The reviews I made of the Caesar games actually date back to 2020, but due to struggles with capturing footage and not being completely fond of what I had originally written, they were put on hold until recently. Surprisingly, the year I thought of making progress on those old articles, I found out this series got a spiritual sequel! Admittedly, discovering that it was a free cooperative MMORTS did make me raise an eyebrow, but seeing Simon Bradbury on board made me somewhat more optimistic. Until I played it, that is.
My fears were true
In this civilisation manager, you are given a small area nearby a big metropolis to control where you need to place buildings to gain resources. Sure, there are establishments you need to put near the homes of the inhabitants in order for them to evolve, but the flat landscape makes this uninteresting. Materials for various upgrades like wood or water are nonchalantly acquired from appropriate constructions, with the real obstacle being the amount of real-life time they require to respawn. In other words, you will have to wait in order to slowly collect more, which adds to the tedium.
Furthermore, you have a restriction in picking them up as well, due to this costing command points that are regained at a monotonous pace. This inconvenience is present to make you spend actual money on cards, which are random in what support they can offer and the gratis versions being rare. Some you might not even want to use, like the one for gaining a ton of fish as you can only hold a maximum of items unless you expand their inventories.
Unfortunately, this just evolves the lacklustre gameplay, because you can only acquire new buildings and higher stats if you have the required level as a senate and research points. Yes, there are some RPG elements thrown in, as the residentials will slowly give you XP for both your rank and unlockable benefits. Even the missions that can also grant you rewards, are just bland achievements that effortlessly try to get you hooked.
Regrettably, I simply got agitated as there are no strategies involved in elevating your tiny landscape and everything is all about twiddling your thumbs until there are resources to collect. When you have gained enough prestige from constructing plenty of facilities and acquired a higher position, you move over to a new area where you have to redo this all over again. Thankfully, you get to bring what you made to the next location, but it is barely any help when things will become more expensive. Honestly, the only element I somewhat appreciate is the ability to replace establishments for a few command points.
MMO aspects were also marketed for this entry, but this essentially means you can gather materials from other towns at the cost of more CP. It certainly makes the playthrough closer to endurable and you can even buy or sell your own products to the giant metropolis. Sadly, it is hardly any help, since you still have to wait in order to do anything. In fact, this is just a way to benefit from other people playing and is not co-op at all.
Incredibly enough, the combat is actually worse. On your terrain, you can move a person representing your army to get nearby bandits or their camps to initiate a battle for gaining land, which will happen on a separate screen. These are simply wars of nutrition since all NPCs are aggressive and you have a limited amount of moves to tell your group where to go and who to attack, requiring you to have as strong soldiers as possible. Because of this, I simply fought a bit before retreating, used my limited denarii to regain troops, and then resumed the match until I won.
Frankly, the annoyances escalate because of the slow trading with other countries, permits for more construction being halted until you evolve your expensive forum, extremely repetitive tasks, and no need to ever strategise. Even creating your own fort is just about placing fences and units depending on the space you have, due to the mindless opponents. Sure, this is free to play, but that does not mean it cannot have anything of value. When my interactions are basically all about how patient I am and not how clever I play, it makes me question what I am spending my time on.
Gameplay Score: 1/10
Lifeless is what I believe can summarise this instalment. Menus are bland, the areas are dull wastelands, and even the water does not move. The worst is the poorly made characters, as they are all shallow and terribly rendered with barely any animations. I will say that the establishments can look adequate, but you cannot zoom in to appreciate any detail, which honestly seems like an intentional design due to the poor resolutions. Despite that the houses do vary in upgrades and decently resemble those from this era, this is a boring world to witness, which is impressive to call ancient Rome!
To be fair, the images used for loading screens, cards, and research are beautiful depictions of significant events, like gathering resources or going to war! All are colourful and seem handmade, making them the best part of the entire product. I can also commend that you are somewhat able to customise your family shield, which is cute if minor. As for the audio, it is underwhelming with very few cues for anything. Even the music consists of repetitive orchestral scores that I ended up muting. None of them is calming, exhilarating, or any kind of atmospheric; just forgettable.
Presentation Score: 1.5/10
Neglecting my land
If you think about this; you have to wait for ages to do anything, forcing you to mainly check in on the rare occasion just to gather materials and maybe upgrade something. This is all the input there is for acquiring worthless milestones or the highest rank, void of anything requiring brain activity. Demanding anyone to spend thousands of hours basically doing nothing, must be the definition of depression. Frankly, no updates could make this game engaging unless every single aspect was redone.
Extra Score: 1/10
Believe me, I hoped this was simply a misunderstood project that had more to offer, especially seeing as developers of the first Caesar instalments joined in on this. Sadly, this is all I hate about poor mobile apps; hardly anything to call interaction, next to no effort in presentation, and inconveniences to make the player spend as much money as possible. It is truly difficult to say anything clever to wrap this review up, as this title is pure garbage.