep (though with humor), with a consideration of the effects of the actions of your party. Then something like this, a joke that ignores the real consequences of Gong’s actions, comes out of left field. Killing and eating elves would have had real consequences, and there’s the consideration that he likely killed and ate innocent people. And yet none of this is really brought up. Auri feels a bit uncomfortable, but then a joke is made and everyone just says that at least there’s no evidence and just forgets about it. With things like this, it’s hard to know what to take seriously in the story and what not to, which detracts from the tone and effect of the rest of the story.

I only got to chapter 12 or so, if I remember correctly, before reaching lvl 50. I did a bunch of multiplayer and the event though, which had a big effect on my level.

Level 50 to Now

I was excited to have new content available to me at lvl 50. I found the restricted tournament fun (though I know other people have differing opinions). I found myself still underpowered though. I had thought I’d be able to do every Challenge after I was at the level cap, but the enemies just got harder still. I’ve kinda given up on being able to do all 6 in a day in the near future. I still can only clear the easiest level of dungeon (35) on auto too, which is disappointing. I can beat events again though, which I’m happy about.

Gear-wise, I’m lacking t3 and t4 relics and glyphs, as well as epic runes, and there isn’t an easy way to get any of that, so I won’t be able to progress my gear for a long time.

I managed to make my way through the rest of the story recently, and I really enjoyed seeing Dark Hunter again. It was interesting how Auri ended up being the main character of the story, not your own character. The part where all of your Followers leave is touching, but I wish they had been there for the final fight. Their absence caused the plot lines with Gong wanting to eat Wraith and the spell book to not be resolved satisfactorily, in my opinion. The twist about the prophecy was interesting, though the dragon was a bit irresponsible in not thinking about the consequences. The dragons abandoned their young to die and killed a whole bunch of people because of it. I really liked the conclusion of the story though, where your character’s big desire after saving the world is to take a bath. Overall, I quite enjoyed the story.

I was very happy that there was a clear reward for the story at all, but it was a bit disappointing. That shield isn’t a very good one (the Guard set one is much better) and it randomly rolls the attributes and elements on it, so I ended up with disappointing attributes and elements. I wish the story had given you Eveline’s Locket or some other gear for a unique set as a reward instead.


So that was my experience of the game. Overall I enjoyed it quite a bit, but progression being slow and not very smooth remained an issue throughout. I’ll post my suggestions to fix this, and the other problems of the player experience, soon.


Forgot to include in this:

The interactions with other players in chat were a big part of my experience, and made me look forward to logging into the game every date (it’s also why I’ve stayed with the game despite utterly hating the 1.3 update). However, chat is kinda hard to use (not as bad as it could be, but not idea either. And a lot of kingdoms spam recruitment messages there a lot, which can get annoying (and which I have an idea to fix).

Also, the inability to turn on autobattle for multiplayer was a bit annoying. As was the way autobattle pauses twice every dungeon in order to force you to select Altar bonuses.