Heads up: If you bought War of Magic in 2010 you have this game for free, and can play it now. You can get it from here: http://download.stardock.com
So people may remember Elemental: War of Magic. It kind of sucked on coming out. It's a fairly decent game now, but the stigma is there, and Fallen Enchantress completely
blows it out of the water.
Fallen Enchantress is essentially a two year long apology for War of Magic from Stardock. If you bought War of Magic at release or before you can get it for free and play it right now
. They brought in guys who made Civilization and the Fall from Heaven 2 (One of the most popular mods from Civ 4, and a game like Master of Magic all to itself: http://www.moddb.com/mods/fall-from-heaven-ii
) to design this monstrosity.
A bunch of magazines and reviewers that ripped Elemental apart have already come out saying that Fallen Enchantress is pretty awesome. Most recently, IGN gave it a fairly good bump (http://pc.ign.com/articles/122/1222236p1.html
). I've only sunk my teeth into it for a few hours now, and I can say that it's going to stand on its two feet if it doesn't get ripped apart by people who write it off automatically. It's also fucking hard
. More on that later though.
What specifically is Elemental Fallen Enchantress?
Fallen Enchantress is a sort of sequel to War of Magic. War of Magic was meant to be a spiritual successor to the famed Master of Magic, an old and beloved game by many strategy fans. Unfortunately, War of Magic fell short. Despite having ten or so factions, there were really only two, the Kingdoms and Empires. Complicating that, the unit, items, and spells were bland, the AI was bad, and the world was uninteresting. To be quite short with it, War of Magic sucked a load of donkey dick. It's gotten better, but they haven't been able to shake off the overall blandness of it. Fallen Enchantress fixes all
of this and then some.
So what makes it so awesome?
It takes the concepts that Master of Magic, Fall from Heaven, War of Magic, and Civilization have and expands on them. Alot
. It's difficult to explain, but Fallen Enchantress is basically a sort of 4X game where you lead your unique faction in a fantasy post-apocalyptic environment where a gigantic spell broke the world. Everything is dead, there are mile long holes in the ground that lead to what appears to be Hell, and generally the world is like some sort of twisted mix of Fallout, Mad Max, and Master of Magic when you first get started in a game. It's you against the remnants of a broken world, other empires, and possibly eventually even the gods themselves. You have to build cities, outposts and other stuff to expand your influence.
Your channeler, the leader of your nation, which you can even personally design, can resurrect what's essentially a dead world by expanding their region of influence. But doing that will eventually put you in contact with other empires, and even very nasty monsters. You start out with just your channeler, maybe a hero or two, and a group of huddled, frightened refugees. Eventually, if you live, you'll build up to leading massive armies and a kingdom/empire that may or may not be high or low fantasy depending on your faction and the settings you generated for that map.
Y'see, on that "if you live" thing, for those familiar with Elemental: War of Magic, the old "safe" world is gone now. The world is very
dangerous, and maybe it's just my luck, but the game seems to have a sort of "Galactic Civilizations 2" sort of AI, where the game would always make sure the galaxy descended into batshit insanity in one way or another. Only it's been expanded. Doing good? Maybe your influence expands over that Swamp Dragon's lair, destroying it, and sending it rampaging about your lands. Maybe you start next to an area of one of the powers of the world (More on that later.), and suddenly you're in contest with an old god of lovecraftian or just plain god-like proportions. These gods have their own
regions of influence, like Empires and Kingdoms, so they're nasty. They also aren't counted against the number of AI players either. And that's before you meet other factions, which balance their opinion off of you like they do in Galactic Civilizations.
The world, to put it simply, is much
more interesting. Carving out an empire for yourself requires thought, daring actions, and some luck. At one point, I actually found myself cobbling together a "raid" of heroes and infantry to try and take on some giant elder god in the depths of his domain, while my Sovereign was pulling a World of Warcraft and quibbling with a nearby empire over territory to the north of my land with their own army.
The AI has been beefed up on that front, if you run on normal (The game has Gal Civ style AI, you can make it artificially stupid, but it's pretty damn smart otherwise.) as well. Also, did I mention that all the factions are now unique? Every one is different from the others, now, with unique defining features and traits that influence how you and the AI will prefer to play the faction.
Here's a quick picture of the world. Players familiar with War of Magic will recognize a ton of new stuff. That purple land, for instance, is plains. Only they've rotted with whatever that broke the world being cast. You can restore them, and it's a good idea to do so. Food is no longer an object resource. Rather, it's now tied into tiles. So places like that are very
valuable, as they're one of the places where you can easily get yourself something for your civilization to eat.
Okay, so what does it have in terms of features?
Off of the top of my head:
An entirely new system of gameplay. Speaking from experience, if you go into this and try to play it like War of Magic, you will
be crushed. It's much more involved.
A new system to build cities. Cities are now, depending on the map (Which is customizable to many different variants.) a very rare and precious thing. You can now build outposts to help with expanding influence.
amount of unit customization. Gone is the main complaint of War of Magic. How you build your units determines victory. There are a crap-ton of traits you can pick up, ranging from things like getting a damage bonus against over-leveled enemies, to stuff that lets a unit move faster, to stat bonuses, to just about anything imaginable. That's before you get into gear, too. A person who builds their army better will
crush a larger force if it isn't built smart. I'll put a picture of the trait system down below.
Gear is now more then just a case of "is this better then ____"? Spears, for instance, are a weapon you can research early on. Which makes sense, since they just involve sticking something sharp on a piece of wood and handing it to the nearest refugee. They have a huge advantage when it comes to hitting highly defensive targets, since they penetrate armor by something like 60%.
Magic is a present thing in the world now. You can determine whether or not the world is "low" or "high" fantasy at map creation, and it makes a difference. This includes an expansion to the magic system. Magic now has damage types that can be resisted. Is an empire using lots of fire magic? Research plate armor and imbue it with spells to resist the touch of fire. Then slap them on some mounted knights and watch them run rough-shod over armies until the AI counters by switching tactics.
Magic isn't "researched" through a spell-book menu. You can research some spells through trees. But mostly, it looks like you either play archaeologist out in the world, or get it by leveling up.
A vastly expanded world. The world's much more detailed now. Music, tiles, aesthetics, monsters, lots of goddamn fucking horrifying monsters that will eat your face
. It's a magical wasteland, and it will suck to be your character at times.
Much better AI. The AI actually thinks
. Given that guys from Civilization and Fall from Heaven are on this project, is that any surprise? Also, they upgraded the monsters. Lord forbid if a Darkling Shaman leads a horde of Darklings into your territory early on. They can use magic, and will abuse it freely.
Every faction is unique. Gone is the whole "Oh, well, you're a Kingdom and you have ____ traits", or "You're an Empire, you have ____ traits" thing from the last game. Now, each faction has its own backstory, traits, and method of dress and methodology. Tarthans are basically what would have happened if Spartacus had lead the slaves out of Magic Rome before it got blown straight to hell. And it shows, they make for great frontiersmen and warriors. Likewise, the Capitar are money makers.
Massive minor factions. Occasionally, you'll stumble on an area called the "Wild Lands". These are massive tracts of lands lead by a "minor" faction. And by minor, I mean they're lead by some obscenely powerful minor sovereign like a fallen god who has an army that could push your shit in. Taking them out or completing the objective of this area gives their lands to you, with all that might come with it. Did I mention they have nasty armies, and it seems some of them will gladly send them out to ravage nearby empires and kingdoms? Because I learned that the hard way, myself.
A much better graphics system. Everything looks much better now. Everyone also looks much more unique. There's also a ton of new awesome items. My current not-sodomized-by-monsters sovereign is running around with a badass cloak, a pair of green and purple metal gauntlets, and a fairly swanky looking set of leather armor I yanked out of ruins and lairs of monsters. Contrast this with the blandness of War of Magic.
A customizable map generator. Want to play on a normal world? Go ahead. Want to play on a world with so many chasms and abysses in it that it looks like swiss cheese? Go ahead. Want to play on a magically ruined desert world that wouldn't look out of place in DnD's "Dark Sun"? Go ahead. You get the idea.
It's very moddable. Very
. It seems they're following in the steps of Gal Civ 2 on this front, in that you can hop in and create new stuff quickly and easily, given that the game is only in late/mid beta, and there's already huge mods out.
A ton of expansions to the gameplay. Also, a ton of expansions to the monsters
. This leads to an absurd amount of depth to the game. I actually had to decide whether or not I wanted to try and assassinate certain heroes in my realm, since they would only join empires, and there was an empire that was starting to push on my kingdom at that point.
Probably much more that i'm forgetting.
So how do I get it?
If you purchased War of Elemental in 2010 or before, it's free. You have access to the development beta that's going on right now. If not, you can pre-purchase it and get access to the beta for $39.95. Apparently pre-purchasing is also getting you "goodies" for those who made a good faith investment, too.
Either way, you can get the beta off of Stardock's main page.
And just because I have it available, here's the short pre-release blurb they've got going on the main page:
Randomly generated maps.
10 unique factions.
In-depth unit and character design.
Rich, story-driven campaign.
Takes advantage of the latest hardware.
Massive modding support.
Full featured map editor.
Over 100 new spells and magical items.
Over 50 new unique quests.
From the makers of Galactic Civilizations and Sins of a Solar Empire.