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SpellForce 3: SpellForce Returns With RPG/RTS Goodness... Now In Beta

Company: THQ Nordic

A Long Awaited Answer?:

Have you ever played a SpellForce game? I haven't. SpellForce 3 is my first introduction to the series. I did a little searching and found that one of our reviewers had reviewed SpellForce: The Order of Dawn, but that was a while back. How far back? Let's just say that the Minimum System Requirements called for Windows 98/ME/2000/XP on a Pentium 3 and the very next review we did was for a Dreamcast game. Yup, that old. There was a Sequel in 2006, but we didn't get a chance to review that one, but even that one was eleven years ago.

So, I read Vaxeks' review to see what may have changed between then and now. Mainly, as SpellForce: The Order of Dawn received a 65% (a point above failure), I wanted to see what his complaints were.

One complaint he had was that, while the game had great sounds and epic music, the music would get really dramatic for what amounted to small, short skirmishes, which diminished the music's impact when there actually is an epic battle. I found the music to be well done and moving, but the sound effects really gave SpellForce 3 an immersive quality, from the running water, to the birds and crickets, to the lumberjacks chopping down trees for lumber. He also found the voice acting to be very flat. The voice clips I've heard in SpellForce 3 are well done and in character, but, as of this writing, the Campaign Mode is not available and you can only play as the Goblins/Orcs, so how lines more elaborate than "Death!" and "Kill them All!" will come out are yet to be seen.

Mind you, while the only mode available is Multiplayer Mode, that doesn't mean you have to play against other people. If you want to try it out without giving another living, breathing person the chance to pwn you, you can select Multiplayer / LAN, then choose to Host a game and fill the other players with A.I. players.

You Got Your RPG In My RTS!:

One of the unique aspects of SpellForce 3 is the addition of RPG elements to an otherwise Real-time Strategy game. How impressive this is, however, depends on how much RPG you actually get. I imagine the RPG factor will play a great part in the Campaign Mode, especially if you actually create a character from scratch, as was the case in SpellForce: The Order of Dawn. Again, with multiplayer modes only, (and only the Orcs available), your "Heroes" are limited to six predefined characters, which you can summon from your Godstone and, as they gain experience in the field of battle, you can level them up, increasing their stats and upgrading their abilities. Further, you can collect loot (in the form of gold and items) from fallen enemies and use this to upgrade your Heroes' equipment.

Apparently gone are the need for "Unit Plans" and "Building Plans," a prerequisite in The Order of Dawn, which made it take longer to actually create new types of units or buildings. SpellForce 3 replaces this dynamic with three tiers of buildings, requiring your Town Center to be upgraded before you can use the next tier of buildings. You will need to get your basic buildings constructed quickly to get the basic resources to upgrade your Town Center as soon as possible; your population cap is increased when your Town Center is upgraded, in addition to the unlocking of new tiers of buildings. This game mechanic feels more intuitive, letting you create a certain level of civilization, then experiencing a boom of technological advancement as you upgrade to the next tier.

Going Off Without a Hench(man):

I found SpellForce 3 to be engaging, but would often get confused about how many "Henchmen" I had. It appears that each encampment (outpost/ town center/ etc.) has its own populace and you can end up in a situation with an abundance of Henchmen in your main Base, for example, but none available in some Outpost. Then, while you're off skirmishing around the map waiting for your resource to be collected, used and moved about by (nonexistent) Henchmen...nothing is happening. In a game that is heavily dependent on resource accumulation and utilization... that's gonna hurt. So, pay close attention to the number of Henchmen you have at each encampment.

Changing Weekly:

From what I can see, it looks like SpellForce 3 addresses the complaints Vaxeks had with SpellForce way back when. The Beta version is changing each week, as features get added and values get tweaked, but the RTS aspect is already quite playable and fun. If you're a fan of SpellForce from way back when or just interested in a game combining RPG and RTS elements, try to snag an invite to the Beta and try it out. The Beta is running at least through July, so you've got some time to try to get your hands on a Steam key.

-Geck0, GameVortex Communications
AKA Robert Perkins

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