Road to Valor: Empires – Paved with Good Intentions

Road to Valor: Empires – Paved with Good Intentions

So, here’s some backstory. Circa 2016, I was introduced to my first mobile tower rush game – quite sure most people who’ve played Clash Royale would relate. This led to one of the more fun, yet somewhat dark voids of my mobile gaming experience. After hitting Tower 13 in a few months of extremely active Clashing, the game became pure muscle memory rather than strategic skill and tugged at innate addiction tendencies that hadn’t surfaced for years. When I found myself nodding off whilst playing (conscious flex: and still winning) the game, Clash Royale was promptly uninstalled, and I haven’t gone near the genre since.

Fast-forward to a couple of months ago, when KRAFTON India announced the closed beta of Road to Valor: Empires – a less cartoony, mythological tower rush that launched in mid-2022. After a seven-year sabbatical, I decided to jump into the genre again.

Road to Valor: Empires – Beta-blockers

Road to valor empires

The closed beta was a bit of a letdown. The game has interesting mechanics and a very balanced resource/unit management system that’s easy to get a handle on but has a decent mastery curve. What bothered me personally was the opponents. Either KRAFTON had an extremely limited pool of testers, or the game only pitted players against bots. This formed my main issue with trying to review the game in the closed beta. The human element is a crucial part of tower rushes. There’s little satisfaction in outmanoeuvring a machine.

Additionally, the beta version of the game (intentionally or unintentionally) left access to the app’s backend. As a result, within the first two days of starting the game, I had an endless supply of gems, gold, and chests. Not to mention 90% of all the units on offer. Admittedly, this was great to try out all the upper-tier units (like the dragon, manticore, elf hunters and the like). Most of the game’s cards are brilliantly balanced. While some units seem overpowered, even the more outrageous ones have a fair bit of flex and flaw. Based on everything I tried out; every unit had a decent number of strategic counters. Must admit, though, the manticore was the only unit that became the true bane of my Road to Valor existence.

Coming back to gameplay, if you really need to see if a game is any good, you need to get the vanilla experience. The proverbial cherry on top was when I was locked out of the game (probably because of my accidental ‘hack’). With push having come to shove, I decided to wait for the game’s official release before adding my 2 paise to the opinion stockpile.

Road to valor empires

Road to Valor: Empires – To the baseline

Starting this game from scratch about a week after launch was a satisfying experience. The game had enough time to get a decent player base and iron out the nascent kinks. The gameplay was just the right amount of challenging and fun. At the time of writing this review, Road to Valor has 12 guardians and 86 playable units spanning four pantheons – Norse, Roman, Persian, and Japanese.

Players are given five loadout slots, each comprising eight units and one guardian. Based on each person’s playstyle, the player could aim to have one loadout for each pantheon. Mixed units are strategically possible, but units that aren’t from the same pantheon as the guardian of the loadout usually lose out on some buffs.

Action economy is crucial. Personally, I’ve found balance in load-outs that have an average of 2.8-3.5 action points per unit – but again, that depends on player comfort.

road to valor empires

Road to Valor: Empires – Pay or Play?

With a fresh account, it took me a couple of days of light gameplay to plateau. This usually occurs in tower rush games when your opponents have been through the grind and levelled up their unit cards significantly more than you. After that, it’s a waiting/grinding game. Play enough games to get chests, then wait for the daily free chest keys to replenish so you can unlock them and get the cards necessary to upgrade your units. The plateau is usually when these games become a chore.

This is also when the game starts pushing the gateway bundles – cards and currencies at the base or nominal values to push players into spending actual money. Like most mobile games, Road to Valor has the same borderline pay-to-win issues. However, seasoned players will learn to avoid the potholes and grind the freeway – and this will (so far) not hamper your overall experience. 

road to valor empires

The low-cost bundles are tempting, but one can take the slow route and find satisfaction in the same. In short: as far as the market is concerned, the game at least tries to keep it fair.

Road to Valor: Empires – Verdict

road to valor empires

Overall, Road to Valor: Empires is a fun tower rush game that looks good, challenges players, and keeps it all rather clean and fun. The combination of strategy, action economy and application of unique unit characteristics promises to keep things interesting; and if KRAFTON decides to add more pantheons and units, the permutations will encourage players to keep a constantly evolving front when creating their load-outs.

TLl;DR? The game’s still young, but entertaining, with definite potential to stay relevant – and isn’t that something all mobile players want?

Road to Valor: Empires

Road to Valor: Empires Android | iOS

Release Date: 15 March 2023
Developer: DreaMotion
Publisher: KRAFTON Inc.
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Prakrit Dhondiyal