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Initial Thoughts On EpicDuel

Posted by The Peanut Master on December 3, 2009

EpicDuel has been re-released under AE’s guidance for members of any of AE’s other games, and I’ve had a chance to play around with the game. It has its pros and it has its cons, and ultimately it’s a fun experience that has some work to do to ultimately bring it up to the standards of AE’s homegrown games.

DISCLAIMER: I have only played EpicDuel for a few hours, and so these pros and cons are based off of limited playing time. In other words, these are not fleshed out opinions and are basically quick impacts I felt from playing the game for a bit.

Pros

Great art style
The game has an AE art style to it, mirroring AdventureQuest in a lot of aspects, and looks very much like how I would have envisioned an AQ MMO (not AQWorlds, as it’s not directly based on AQ). I can’t say that’s a bad thing, and clearly the art team for EpicDuel knows what they’re doing. The character, NPC, and scenery visuals are superb for Flash and I would say surpass most of what AE has accomplished with their own games.

Fully functional, fast-paced PvP
While AQWorlds still hasn’t fully implemented its PvP system, EpicDuel focuses on that very concept as a key gameplay element in the game. It’s safe to say the developers has the turn-based PvP thing down pat. It flows well, is fast-paced, and is by and large a key component of EpicDuel’s appeal. Not to mention it’s really fun and engaging, and the human vs. human element in the turn-based combat provides the sort of strategy and engagement I’ve always dreamed of DF and MQ having.

Solid core gameplay
Even fights against NPC opponents are made fun with enemies that actually use skills and strategy *stares at DF*, and the skills, weaponry, and armor all add up to a very fun combat system. There are a few balance kinks here and there, but ultimately that doesn’t detract from the smooth overall combat experience. EpicDuel takes the depth and skill set of AQ, fast-paced action of DF, and engaging specials and skills from MQ (still a little work to be done in this department as most of the skills are pretty basic, but the foundations are there) to create a combat system that’s a major positive driving force behind the game.

Good interface and character page information
The interface bar at the bottom of the screen serves its purpose well, with a multitude of options that cover all the basic functionalities. The character page that pops up when you hit your portrait is very intuitive and easy to navigate as well.

Cons

No log out button
It’s not that big of a deal, but it’s just a straight-up weird omission for the development team to completely leave out a simple log out button. It’s not hard to implement and provides a more official form of leaving the game than simply closing the tab or refreshing the page.

Animations are stiff and don’t flow well
I really wish this wasn’t an issue because of the great art style, but there’s no denying the animation in EpicDuel has some serious issues. Character movement both in and out of combat does not flow well, and almost all animations are very stiff and choppy overall. AE nailed animations in DF, MQ, and AQW (not an easy thing to do), so I hope that under AE’s guidance this issue can be straightened out. Right now though, it’s a major detractor from the experience and takes a lot away from the strong visuals.

Slowdown is common when more than a few people are in one screen
Again, this is the sort of issue that will hopefully be resolved with AE’s more powerful and numerous servers, but at we stand now when there’s a solid amount of players on one screen, the game chops up a lot and makes it very difficult to not only figure out what’s going on, but to accomplish simple actions.

Blood in fights could pose a problem for AE’s child-friendly audience
Yes, blood indeed exists in EpicDuel, as it briefly shows up during attacks in combat. I’m personally not bothered by it one bit, but one of AE’s selling points to concerned parents was the lack of blood in their games. EpicDuel goes against the trend and I wouldn’t be surprised to see AE remove it in the near future. This is a con for now because it isn’t really necessary within the theme of the game and could turn potential players away.

No coherent prevailing plot
If you go into the EpicDuel forums (their forums, not on the BoF), you will find a comprehensive background and storyline present for EpicDuel, but as far as I can tell that plot doesn’t really exist in-game. I haven’t yet explored the entire game so I may be missing something, but from what I have seen there isn’t much of a coherent plot, and a major reason for that is because of the con I’m about to list. And it’s a big one.

No quests whatsoever
I understand EpicDuel is a primarily PvP-based game, focusing on combat as the key aspect in the game. While it’s never touted as an actual MMORPG (and is not trying to be one), battling random NPCs and random people over and over again to pointlessly level up is not very enticing, and certainly doesn’t provide enough motivation to continue to play after the first day or so. One of the ways games get you to come back is with quests, and the developers of EpicDuel would be wise to add in quests throughout the game that add a storyline to accompany the excellent combat. Again, I’m not recommending the game go completely RPG and focus on some deep, advanced storyline like in AdventureQuest, but there’s no denying a well-written, progressive plot will keep players enticed to play a game further.

Lack of tutorial or proper introduction
All successful games have some form of tutorial or intro that introduces the player to the game and identifies the important aspects of said game. There’s often an interactive tutorial, but basically it will accomplish the task of thoroughly introducing a new player to a game and keeping the player from being overwhelmed when he/she is given complete control. Such an intro is completely absent in EpicDuel, and if not changed soon will continue to keep the game from growing, as many players will be overwhelmed by being thrown straight into the game and will immediately quit to try something more inviting.

Friends list needs work
The core functionality for the friends list is present, but aspects such as inviting friends through a username-entering system, easy chatting to friends, and the inability to easily go to a friend are all sorely missing, and need to be implemented ASAP.

Chat log should always be present
I know for space issues the dev team defaulted the chat log to invisible, but for being an interactive game the chat log needs to be present at all times. They would do well to copy AQWorld’s excellent chat system, even if it’s not a complete copy.

Closing Comments

I know it looks like I have major problems with EpicDuel and think it’s not a good game, one not worthy of being under AE’s tutelage. That’s completely untrue, and I’ve had a really fun time playing EpicDuel thus far. The developers have set a solid foundation with a lot of core gameplay elements AQWorlds still doesn’t have, tacked on to an excellent turn-based combat system. However, the game has a lot of issues, and the developers have quite a job ahead of them to bring this to the level it has the potential to achieve. There were other pros I could have listed, but ultimately I feel the cons will be more constructive and beneficial to the game’s future, and so I focused more on the cons than the pros. Anyways, thanks for reading, and I encourage you to share your thoughts on EpicDuel in the comments section below.

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15 Responses to “Initial Thoughts On EpicDuel”

  1. Many Times More Anonymous said

    The fight seems stiff compared to AQ? I’m not sure about that; the characters moved more fluidly in their attack patterns that the androgynous characters of AQ.

    Also, the neat little “Victory Poses” were a nice touch.

    I will agree to a bit of background and maybe a tutorial just to help get the player started and motivated enough to fight.

    And maybe a few more fightable NPCs for personal training would help out.

    However, since the game seemed quite new before the merge, I’m thinking that it was simply a straightforward Flash MMO geared towards PvP as the main setup; as opposed to an MMO geared to flesh out a relatively detailed story.

    To handle this game, I think AE should take a cue from some console or arcade fighting games; stick enough story to make it worth playing again and again, but keep it simple enough that it won’t overshadow the central premise of being the best of the best against other players.

  2. Aren said

    While at first glance I would glance I would agree with the Pros, after having played a few more hours,I would disagree.

    Scaling is off, there’s nothing more annoying than constantly winning or losing just because the game places you against players +4 or -4 levels against you.

    While their is potential for strategy is constant, the RNG reduces its quality quite a bit. At one point a player and I spent 30 seconds, to a minute trying to land the finishing blow on each other, blocking or deflecting each attempt. Thing is that I hadn’t missed a single attack until my last attempt and had half my HP left, before I started missing.

    Two vs Two is interesting, but most players seem to lack any forethought with their actions, leaving you to face two, often times healthy enough players. Sort of them being really dumb, or you being much higher level then them, it doesn’t end well.

    This doesn’t mean that Epicduel doesn’t have any value. However I would much rather have seen AE work on their own games, than just buy themselves one.

    To put it simply, Epicduel, is not Epic at all.

  3. Kairon said

    *facepalm*

    I’ve yet to play it, but I’d like to take a moment to explain the difference between high latency (lag) and slowdown (low fps).
    Latency is when the connection to the server is slow. If you are experiencing lag, you’d see yourself damaging the opponent only after long intervals (5 seconds or more in bad cases) and probably be subject to random disconnects. Latency is a problem with the CONNECTION.

    Slowdown, on the other hand, means a sharp dip in the frames rendered per second. Seems like Flash isn’t very good at rendering multiple objects moving at the same time, which is why you see all that slowdown in AQW and (I presume) EpicDuel. Slowdown is a result of a GRAPHICALLY weak computer. We can hope that with DirectX support being added to browsers, this issue will be alleviated in the future.

    You’ll note that if a player experiences latency (lag), then all that removing of cloaks, pets and sparkly stuff in AQW would be meaningless. But it does help with slowdown.

    Latency is the main reason why I’m inherently against AE MMOs. The turn based nature of the other games means that international players (like I am) may enjoy them without lag issues. Conversely, any AE MMO is basically a handicapped experience for anyone outside of the US. Since AE is unlikely to have servers around the globe any time soon, I can’t help but be a bit annoyed that company resources are diverted to games with an inherently limited player base.

    • sinani201 said

      DirectX is 3D graphics… EpidDuel is 2D. And if DirectX did have browser integration, it would probably be seperate from Flash.

      • Kairon said

        Actually, DirectX still contains DirectDraw, which handles 2D. And now Microsoft is coming up with this Direct2D stuff. But yeah, it probably would be seperate from flash. We can hope Adobe comes up with some new ways to make flash better at handling multiple objects running around.

        I just get so frustrated when people mix up slowdown and lag. As I pointed out, one is a huge concern for a large number of people.

    • Thanks for pointing out the lag-slowdown mistake, I’m not much of a tech guy and so I assumed incorrectly that I was experiencing lag and not slowdown. I’ve changed the terminology in the post to accurately reflect the slowdown.

      • Zeke said

        Actually, removing pets and whatnot DO help with lag; they reduce the slowdown of a person playing, which, in turn, increases the server’s response to them. The faster it responds to them, the faster you can respond to the server. So yes, removing all that fancy crap DOES help with lag 😀

  4. .Shadow// said

    I agree with your review fully, it appears that the game has only concentrated on the PvP aspect. They have done that well, but (almost) everything else needs work, which I look forward to seeing fixed!

  5. Dark Calling said

    Well ive been playing EpicDuel for about 4 days now.. and to me it seems like a really good game, the cons list above are correct, but so are the pros.. i agree a sotryline does need to be implemented ASAP cause otherswise you will find yourself clicking the 1v1/2v2 button all the time and it will become tedius.. also.. heres my thoughts.. it is extremely easy to lvl up… on average maybe, depends how much you play, but ive been playing like i said for about 4 days and i am already lvl 24, considering the lvl cap at the moment is lvl 30.. this is not good at all, once i get to lvl 30.. im supposed to what? just keep fight lvl 25 – 30’s all gay everyday for the rest of my time in the game? that cant be the case.. and i hope it will not be, thats my only problem right now

  6. EpicDuel said

    Please Note: The challenge range is – 5 players up and 5 players down from you.

  7. Random Dude said

    I honestly hate one thing nowdays about ED, the fact that almost no one is creative enough to make their own skill set.

    Almost all the Mercenary’s I fight nowdays, have MAX Hybrid Armour, so the highest I hit with, say, Massacre, is a 15-19. My normal attacks hit about 8s or 9s.

    No matter what I do, these MAX Hybrid Armour Mercenary’s keep killing me. My sidearm hits about 4s. My auxilary hits mere 10s or 9s.

  8. Kevlar said

    Playing this game for a few hours in hopes of a great MMORPG makes you wish that there were a ‘Delete your Account’ option on the home-page of Epic Duel.

  9. Link Here said

    Check out this link. For 1 versus 1 battles it’s 5 levels higher or lower then you that you can challenge. But for 2 vs 2 players its a 8 level difference. Check out this link from aqw forums

  10. epicduel said

    * To many players logging out during 2 versus 2 duels.
    * Interesting to note that 2 versus 2 duels can have up to a 9 level difference between players.
    * There are no reprecussions for players that flee as the server is unable to determine the difference between players that flee and players that refresh their browser, or connection resets.
    * Game is way to unbalanced now between varium players and free players.
    * Low numbers online, it’s not that comon now to get full servers, only during celebrations/events.
    * To much abuse when starting off as a beginner from other players.
    * Mods in game to help deter bad lanuage. Though this has done nothing to stop and or deter players from abusing chat.
    * Unfriendly epicduel forums, as is the game. Mods swearing, using sarcasim to retort to posts, and just plain bytching like the members who post there. Very little is done to control both mods and members. Some of the signatures on there are to raunchy to be shown.
    * Game play is monotonous. Repetitive. Boring. The numbers of online players remains at a steady 700. Not good player base and wonder how long this game will actually last before it hits the PC Online gaming graveyard.
    * Way to many randome crits/blocks and deflections. Game is just pure luck.
    ____________________________________________________________________________________________

    At first, when you create your character and watch your character level up, it’s pretty exciting. There are times when you seriously want to damage your opponents in real life and or your partner for either attacking the wrong character, and or your partner has a bad build. Gone afk or logged out. All of these things eventually end you getting to you in the end.

    You work so hard on a character only for someone thats overpowered and or underpowered stuffing up you win scores. Is it worth playing this game. Is it worth paying for the advantages varium gives you.NO. Unless your going to grind 1 versus 1 fights, then you have a chance of suceeding. 2 versus 2 fights remain the worse part of epicdueal dueling. Unfair pairing,log outs,fleeing players, afk … not worth the headache.
    Although this game is free to play, I still wouldn’t recommend this to anyone. Theres to much verbal abuse online from other players, plus you cannot rely on you partners to help you fight, especially if they have a bad build. Alot of players create accounts and end up dumping their characters for alot of reasons I have mentioned.

    Dump the epicduel mods, recruite better mods for the game. On mod (remain nameless) needs to tone it down and stop telling players to shut up, Newly appointed female mod needs to stop with the sarcasm and stop bullying players by enforcing her ideals and opinions. Epicduel forums remains one of the worst ever mismanaged forums I have come across along with the game.

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