When you start a game of Hoard, the first thing you see is a simulated wooden table. Pieces of the map fall into place on the table and the game comes to life. It’s just a shame that the game is so shallow that I find myself more interested in that table.
Hoard sees you take on the role of a dragon, competing with other dragons – either human or computer controlled – to terrorise the countryside. The goal is simple – when the time is up, be the dragon with the most gold. You get gold by setting fire to buildings on the map, killing knights and town defenders, destroying trade caravans and kidnapping princesses. There are unlocks to make your dragon tougher, faster, more deadly and all that other malarky, and that’s about it. I played a few rounds of the game, and I was enjoying myself during the first round whilst I was learning the ropes. I kept playing, waiting for more game to unfold before me, but there’s simply nothing there.
Graphically it looks like a Warcraft III mod. This might sound like an insult considering the eight year gap between release dates, but in this age of multi-million dollar MOBA competitions, it could be seen as a bonus. The obvious issue is that where DOTA and its ilk have incredible strategic depth, Hoard is as shallow as a wading pool.
Multiplayer would surely improve the game, but it’s almost guaranteed you and your friends will have more entertaining games than Hoard in your collections.
But, back to that table… Why? Why is it there? Why are we playing on it? The role-playing possibilities are endless. Are we a lonely child, setting up his toys on the table in the basement and watching as our imagination brings them to life? Are we a geeky girl who is picked on by the basement-dwelling jerks of her local game store for not being a ‘real geek’, but who’s connection to the game is truer than the impotent males can ever fathom? Are the developers saying that our universe is little more than the play-space of some perpetually bored juvenile deity, using the game as a metaphor for existence?
Or is it just a flat texture laying beneath an equally flat game?