Ensemble Online is a new browser-based hybrid game, a blend of favorite elements from the genre of sandbox, strategy and RPG. Set in a mythical land called Cidona, the MMO leads players into an open world where they find their way of living out of the many possibilities around economics, battles, land-capturing and cooperation of mankind.
Ensemble Online starts straightforwardly with a simple character design and then shifts into a brief tutorial. The tutorial is quite old-style in presentation which will probably remind you of that of the Grepolis, a RTS game released couples of years ago. It covers the several basics of harvesting resources, constructing buildings, fighting animals and upgrading towers and walls in a few steps. While the guidance signals a really simple game seemingly, it is actually leaving the much exploration and discovery in the world to every player.
Similar to its motley of elements, the in-game world is also a mixture of various styles where fantasy meets steam-punk and where bows & arrows and spells coexist with pistols and robots. But it requires some patience and takes time before you are able to access to all these features.
No quest line or any other form of manipulative guidance. With the total freedom there may appear a moment of blankness and aimlessness. But after that, you begin to find something to do yourself and since you come to this land with nothing, you start from the very trivial of labor: gather wood and stones, which are building materials for mills, farms, towers and other buildings in your futuristic landscape.
The gathering act itself is rather boring as the inside you just stand in front of the bush or stone with a pickaxe above it while the outside you simply click on it consecutively one time after another. But you decide to bear it for a while in order to get the materials you need to start building until you finally have enough and run away to seek for something more exciting.
You wander around in the unknown land and then you encounter and fight a low-level wolf. You win easily and get some coins from the victory. If you want, you can continue walking and fight more to gain more coins and grow stronger at once. As you wander around, you may also find an easier way to harvest resources – there are some collectible bushes and stones that allow you to harvest automatically once you start. That takes some work off and accumulates resources quickly for you. Besides, there are numerous new stuff such as artifacts and outposts scattered here and there in the vast map that wait to be discovered.
When you get enough resources, you can start building a land of your own. The first thing to consider is location: do you want to live a life of hermit alone in some remote and less populated area or do you prefer having some neighbors to get in touch with the human warmth and mutual help? It is up to you. You can build your quiet retreat behind some remote dune, constructing farmland and setting up walls and defense; and you can also nestle down in the most sought-after region with rich resources and make friends with neighbors sharing your defensive towers to watch out for each other and help each other in the economics, too.
Ensemble Online is free-to-play and accessible on multiple platforms including PC, Mac, Linux and mobile devices. It appeals to both casual and hardcore players with its scalable contents and endless possibility of enjoying it. It simply conjures up a free realm where everyone can pursue for a unique style of life with a special flavor and experience no matter it is simple, laborious or adventurous.