Warning: there is an official D&D idle game (and it’s giving away free DLC)

idle-champions

Well, there went two hours of my life in a haze of clicking, fountains of gold coin graphics and repeat, fleeting senses of achievement that were immediately eradicated by desire for the next achievement. “I’ll just have a quick look at this official, free to play Dungeons & Dragons clicker game”, I thought when I saw an announcement that Idle Champions Of The Forgotten Realms (download via Steam here) is offering some free DLC for the next couple of days, “then I can bash out a quick news piece on it and get back to my day.”

Somehow I forgot two very important things: 1) even all these years on from Baldur’s Gate, I remain a sucker for anything Forgotten Realms b) if I start playing a clicker, aka idle game, I am DOOMED.

The news hook for looking at Idle Champions Of The Forgotten Realms today, despite its having been released two months ago, is that it’s running a promo until the weekend, in which y’all can grab the paid Starter Pack DLC for no pennies instead of its usual $2.99. Said Starter Pack contains assorted boosts designed to make initial progress through Idle Heroes a little speedier, which is another way of saying its usual purpose is to coax money out of folk who feel they just can’t wait for the next big unlock. You know the score.

As for the game itself, it’s both a hideous dishonouring of everything that makes D&D wonderful and sorta-kinda a decent enough thing as clicker games go. Here’s the score: your party, initially consisting of a single dwarf bloke, automatically march through fields, towns, forests, inns and whatever else the game found down the back of its Ye Olde Fantasye Settings sofa, stabbing and slashing and zapping and all that good stuff. For every kill, coins; enough coins buy a level up for a character; even more coins unlock an extra party member.

And so it goes, and where the clicker element comes in is that you can yourself perform a limited amount of damage by frantically bothering baddies with your cursor. (The damage of your own clicks can also be upgraded for gold, natch). Then there are further tiers of currency which buy chests containing loot with permanent stat-up effects, and inevitably this is the currency that you can also buy with real Earth money. It’s all following a familiar model very closely underneath the ARPGish skin, and it knows all the tricks of the trade used to wring cash out of people who find themselves slaves to the rhythm of constant simulated achievement.

idle-champions-of-the-forgotten-realms

It takes minutes before you party has a) slaughtered tens of thousands of enemies b) gained millions in gold and c) ranked up to level 200, and reconciling this with the average tabletop AD&D experience is obviously impossible. All the imagination and thoughtfulness
of pen and paper roleplaying is burned in favour of mindless genocide and fountains of cash.

But! There is a game in there trying to get out. The gradual unlocking of new party members doesn’t simply mean more auto-damage on your part, but also paying some attention to passive bonuses that activate only if they appear in specific formations. There’s a sort of RPG party Tetris element here, fiddling with who goes where in order to turn that skill on, but if they’re there then that one stops working and… Also, the act of unlocking new characters is rather pleasant, and (even though it isn’t really) feels like a more meaningful goal to pursue than simply another button that generates more cash.

There are also manual super-abilities, on timers of course, which you can use somewhat thoughtfully in order to beat boss fights. All told, this stuff means it’s an oddly active idle game. It will generate oodles of cash by itself, but all the unlocking is manual, your dudes will generally hit a brick wall on bosses if you’re not there to manage the situation and… yeah, it’s almost harder to just leave the thing to do its own thing than it is to abandon it entirely. Which is, of course, the sanest thing to do.

Anyway: as well as being a monstrously inappropriate use of the Forgotten Realms license, it’s also a devilishly compelling one, and one which occupies a surprisingly interesting space in between action RPG and clicker game.

Clearly though: avoid it entirely if you value your time at all. Even if it is giving away $3 of DLC for free until Sunday. DON’T MAKE MY MISTAKE.

27 Comments

  1. Gothnak says:

    God i hate the whole idea of clicker games, what a waste of time…
    That said, i’ve noticed recently that my brain is unable to start a game that a session lasts longer than 30 mins. For example, i have hours into Pillars of Eternity, Divinity Original Sin etc, but i almost physically can’t boot them up. I end up jumping into Creeper World 3, Darkest Dungeon or Football Manager with their ‘i can just play this for a short while’ and 3 hours later, off to bed.

    Any advice on how to get back into ‘Long session games’?

    • Jeremy says:

      I’ve been looking for the answer to that question for a solid year. Both of those games, plus the Witcher 3 have all fallen off because I can’t commit to an hour of gaming straight, but then I’ll play 4 runs through Dead Cells, and end up sitting there for 2 hours. I know part of my problem is in the way that quests are laid out in these large scale games. When I started the 2nd Act of D:OS2, it immediately spewed out 12 new quest lines, in addition to the other running quests, and I felt annoyed. I’m over the “more content = better” phase, and I don’t feel like sifting through the bad quests to find the gems. I helped a group of chickens find their baby. Why? Why is this a quest?

      • RoyalBologna says:

        Did you go back to check on the baby chick btw? Its actually an incongruously interesting quest

        • Jeremy says:

          I did, and eventually the little bastard walked through necrofire and died post-battle, and I wasn’t about to reload after fighting through that.

      • Madcat_Zam says:

        After dealing with the same problem as you guys for years. My advice is don’t bother until you feel like picking the game back up again. You’re not really in a rush to finish the game and the save will still be there. It took me a year to finally pick The Witcher 3 back up and actually finished the game.

        As quest designs go, I think DOS 2’s quests are a lot better than the MMO standards of killing x creatures for y organs and talking to the quest giver.

        • LagTheKiller says:

          Yeah, but a lot of them abruptly ends, are separeted in difdrent level location by margin of 3 or sheer weight of journal entries make it difficult to comprehend in 1h game session. U spend 15 minutes just realizing what to do where to go and checking if i.e. there is no 2lvl higher miniboss (insta RIP on higher difficulties).

  2. welverin says:

    I was a expecting a short article, this was not.

  3. Whelp says:

    What the hell is a ‘clicker’ game?

    • Premium User Badge

      Harlander says:

      Also known as idler games, they’re often web-based games where you click to accumulate resources, which can then be used to purchase things which will accumulate resources over time. It’s possible to leave some of them running over time to pile up large amounts.

      The earliest one I can think of is Cookie Clicker. Other notable examples are A Dark Room, Spaceplan, and that one where you buy sweets from Tom Baker.

  4. Minsc_N_Boo says:

    Who is the handsome looking chap 3rd from the right?

  5. Scurra says:

    I was moderately pleased to discover that this was actually from Codename Entertainment, rather than someone merely blatantly ripping off Crusaders of the Lost Idols. (I guess that, as a properly licensed product, this was unlikely anyway.)
    On the other hand, I got CotLI out of my system last year, so fortunately I don’t feel the need to play this. It is a surprisingly good design though.

  6. Premium User Badge

    Neurotic says:

    This has actually been out for a few months now, and they’ve been very busy post-release updating it and adding more characters etc. If you enjoy it, it’s well worth signing up to the email newsletter as they regularly give away chests of stuff and so on. Coupled with the Lords of Waterdeep and Tomb of Anihilation games, it’s a good time to be a D&Der on PC! :D

    • milligna says:

      How can you say that with a straight face? The license is being squandered on trash. One single good RPG in production isn’t too much to ask, surely? It’s hardly the Infinity Engine era.

      Do you work on this or something?

      • Nevard says:

        I mean honestly if you want to play d&d on PC I think you’re better served by buying the official modules for Lost Mines of Phandelver or Tomb of Annihilation on Roll20 and playing d&d, instead of an RPG.

        • Someoldguy says:

          Roll20 is useful if you can commit to a regular group session and can find a good DM and a bunch of people you enjoy playing with, but it’s hardly a universal solution. There have been good – and less good – D&D games on PC since the Gold Box era. Most of us play them because we can’t sate our D&D fix with whatever gaming nights we can access.

          5e is mechanically better suited to computer games than 1x, 2x and 3x D&D so it should not be beyond the wit of man to produce one that isn’t a MMO. Even if they only made games of the modules and not original content, it would be really nice to get cinematic cutscenes with quality voice acting rather than GM Dave doing all his hammy turns. Neverwinter Nights 3? Sign me up.

    • Chaoslord AJ says:

      It’ll be a good time when I get Neverwinter Nights 3.

  7. Someoldguy says:

    I’ve “played” a bit of this, but it doesn’t hold my interest. I’d much rather be playing a more in-depth D&D experience. My biggest grumble with it is that playtime is effectively gated by the game rather than the player. At some point, your group of clickables will hit an impossible wave and can only step back one level (usually after being KO’d) and grind coins. At that point, the only sensible thing to do is switch it off for hours and let them passively accumulate. you’re done for the day, whether you want to be or not.

    • GeoX says:

      Well, that’s how clicker games work. For better or worse. Mostly worse.

      • InfiniteSubset says:

        I disagree, a good clicker should continually allow you to improve and optimize your progress. Passive play should result in linear growth, while active play results in exponential growth. The exponential rate can vary, but if it is so low that you might as well not play, I would say the game isn’t tuned very well.

        A recent good example was the paperclip game RPS reported on. While short, there was very rarely a time where letting it sit for very long was useful or optimal. It wasn’t perfect, but for the most part, active play was rewarded.

    • Someoldguy says:

      I’d even settle for playing Heroes of Neverwinter. Not the most in-depth D&D game, but still provided entertainment. Unfortunately they shut it down in 2012.

  8. Couchfighter says:

    Tried this briefly when it came out on EAG. As far as low effort clickers go I guess its all right, but I just couldn’t get the taste of bile out of my mouth seeing how this thing is in any way associated with D&D.

  9. Chaoslord AJ says:

    I’ve been playing it for some weeks and it’s running right now but it has the same problem as Crusaders: not much progress is made when idling fully offline prob. ~10%.
    Also you have to reset a lot and level the characters manually.
    Maybe they’ll still address this before it exists EA like with upgrades improving offline game.

  10. elvirais says:

    These things should come with health warnings like on a pack of cigarettes :p

  11. Captain Narol says:

    My name is Captain Narol and I just can’t stop playing this addictive game that is more subtle than it seems at first glance.

    Give me my life back !

    Can’t even find the time to play CKII and FOGII like I should, as I watch my adventurers iddly killing all sort of monsters for hours…

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