A couple of weeks ago I got my first, hard look at Stardock's strategy RPG Elemental: War of Magic, and chronicled my experiences. In its beta phase, the game has been somewhat hard to grasp, but I've learned quite a bit since my last journey, so here is part two of my "beta journals." Note I will be skipping over the less interesting bits for your sanity and entertainment.
I've tweaked with the settings a bit this second time to improve performance and also graphical quality. The first thing I notice is cranking up softness/advanced lighting really makes a difference, delivering a soft, smooth look and feel, as you can see from the screen above, captured during an interim playthrough.
Seeing as we're at beta 4 now versus 3-b, I decided to start a new game, creating a warrior-type named Olam, complete with a big robe, open shirt and Fabio hair. He can pack a few spells as well, but he's definitely a smash and loot kind of guy.
My sovereign complete, I pick the Tarth faction as it provides warriors with increased combat speed and high HP.
Straight off, a dude named Janusk joins me for free. I notice at this point you can rename units, so I call him Pepsi. High Councilor of the Sovereign Pepsi -- yes, I like that.
I grab a quest that asks me to search for a compass and then recruit a lady named Rilis who will later turn out to be a very formidable warrior. I can't think of anything funny to call her, so I leave her alone. I soon find said compass, which increases my line of sight.
I begin on the Adventure and Warfare research paths, unlocking the Logistics ability soon after, which lets me form parties, though I can't figure out how yet. I can also train Observers now -- I guess that's a Scout type.
Rilis battles a sovereign who escapes after defeat -- if you don't destroy enemy settlements beforehand, they can always escape, as you can.
A research breakthrough comes along. I pick the Ruin Delving ability because it leads to Eregos' Journal which provides me clues to artifacts, but also unleashes more monsters into the world -- very cool.
I upgrade a few units, learn the Arcane Weaponry spell, and get into a battle with spiders and some kind of monster. I learn from the pre-battle stats things are not always what they appear. Here you'd think I would clearly lose, but using positioning and tactics, I sweep them. Rilis is a beast -- I've accidentally made her something of a super unit, now at level four.
Now I build a lumber mill at home base, move my party north, declare war against the Magnar faction, declare peace with another faction, but then one of my units -- Arkvis? -- automatically kills their sovereign. Oops. The dude escapes.
More breakthroughs, another spell -- Arcane Armor.
The sovereign in question is named Val'Diri of Yoren -- I declare war against him now and toast him. Looks like I'm heading up the tyrant victory route. Rilis levels up to five -- I up her charisma to balance out her jerkiness. Val escapes again -- I've really got to nail this guy's base. Unfortunately for me the comparison stats are pretty dismal between my party and his:
If only out of curiosity, I attack anyway, quickly learning why their combat rating is so high: they've got one jacked up ogre with 96HP, 8 Attack and 2 Defense. Naturally I'm wiped out quick.
Reloading, I learn how parties work: you simply move one unit or units onto another, and they band together automatically. I also discover units hanging out in a base together can be formed into parties as I see fit by using the Ctrl key.
Another breakthrough unlocks tons of equipment at the shops for me. Soon I'll be able to learn Seafaring and Weaponry. Also I can now make "Forward Observers."
I haven't been able to add to my main settlement for awhile now for some reason, so I send out a pioneer and some other units near a lost library to form a new settlement, gaining a lost library and improved research abilities in the process. I'm able to build a few more structures here, around which time some tough brigands come by to try and take it over.
My parties are small time compared to them, so I concede at this point as there doesn't appear to be many ways to proceed. I do manage an upgrade of my footsoldiers -- if I could afford it, a few of these plus Olam and Rilis could surely take them out, but it is not to be. Oh, and I marry Rilis for the hell of it.
Next time should be considerably better planned as I've learned a lot this time around. There may be a part three to this, but I may just end up waiting for the final review build complete with the semi-tutorial/campaign mode when it hits in a couple more weeks. Stay tuned!