Impressions from the first hour or so. Note I originally wrote this to my cousin, so apologies if some of this reads like things everyone here knows already.
To start things off the game looks fantastic, and runs great. I’m not getting 60FPS with Ultra settings @1440p like I would like, but I’m getting in the high 40’s to low 50’s so it’s running well all the same. I could probably reduce a few settings without any problems and get to a solid 60fps but I don’t really feel the need to, having played a bit and forgetting about the frame drop until just now when I started to type this, so I mention it only as an aside. The game looks amazing, and since it plays very well I have no complaints here.
My first impulse was to play as the Lizardmen, but decided I’ll do that with @shivax in a co-op campaign, and rolled High Elves since they are sort of the “standard” race without any crazy mechanics to work around. They do have some really cool perks though, and I picked a faction with an “easy” start location.
This is Tyrion, the Lord Phoenix of the High Elves. His brother, Teclis, is probably the most powerful wizard lord in the game but Teclis has a “hard” start location, as (and this is explained in the opening High Elf cut scene) he’s travelled away from the high elf nation to seek out other allies for his people. So while Tyrion starts in the center island map surrounded by only a few factions that want him dead (including some Dark Elves), Teclis is beset by enemies at every turn. It’s kind of a cool system, and you can set difficulty levels independently from the start difficulty. So you could play Teclis on easy for example, and likely have no real problems with him, something I may seek to try later.
Let’s talk first about the High Elves and what they bring to the table. First off, they collect a resource called Intrigue. Intrigue can be used for a number of things, including more powerful than normal lords and heroes, and it can influence other faction’s diplomatic reactions both positively and negatively. It can be used to purchase more favorable results during choices you have to make in random events. For example, this happened:
Seems to be a little quarreling between two great houses. If I would have had the influence (cost 30) I could have quietly sided with Saphery and gained a Mage hero! But I only had 25 when this came up, so that option was locked out to me. I actually would have had 30 but I had just a few turns previous recruited a Noble, a hero type unique to the High Elves, and he had a powerful starting trait that gave him bonuses to defense and attack (Trained, it was called) but he cost 8 influence in addition to the gold and upkeep cost due to that Trained trait. In addition to being kind of a badass on the field, he also provides a bonus to replenishing my depleted units when they are wounded just by being in my army, which is cool.
Influence, as mentioned, can also be used to sway opinion. For example, The Dark Elf faction that started next to me bribed the high elf faction that started south of me to join their war against my faction! Why these traitors would side against their lord is beyond me, and with dark elves to boot. Jerks. I called upon my other high elf allies to help out and even as I type this my game is saved with my allied elf faction sieging the only city the rebels have left to them, so they will come to heel quickly. If they were a bigger threat, or if I wasn’t about to crush the dark elves at the time, I could have used this screen to pick both the dark elf faction (Cult of Excess) and the rebel faction (Caledor) and spend 8 influence to degrade their relations, making them eventually fight one another (potentially)!
The reason I have so many allies, is early on I initiated trade relations with them. Not just for the extra income, though - High Elves gain line of sight on any trade partner and their cities, so I opened up a huge chunk of the map I started on just by trading, which is awesome.
The last ability is that when at full health, elves fight very hard. This is probably a big deal, but I kind of forgot about it until just now. I’ll try to remember to look it up next fight and see if there is a tool tip for it on my full health units.
In addition to each race having traits and gameplay mechanics, each of the two legendary lords/factions for the races work a little different. For example, Tyrion recruits infantry and cavalry units one turn faster, which is huge, and pays 35% less upkeep costs for early game units, which is really helpful.
So that’s Tyrion and the faction I picked! The game is going pretty well so far, I’ve crushed the Cult of Excess and am weeding out the rebels, then I’ll turn my attention to banding all the other high elf factions under my control as a single faction and from there start branching out with a navy that I’ll construct to hold lands in the other continents, I think. We’ll see how it goes.
A few notes about the game so far.
The map is as amazing as I hoped. And the overlays do indeed work just like I suspected; you just hold down SPACE and that brings up the overlay menu (while you hold it down) and you can click on the overlay you want, such as diplomatic status or wealth. You can do this while zoomed out to the paper map OR while you are still in the campaign map! Just hold SPACE whenever. It looks fantastic - here is a look at the diplomatic status in the first turn of Tyrion, you can see my starting province is selected (yellow) while those hostile to me (Cult of Excess/Dark Elves) is red. This is zoomed out just about 50%, if I zoom out more than this it will smoothly transition to the 2D map view, which is also really excellent looking.
I really like that each faction has Rites they can perform for some neat boons. The High Elf rites are here:
They unlock as you research technology or after building certain buildings, and aren’t super expensive to use. They have long cool downs (most of them) but as soon as I could I did Invocation of Vaul, which not only makes recruitments and stats better for certain units such as Swordmasters, it generates a powerful magic item! In fact, I was given a choice of four amazing items!
I ended up taking the Helm of Khaine as it provided a ton of combat stat boons to Tyrion, whom I was already sinking points into his combat stats so this was timely, and granted him an aura that inspired fear in enemies near him. Pretty damned sexy. The other choices were hard to pass up though, including a Ruby that could summon a Phoenix (or something?) and a monocle that could grant 15% bonus missile damage to my missile troops (which is most of how I win my fights).
The battles with the high elves have been a blast. They have some early game units that are just incredible, including the Sea Guard with their spears AND longbows, making them kind of the only unit you really need, but I did start with a fire phoenix! And man, this guy is a hoot. He can drop a fire bomb and then he lands and starts murdering. He has almost no armor though, so he’s good for hit and run, or landing amongst dark elf archers, so far. He died in the very first fight but I had to reload as I lost that fight hard, not really knowing how to use the elves very well, so I tried again and did much better.
So far so good, I am eager to dive back in tonight, for sure.