Ubisoft was running a pretty awesome tournament at New York Comic Con, which had attendees playing the multiplayer modes of Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag, Just Dance 2014, and The Mighty Quest for Epic Loot, and competing for a chance to win a PlayStation 4, Wii U, XBox One, and a high end gaming rig. Most people were excited for ACIV and couldn't care less about Just Dance, but the dungeon crawling meets tower defense title, Mighty Quest for Epic Loot, was very interesting in its own right.
As I began playing, it was pretty obvious where Epic Loot draws its inspiration from; it features the same bright, cartoonish art style of Torchlight II. Vibrantly colored castles make up the dungeons of the game, with fluttering torches enhancing the colors that pop from the screen. Character options in the demo were limited to a melee knight and a ranged archer, whose designs were rather typical, but quirky enough to fit the game's style. Enemies were creative and varied, with giant tentacles protruding from barrels, giant war machines, ugly frog boss monsters, as well as typical undead dungeon crawling creatures that were as colorful as the rest of the game.
I was quickly intrigued by the concept behind The Mighty Quest for Epic Loot, even though I'm not one for tower defense games. There are two phases of gameplay: the defend phase and attack phase. The defend phase sees the player building up the castle's defenses by placing enemy monsters in strategic locations, as well as setting up numerous traps. Each player gets a set number of areas to place monsters, and each monster costs a set number of gems to place. Only a certain amount of guardians are allowed to be placed in each area. More powerful monsters require more gems to place, filling up areas faster. It requires a lot of strategy, as players will be attacking your castle to find its treasure and other pieces of loot. Traps are also very important, as many are used to impede other players' progress, and having a good mix of monsters and traps protecting your treasure was more effective than sending waves of the same type of enemy.
The attack phase plays out like any Diablo-like dungeon crawler, with each character having both a primary and secondary attack, a whole set of skills and upgrades, health potions, and all the loot one could possibly hope to find. Combat was enjoyable, but feels sluggish, especially when trying to use skills. There were times where I had to repeatedly jam one of the skills to force it to be performed, even when the cooldown was over. Yet the throngs of different monsters and complete player control for dungeon creation help to ease the slow pace. The knight is definitely a much more viable option for combat, as the game's speed is much more tolerable when swinging a sword than shooting a ranged weapon.
As a complete package, The Mighty Quest for Epic Loot is very intriguing. The ability to create your own dungeon for others to explore and hopefully perish in to grant you more rewards is a superb idea, but the dungeon crawling aspect still needs some work. The game will be free to play once the final product finally releases sometime next year, and the beta is currently in closed testing (but it's not very hard to get a key from the official site), so there's plenty of time for Ubisoft to make the necessary tweaks to the less than optimal gameplay.