First released in 2012, Forge of Empires took me back to the days of Age of Empires and Civilization. If you remember and miss these classics, you will want to try Forge of Empires. With Forge of Empires, InnoGames has created a solid and polished 2D browser-based strategy game that allows players to advance through time and history to become a dominant empire.
This game offers a nice single player mode (no story mode though), a deep progression system, tons of upgrades while even having a decent player versus player mode. Although it began as a browser-only game, Forge of Empires currently can be downloaded and enjoyed on iPhone, IPad, and a huge variety of Android devices.
Forge of Empires has gained a massive following over the years. Estimated to number around 10 million, Forge of Empires players are continually challenged by the game’s developers during special events which allow players to earn in-game coins, medals, supplies, and character portraits. Occurring on holidays like Halloween, Christmas, Valentine’s day, Easter, and others, such events and continuing developer support make Forge of Empires a game worth playing.
Furthermore, in 2015 InnoGames began releasing special in-game quests revolving around actual historical figures such as Columbus, Martin Luther King Jr. and even Yuri Gagarin. By completing these quests, players earn portraits of these historical figures which then can be set as avatars. All in all, this shows that InnoGames cares about players and history as well! This attention to detail is why Forge of Empires has earned such a massive following.
How to do you Forge an Empire?
Much like it’s spiritual grandpas which I consider to be Age of Empires and Civilization, Forge of Empires tasks players to develop and maintain a successful civilization. First, when starting this game, you will begin as a stone-age society. A quick in-game tutorial takes you through the Stone-Age while helping you learn the basics of managing your city. After the tutorial is over, your society will transform into a Bronze-Age society.
Ultimately you can reach an “Arctic Future” society. That said, I was somewhat saddened that the Stone-Age was over so fast. I was hoping to go on caveman raids to bring back wives with plow-experience while developing spear technologies.
In each age, you will expand and develop your city. This occurs gradually by extracting resources from your people. Such resources include coins and tools which are produced by residential and production buildings. InnoGames provides currency called diamonds which can be used to speed up production and buy the technologies that you will need to develop your city.
Beyond focusing on buildings that produced coins and tools, the game instructed me to build decorative structures. Usually, I ignore the “decorative” aspects of these games, but here, decorations are required to keep your people happy and productive. This reminded me of the Radiohead track “fitter happier“.
Anyways, as I found out later, this city micro-management would prepare me to create armies that would allow me to expand and take over the world! By collecting resources, advancing technologies, building armies and taking over the “continent maps” my society acquired provinces and territory thereby providing me more resources.
The game gives you the opportunity to trade or fight for territorial provinces. My warmonger soul pushed me to do the latter. However, this was not without incident as battles against other players and other AI became more and more difficult.
Is the Game Pretty?
Although technologically simple, Forge of Empires has very pleasing graphics. It relies on Shockwave Flash. If you avoid Flash you may want to rethink playing this game. That said, Chrome browser has flash built into it, so it’s not a huge dealbreaker for me. The game’s visual design borrows elements from earlier titles like Age of Empires. Overall, Forge of Empires has sharp and colorful visuals.
Regarding the frame-rate, Forge of Empires also provides a smooth experience. I felt almost as if I was playing a native app rather than a browser-based app. That said, the battle graphics are a bit meh. Battles occur on a hex-based map and are accompanied by characters that are poorly animated. I think the developers could have done something better with this aspect of the game. The battles in Clash of Clans and Dominations look far smoother and more dynamic.
Leveling your Civilization
As for developing my bronze-age city, it was easy at first. I quickly found the right technologies and resources that were required to advance to the next age. As I expanded my city, I found out that I had to connect all my buildings with roads that went to my town hall. I appreciated this small detail, because historically speaking, roads have been one of the main vessels that help ancient and contemporary cities to flourish.
Beyond decorating my city, the game instructed me to build military buildings to produce my armies. After doing so, I immediately went Genghis Khan on AI villages and other players. My efforts were not like the dances Mike Snow, but more akin to the Mongolian Warlord that took over the world. I found out that daily battle and constant resource gathering kept resources flowing all the while helping me move to the next age and get the upper hand on my neighbors and other players.
Expanding through trade and conquest are fundamentally necessary to succeed in this game. Expansion allows you to build larger and larger territories which increase your building area while also providing you the means to set up more resource hubs. Additionally, I discovered that Forge Points were a key resource that would be automatically collected for me (unlike the other resources).
Additionally, I discovered that Forge Points were a key resource that would be automatically collected for me (unlike the other resources). Forge points allowed me to move along the research tree that improved my civilization’s technology. I found this element of the game to be quite deep. The research system was almost like that of Diablo’s skill-system. Because some technologies were interdependent, careful planning was often required.
Waging War in Multiplayer
Multiplayer in Forge of Empires can be a problematic affair. Players often complain that the pay-to-play model has ruined it for people who don’t pay for diamonds. With this in mind, I came into the game knowing that as a cheapskate, I was going to be facing an uphill battle. That said, I had a fairly good time plundering other players cities for loot. It did become harder and harder as I progressed through the ages. You can attack other neighboring cities by selecting other players from the “neighborhood list”. Otherwise, you can select player towers or just launch counter attacks (similarly to how it’s done in Clash of Clans).
Perhaps because many people complain about Forge of Empires, the developers have tried to keep the game fresh. The biggest recent addition has been that of a Guild battle system. In this mode, groups of players fight on a “guild continent map for control of sectors which provide power and prestige. This mode allows players to donate goods to a guild’s cause. This helps defend or defeat guilds. Most recently a “Guild Expedition” mode was added which allows eight different guilds to compete against each other for rewards.
All and All just another Brick in the Paywall
I found the payment model system in Forge of Empires to be acceptable. However, this is one of the most controversial elements of the game. Players often complain that at least $200 in diamonds is required to be competitive. This kind of reaction is normal for a free-to-play affair. After playing for a couple of days, I did find that the game’s pace slowed quite considerably.
Obtaining diamonds through quests is almost impossible. That said, you do not strictly need diamonds to play the game. Some buildings with super high stats can only be purchased with diamonds. This alone frustrates many players.
Is it Worth Your Time?
As a player of Clash of Clans, Dominations, Age of Empires, and many other similar games, I found Forge of Empires to be a pretty confident contender for my time. It’s colorful and detailed graphics help it stand out. The expansive battle system and historical progression makes up for the lack of any coherent story.
As with many freemium games, as time goes on, you do feel like you are grinding away at a paywall unless you cough up the big bucks. That said, this feeling didn’t set in for a few days. During these few days I greatly enjoyed my time with the game. Constant updates to this have kept Forge of Empires relatively fresh and fun to play thus demonstrating that it can stand the test of time.