I have been intensely consumed by this game since I started in September. With the assistance of some extra gems I managed to get a set of heroes allowing me to enjoy most parts of the game, I am also top player in my alliance so I often coordinate their actions, motivate them or serve advice. I never played any multiplayer mobile game before, not to count the Candy Sagas (as a match 3 addict) where the multiplayer aspect is vestigial, but I did spend thousands of hours in PC online games.
So instead of just focusing on “here and now” when I play E&P, I try also to think about the game long term - like, ok, I can go crazy about the pulls to get one specific hero - but how will that hero help me? Will it be fun to play? Will I ever use it in my roster? How long do I need to ascend it - and what are my other priorities? By the time I ascend it to max level, which can be even a year from now - will the game still be fun for me to play? The problem really comes down to - are there enough ways out there to let players enjoy rich portfolio of developed heroes (not arguably the end goal for everything there is in this game). For the record, PVM means Player Versus Monster and PVP means Player Versus Player.
So far, we have this:
- Completing the map of S1 - PVM
- Completing normal map of S2 - PVM
- Completing hard map of S2 - PVM
- Raiding - PVP
- Quests - PVM
- Challenges (like the Halloween or Christmas one) - PVM
- Events (like Avalon or the Guardians) > if you only care about completion - PVM / if you want to compete for top score - PVM/PVP
- Titans - PVM
- Alliance Wars - PVP
Now, to break this down:
Single Player. Map completion is a challenge, but 1. with set difficulty and 2. with no replayability. We know that even top players are farming the easy levels only as they have the most energy efficiency. Also, the rewards for completion are hardly worth the challenge. It’s a nice goal, but once you achieve it, this aspect of the game disappears completely. Maybe your goal could be building a team to let you wipe 8-7 in 20 seconds instead of 2 minutes, but that’s it. Quests, beside the rare ones, are also mostly just placeholders. I stopped caring about them after 2 months, so if they are aiming for 5-7 years life span, this is laughable. Now, on the other hand, challenges and events completion give really good experience of challenge and progression, plus the rewards are worth it. It forces the team composing strategies and rewards you for having wide selection of heroes. Personally for me that’s the most favourite part of the game, the only thing that worries me is that having a full rainbow team of randoms I pulled in my early weeks, I can beat almost everything (completed Halloween - easy and advanced, Christmas - paused at advanced 19 and only to finish my Proteus to deal with Mother North not spending that many items). Is that still satisfying challenge for long term players? I don’t know, maybe just for easy mats. But there’s a potential there for difficulty level increase if only SG wants it. Raiding is obviously that part of the game where players with big decks are shining. Nearly unlimited from difficulty standpoint, strategy planning etc. Even if the rewards are mediocre, people are still doing that - it’s a sign that this is a good feature, allowing for long life span. For event competition I already gave my opinion in a separate topic - I don’t like it at all, instead of playing a normal match 3 game, it is now a fest of items and skills thrown at the monsters in a form of speedrunning. Maybe there’s no better way to do it, idk, but for me it feels now more like abusing the game mechanics to score the highest, rather than to encourage playing. I know others would disagree.
On multiplayer side, both the Titans and the Alliance Wars reward wide rosters and add a lot of depth to the game. Titan’s difficulty level has a glass ceiling, but it is high enough to allow for that sense of progression even for the top players. Plus, the fact that you need to focus not only on your performance, but also on performance of your peers - adds variables to the equation and allows for a long-term entertainment. Alliance wars is really raiding^2, so also a huge life-extending component. If it gets boring at some point, they can just add 3 more flags per player and let people start figuring it out all over again.
So - to summarize and to finally get to my idea - most of the single player activities seem to be there just to allow for the players to start the game and get to a certain level. Long term satisfaction and reward for having a good hero roster is only provided by raiding. The system could be improved (people are suggesting adding different defense formations - and how about adding hero slots for def/attack after achieving certain tier? making the fights 6 vs 6 or 7 vs 7 and so on; easy concept to multiply the depth), but works well for now. Challenges and events explore the part of game I like the most - PVM with increasing difficulty curve to get some real rewards. Sadly, they are quite rare and also once you have the team to beat them (3200-3500 power max), it is over. I guess 4000 team owners don’t even give it much thought, it’s not different than yet another 8-7 fight for them.
Multiplayer activities provide much more long-term sense of progression and reward for developing your heroes. This is consistent with how any other video games work - human factor always adds complexity and entertainment, which is why people can spend thousands of hours playing the same multiplayer game over and over again, while single player games usually end after tens of hours at the most. Sadly, there aren’t that many options here. Plus E&P already limits the cooperation by not allowing for trading or exchanging heroes (which I somehow understand, we don’t want scammers to come here), private messaging etc. It hinders the aspect of the game that is actually the one allowing for really long term experience (and existence). Wihout that, player could consider the game ‘finished’ after beating the last boss of S1. For me it took 2 months. So I’d been long gone by now.
Now the real idea:
What I feel is missing right now is the combination of the good, old Empires&Puzzles mechanics that attracted most of the players to the game (progressing the map, matching gems and using skills to get rid of the monster waves + occasional boss) with the life-span extending factor of cooperating with other players to beat more and more difficult enemies.
So my idea would be to add completely new activity for alliances, beside Titans and Wars, where the alliance has to clear a randomly-generated map (disguise it as a cavern system, or dungeons, or mountain, or woods or whatever really). Alliance would have a limited time to play on it - I think no less that 3 days but not more than 7 days. It could be active two, maybe four times per month. This way it would kind of mirror the “challenges” we have for Christmas or had for halloween but in multiplayer environment.
There would be a last chamber with a ‘treasure’, but multiple ways to get there, with varying difficulty and variety of challenges, the deeper you go obviously the more difficult it becomes. Players would discover what’s behind the next chambers as their alliance progress through the map.
Some levels would have some neat tweaks to them - similar to some of the Atlantis levels. On higher stages throw the monsters that reflect certain damage type, forbid heroes of particular color, have heroes start with 1/2 HP or disable some item slots. There could be some perks on the map itself as well, like a chamber that requires a cooldown to pass through, sacrifacing certain amount of heroes, or a reward that gives you a buff for the next fight you take, or chamber that refreshes the cooldown/resurrects on using a hero of your choice etc. The perk discovered could be granted to a player who got there first only, or - in a more ambitious version - to entire alliance, with the alliance leader and coleaders allowed to decide how and on whom to spend them best.
Make it so that if a player fails to clear the stage completely, their progress is saved so the rest of alliance can pick up to finish (similar to how it works for wars).
Add tiers, similar to how it is for Titans. If alliance clears the map, they can advance to higher tier. If they fail 2-3 times in a row, they drop to tier below. On higher tiers, the final stages of the tiers would be really difficult. Like no “ok guys, let’s nerf the mobs a bit so people can’t complain they can’t beat the advanced challenge” difficult. Make it a real challenge that require team work and strategy planning of the entire alliance.
Obviously, to reward having wide hero rosters, there would need to be some restrictions on using the heroes. But maybe not a 1-time use only like for wars. Perhaps add a cooldown to use each hero. Or make it that their HP does not regenerate between the stages, and if they die, they die permanently and can’t be used on this map anymore. Unless you are lucky to find a perk during the map progression that allows you to resurrect one of them or remove/shorten the cooldown, for example.
Rewards for completion would need a good thinking probably. It would make sense to not only have a reward for reaching the last treasure chamber, but also some lower tier rewards in-between (like it is for challenges). And with that, while rewarding entire alliance participating in the map for the progress made would make most sense, I can imagine how SG would be hestitant to give away for example 30 scopes at once. And at the same time we don’t want the rewards to be complete trash not worth fighting for. There would need to be a decent system invented to consider how much each player contributed individually to making the progress (like a point based system we have for titans or wars) but at the same time, also rewarding those active but with weaker armies who, for example, sacrifaced half of their heroes throwing them at a certain level to allow passage for the players with better heroes so they can compete for a reward or a very-needed perk in the next chamber using better heroes (not having to use them to get there).
I could probably go on and keep writing, but I realize creating this is extensive labour and would definitely require a lot of planning, testing and consideration anyway, so just wanted to give some more high level overview of the idea and (while I understand it is extensive investment) explain why I think it’s needed if we want the game to live long, happy and rich life. Thanks for taking the time to read, and hopefully you like the idea and have some feedback how to make it better