Steampunk is a science-fiction subgenre that has seen some of the best games ever created. Bioshock and Dishonored are two of the highlights, but we can travel further back in time to recollect gems such as The Chaos Engine or Arcanum. It’s this same genre that serves as the foundation for Aima Wars: Steampunk and Orcs, the new game from DiP Online.
Aima Wars is about a raging war between humans and orcs, but this time the fight isn’t confined to the ground. On the contrary, the larger chunk of the battles will take place in the skies, as aircrafts of unique designs and features fight for the supremacy of their faction.
Far from being a cookie-cutter game, Aima Wars is a daring venture into a brave open world. There’s no denying the similarities with the studio’s previous effort, LuckCatchers, but the core gameplay is enhanced and many features that players were asking for were introduced. Aima Wars isn’t an immediately accessible game, despite the tutorial’s best efforts to ease you in. It takes time to learn the ropes and fully grasp the controls and objectives, so make sure that you like your MMO experiences with a deep strategic focus and a somewhat slow pace.
One thing that immediately struck a chord with me was the eerie, haunting music in this game, both in the main menu and during gameplay. It has this dark, depressing yet soothing tone that just sticks in your mind and stays with you for days. I’ve fired up the game a few times just to listen to the soundtrack.
However, we’re not here to listen to music, no matter how great it sounds; we’re here to wage war and stand our ground for our realm. Before you start the game, you must select the faction that you want to represent. Will you go for the Empire of Humans or the Union of Orcs? There doesn’t seem to be any explicit advantages to each faction, but we wouldn’t exclude the assumption that the races may have inherited their attributes from LuckCatchers. This would mean that Orcs are better at extracting resources, while Humans have the upper hand concerning processing and manufacturing. Your choice also affects the starting region and the specifications of your airships.
The first thing that you’ll notice is the scope of the game world is. The sprawling sandbox open world is surely designed to accommodate hundreds of players in massive scale wars. The eventual downside of this ambition is that Aima Wars demands a substantial player base in order to fulfill its potential. You’re going to spend a long time traveling to your destination, but thankfully you can use teleportation gates to save you precious time.
The UI allows you to control your ship’s altitude, speed, and assorted activities such as extracting, landing, or using the shield and glide options. You can control your ship using the mouse, keyboard, or a combination of both, which personally resulted in the most comfortable choice.
One of your objectives in Aima Wars is collecting resources. It’s not by accident that the game is titled like that; aima is one of the resources in short supply that you must gather to upgrade your settlement and subsequently your faction and your ships. The other resources are iron ore, coal, timber, sulpurit, and miphrilite ore. Some of these resources are very scarce, and with both factions trying to get to them, clashes are inevitable.
Call of Dragons
Unless you have a reasonably developed airship, conflict must be avoided at all costs. During the first hours, your focus should be on extracting resources and shooting down any dragons that you happen to come across. The mythical fire-breathing creatures are largely a breeze to take down, only becoming a threat when they considerably outnumber you. During dragon migration, for example, these are a force to be reckoned with, as you can obverse countless hordes of dragons migrating. If left unprovoked, these creatures should do no harm to your airship or settlement; however, if you decide to engage them, there will be hell to pay. This is a risk versus reward event, where you may substantially increase your currency, but you may end up losing your ship, or worse, your settlement.
With the currency that you earn and the achievements you’ll regularly complete, you can level up and unlock new skills. Far from being optional, these skills are crucial to open up access to better features, destined to improve your ship’s capacities and your settlement’s assortment of possibilities. While the skills aren’t mutually exclusive, the skill tree will make you face some though choices, as it would take weeks or months to unlock them in a balanced way. Instead, you should focus on the route that you aim to achieve, and stick to the plan. You could choose construction as your goal if you want to build new and better airships, or go for the energy skills if you prefer to unlock the full potential of your ships.
While you enjoy complete freedom in the way that you wish to tackle objectives and expand your settlement, combat is automated. You can pick the type of weapons for your airship and switch between a selection of cannons, torpedoes, and missile launchers, but otherwise the shooting and aiming is entirely out of your control. This isn’t a downside however, as you’ll be busy controlling the airship’s altitude and shooting range, flanking your enemies, and cooperating with your teammates to take down the opposing forces.
Aima Wars: Steampunk and Orcs is a very original MMO that starts slow and demands your time and dedication, feeling like a niche game at its core. Unlike other games nowadays where you reach level 20 in five minutes, this is a game where you have to earn your levels, yet it offers you the freedom to go for it as you see fit, removing the shackles that restrict your creativity. It’s only after a few days’ worth of playing that you begin to see some of the elaborate features at work in the game, spotting the ambition under the hood. If its potential will ever be fully realized, that much is in the hands of the developers as much as it is in the hands of the players.
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