Update: I was unfortunately not aware of Shamus Young's severe criticism of Fallout 3 available here to link in the original piece and I regret that. It dovetails rather nicely with what I've written and it's much better executed than my piece. I strongly recommend anyone...
Oh, tell me why... do we build the castles in the sky?
Apparently, a single knight living reclusively in the single castle of his domain can lead to ornately framed dragqueen portraits of himself. At least that's what the announcement trailer for The Mighty Quest for Epic Loot posted below would imply. I mean, what else is he supposed to do after accumulating so much gold... by raiding the castles of all his friends? (This is not an analogy of what I do in real life, I think.)
When I entered into the room at the Ubisoft building in San Francisco bearing the artwork of The Mighty Quest for Epic Loot, a game I actively knew little about (so as to be surprised), I didn't know what to think. Then they told me it was a free-to-play title strictly for PC, and I had to prevent my brain from making too many assumptions. So I panned the room. And all of the journalists that were there before had stayed longer, in part because they had to wait for the stations due to the previous gathering of journalists, in part because... I think you got the idea. They were all entranced.
The idea behind The Mighty Quest for Epic Loot is simpler than it might seem at first. It's all about raiding the castles of other players while they attempt to raid your castle in retaliation or for the sake of plunder. Both attacking and defending is crucial to keeping your coiffers full (and your ego intact), so that your character has strong weapons, equipment, and skills and that your castle is well-stocked with grunts and bosses.
Select the Attack option and your chosen avatar, of which you can have several, will pan the sky of island castles, each displaying their overall level and defense rating. Successfully raiding a castle means reaching the treasure room at the end by clearing any enemies along the way, Diablo-style, and evading any traps that might slow you down. Since you only have a limited amount of time, in proportion to the castle's defense rating, to reach the final room, wasting any time needlessly exploring and going down deadends needs to be avoided at all costs.
On defense, however, you need to prevent players from breaching your defenses and taking away a percentage of your gold away. Selecting the Defend option sends you to a dungeon editor where you can to connect room pieces and plop down creatures in aggro groups. I happened to spend coins on room pieces with plenty of bottlenecks for devious traps and on enemies like rams who can stun foes to the ground and bone summoners who can raise minions of their own. Anything that sucks the time away from pesky invaders, without extending the time limit for invaders too much, is well worth the price. On the chance that your castle does get successfully raided, it will be temporarily shielded from further raids by that player for about 12 hours.
Even better, everything in the game is free-to-play and the premium currency of gems is there only for convenience. In fact, the best items and creatures in the game can only be purchased using coins, limiting the impact of "pay to win" scenarios. In other words, this game might just hook me for months. The Mighty Quest for Epic Loot is currently in Closed Beta and will arrive soon for PC.