Century: Age of Ashes, the Proven

Century: Age of Ashes, the Proven
One of the most anticipated independent titles of February, as we anticipated in the first episode of Top 5 Indie is definitely Century: Age of Ashes, the title of Playwing LTD that made headlines during its announcement at the TGA 2020. The period that has separated us from then until today has been rich in communications from the development team which has shown users the desire not to be just a beautiful promise, but to try to concretely create their own space inside. of the market. To understand the real scope of the project, we were able to try the closed beta phase organized for the weekend just past and therefore we are ready to give you our preliminary judgment in the tried of Century: Age of Ashes.

A Song of Ice and Fire

The competitive multiplayer landscape, especially on PC, is truly an intricate tangle capable of enveloping and suffocating any title that misses even a couple of steps within the market. Creating your own scene of players and a solid fanbase is a complex undertaking, given the great and continued success of titles such as League of Legends, Overwatch, Rainbow Six Siege or Counter Strike. For this reason, our attention was immediately drawn to the premises set by Playwing for its title: competitive multiplayer with dragons (live to be honest), free to play, early access debut with a focus on quality rather than quantity. . Surely something original, but let's get into the details.

Century presents a tutorial system with videos of the basic mechanics, a 3v3 rookie mode accessible up to level 20 to become familiar with, a simple match mode and then the matches classified and private. The games, with the exception of rookie matches, can be of three types: Carnage, Survival and Gates of Fire.

The first is a classic 6v6 team deathmatch in which the team with the most kills when time runs out will win. Survival is a 3v3 mode in which each team has three lives - one for each team member - and in which the team with the last dragon alive will obviously win. Finally, Gates of Fire is a reinterpretation of "capture the flag": in fact, a banner will appear on the map that must be passed through doors to score a point. The team that reaches the predetermined number of points first will win the match.

Inside these simple modes nestle a series of deep stratifications given by the two most impacting elements of Century: Age of Ashes: the class system and the maps. It is clear that a good competitive title must go through excellent management of the classes present. Balance is fundamental and as far as we have seen the three available classes (Phantom, Marauder and Windguard) each have a series of weak and strong points able to be equivalent on the battlefield.

During the hours spent in the company of Century: Age of Ashes we really found ourselves in the midst of well-balanced battles where the feeling when we lost was that we were faced with a player that was simply stronger and not something beyond our control. For example, if the Phantom can use invisibility for a few seconds, the Windguard has a smoke bomb that can make it untraceable and the Marauder can avoid the damage of firebombs for a maximum of three times. The management of the skills and possibilities offered to the players sharpens the feeling of a thoughtful and not far-fetched game.

Each player can in fact manage the movement of the dragon through the acceleration and decrease of speed (space and shift), the direction of movement (mouse movement), two basic attacks common to all such as incendiary bombs and the breath of fire (left and right mouse buttons) and two skills that can be used in battle that differ from class to class (S and D keys). To complete it all, an excellent map building with varied and splendid settings from an aesthetic and technical point of view but also from a strategic point of view. The maps are in fact perfectly functional to a very frenetic game in which the clashes also need possible escape routes guaranteed by the structures. Hiding behind a mountain, going through a cave at full speed or taking shelter around a corner are fundamental options and not always so obvious. The fact that Playwing has studied them in this way is a certainty of the excellent premises of the title. The feeling is similar to what we saw with Star Wars Squadrons and the experience of some veterans of the team in the field of driving games we see that it represented a plus in the development of this concept.

Draghi alla fashion

All that we have listed so far are positive elements that affect a fundamental part of this project, which is the basis for creating a solid competitive scene based on gampelay. To sell copies, however, and ensure a certain type of success, some precautions are also necessary that go beyond the mere aspects of gameplay. The personalization of the alter ego is in fact an aspect of pure vanity which, however, in the last period has taken hold in an increasingly rooted way within the competitive scene. Fortnite is the most obvious extreme of this kind of desires, the so-called skins are a trademark of the game but also a way for players to stand out, a bit like footballers with hairstyles. Here, in this Century: Age of Ashes surprised us because, despite the strong inspiration from Tolkien's works being known, the title Playwing inserts a highly inspired quote from the purest Western fantasy into the class customization component.

Dragons are customizable in terms of armor as well as every aspect of the knight who guides him (helmets, saddles, shields, weapons, breastplates, horn covers, everything and more), but also the race and consequently the aesthetic of the dragon is editable. The weapons and armor of knights and dragons are obtainable within a tiered progression system based on the experience gained after each battle. The dragon race, on the other hand, is clearly linked to its egg: eggs will be obtained as post-battle rewards, which can be purchased in the shop with in-game currency and / or real money and through the rewards of the weekly and daily missions. Once the egg is obtained, the latter will be hatched using a part of the experience accumulated with the completed games. It is important to underline that all these components do not affect the game in the slightest, they are only aesthetic parts and therefore even if there are XP Boosters, the influence on the game at a mechanical level of the microtransactions (the long-awaited pay to win mechanics) is zero. Finally, the technical aspect of the game is surprising, which is really very impactful. The lighting, the scenery, the fire, the armor and even the sound design hit us unexpectedly.

Century: Age of Ashes is a promising title. Creating your own space in the competitive multiplayer market is not easy, but the idea of ​​combining solid and frenetic gameplay that takes its cue from the purest fantasy, together with a layered and deep customization system can really be the winning card. . The proof of the title allowed us to observe a well-balanced class system. Net of some points to be reviewed, such as the stability of the Gates of Fire matches and the fluidity of the movement in sudden changes of direction, the title remains among the possible surprises of this month of February. There remain numerous question marks that only Playwing's time and actions will be able to answer, but if the development team is able to continuously and transparently support the title, then it wouldn't surprise us to see so many new dragons plow the skies of the scene. competitive.


Artistically remarkable Frantic and satisfying gameplay Layered enough High-level aesthetic customization DOUBTS Cumbersome in changes of direction at high speeds Post-launch support and maintenance of the balancing

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