What we have in Avalon Lords: Dawn Rises is a medieval RTS in the land of Spero, which as the title implies is located in the realm of Avalon. Currently an early build of this is available in Steam Early Access, and while it still needs some work, the potential for something good is apparent. The general goal is to occupy and build on a desirable plot of land, which in itself isn’t too exciting, but we have invading enemy forces to spice things up. Building up a settlement in the middle of an active conflict doesn’t seem like the most practical decision, but labor unions weren’t around in the Middle Ages which allows for games like this.
Influence from games such as Age of Empires, Total War, Command & Conquer and so on is apparent in this title. There are six different kingdoms to choose from, each one having a unique bonus whether it is increased food production or more powerful siege equipment. There are three different multiplayer modes now with a single player campaign planned for the final version. Conflict Mode has you gather resources, build your city, and wage war against your enemies. Battle mode throws you right into the fray, and allows the use of Army Builder to recruit your soldiers without needing to gather resources. Empire Mode allows you to team with the allied forces within your faction to crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and hear the lamentation of the women, because that is what is best in life. Multiplayer supports up to six players, and these can either be team battles or free for alls. While the single player campaign is currently not available, “practice matches” are available against AI bots if you do not feel like playing with other real people.
The design system in this game allows for a lot of freedom with constructing your fortress. There is no grid system that limits your city planning ambitions, so as long as the topography allows for the placement of the type of structure you can pretty much do whatever you want. With great freedom comes the need for great strategy, so people not overly familiar with the RTS genre may fall in battle a few times before they get in the groove. The different military units and siege weapons each serve a different function, so playing with different combinations of these in constructing your army can lead to unique battles to help keep things interesting.
As you play more of the game you unlock certain specializations that follow your account across all factions. There is also a Technology Research tree that allows you to progressively make more powerful structures to give an advantage. Basically this serves as this game’s equivalent of a level up system.
The downside, keeping in mind that this is an Early Access title, not all the bugs are worked out yet. During my time with the preview build I had issues with the camera movement being slow and choppy. The framerate dropped a lot while I was playing as well. As you can imagine this led to some frustrating moments while playing. To be fair, my PC is a couple years old and was not a $4000 Alienware gaming powerhouse to being with, but it does meet the recommended specs on the game’s Steam page. Also, the purpose of Early Access is so issues like this can be found and addressed before the final build is released, so hopefully in the time between now and the final release all this gets ironed out.
While some work still needs to be done to optimize the experience, there is a lot of potential for this to be a very good RTS. The developers do have a good reputation on the game’s Steam page as being receptive to gameplay issues and bug reports. Fans of the games cited earlier in this preview or RTS in general should put this on their radar. Right now it still plays like a work in progress, but I can forgive that because it is a work in progress. The ingredients are all present for this to be a worthwhile experience, so once the current tech issues get streamlined and we see what they do with the single player mode, I am optimistic about what the final product could end up like.