SpellForce is one part RPG and one part real time strategy, a combination that may appeal to many people. RPGamer's own Pascal Tekaia shares his experience with the next game in the series, SpellForce 3.
For the discerning crowd of RPGamers that like a bit of real-time strategy with their dungeon raiding, we've got the game for you. Nordic Games' Reinhard Pollice walked me through the basics of the upcoming SpellForce 3, while showing off the game's dual gameplay styles. Part of the overarching SpellForce narrative, SpellForce 3 is actually a prequel, detailing the events that led up to the war depicted in the original game. In the game, three factions — orc, elf, and human — live side-by-side, though not necessarily peacefully. In addition to being playable in separate campaigns, their stories may also overlap each other as each faction spreads outwards from its starting area.
The gameplay is split pretty evenly down the middle, equal parts monster-slaying exploration and resource-based expansion. Both feature an isometric perspective of the action, and can be switched between on the fly with the click of a button. In order to explore new lands to build on, the player must send out his heroes to not only fill in the map but also clear it of dangers, drive out foes, and sometimes explore indoor locations, like castles or dungeons. Medieval weapons share the stage with magical spells in combat. My time in the demo was spent with the human faction. Led by a former-soldier-turned-outcast, the human heroes — only two in the demo — left the village to take out any foes lurking in the surrounding unexplored areas. By progressing, the number of heroes can be increased, and new skills are learned as the fighters become more experienced. Some of the skills that can be acquired actually benefit the workers and villagers instead, and are thus more useful in the RTS side of the gameplay.
Back home, which is always only a button click away, workers had been assigned to construct buildings around the site of the budding village, and upgrade the ones already erected. They go about their business automatically once assigned, though there is a finite amount of them, and their time can be split between building and gathering resources. Before any land can be stripped of riches or built upon, however, it must first be discovered by the heroes. In return, certain structures provide bonuses that will aid the traveling heroes on their way, like soldiers to back them up. Both gameplay styles are designed in such a way as to back each other up, though they operate quite differently from each other. The resources needed in the RTS game portions are wood, stone, meat, and iron, with each faction also having a fifth faction-specific item that must be gathered; in the case of the human faction, the unique resource is the magical substance aria.
SpellForce 3 will feature a single-player campaign mode that can also be played cooperatively, and an online multiplayer skirmish mode. It is due for a PC release, and should come out in early 2017.