It’s been a long standing idea that a Dragon guards his or her gold in a cave, tormenting villagers to collect more and murdering those that get too close to their stash. In a way, they are the original Hoarders taking more than they need to fill their homes from bottom to top with the shiny gold coins and jewels. This is where the game Hoard gets its premise, but it mixes more than a quirky lore in this Playstation Network game.
Hoard is a variety of things we come to adore in arcade titles. It’s part dual stick shooter, part leveling RPG, part strategy, and even a dash of co-op that we so adore on the side. Even with all of those elements, the gameplay is fairly straight forward and simple enough to learn. You are a dragon you see, and you have to fly around and make a few choices as to what to destroy.
You can destroy a town and keep it from prospering, or let it grow a bit with the carts of goods coming from the farms. If the town grows, they establish defenses, but they transport more gold for the taking. This is where the strategy comes in. Defenses will injure your dragon, but the more gold you bring back to your Dragon’s nest the faster you will “level up” various skills (flying speed, duration of fire breathing, amount of gold you can carry, and your personal defense).
The best way to earn money is to ambush carts, destroy towns, or steal the princess. Princesses are transported periodically from castle to town, and all you have to do is destroy her carriage and take her back to the Dragon nest - but beware, the valiant knights will try to rescue her. You have to keep her un-rescued until she adds to your gold supply.
Another challenge in the single player is the other dragons you have to “beat” to the finish. These dragons will be ambushing carts, steal princesses, and even attack you so you drop the gold you’re carrying. The idea is to earn more gold than they do by the time the clock runs out.
In the co-op this AI dragon enemy disappears, though. It’s just you and up to three other buddies working together to torment as many towns, transport carts, or princesses as possible. This is a great way to get a gold medal on each map (at 250,000 points), which you had to work together to accomplish. There were even special towers that were entirely too tough to take out by yourself and required some coordination to bring them down as a team. More things like this in the co-op, or other coordination challenges really would add to the experience.
The gold stashed at the Dragon’s nest is shared between all players, even if the score is individual (competitive co-op). As the amount of players increases, the various maps will open up to you. As it stands, each configuration of players - be it 2, 3 or 4 co-op players - each only have two maps to play on. To make matters worse, there’s only one co-op mode to play.
On the other hand, there are three different ways to play Hoard in the single player. Princess Rush is a mad dash to rescue a set number of princesses, while survival has you withstanding against enemies as long as possible. Finally there’s grab and stash, the only mode available for co-op with your fellow dragons. There isn’t even a co-op lobby for players to stay connected to one another.
As a whole, Hoard is an incredibly addictive game reaching for that high score, stealing the princess, and knocking other dragons out of the sky. Co-op is just a bit too limited to be called true co-op, or even have much purpose after about an hour of gameplay. Hopefully with an upcoming patch and some DLC down the road these two scores can co-exist.