Hands-On: The Mighty Quest For Epic Loot

A jawline visible on Google Maps

The Mighty Quest for Epic Loot follows mediocre Rock band Saliva’s game design document: “Click Click Boom”. Every dungeon crawler does that, though. You click, things go boom, and Saliva make a tiny amount of royalty money to buy penny mixtures with. But then Epic Loot starts playing Starship’s “We Built This City” over the loudspeaker, and the entire game inverts, handing you trowels and hammers.

That is to say The Mighty Quest for Epic Loot is a dungeon crawling and a dungeon building game. I should be writing press releases. TMQFEL is Ubisoft’s first purpose-built foray into free-to-play, from a small team tucked away in a corner of their Montreal studio. I spent an hour with it, and was given access to a pair of leveled characters, the tanky Knight and the rangey Archer, and a castle full of traps. You fight through player-created castles while others are trying to ransack your own.

I fiddled around with the inventory before I entered another player’s palace. There are four attack slots plus a health potion buff. The skill tree for each attack slot has five levels of power, with each gaining a boost at various stages of character levelling. Time to boost those reserves. I grab the Knight and look for a castle to loot. The selection is made from a screen of floating castles, with everything I encounter is drawn from the accounts of the other journalists at the event. An informal scorecard was set at the end of the room.

There’s nothing complicated about the combat: four buffs and a health boost vs waves of foes. I wade in, shoulder-charging a group of prisoners that fill the corridors. They swarm, they pound, they surround, so I swing my axe all around and watch everyone fall, then set about pummeling them as they get slowly up. Then I bump into a series of floor traps: the first set are chomping floor tiles, then there’s fire hydrant that actually spits fire. Cunning. Then I was slowed down by a ranged snot attack. I fought through the gooey mess and hunted down the ‘Snotters’ to kill, stumbling into the end room with the usual sense of ARPG finger fatigue. That final room was me taking on a giant ape boss and his minions. Even with the bigger enemies, it’s mostly a case of hitting them with everything you have.

You have to murder everything in the castle before the final door will open and divulges its loot. You also have to do it in a timely manner, or you’ll lose your chance at the final score. You’ll still make money and collect loot as you progress, but it’s mightily buffed if you make it through on time. If you’re too late, as I was, the chest is covered and locked. It’s also locked if the castle has previously been ransacked. Right now there’s a six-hour cooldown before the chest is accessible, but that number could change.

How it’s all built is the more interesting part. I didn’t have a lot of choice over the shape of my castle, to add more rooms would have cost a lot of time or some cash and I had neither, so I was left with a linear castle that I’d have to buff in other ways. Each castle has a cap that limits how many traps and enemies you can use. The size and power of each adds to the number. It means you can’t simply top-load a castle with hundreds of Snot monsters and gum any attacking hero up. You have to spread things around, though the final room before the loot chest will have a higher allowance, to encourage you to go all out.

I looked around the castle inventory, ignoring the paid-for options of rooms and decorations. That left me with traps and creatures. Given my layout was totally linear, I chose elements that just gummed up any attacking adventurer. Before anyone even got to my minions, they’d have to dodge a sprung tile. The first segment they reached was a wide room that I decided would have extra snot monsters and turrets at the sides. Even if it was a straight line from the front door to the back, I wanted the player to have to fight in the whole arena, all the way to the outer edge of the room.

There were corridors I filled with spinning, grinding wheels, and another room that I leant heavily on as many swarm types as I could squeeze in. I’d struggled with them as a hero, so I hoped others would as well. The final room I went for two medium sized bosses rather than spending all the points on a singular giant. I plucked the ‘Snott Killgrims’ from the menu.

Castles level separately from your heroes, so you can’t focus on one part of the game without neglecting the other. If your characters are level seven, and your castle is only a four, then it won’t be taking in much money to help you buy better equipment. You need to keep the castle competitive. It also collects money from those that attempt to attack you, so you need to pop back to collect the gold. Before I began fiddling with the castle, I checked the scorecard that was hung at the end of the room and noticed I was towards the bottom. After a few goes at another player’s creation, with the Archer, I had to stop and make notes of what I’d played. The Archer’s a speedier and more nuanced class, which is my excuse for dying three times and returning to the Knight. I wasn’t doing well, but when I looked up I noticed I’d climbed the table all the way to third position of 13 players.

My castle was a killer! I popped back in and collected the gold, then noticed I could watch all the playthroughs that people had attempted. They’re all saved so you can marvel at your own awesomeness, or figure out how people survived. In my case it showed everyone being tossed into the air by the traps right at the beginning, knocking health off before they’ve even taken stock. The snot monsters were a good addition: they forced heroes to the edge of the screen and right into my turret’s fire. It was doing such a good job that the bosses weren’t seeing any action.

With my castle winning, I ended up with plenty of gold to upgrade my hero. I could easily afford better weaponry, now. The Legendary Handheld Claymore was only 2200 gold, which I’d made in 15 mins of my castle just grinding up plucky heroes. But I got cocky. The friends list allows you to set challenges for the castle: you grab the name of someone and set a time and loot value. Not knowing who all the people were on the list, I accidentally selected a developer who roundly whipped my castle’s portcullis. Still, it’s a fun feature that gives you bragging rights.

It’s an unexpected treat from Ubisoft. Basic, but well made, and done with a very silly sense of humour. It could be a reason to have Uplay installed.


  1. Gap Gen says:

    Presumably there are no bards in this because they already have a pick, lute.

    • Jimbo says:

      That’s terrible. I love it.

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  2. BobbyDylan says:

    “FEL is Ubisoft’s first purpose-built foray into free-to-play”…

    Stoped reading there.

    • Silva Shadow says:

      Logged in to say the same thing. Read ‘free to play’ and stopped reading.

      Do you know why people hate free to play? Because it’s a pay to win online only drm infested game.

      • RedViv says:

        Is that not a bit contradictory? A game can be free to play completely without falling into that trap.

      • Metalhead9806 says:

        Path of Exile is Free to play… Not every game with that model is a scam.

      • Sinomatic says:

        If you’re automatically ignoring things based on whether or not the majority of them are shit, then you must lead a very quiet life…

      • Yglorba says:

        I don’t think that that’s true. There have been good free to play games that avoided the pay-to-win trap; TF2 and Path of Exile are both excellent, for instance. Gunbound was a lot of fun, too. And even some games that offer advantages for cash can still be fun if it’s balanced carefully — Maple Story is a grind (and not really my sort of game), but so is everything else in the genre; it’s still decently enough fun to play free for a while if you like that kind of thing.

        Giving some content away for free and selling the rest is a totally valid business model — in fact, a lot of the lineage of modern videogames traces back to that; it’s how Doom was sold, for instance.

        • kaishilaidan says:

          But when you invade someone’s castle, can you kill their wife?

          • KirbyEvan says:

            Dammit, after that Castle Doctrine joke I expected the video link to actually be something funny.

            The bots are evolving.

      • hulahoops says:

        I can’t help but notice your avatar, Silva Shadow.

        Also free to play is the last place you’re ever going to find DRM. :)

    • ulix says:

      I don’t hate F2P. I play no F2P games because I hate most of them, but I have no problem with the concept.

      As long as all the shit you can buy for real money is vanity items that make you look cooler (but have no gameplay effect), I’m totally fine with it.

      And even if things you can buy for real money actually do have gameplay effects, that would also be okay as long as they aren’t necessarily “better”, but “different”.

      TF2 does (or did, haven’t played in years) a decent job with this, but of course you need constant balancing, which is difficult to maintain. I’ve heard Planetside 2 is okay in that regard as well, but of course a vocal minority will always bitch loudly.

      • Gnoupi says:

        League of legends, Dota 2 are also such games. In general, games in which you don’t feel like you need to grind to be competitive, and in which real money is obligatory only for cosmetic upgrades.

        • Noburu says:

          Add Path of Exile to that list as well. It is totally free, and you arent held back in any way what so ever.

          • DerNebel says:

            Path of exile and Dota 2 are probably the most awesome examples of how free to play can work, with League of Legends trailing a bit behind.

            Path of Exile freely lets you play all of the game, free of charge, just because you’re awesome. You can buy cosmetics and the ability to make your own, private leagues with special rules that you can invite your friends to. The only thing that might have a SLIGHT gameplay effect is extra stash pages and character slots, but the game is already generous enough with both to not get in the way iirc.

            Dota2 is ridiculous. Unlike LoL, you get all the game, all the power from the start. There are no purchases that affect what and how you play, there is no account levelling or the likewise. You can basically only buy cosmetics, which drop randomly after games as well, and tickets to watch tournaments in-game.

            My point is, F2P does not equal P2W. Do not forget that there is value in having a customer base that doesn’t feel screwed or manipulated into spending money. The fact that all F2P games essentially are manipulating you to do so is another story entirely. Rare cosmetics in Dota2 is a good example. You can buy keys for a chance of a really rare item, but your opponents won’t feel cheated just because you did.

          • DeVadder says:

            Despite my fanboy-ism certainly blinding me: In my opinion there is a third very viable way. The way HiRez has gone with SMITE. It is similar to LoL, in that you can unlock heroes and skins both for money or in-game currency. But it also offers you to buy the whole game for 25€. Including all gods released now and in the future forever.
            I admit one can very well argue that paying customers get an advantage to non paying ones (despite my non-paying brother having more than enough currency to rent or buy every god he would ever want, but we do play a lot). But there is an upper and very reasonable ceiling to that. And that is something i think is the most important. Paying may give an advantage but paying more then 25€ does not and will never. And 25€ is not too much for a whole game.

            Regarding the game: I will most likely play this despite the F2P very likely not beeing to my liking. It just sounds fun and not so competetive that i will mind too much, at least so i think now.

            edit: And i would like to point out: What i like about F2P is that i can just download and try the game and if i like it, i can tell my friends and/or brother: ‘Hey, this is kinda fun, wanna come over and play a few hours this weekend and have a beer with it?’
            Way too much hassle with paid for games, especially if one of them might not like it.
            And sometimes, as with TF2, SMITE and PS2, we stick with the game in question and play and sometimes also pay. I like that. I just hate if in competitive games more spending means more advantage. Takes away the competetivenes for me.

        • Cinek says:

          DOTA2? Yes. League of legends? Not really. It still got P2W in it (or rather: Play months or pay now).

          • Brun says:

            Pay to go faster isn’t pay to win unless it’s in a racing game.

          • vivlo says:

            “pay to go faster”

            more like “pay with money or pay with most of the time of several of your life’s precious months”.

          • Ringwraith says:

            League of Legends is an odd case.
            For me at least, I have ended up coming to a point where I’m not really wanting to buy anything, as I mostly play the single role in my group which no-one really plays, so sitting on enough to buy a good few characters at the drop of a hat.

      • Enikuo says:

        Unless the cosmetics or best cosmetics are all locked away in gamble boxes/orbs/crates/whatever. Then the fun of collecting cosmetics is ruined for me.

  3. Aardvarkk says:

    Looks like a possible good time to be had, did they give any release date information?

    • Baron Monstro says:

      No ETA for release nor open beta yet, unfortunately.

      • UncleLou says:

        Oh. Says on the hompage “brand new” and “begin your mighty quest”, so I assumed it had just been released. :-/

  4. aliksy says:

    My friend and I were talking about game design and came up with something remarkably similar to this. I mean, it’s not the most original idea, but it sounds like it could be fun.

    Unfortunately, I’m pretty sure f2p will be implemented badly.

  5. Premium User Badge

    distantlurker says:

    “It could be a reason to have Uplay installed”

    Don’t be silly Craig, wait, was there a free bar at this do? Where’s my disclosure boxout?! hehe

  6. Deadend says:

    That actually sounds.. fun.
    Like a happy, fantastical, simplified version of The Castle Doctrine.

    I am intrigued and I hope that it will be a good F2P and not descend into the Pay2Win category. Cosmetic items for sale is not a bad sign, unless the game lets you pay real money for BETTER things or has insane pricing on items where it would take hours of playing to afford a small upgrade.. or a single dollar.

  7. King in Winter says:

    When I open my dictionary, “Ubisoft” reads “don’t support these bah-stages” so I’ll proceed according to that…

  8. InternetBatman says:

    I’m starting to hate the word epic.

  9. Baron Monstro says:

    If anyone is interested in joining in on the alpha you can sign up over on the official website. Ubisoft also regularly puts up contests with alpha keys as the prizes on their official Mighty Quest Facebook page.

  10. DerNebel says:

    This game looks really interesting. I like the idea of having you build your own dungeon, for other players to challenge. It harnesses the fact that you have a potentially large playerbase all designing their one, perfect dungeon, so you get a pool of levels far better than proc-gen. Should lend to som really nice dungeoncrawling.

    I’m wondering how the business model will work out, is there any word on that? To what extent can you buy content not available to the nonpaying players? How permanent are your purchases? Dungeon cosmetics and XP/Gold boosters are a given, but what else?

  11. Spen says:

    Looks like a combo of Dungeonland and Clash of Clans (iOS game)

  12. Deviija says:

    These three are the only ‘characters’ in the game? Rather disappointing that they’re all the standard video game industry white male hero design. Out of three design choices, all the same. No women, no people of color.

    • Strangerator says:

      I have a feeling you’ll be able to buy more classes, for a modest fee…

      • Baron Monstro says:

        Ubisoft devs on the forums have confirmed there are indeed plans to introduce new heroes in the future.

  13. Kein says:

    It could be a reason to have Uplay installed.

    Haha, nope.

  14. realitysconcierge says:

    I first watched the trailer without sound and let me say it would have been so much better if the knight had a norse accent. To me the concept is very exciting, but like everyone else I doubt the execution will be on par. I want a game just like this though!

  15. JuJuCam says:

    But when you invade someone’s castle, can you kill their wife?

  16. mondzi says:

    So basically Rock of Ages with swords?

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