Warlock: Master of the Arcane – PC Preview

In Warlock: Master of the Arcane, Paradox Interactive attempts another cleaver hybrid, this time they are mixing classic turn-based strategy in the style of Sid Meier’s Civilisation series with fantasy elements. It is a game that pits players as powerful, empire-building mages as they war for dominance. So far, the game looks very promising and I am looking forward to its release pencilled in for Q2 of 2012. The version I have played so far has a fair bit of work needed to finish, but the basics feel for the game is there and I spent a good few hours battling away to take control of the map.

Despite the fact that this game looks like a rip-off of the Civilisation series, it does stand out on its own. All the usual controls and actions are there that we have come to expect from these types of strategy games. You need to build various types of buildings from farms to military academies. You are required to research items in your magic spells, with the aim of getting to that almighty beast of a spell that takes absolutely forever to get too, but once you have it you will be the most kick-ass wizard, stroke ruler of them all.

The thing I noticed most was that you are not bombarded with hundreds of different rules and micromanagement panels that often cause frustration as you feel like you are back at school. So far as I can see, they have limited this to just a few and you soon get to grips with the game. In fact, in the version I got my hands on, they have not implemented a tutorial yet. At first I thought this would make it hard to learn, however, I found it pretty easy. After an hour or so I was pretty clued  up into what I was doing and was enjoying fighting things from small armies of archers right up to huge scary looking spiders. I must admit, there is nothing more satisfying than wiping out an army with your fireballs falling from the sky. I can only wait to see all the magic that we will see in the final release.

The City View is the primary view used most to recruit soldiers, build new buildings, research items and generally maintain your city. The controls are very simple and almost every command and action is given with a few mouse clicks. The main map view is where all the action takes place. Here you move units around the screen in the turn based scenarios. Here you decide how to defend your city and the best routes to attack and defeat enemy armies and buildings. The whole game is played from a top down point of view and is never boring.

Areas that you have not explored yet are covered by clouds, as you proceed and take control of areas and buildings the eerie clouds disappear and reveal either more nasty enemy’s or some deposits of loot. There is a truly a vast array of resources available, from the basic farms to mines, pumpkin patches and much, much more. All of these resources are needed for different things, so you spend a lot of time trying to grab them at the same time as defend your newly captured goodies. The overall goal is to take control of your enemy’s cities and of course enjoy beating them to a pulp.

It is hard to give a full sense of depth that is in this game, as the version I was given is some pretty early code. However, what I can say is this game looks to be great fun and not overly complicated, I hope to bring you a full in-depth review when I get my hands on the final release. So keep your eyes peeled for that.

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