|Release Date||December 3rd, 2021|
Playwing LTD first announced Century: Age of Ashes at The Game Awards in 2020, and I had the opportunity to check out the beta in February of 2021. In my preview, I detailed how gameplay worked and what kind of modes that the game would be offering. I’ll rehash some of those things in this review, and not much has changed. However, it was good to see this game officially take flight. The launch may have been rough, but I believe fantasy geeks will be in their element. With so many free-to-play ongoing games out there, will Century be the one for you?
Spiritual Content: Century: Age of Ashes takes place in a high fantasy setting in which players ride dragons and battle one another. On the backs of those dragons, players will need to use magical abilities in battle.
Violence: This is a team-based online multiplayer game in which teams of up to six players battle for victory. While mounted on the backs of dragons, players will control those dragons and attempt to bring down their opponents with fire breath and fireballs. Opponents do not burn in great detail but will fall somewhat violently when defeated. Other NPC dragons burst into gold pieces when they are defeated.
I was excited about the launch of Century: Age of Ashes and was very grateful to receive the Behemoth Founder’s Pack. However, the game felt severely balanced and chaotic for the first few days. I was very disappointed since I enjoyed what I experienced in the beta. Knowing I would have to write this review, I took a break from the game for a few days. Upon returning, I learned that issues were fixed server-side, and the game was like I remembered it before. I’m pleased to report that I enjoyed it again after that. While you’ll still have the free-to-play trappings through the game, it is one of the more unique options for players out there—especially if you’re not into shooters or MMOs.
First of all, I want to reiterate what I mentioned in my preview. While I could play via mouse and keyboard, grabbing a controller is the way to go. Before going hands-on with the game, I was worried it would be too close to a flight sim. That discovery was much like when I first played Star Wars: Squadrons, and I was pleased that the control is not only a great option but the best option. You’ll use the triggers to control your flight speed, while you will use the face buttons for attacks and class abilities. The soft lock-on system also dramatically helps as you’ll be chasing down opponents at break-neck speeds. The controls being so accessible helps make the game fun for anybody who wants to give it a try.
The modes of gameplay that players will be diving into consist of Skirmish, Carnage, Gates of Fire, and Spoils of War. Skirmish is a small 3v3 deathmatch, while Carnage is a total 6v6 all-out war. I mentioned Gates of Fire and how much fun I’ve had with it in the past, and my opinion stands. Spoils of War is a new experience; each team must defeat other players and NPCs to earn gold and take it back to their base. A gem eventually spawns that a player can grab and hold onto for big points, or it is possible to pick up the vault-breacher when it generates and run it to the enemies coffers to have it explode for them to lose all of their gold. Along with Gates of Fire, Spoils of War is a high-action gameplay option and made for some great scenarios to take place.
With the beta only having a single map, I was happy to see some more at the game’s launch. I appreciate the fortress laid maps, but I enjoy the more open areas. One, in particular, is a desert wasteland. Not only do I fly into walls much less, but I find the wasteland to be visually stunning. One of Century‘s most substantial positives is that its presentation holds impressively high quality. The game is a treat to look at, from the dragons to the environments, but the audio design is excellent. There’s nothing like hearing the roar of your dragon before jumping off of the perch into battle. You’ll hear plenty of different sounds throughout each match that let you know what is happening without taking your eyes off the action. Hearing everything happening around you is an unsung tool for survival in Century.
An aspect I have to give praise to is the F2P elements and microtransactions. The developers have yet to include a Battle Pass; it feels nice not to feel tempted as if you need one to enjoy the game. When progressing through each XP level, you’ll gain a few rewards in the form of random drops, whether that be cosmetics, eggs, or XP boosts. The dragons themselves do not have any stats and remain purely cosmetic, which goes for each character class’s armor. You can also equip pieces of armor on your dragons, except for the legendary ones. Pay-to-win mechanics are a valid concern, and you won’t find them here. The mechanic that should keep you driven to play is hatching eggs and growing your dragons, which requires players to complete objectives in-game until they are full-grown and ready to fly.
The character classes are where the gameplay experience differs the most. As I mentioned in my previous article, there are three of them with more likely on the way. Marauder is an attacker, Windguard plays support, and Phantom has more stealthy traits. Each of them has specific duties in battle, and I imagine that a team in full commutation could use all of those abilities very well. I find it difficult to get out of being chased, so I enjoy using the Phantom’s cloak ability most. Although, I have an appreciation for the Marauder’s frost attack to give me an edge when I go on the attack. I also like the Windgaurd’s smoke trail, which can throw off enemies in the heat of a battle as well. For now, there is no limit on how many of each class, so it occasionally feels like the old days of Overwatch when three people would choose the same character.
The classes and layout of the maps are essential to building a good strategy, but refilling your health and stamina are critical for survival. Littered throughout each map are pickups such as health shields and stamina icons that will help keep you alive and moving. Vertical gusts that launch you and your dragon up the air are an excellent way to get out of dodge too. I’m guilty of wanting to jump right into the action, which has me killed more often than I’d like to admit, but that nearest pickup can be a live saver in the sketchiest of situations when I take the time to retreat. I can’t think of how many times I’ve been on the wrong end of a chase because I ran out of stamina or when I would lose my gold on the way back to base in Spoils of War for the same reason.
Century: Age of Ashes also has something for those of you who have a thing for lore. A bestiary section populates as you unlock more dragons and encounter new ones that other players might be using. It isn’t just a simple glossary either; there is a map that shows you from what part of the world these majestic beasts come from. Along with reading a bit of text on the dragons, you can view their models. The character classes aren’t some random red or blue faction either; each of them hails from different regions in the game’s world. While such a feature may not be necessary to the game’s enjoyment, it shows that it is a labor of love for the devs. They could have easily made a game without expanding on the world—even Chivalry 2 has a plot subtext the mass chaos of medieval warfare.
In closing, gaming has seen many predatory free-to-play games, many of them being shameless clones of others—Century: Age of Ashes is neither of those. Century is a competitive action game for the fantasy geeks who want something more than the umpteenth MMO or RPG. It shares similarities with dogfighting flight games overall, and its accessibility makes it a strong recommendation for players of any skill level. If I had to pick an area that the game could improve, it could use a few more maps and character classes, but those will come in the future. Having already experienced an in-game event, we’ll get more gameplay modes too. Century: Age of Ashes is an unrivaled experience, even with the slight lack of content. Console players will get to spread their wings later this year, while PC owners can check it out right now on Steam.
Founder’s Pack kindly provided by Evolve PR.
The Bottom Line
Despite a bumpy launch, Century: Age of Ashes is a unique experience that soars above a saturated market