Duels, by Challenge Games, may be the ultimate time sink for most casual browser based game players. This strategic RPG offers a lot of content, with great presentation, and a broad player base to boot. Duels is a game in which the player duels other players and NPCs in order to get better equipment, higher levels, and general bragging rights about who is best of the best.
In this post World of Warcraft era, Challenge Games seeks to bring an MMO feel to their game complete with character classes, skill trees, and equipment. Numerous quests, player actions, and an avatar based chat system contribute to making the game stand head and shoulders above most browser based games today.
Make no mistake, however. This game is all about one versus one combat, pure and simple. The quests are simply about defeating certain NPCs, one by one. Game play is extremely easy to get into, and the game tends to suck you into it right from the start.
From the very beginning, you’re able to graphically select your avatar from a number of different colors and styles (another nod to MMOs). This character will be how other players will see you throughout the game; however, your appearance will change as you wear the different armor and weapons you’ll come across during the game. It’s very refreshing to see such graphical detail from a browser game.
As you first start out, you’re immediately given a quest. From there, your quests progress onward and involve learning the dueling system, the equipment system, and eventually the skills and actions systems. Almost every aspect of this game is easy to comprehend, although mastering these aspects is another story entirely.
Gaining levels gives you more points to “spend” in the loadouts screen. Each item that can be bought has a Power Rating associated with it. This power rating cannot exceed your total power. So, as you gain levels, your total power increases and you’re able to wear better items. With each level, you’re able to spend skill points that contribute to a number of different things. The skill system is very diverse and clearly thought out. Each skill provides a specific boost to certain aspects of your character.
Combat, in the early levels, is pretty straightforward and mostly centered around how well your character is equipped. In the later levels, however, you’ll acquire actions to play during combat. Actions are like a set of special attacks or defenses you can perform as each turn progresses. This makes the combat much more about planning your strategy than about arming your character with all the most expensive weapons. Although, toward the end of the level progression, it comes down to gaining the best equipment slightly more than having the right set of actions for the circumstances. Combat is completely centered around planning your strategy and you’re unable to affect anything during the actual duel. I would’ve liked to see more interactivity during combat, but Duels is about planning and not action-oriented game play.
Gaining equipment comes from fighting duels and gaining tokens which are, in turn, used to purchase packs. Each pack contains a certain quality of item as well as different scrolls. Scrolls can do a variety of things, including inflicting damage on the opposing player to healing or buffing your own character. At the early levels, these can be invaluable in swaying the flow of battle in your favor.
Challenge Games offers membership packages which compliment players with more packs and the ability to share items between each of their characters. They also offer straight buyouts in which players can purchase tokens or packs directly. All of these have obvious advantages, but that does not mean that the free-to-play player is unable to get to the higher levels.
Events such as tournaments and ladders make the competition even more fierce, since winning an event or gaining a high stature in a ladder can lead to large token rewards. The system even keeps track of your win-loss record and allows you to scout other players to learn their most used strategies and abilities.
For a browser based RPG, Duels is a refreshing step in the right direction. From the graphical content and the MMO style equipment system, it’s easy to see why Duels is often referred to as the ultimate time killer. The interface is easy to understand and the combat is deep enough to provoke enough tactical thinking from most casual gamers. All in all, Duels will steal quite a few hours away from anyone. Challenge Games has committed itself to providing quite a bit of content, and they tend to provide updates every week. If you’re a casual gamer, you owe it to yourself to take Duels for a spin.