It may bear the hallmarks of many other free-to-play multiplayer titles - particularly browser-based ones like Evony, thanks to its functional artwork - but there's a personality to Arcane Empires that keeps you building and battling for days.
This freemium, online-only strategy game is bursting with content and bustling with other players all vying for their piece of a war-torn realm. But only those willing to make a real investment of time and money will truly scratch the surface of its Steampunk-infused perpetual conflict.Peace time
There might be a background story about seeking independence from the merciless Korassian Empire, but new players will be too busy expanding their first city to look at the bigger picture.
You get seven days' grace in Arcane Empires to build your Settlers-esque township, reinforce its defences, and train armies before you get involved in the fighting.
Kabam's MMORTS does a solid job of guiding you through those daunting preparation times, even if it feels a little like hand-holding at points, with a series of missions to complete based around building certain structures.
From living quarters to scouting towers and crystal mines, each one is essential to supplying your city with the population and resources needed to fund further development.
Everything is tap-controlled, from navigating the many menus to selecting new building areas on the grid-style maps, and there's always something new to construct or research in your laboratories.
Some larger projects take a long time to build, so if you're impatient you'll need to speed them up using the game's coin-based currency.
It's fortunate that you get a generous bankroll just for signing up to the developer's network, because the cheapest package of coins will set you back a sizeable amount (nearly £6 at the time of writing).Total War
No matter how well-stocked your land and air units are, however, before taking on any battles with neighbouring empires you need to forge alliances with established empires.
As well as making the game more social, and giving you something to chat about using the constantly updating in-game messaging, forming alliances lets you plan attacks and discuss long-term strategies.
This is when Arcane Empires really starts to open up. While battling is little more than a rock-paper-scissors affair that you only hear about in mission reports, expanding your power, supporting your Alliance, and planning strategies is undoubtedly rewarding.
Without question, the game's slow build-up and rather low-res visuals won't appeal to everyone, but gamers looking for a strategy experience with a welcoming community of players should sign-up to this online rebellion.