Century: Age of Ashes
Reviewed by: Jack Phillips
Player counts fall and dragons die. The story of Century: Age of Ashes, is nothing short of a tragedy. A three part act that lacks the fourth redemption arc that you hope these sorts of plays have.
The appearance of the classes feels like it matches the playstyle as well; the Marauder's dragon feels like a scrappy fighter. Something that gets into a tussle and brings plenty of meat in the arena, but is lithe enough that it can dodge and knows when to strike at range rather than move in to seal the deal. Cosmetics are varied between the character and the dragon themselves, with the dragons being part of a 'bestiary' which you can unlock overtime and through progress. These different appearances are all cosmetic, so I can forgive some of the eggs being locked behind a paywall; even if it does rub me slightly the wrong way.
The gameplay itself is enjoyable, especially for a free-to-play multiplayer only game, with battles feeling exciting and somewhat unique each time. The drawback is the dwindling playerbase, something that we will also come back to, and those that remain who are very competent with their abilities and know the optimal picks. An example would be myself and my friend were playing together and we would, frequently, encounter the same players more than once. One of these players had a very specific loadout for each map and game type, what stuck out to us was the use of "Windguard" with the poison smoke; when we were placed into one of the two game modes, this specific gamemode featuring a bounty-like system of scoring points by delivering gold to your home base, they would bring the windguard with poison smoke.
Said player would fly, exclusively, around the opposition's homebase and use the poison smoke in order to shroud it in a cloud of death. This cloud of death debuffed and dealt damage to players that were found within, reducing their HUD and visibility to boot. This meant that they were constantly able to provide area-denial on the most important objective whilst playing extremely passively. It was, and still is as far as I am aware, impossible to remove another player's smoke; meaning that they'd be able to pursue the objective whilst denying ours. A cheesy tactic, but a tactic nonetheless, but these were rampant across the dwindling player base as individuals continue to hone the meta-strategies.
Now for the third act, the tragedy; the game's dying playbase. The playerbase has dropped, since launch and as of writing this review, down from 12'000 players at peak to 380 at peak. For an online only multiplayer game this has made balancing impossible; as new players are shoehorned into matches with people far above their skill set and presented with a sink-or-swim ultimatum after only their first 5 levels, prior to hitting 5 players are able to do a 4v4 against bots. This sudden and drastic leap in difficulty resulted in my friend quitting after a dozen or so matches and uninstalling.
This declined, if not decreasing, playerbase has meant that the game simply can not continue as it is in it's current form. With only three dragons and an awkward cosmetic shop, coupled with simplified progression, has resulted in there being no reason for players to log in to help increase the number of active players. As the downward spiral in player-count continues, there remains the issue of the game being unable to be played how it is intended.
So whilst the game itself, in my opinion, is a technical wonder; it desperately needs more content and something to suck players back into the saddle of their trusty dragon mounts. Until such a time new players will be thrown against the wall, forced to suffer, and this will only compound the declining playerbase as it will be almost impossible for the game to retain new players.
I can not, in good taste, rate this game highly due to the declined playerbase. As such I will give it a three out of five, subject to an increased rating should the playerbase increase.
Reviewed by: Jack Phillips