Elemental: War of Magic is an ambitious RPG/TBS game from Stardock due 24th August. Elemental draws upon Stardocks past experience of 4X titles, like it’s cult hit Sins of a Solar Empire, and combines them with an RPG flair all hinged down with their new Impulse Reactor multiplayer service. Elemental looks to provide a very polished and unique experience this summer.
(I apologize for the layout of this peice. I orignally wrote it with the GT videos embedded, but WordPress doesn’t support that. So click and watch each of the videos to make sense of the articles context)
Elemental sports the traditional fantasy fare of long waging war between mages, titans and men, and you happen to be playing as one of the mages on a quest to unite the 4 elemental stones. I don’t really expect too much from it story wise, hoping it should shine in gameplay alone, and the campaign mode is more of a curiosity. It’s like expecting a campaign mode in Civilization.
First impressions are that the RPG elements of this might be a bit too in-depth. Setting up a character looks like it’s a bit more than the usual stat building and customizing looks. This could be a bit of a jump in the deep end for new gamers. I think a nice addition of premade classes would be a good idea. Having a primary pool of points to spend on stats /and/ abilities will be a bad idea, they should of used a separate pool of points. Though the ability to add weaknesses to give you a larger pool of points is an interesting and quirky idea. I wonder if it’ll be picked up for other RPG games, or how well it will do to spice up gameplay for the adventurous gamer.
The map is certainly impressive, definetely drawing from Sins Iron Engine. The nice scalable scrolling is impressive, I know I was a gasp as it scrolled out from the village view seamlessly into a massive parchment style overworld view. It looks really smooth, and with how Sins reacts to the massive scalable zooming I know it should be just as smooth on a low end machine as a high end machine.
The game mechanics seem reminiscent of Civilizations grid based style, cultural expansion of borders controlling resources within your borders. Just a bit more slimmed down. He even mentions it having 4 methods of wining including domination victory and diplomatic victory. Battles seem to be Might & Magic/TRPG style and thankfully have an AI auto-battle mode, these battles can grate after a couple hundred turns.
Wooh, Mods! Mods are awesome for any game they’re in. Elemental looks to have a decent range of tools at hand for modding the game, allowing you to go from simple maps to full campaigns. The drag and drop style looks friendly enough to let anyone have a shot, and its use of Impulse Reactor(more on that later) for distribution should make it a speedy process to share them about. Brad briefly mentions it being like a D&D tile set editor, which with SCII showing off how powerful a map editor can be, it will be interesting to see how flexible Elementals editor is and if it would allow the gameplay to be perverted to running some kind of fuax multiplayer D&D campaign using your own custom made tilesets. If it is possible I can see it generating a secondary wave of sales with people buying it just to host their own campaigns in, a useable and halfway decent online D&D client is somewhat of a holy grail at the moment.
Reactor looks like it could shake up the online MP space and make it easy to add these kinds of features in to games. It will be mostly up against Steamworks, GFWL and Gamespy etc (Battle.Net being Blizzard only doesn’t really count much). It’s main advantage being the plug and play SDK, and for end-users the ability to log in with either an impulse account or pretty much any log-in they may have including the increasingly universal Facebook log-in. As far as ease of use goes that takes the cake, signing up to trillions of 3rd party multiplayer services is quite the chore so just needing a Facebook login is handy. Elemental is its debut act though, making it a tech demo for Stardock to show it off to potential developer partners. With Steamworks being an increasingly popular choice amongst developers Reactor may be too little too late, but may find favour in the indie scene.
With this turn-based strategy game hitting so close to Civilization V it has an upward struggle for sales. But its RPG addition and Stardocks loyal fanbase could help. I currently intend to pick the game up so if I do I’ll run a review later on.