With a whole new quest system, We Rule receives its most important update yet
While not an entirely new game, We Rule Quests is almost a complete renovation of the original We Rule, providing new gameplay elements (mainly Quests), new graphics and overall a much more stable experience than before.
We Rule has been one of the most popular social games for the iPhone since it was released earlier this year. Providing players with an ever-expanding kingdom to rule over was something fresh, exciting and most importantly, unique. While it seemed that in recent months ngmoco has been a bit busy with its other ‘We’ titles such as We City and We Farm, they haven’t forgotten the original success of We Rule with the recent release of We Rule Quests, a whole new app built seemingly from the ground up to take advantage of new features as well as improve on many things.
Releasing this app with the new Quests tag on the end, there is an entirely new gameplay element to be found that further enhances the player experience in We Rule. These quests can be found by tapping the shield icon in the bottom-right corner of the play screen and show you your active quests, as well as quests you’ll be able to take later on.
The quests in We Rule Quests range from those requiring neighbor interaction to those that require you to complete quests in your kingdom. The initial quest given is one that requires neighbor interaction, so you’d better hope you have some active friends or you may be stuck on it for quite some time.
In light of the new quest system which manages to improve on the existing formula and will likely bring back old players that haven’t touched the game in a while, the question remains as to whether or not it will keep those old players around for long. One of the main reasons I’ve stuck with FrontierVille on Facebook is because of its elaborate quest system which makes it more reminiscent of a traditional video game. There’s no reason to doubt We Rule Quests can’t entice players in the same way.
On top of the new quest system there are a few other improvements. Mainly, the addition of full retina display support for the iPhone 4 and iPod Touch 4G. It’s a nice addition, as the old We Rule app was a bit ugly and pixilated when viewed on newer devices. Other minor touches include new fonts all around and a much improved HUD design.
I suppose since We Rule Quests is still free, there really shouldn’t be much holding both new and existing players back from trying out this new version. While I can definitely see the appeal of the new version, and while it may be a marked improvement over its predecessor, I’m still not sure this is enough to keep the players who’ve previously abandoned the game coming back for more. We’ll have to see in a months time if it still has its claws into former players like myself.
We revisit the fantasy kingdom of We Rule
A little over four months ago, iPhone gamers around the world saw the release of We Rule. A social game about building your own kingdom, the game was ngmoco’s first attempt to bring Facebook-style social gaming to the iPhone. It was an instant success with gamers, but critics were quick to lament gameplay that emphasized brevity over depth. With four months worth of updates now behind it, has there been enough change in the land of We Rule to change our originally harsh opinions?
Yes and no. After spending another week in the land of We Rule, it became readily apparent to this reviewer that nothing has happened to rectify any of our earlier complaints with the game. The gameplay still remains relatively shallow, requiring only the briefest of moments to check in on your villagers and crops each day. Outside of occasionally constructing new buildings and rotating your crops, there’s still very little to do in We Rule.
And yet while none of our earlier complaints about the game have been rectified, there have been enough small tweaks and new additions made in the last few months to make We Rule a more enjoyable experience than it was at launch. Regular updates have seen the level cap raised, the assortment of buildings and decorations increased, and a whole host of stability improvements to improve performance. With new buildings added weekly, players always have a reason to come back every day to earn more gold.
One of the most notable changes in recent months is how many options players have when downloading We Rule. A quick search for “we rule” on the App Store brings up We Rule, We Rule RED, We Rule GOLD, We Rule for iPad, and We Rule GOLD for iPad. That’s a lot of We Rule. It may seem fairly confusing at first, but when you strip away all of the red and gold options you’re left with the core game, and that’s all you really need to worry about. The rest of these are downloads that include the core game and offer you a bonus of 10 mojo, We Rule‘s pay-for-play in game currency. It’s a nice bonus, but for some reason these other versions don’t get updated as often as the core version, so it’s best to snag them for the mojo boost and then return to the original version.
The addition of an iPad version is a big plus for those lucky enough to sport Apple’s larger iDevice. Entire kingdoms can be viewed on screen at once, making it easier to navigate and collect funds from buildings and harvest crops with a tap of the finger. Menu navigation feels a little more comfortable here too, as you can explore the build menu without ever leaving your kingdom.
Finally, like all good social games, We Rule is best when played with lots of friends. During my initial review back in March, I’d managed to keep my Plus+ network of friends to a minimum, focusing on only those I actually know in the real world. Since that time I’ve received hundreds of friend requests from strangers, and like a devious social gamer, accepted them all. Now I can easily while away 20 minutes placing orders at neighboring kingdoms, set to reap the rewards once those orders are filled. It’s not that I’m endorsing playing with strangers, but there’s no avoiding the fact that We Rule becomes significantly more fun with every friend you`ve got.
They may not have addressed any of the issues we’d taken umbrage with back in March, but ngmoco has managed to keep enough fresh content coming to satisfy even them most disinterested of fans. It may be a shallow offering, but when coupled with friends We Rule manages to offer up a satisfying diversion for the social-minded iPhone gamer.
We Rule Review
Social gaming has become something of a phenomenon over the past year, and yet the only platform where anyone can seem to get it right is Facebook. We Rule is looking to change all that. The latest title from the critically-acclaimed iPhone publisher ngmoco, We Rule places you in command of your own kingdom where you’ll manage farms, collect taxes, and visit neighbouring kingdoms controlled by your friends. But is the social experience really as engaging as its Facebook competition?
In We Rule you’ll manage an entire kingdom with little more than a tap of your finger. You’ll build homes, set up shops, and pick crops as you endeavour to make yours the largest kingdom in the land. Like many social games, your success will be entirely dependent on how quickly you can earn experience points and in-game currency. As you level up more buildings and crops become available to you, which in turn can earn you more money and experience.
It’s a common formula, but with a good deal of depth it can usually be tweaked to create a rich experience unique to a certain game. We Rule lacks any of this depth and tends to borrow a little too heavily from two pre-existing successes.
On the one hand We Rule is a farming game. You’ll pick seeds, plant your crops, and harvest them after a set period of time. This is reminiscent of FarmVille and a dozen other farming games that we’ve seen before. We wouldn’t mind the similarity if it managed to make the experience as fun as the games it borrowed from, but in We Rule the farming experience just fell flat. A big part of what makes farming so charming on Facebook is that you’re able to manage fields upon fields of crops. In We Rule the number of crops you can manage is so minuet that it almost seems like an afterthought. You’ll unlock plots of farmland as you progress through the game, but even more than a dozen levels in I was only given 9 patches of land to care for, and caring for these lands took mere seconds.
The other popular social genre that We Rule borrows from to round out its package is the resort-style gameplay made popular by Happy Island and Tiki Resort. Shallow by their very nature, these games are all about building attractions and coming back to collect coins from them after so many hours have passed. The buildings in We Rule follow this formula to a tee. Whether you’re building a guild hall, a lumber mill, a school house or a cottage, the experience is exactly the same. Set up the building, tap on it once it’s finished a job to cash it out. Unlike the resort-style games it draws from, the buildings can’t be upgraded. Again – We Rule has missed what made the games it borrows from so much fun.
Still, that’s not to say We Rule wasn’t enjoyable on some level. Despite the shallow gameplay, We Rule managed to keep its hooks into us the way any good social game should. There was just enough levelling and enough interaction with friends to keep me coming back every day to check on my kingdom, even if I wondered why I bothered every time I was there.
The social elements in We Rule are smart, but they could have been smarter. Rather than sending gifts to your friends or cleaning up their yards as we’ve seen time and time again in the social arena, We Rule has you visiting the shops your neighbours have set up and placing orders for unique items. This nets experience and gold for both parties, and gives a pretty decent incentive to log in regularly as you won’t be able to start the order that your friend commissioned unless you manually approve it. We were disappointed to find out that the items themselves were entirely fictitious, but we still liked the way the system was set up. It’s just a shame that the items weren’t actual products that could be added to your existing buildings, or possibly collected and combined to unlock new buildings or crops. It seems like an obvious thing to do, but again, We Rule missed out on the one thing that would have made a specific gameplay feature truly fun.
It might not be the game that’s going to boldly usher in an era of Facebook-style gameplay on the iPhone, but there is one feature here that we hope to see repeated in the future: a well-placed use of push notifications. Push notifications, for those who don’t know, are the text message type pop-ups that certain applications on the iPhone will “push” to your display even when you’re out of the app. We Rule uses these brilliantly. You’ll get a push when your crops are ready, a push when someone has placed an order in your shops, and a push when someone else’s order has just been delivered. Because the game is so limited in terms of number of shops and crops available, the pushes never become so frequent that they seem bothersome. And if they’re not your cup of tea, they can always be switched off in the settings.
We Rule is a brave concept that’s somewhat addictive, but the experience wears thin all too quickly. In trying so hard to produce a Facebook-style experience, the developers behind We Rule missed the point of the games it borrowed from while they forgot about all of the things that make iPhone gaming so great. Sure we love quick-fix, 2 minute gaming – but iPhone gamers also want an experience that’s engaging. Logging in twice a day to tap on crops and cottages just doesn’t cut it. We Rule is simple and it’s free, but it’s not as much fun as we’d hoped.