SpellForce: Conquest Of Eo is a strategy RPG with 4X DNA and "do or die action"

SpellForce: Conquest Of Eo is a strategy RPG with 4X DNA and “do or die action”

I love the name “SpellForce”, capital letter between words and everything. It evokes a mental image of a child’s TV show where some, possibly sentai-style, superheroes learn about the importance of spelling and grammar. Maybe a little punctuation, like a treat. SpellForce The video game series is not; it is a trio of RPG-RTS hybrids that, as you read this, will have received a new contribution announced in the form of SpellForce: Conquest Of Eo. It’s a fresh, turn-based version of the series that turns the player into a wizard trying to improve his magic.

Prior to the announcement, the developers Owned By Gravity invited me to take a sneak peek, and I was invited to a practical demonstration from producer Jan Wagner. While the game was in a pre-alpha state, it already looked pretty cool, especially the pretty beautiful (and lovingly handmade, I discovered later) world map. It all looks very 4X-like, and all four exes are present and correct in varying amounts – but there is a significant deviation from the formula that Wagner was keen to emphasize.

Rather than world domination, your magician is something of an academic, only interested in researching Allspark’s secrets – sorry, Allfire. Instead of sending powerful armies to conquer territory, you send heroes to track artifacts and magical secrets. It’s like being the mission to give NPCs in an RPG, camp in your tower and do nerds while sending out a bunch of jocks to do the heavy work.

After recently inheriting the aforementioned tower from your mentor, whose disappearance is an important storyline, you set about establishing your references as the hottest thing to hit the magic circle since white rabbits. You can choose between pre-generated runsmed, necromancer and alchemist builds, or create your own by merging two or three magic schools among those offered.

Expanding your tower and performing various rites and rituals requires resources, which promotes your need to explore the world and find new sources of things. The constant need to incite your magical fires combined with the lack of empire building is all designed to “preserve the do or die action” in the early stages of typical 4X titles, Wagner explained, and to circumvent the stagnation and repetition that often comes with the late game.

A broad picture of the intricate world map in SpellForce: Conquest Of Eo

The heroes themselves are unique individuals, each with their own personalities and backgrounds. They do not work for you out of the goodness of their hearts; Everyone wants something from you in return and completing these quests is a big part of the game. Nor are they on their own, as each hero can be accompanied by up to five units of troops, a deliberately narrow boundary designed to keep the fighting forces fast and, yes, powerful.

The heroes are unique individuals, each with their own personalities and backgrounds.

Wagner showed me one of these battles, which is now turn-based as opposed to the previous SpellForce games’ RTS styles. Like the world map, these battlefields are handmade to make the battles interesting, even with a low number of units. I did not get an exact figure for the number of different maps, but there is enough for the whole world map to be reflected more or less accurately in the battles. Troops, which level up and gain new abilities with a few levels, have been designed to be very distinct, even in their basic forms. The goal, Wagner told me, is to “condense the experience so that it is always exciting.” A typical skirmish in the early stages of the game takes 10-15 minutes, with larger clips not expected to reach the half-hour limit. Automatically resolving fights is also an option, if you are more of a big screen taster.

Your choice of devices not only affects the battles, but also gives you more options during Capital-A Adventures, another great feature of SpellForce. You will encounter these RPG missions as you explore the map, some linked to specific regions or cities, others to characters or just random events. Each has several results and some tough moral choices are promised. At the time of the demon, they were approaching 600 individual stories, all handwritten.

The mission book, an old illuminated book, in the SpellForce Conquest Of Eo

As a good alchemical magic potion, the real magic does not lie in the individual ingredients, but in how they all work together. This is where Spellforce gets really exciting, as all moving parts start to work together. How you choose to play and the decisions you make during Adventures will affect your reputation in the different regions and cities of the world, which in turn will affect the adventures available to you. You’re not the only new wizard on the block either, with three potential rivals, drawn from a pool of eight, in each game, each following their own agendas.

With so much going on, the potential for emerging semblance is huge, so I asked Wagner if there were any particularly notable unintended consequences that emerged during development. I was told about a mission that includes a ghost cow (and if that in itself is not enough to sell you the game, I do not know what it is) that the player must guide home to complete the unfinished business of a similar spectral coherent. Unsuccessful interactions with the undead cloven-hoofed animal resulted in it reappearing elsewhere on the map, and in one case it appeared in a city with nothing to do with it. Eventually, the presence of existing, completely deadly cows caused a bug to count the ghost cow among their number, resulting in its miraculous resurrection and making the mission unfinished. Pre-alpha, remember.

A foggy night battle in SpellForce: Conquest Of Eo

SpellForce veterans will be happy to hear that the game is in good hands. Wagner himself worked as a producer on the first two SpellForce titles, so Conquest of Eo is something of a homecoming for him. Although it represents a genre shift, he also insists that it is not a spin-off of the numbered games, but instead presents a different view of the world. Plays about 100 years after the original game and serves as a direct sequel to the first two titles in the series, as SpellForce 3 was a prequel.

The current plans are for the game to be tested in beta this summer for a release “when everyone is happy”, either later this year or early 2023. The mix of turn-based strategy, RPG and 4X had already piqued my interest and to see it in action has me very eager to get my hands on the game myself. Until I do, I can not say whether SpellForce: Conquest of Eo will conquer my heart, but it is definitely a potential necromantic interest.

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