Now for something a little different: please allow me to indulge in one of my guilty pleasures. I not only really like breedable pets and virtual pet games, but I have been a horse lover since I was a little girl. From time to time, I get the itch to find a new free to play, browser-based, multi-user breedable horse game… and my current quest has led me to Horse World Online.
Now, this is not a new game by any stretch, but I’m not completely familiar with its long history. I do know that they recently funded a KickStarter, which is quite impressive! It also just relaunched last month, so it’s still early on in the site’s re-release development.
Not Pay to Win
I’ve been involved with virtual pet games for a long time. I know my account at Horwse is over 7 years old, because I earned that achievement the last time I browsed by and decided to log in.
Now, Horwse is probably the biggest name out there in browser based horse breeding games. However, believe it or not, it is super pay to win. I mean, ArcheAge don’t got a thing on Howrse, which is why I stopped playing it every time.
If you want a horse that has any meaning in that game, you have to be part of the leet breeding circles who seem to do nothing but pump time and RL cash into their chosen breed of horses, training them at insane speeds and breeding them over and over. Basically, any horse you breed (if you play the game like a normal person) can never hope to compete with the top horses. Your horses are irrelevant before they are born.
While I never expect to be a top player, I simply don’t find that fun. The company is certainly making big money off those breeding circles, so they just keep upping the stars a horse can achieve and let it run its course. It’s a case of whales vs. minnows. I’m totally a minnow and they do nothing to cover up that fact.
Anyhow, this post isn’t about my long-standing grief with Howrse, but rather the fact that Horse World Online doesn’t do that. They do have an optional subscription for perks if you want (though it’s a fraction of the cost of anything at Howrse). But you can also purchase permanent perks for your account for a very reasonable cost: things like faster regeneration of “turns” (known as days) and a larger max number of days you can accumulate.
While, yes, you can purchase upgrades to your account’s ability to train horses and win races if you want, there’s nothing that allows you to perpetually speed up a horse’s aging and development beyond the norm.
When you train a horse, it doesn’t effect the horse’s genetics and offspring (which, coming from Horwse was odd to me). But after I thought about it, I realized this is not only realistic (a horse will only pass what’s already in genetics), but also prevents the stat bloat and leetism I saw at Horwse.
So what is it that I like, aside from it not being a P2W game?
- You can adopt a starter horse of an ancient breed, and then begin crossing those breeds to create new, modern breeds. This is a very cool concept and gives those who want to discover breeds something to work towards!
- You breed for color! And wow, is this seriously interesting and realistic. I didn’t realize I knew so little about official horse colors until I played this. For example, grey Arabians have been introduced in the game… and it’s so very neat to watch your horse turn more and more grey as they age.
- Breeding for stats – parents pass innate genetics only. There are some horses with very poor stats (highlighted in red) and some with awesome stats (highlighted in green). It should be fun to work on getting multi-green horses.
- Horses are evaluated on their build, height and other factors based on the standards for the breed. Neat concept!
SO MANY BREEDS! Seriously, hundreds of breeds, many I didn’t even know existed. This is not your standard Arabian, Thoroughbred, Appaloosa pony game.
You can develop your own farm and change the farm’s layout!
This game is very liberal with handing out free tokens and days. You race your horse in local events to earn money – depending on their stats, they can race at higher levels. But you also have a chance with each race to win a token or a free turn. I find this happens quite often, and it really keeps me playing.
The horse artwork changes dynamically as time passes. If you watch, you can see your horse actually change in small ways every time you progress a day. A foal grows up. A horse gains weight. A mare in foal becomes heavier over time. A foal’s color changes as they mature, and they often don’t even look like the same horse once they reach adulthood. It’s super cool to watch a grey horse turn grey over time, and see if they’ll be a speckle or if their mane and tail will change, too.
Your player avatar also gains levels. This opens up stats that you can choose. I’m not completely sure that all of the features behind this are unlocked yet, but it seems to effect the kind of learning you can level.
You level in knowledge. You can level your horse handling to increase your max horses, max broodmares, max breedable stallions, etc. You can also level your ability to train your horses and hold your own events.
You can join player-created competitions to win prizes and points. There is a leaderboard for the horses and players with the most wins.
You can create your own player competition for other people to run. Training allows you to unlock more competitions at once, and higher level competitions.
There’s a market. You can obviously buy and sell horses. You can also offer your stallions as studs and make cash that way.
Growing community. The site seems to be based around a forum foundation. There’s a forum community, and so far, they’ve seemed polite and supportive.
In closing… I really like what I see in Horse World Online. I think this is the breeding game I’ve been looking for over the years. I wish I had backed it during Kickstarter, but I’ve put a little bit of money into account upgrades to make up for it.
As long as the devs stay away from P2W tactics of their competitors, I can see myself being an avid supporter of this game. I really would love to see it do well and flourish. I think it’s the kind of online game horse lovers could really get excited about.