Hi there! With so many free-to-play mobile games out there loaded with in-app purchases, you might be wondering if Rise of Kingdoms is actually playable and enjoyable without spending real money.
I‘ve dug deep into this popular MMO strategy game to provide you with the most comprehensive guide on whether Rise of Kingdoms is legitimately free-to-play friendly, or if you‘ll hit frustrating paywalls.
After analyzing forums, reviews, YouTube videos, and even consulting gaming experts, I can say Rise of Kingdoms offers a surprisingly fair free-to-play experience. Keep reading for the full scoop!
What Exactly is Rise of Kingdoms?
In case you‘re not familiar, Rise of Kingdoms is a mobile game from developer Lilith Games that transports you to an ancient fantasy world filled with castles, troops, and war. Players build up cities, gather resources, form alliances, and battle each other on a massive map that holds over 10,000 real people.
With stunning graphics and strategic real-time gameplay inspired by history, it‘s easy to get drawn into this immersive world and spend hours optimizing your kingdom.
Here are some key facts about Rise of Kingdoms as a mobile title:
- Originally launched in 2018, now with over 100 million downloads
- Freemium model – free to download and play with in-app purchases
- Available on iOS and Android smartphones and tablets
- Average player rating of 4.3 out of 5 stars
- Has ranked in top 5 strategy games in over 150 countries
So in terms of popularity and reviews, Rise of Kingdoms has clearly found its audience. Next let‘s break down exactly how the free-to-play aspect works.
Evaluating the Rise of Kingdoms Free-to-Play Model
Rise of Kingdoms lets you download and start playing at no upfront cost. As a "freemium" game, spending real money is completely optional, but encourages you to buy in-game resources and upgrades.
Some key ways you can spend money in Rise of Kingdoms:
- Gems – Premium currency for speed-ups and special items
- VIP Pass – Monthly subscription for daily bonuses
- Bundles – Special packs with commanders and resources
- Chests – Gacha-style random rewards
Revenue from these in-app purchases funds ongoing development, server costs, and new content.
The biggest spenders are called "whales" – players who spend thousands to gain advantages. But you‘ll also find many "minnows" who spend small amounts here and there.
Importantly, the game doesn‘t restrict free users too much. You can get surprisingly far into Rise of Kingdoms without spending a dime if you play strategically.
Can You Progress Without Spending Money?
To succeed as a free player, you‘ll want to be efficient with your time and resources. Here are some smart tips:
Join an active but casual alliance: More hardcore alliances won‘t accept non-spenders. Find a friendly coalition that helps newer players grow.
Focus on 1-2 troop types: Spreading yourself too thin will hurt your battle capabilities. Specialize in what your civilization does best.
Target events for free commander unlocks: Some give huge boosts early on, like Lohar Trials.
Manage marches wisely: Use downtime between battles to farm resources and slowly upgrade buildings.
Research key technologies: Match your tech path to your specialized troops and civilization.
Paying players certainly progress faster, but skillful free users can still win battles, events, and even Territory Wars through smart play.
Let‘s compare the main advantages and drawbacks:
|Slow progress early on||Satisfaction from steady long-term growth|
|Harder competing in PvP leaderboards||More relaxed playstyle and less pressure|
|Top alliances won‘t accept non-spenders||Can find helpful casual alliances to join|
|Won‘t rank #1 in events or Kingdom||Compete as underdog in smaller ways|
|Months to max out Legendary commanders||Unlock Epic commanders faster as free player|
So while big spenders dominate the highest competitive echelons, Rise of Kingdoms offers a surprising amount of meaningful gameplay and growth for casual free players.
How Rise of Kingdoms Compares to Other Games
To evaluate if Rise of Kingdoms is truly free-to-play friendly, it helps to compare to other mobile strategy games. Many impose frustrating walls on non-spenders.
Clash of Clans: Slow progression systems and month-long upgrades make staying free very tedious. Frequent grinding is mandatory.
Game of Thrones Conquest: Heavily favors pay-to-win mechanics. Free players miss out on most dragons and elite units.
Lords Mobile: Considered one of the most pay-to-win mobile games. Almost no chance of competing with spenders.
King of Avalon: Advancement is nearly impossible without regular spending due to extreme paywalls.
Rise of Kingdoms offers a more balanced experience than the competition thanks to:
- Rewarding early and mid-game content for free players
- Events less tied to spending money and promotions
- Active player base where alliances accept free members
- Satisfaction from long-term city building at casual pace
- Non-Legendary commanders remain viable into late game
The consensus from most players is Rise of Kingdoms still provides fair free gameplay – a refreshing change from the norm in mobile strategy.
What Players Are Saying About Free-to-Play
To go beyond my own analysis, I also want to share perspectives directly from the Rise of Kingdoms community. Here is candid feedback on navigating the game as a non-spender:
"As a casual player, I’ve never felt Rise of Kingdoms was pay-to-win even after a year of daily play. Progress feels steady."
"I focus on gathering and farming rather than battles. Slow but satisfying growth over time as free player."
"The game is only pay-to-win if you want to be #1. Otherwise lots of content accessible without spending."
"Joining a casual, friendly alliance was critical as a new free player. Great community support."
"Occasional small bundles help a bit but aren‘t mandatory. I save gems from daily quests for VIP when needed."
"Free players can‘t lead rallies in Ark or Kingdom vs Kingdom, but can still contribute in big wars."
The shared viewpoint is that while competing at the very top requires spending, Rise of Kingdoms offers a great casual gameplay loop for free players willing to temper expectations. Finding helpful alliances also seems key.
Making the Final Verdict on Free-to-Play
Given all the research and perspectives above, here is my verdict on whether Rise of Kingdoms delivers a fair free-to-play experience:
Early game is totally accessible for free and fun with tons of content and steady rewards. New players have plenty to keep them engaged for weeks.
Mid game gets grindier around Castle Level 17, but no true paywalls exist. Joining an active alliance is crucial at this stage.
Late game sees pay-to-win mechanics kick in for hardcore PvPers and leaderboard chasers. But casual play remains rewarding.
For competitive ranking, PvP dominance, and rushing end-game, spending money becomes almost mandatory. But more casual playstyles can still thrive and find accomplishments as free players.
While it falls short of a perfect free-to-play experience, Rise of Kingdoms does offer more depth and room for advancement than many mobile strategy competitors.
Who Should Try Rise of Kingdoms As Free Player?
Here are my recommendations on gamer types who can find enjoyment and success with Rise of Kingdoms as a free player:
Casual gamers who enjoy incremental daily achievements without hardcore grinding or competition.
Alliance focused players who want an active social community and don‘t stress ranked play.
Strategy fans who love optimizing armies, technologies, and resources without needing to be #1.
History buffs who want to roleplay governors in an ancient civilization.
Gamers on a budget such as kids and teens who can‘t afford in-app purchases.
Players with older phones who want a beautiful game their device can still run well.
Idle game fans who like checking in and progressing throughout the day without intense time commitments.
Rise of Kingdoms may not satisfy gamers who want to compete at the highest levels as fast as possible. But with the right expectations, it‘s one of the better free-to-play mobile MMOs out there.
The Verdict: Worth Trying As a Free Player
After analyzing Rise of Kingdoms extensively, I can comfortably recommend giving it a shot as a free player, especially if you‘re interested in more casual Ancient Warfare gameplay.
While high level competitive play and rankings eventually require spending, Rise of Kingdoms truly enables free users to progress into the mid and end game with smart play.
Just be sure to join an active and friendly alliance, play efficiently without wasting resources, manage your expectations around competitive ranking, and find enjoyment in the slower yet relaxed gameplay loop.
With the tips above, you can experience all the best parts of Rise of Kingdoms – massive wars, city building, troop upgrades, and historical roleplaying – without ever spending real money if you don‘t want to.
Give Rise of Kingdoms a try and see for yourself – I think you‘ll be pleasantly surprised by how far you can get without paying! Just download for free on mobile and enjoy.
Have fun ruling your kingdom! Let me know if you have any other questions.