Pros:

  • Can be played on anything
  • Easy to start
  • Good tutorial
  • Deep combat mechanics
  • Rewards player strategy
  • Min/maxer’s paradise

Cons:

  • Mostly text-based
  • Stats can be overwhelming
  • Obtuse mechanics
  • Premium feature advertisements
tl;dr – Gladiator sim MMO with real strategy, novel combat mechanics,and a text-heavy interface.

Pit of War is a browser-based gladiator MMO developed and published by Outcast Games. It was originally released on December 15, 2010.

Gameplay

Pit of War isn’t your traditional MMO. For one, there are no fancy animations, there is no map for your character to walk into. There is not even a picture of the enemy you fight. Instead, there is a ton of flavorful text that describes what your enemy in detail. It’s actually kind of nice to review a game like Pit of War. I was intrigued by a strategy browser game that was potentially something different than the pay to win city builders. And it’s not like there are a lot of gladiator themed MMOs to review to begin with.

At its core Pit of War is a gladiator training sim. You start by buying a slave from a Slave Trader. From there you train into one of the three specialties or classes: Rage, War, and Theatrics. Since this game is about gladiators, all three classes you can pick are specialized in melee; they just have different ways of fighting.

Rage gladiators fight like a wounded berserker, and all their skills are offensive focused, smashing bones and armor alike. War Gladiators are balanced between offense and defense. They’re also capable of wielding a large range of weapons. Theatric gladiators focus on amusing the crowds and taunting the opponents. This specialty focuses on feints and evasions.

After picking and equipping the gladiator, you can now send him to the Arena. The Arena is where the meat of the game is. Arena fights are one on one with 12 rounds each. Battles in this game are completely automatic. After clicking the fight button, you are immediately taken to the result page, which shows a blow by blow description, in eloquent detail, of how the fight went.

You can also go to the Tavern to make your gladiators take on a quest. Compared to the Arena, quests give tiny gold and XP, but they have a chance to drop items with extra options. Each gladiator can only do ten quests per day.

But the newest feature in Pit of War is the Conquest. In Conquest, you assemble a team of fighters and send them to fight in a dungeon. While inside the dungeon, you can control where your party will move, but the fights are still automatic. Defeating the dungeons’ end boss finishes the raid, netting you a relatively robust drop item. It breaks the immersion of gladiatorial fighting with random dungeons, but it is nice to have something else to do.

The Good

First off, this game is a browser MMO game and as a result, can be played on anything. And unlike other games, Pit of War doesn’t use browser plugins like Flash or Silverlight. This allows you to pretty much play the game on any OS, as long as they have a web browser installed.

The game is also easy to start with. You start first with a short yet useful tutorial where it shows you on how to play the game. The game also has an extensive help system for each section that explains to you each part of the game.

But the best part about Pit of War is that the actual fights themselves require real strategy to win. You can’t power level your way in. The enemy you fight in the arena is more or less on the same level as your gladiator. You can’t win by just decking your characters with high-class items either. The items in this game are not that powerful.

As a result, the fights boil down to how you set your combat strategy. The battle tactics in this game are pretty sophisticated. You can tell your gladiators whether to focus on slash, bash or lunge, where to aim their attacks, what body part to proactively defend, how active they are, and how bloodthirsty they should be. And you can set it so that it switches strategy depending on certain triggers.

For example, you can make your gladiator focus on doing hit and run on the first round. Then you can set a trigger for a second round to make him focus attacking the enemies’ leg to lower their mobility. Afterward, you can set another trigger that makes your gladiator go on an all-round offensive once the enemies movement is gone. RPG gamers who liked companion tactics in Dragon Age: Origins or Final Fantasy XII’s combat system might really enjoy Pit of War.

The Bad

Unfortunately for the modern graphics loving crowd, the game is also mostly text-based. There are no attack animations, no special effects. All you get is a sentence describing how your gladiator attacked, and whether it successfully connected, along with the damage inflicted. As this is a far cry from most modern MMOs, this game is certainly not for everyone.

The game is also extremely stats heavy. There’s a lot of stats to keep track of. Just from the top of my head, you have to monitor your health, endurance, your equipment durability, your seven primary stats, your skills, etc. Pit of War is pretty much a spreadsheet game. If you hate Excel you might want to stay away.

The game also has pretty obtuse mechanics. While the game does tell you what each of the stats/skills does, it doesn’t give an actual formula or even a number. As a result, you’re stuck second guessing on whether your stat/skill picks actually have the desired effect or not.

Another annoying part of this game is the blatant advertisement of premium features. There’s a lot of stuff in Pit of War that requires Trophies, the game’s premium currency, to use. For example, the game boasts that you can upgrade your stable with various building and NPCs. But virtually every building and NPC requires Trophies, and not gold, to build. The few buildings that require gold change to requiring Trophies after an upgrade or two. It’s a really annoying bait and switch tactic.

Closing Thoughts

Let me finish this review by saying that Pit of War is an interesting gladiator sim MMO that focuses on actual fight strategy – a true rarity nowadays. Unfortunately, the game is also mostly text-based, with a heavy emphasis on stats that’s sure to turn away most players. The obtuse mechanics and the bait and switch premium features don’t help either.

In the end, I only recommend this game to strategy MMO aficionados who don’t mind the lack of graphics.

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