By Cody Musser
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Watercooler describes their game, Kingdoms of Camelot, as the most advanced game on Facebook. After spending some time with the title, we’re beginning to agree that this might be more than just puffery. Kingdoms of Camelot is an intensely detailed and elaborate kingdom building simulation. However, as is often the case, elaborate details can come at the cost of intuitiveness and simplicity.
Kingdoms of Camelot starts players off selecting a Lord or Lady for their empire, vying to win the attention of King Arthur through building a worthy kingdom, and eventually, through the conquest of other kingdoms. New players start by creating their kingdom and lord, and then work their way through the introduction by Merlin. This tutorial helps players learn the basics, but doesn’t go into the game’s more advanced elements. When wondering what to do next, it’s best to simply complete the quests the game suggests. This makes KoC fairly linear, in the beginning. Our progress for the first few hours of play included quest, reward, quest, reward, quest… you get the idea.
This is the point where someone looking for a simple, easy title might turn away from Kingdoms of Camelot and not try to crack the shell to get the golden egg hidden within. Stick with the game through the confusing early moments and you can quickly discover the depth of what is essentially a full-featured strategy game.
The game itself is divided into various screens of view. You’ll be looking at either your city, the field surrounding it, the greater map with other kingdoms and points of conquest, or your court. Each of these views is filled with possible activities for you to complete. Inside your city you’ll build various important aspects of your kingdom to help outfit your soldiers and townspeople. These include the Barracks, Tavern, Market, Alchemy Lab and more. Outside your city in the field you’ll build Farms, Mines, Sawmills and similar structures. This can be a bit confusing, but it’s best to think of it like this: Inside the city you handle your people, and outside it you handle your resources.
The many resources gathered from your field are used for researching upgrades or building new structures. It’s impressive to think that almost every building you create in Kingdoms of Camelot will offer you some upgrades or research, and that absolutely everything is upgradable, from your Sawmills to your Castle, and even the City Wall.
The degree to which you’ll be focusing on the development of your kingdom and its upgrades might make Kingdoms of Camelot seem like a single-player game, but the social aspects of all Facebook games are naturally present here as well. You’ll have the opportunity to join or create an Alliance, which is essentially like a guild of players who become your greater teammates. You can always chat with either global players, or directly to your Alliance. You can send gifts to friends, and a premium currency, Gems, can be purchased through Paypal or by completing sponsored offers. This is all pretty common, but Kingdoms of Camelot might take things a little overboard when it comes to making Facebook wall posts about your building upgrades. When friends click on it, your creation will be sped up by one minute. A help of course, but this could lead to some pretty clogged feeds with updates occurring every couple minutes or so for active players in early parts of the game.
Even after days, players will probably feel like they’re still in KoC’s “beginner period.” Progress isn’t fast in Kingdoms of Camelot, and you won’t be able to attack or be attacked for a full four days after creating your kingdom. It’s in this first four days that most players will probably decide to stick with Kingdoms of Camelot, or drop it. In four days even the most diehard players won’t have scratched too deeply into the deeper experiences of the game. For this reason we’re going to keep playing, specifically because Kingdoms of Camelot has one important thing… potential. We’ll do our best to keep exploring the advanced features and segments, and relay to you how much more is actually hiding in the Mists of Avalon.
One thing is certain: Kingdom of Camelot has more in common with deeper PC strategy games than it does with Farmville. This depth has apparently struck a chord with a certain segment of the Facebook population – the game now has over 2.3 million monthly players, and is still growing steadily.