If it’were possible for one to fall in love with a game from its character creation process alone, then Villagers and Heroes would have had me from the very first screen. Of course, character creation does not a game make, but I genuinely had more fun making a new toon in this game than I have in most MMOs to date.
Bhagpuss has been talking up V&H for a while now, and that coupled with some others’ word-of-mouth testimonies about this indie title convinced me to load it on my hard drive. It looked like a relaxing, colorful title to enjoy in small chunks. Plus, V&H just updated to a new version — Reborn — which is its third, I think, so it felt like a good time to check it out.
So! The character creation. I know that this is one of the systems that received an overhaul as of late, and I must say that the team knocked it out of the park. It’s a rather lengthy series of selection screens that encourage you to take your time in molding a character rather than choosing a head, a class, and hitting the “PLAY!” button.
Choices are key here, and some fairly nail-biting ones. If I have a hard time picking between options because two or more sound fairly desirable, then the game’s done a good job in this area.
Right at the start, I had to pick a personality for my character which was mirrored in his or her stance. I was tempted, oh-so-tempted, to pick the coward option, because how many MMOs let you be a coward from the first get-go? I still may go back and do this, but instead I chose pious, because what else should a pastor pick?
While I was making my selections, the game entertained me in the audio department with somewhat pleasant music and a droll narrator who both commented on my picks and provided a bit of the background to the game world. Gotta say, I love me a good narrator.
OK, so character creation. The next stop was choosing my character’s homeland, a choice that came with a small pile of gifts. I went with Stormhold because it gave me a magic helmet that supplied some extra run speed. I was less thrilled with gifts that said they’d be recalled in 30 days, although I suppose that’s more than enough to give you a good head start in harvesting and crafting.
Then it was on to choosing between one of four generic classes (warrior, priest, mage, and thief/archer/ranger… I forget the name of it). I went priest, because what else would you choose with a pious background? I made him a dour-looking bald guy. Then you get to choose a sub-class of sorts, although I suspect this is more just for starting gear. Finally, there are picks of initial spells and proficiencies (talents). I gravitated to giving my guy a nice DoT.
After all of that, I thought I was done, but oh no — that was only half of my character. The game’s name actually means something here: your character is both a hero and a villager. So the second half of character creation has to do with your avatar as a commoner — what crafting/gathering skills does he/she have? What type of house (each with a specific buff) does she/he live in?
I went with Jack’s House, because it had a nice spread of bonuses with no standouts (jack of all trades, natch), although I was really tempted by the Spooky Safehouse.
Anyway, with all of that done and my character creation needs fairly sated, I had a few minutes to get into the game proper. There’s an introductory fly-through with more narration, talking about a bad wizard who was super-bad until four elders killed him (OR SO THEY THINK). Then I was plopped down in a valley and told to go attend a festival.
Villagers and Heroes most definitely reminds me of early World of Warcraft, with a dash of RuneScape thrown in. Its graphics are more simplistic, with that chunky, colorful, stylized approach. But there’s the same floating shield on my back, the same auto-attack/special skill combat system, the same exclamation marks, etc.
And you know what? That’s not a bad thing. It felt comfortable and inviting. I spent some time poking around the various menu options before doing a couple of quests. Nothing astounding, but nothing off-putting either. Going to need to pour more time into this later on!Oh! One last thing because this amused me. There’s an achievement screen that gives you little presents every time you fulfill one. I got one in the first second for creating a character. Thank you, thank you. I need the validation!