MMO News, Reviews & Opinions
MMO News, Reviews & Opinions
- Written by Sm1tty Sm1t
Real-time strategy (RTS) games have become commonplace and there’s good reason. People enjoy them. For the same reason shooters are popular, that is, projecting yourself into the body of someone you’d never be in real life, the micro-management of a city appeals to players. Dictator or not. But because of the popularity of the RTS genre, it’s easy to get lost in the flood of mediocre games. Thankfully, exceptions exist; Warlock Master of the Arcane is one of these exceptions. Combining the strategy of an RTS, a rock/paper/scissors-like combat system, deep progression, and surprising visuals, Warlock Master of the Arcane is a fantastic installment to the world of Ardania.
The initial start of WMotA gives players the opportunity to select race and starting skills. Each warlock gets 10 points to invest in skills that range in both cost and benefit. Players can invest in higher initial starting gold, food, or mana, for instance, or spend more skill points and invest in a 20% increase to each. Additionally, players can purchase spells that would normally require research or devote themselves to one of the many Gods present in the world, getting special bonuses along the way.
As you start the actual gameplay, you’re given a city that’s pre-established in the world. This city also has a limited radius allowing for building of particular structures, farms to increase food, barracks allowing recruitment of warriors, or even defenses like forts and magic towers that help protect from invaders. The radius increases as your city grows, allowing for more buildings and, as you progress, more advanced buildings. In a wonderful mix of strategy and variation, players may find unique tiles scattered throughout the land that permit special structures to be built upon them, for example a Minotaur cave will allow players to recruit the monstrous minions for combat.
And speaking of combat, Warlock Master of the Arcane doesn’t inundate players with useless filler, so common in other vanilla games of this genre. Instead, simplicity and strategy merge into a refined experience that is easy to learn, but difficult to master -- a tenet of a successful game. Combat is largely similar to that of Dungeons and Dragons, surprisingly. More advanced units have higher attack and defense, while some units can even fly and can only be attacked by those with magic or ranged weapons. As units fight and survive, each round they’re granted XP and, as they level up, earn different skills similar to what we’ve seen in games like Civilization. Higher defense, more movement points, and increased XP gain are just a few of the obviously deep leveling system inherent to the system. And as the warlock, you’re not without your own tricks. As you research spells and gain mana, you’ll have access to lightning bolts, fireballs, and even healing magic. Each spell, depending on the strength, has a varying cast time, though one or two turns was common.
And when not engaged in a battle to the death, simply managing your city is an experience altogether. Bright blues meet lush greens as oceans meet sprawling plains. Murky, brown swamps dry out into deadly deserts and, eventually, dangerous lava flows as you pan across the map. And these aren’t just for looks, either, as the more dangerous terrain actually causes your troop movement to slow, forcing players to use terrain as part of their strategy when planning an attack. A nice addition to the map is the inclusion of portals -- gates to other worlds inhabited with creatures that are far stronger than what you see on the lands where you begin. Routinely, players will send in scouting parties, fast moving, low damage and defense units, to see what’s available for pillaging. And routinely they’re left in a pool of blood, having been undone by werewolves, vampires, or creatures far, far more vile.
Aside from sparkling visuals and adrenaline pumping combat, Warlock Master of the Arcane’s interface system does leave room for improvement. Each turn, players will see a queue on notifications indicating ‘attention is required’. As you click each notification, the cursor centers on whichever unit or city was affected; this works well when trying to find which unit is able to level up, but having more options to accompany ‘move, fight, defend,’ would have been welcomed. If games run too long -- something that is common in any RTS game -- it can turn into one big maelstrom of seeing which player can get the most units to one particular area.
If you’re a fan of the RTS genre, or you’re looking for a game that offers a good mix of high fantasy, Warlock Master of the Arcane is for you. The AI system at work beneath the hood is wonderful, creating a world that truly feels like it is alive. Enemies feel like they act based on calculated threats rather than “kill the player,” which is refreshing. And with a cost of only $19.99, you’ll get hundreds of hours of play-time with varying degrees of difficulty and strategy.
Overall Score: 7 out of 10
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