I’ve played this game for 23 hours now according to Steam and my opinion of it has continued to evolve. From some initial frustration with trying to figure things out, I have at last come to the realization that, even in very early EA, this is perhaps the finest game in this particular genre that I have ever played.
I find myself constantly thinking about it when I’m not playing and I keep finding new and interesting things about it. The tactical battle system is, I think, the best I’ve ever seen. Better than Battle Brothers and that’s saying something.
Although you are limited to 6 characters in battle, so far I have not run into a limit of the number of units you can have in your reserve. There are a lot of different classes. And in this game, different classes matter. Each and every class has something unique that they bring to a battle and they are all really useful.
The battlemonk, for example, can leap over enemy lines and obstacles like walls to attack unexpectedly from the rear. This is really useful. He can also flip a target to an opposite hex (without causing the target damage).
The guardian is a tanky class that can shield bash an enemy and send them flying two spaces away, stunning them if they hit an obstacle along the way, or killing them instantly if bashed into a deep, spike filled pit. He wears a helmet and a shield which provides good armor protection.
The Hunter and the Javelinier are both ranged classes. The hunter uses a crossbow and can only fire in a straight line. He can toss out beartraps that halt the enemy and cause bleeding when stepped on. The Javelinier is also ranged but he can throw his javelin high over any obstacle. He also can raise or lower terrain in an adjacent hex, which has some very interesting tactical uses. When your melee is attacking an enemy, each will provide a ranged support attack strike if they are in range and have a clear shot, making for good combined arms tactics.
The footman is a spearman whose attack can also pierce the enemy behind the unit he attacks. His ‘engage’ skill locks onto an enemy and every time they try to move away from him he will attack and drag them back each time they try (until he runs out of stamina). He also has the ram ability that allows him to charge at an enemy from 2 -3 hexes away and knock them a hex while damaging them. If rammed into something he enemy can be stunned or killed (as with the guardian’s shield bash above). A very useful unit that wears chainmail and helmet, making him a tank unit that can take damage.
My berserker is always in the thick of the fighting. he gets 2 attacks instead of one and does heavy damage with his axe. He has an armor shred skill and does 3x armor damage. I use him to crack those hard enemy shells. he has a lot of HP but no armor so you have to watch him closely. He has mutators equipped that heal him when he kills something.
The assassin has an assassin’s mark ability he can throw onto a hex. if an enemy steps on it, he is immediately attacked my all of your nearby ranged and melee units. He also gains a additional attack when any enemy dies anywhere on the battlefield. Another skill allows him an additional strike and two additional movement after backstabbing an enemy. A very fun unit.
You can also find and recruit useful non-combat characters. I rescued a healer last night. He can make medicine for me at a reduced cost when traveling (as long as I have found the resources).
Those are just the classes I’ve found so far. There are many others. it makes it really hard to choose the 6 to bring to any particular battle. Add to that the fact that you can equip them all with mutators that add additional traits and skills and it gets really fun and interesting to kit them all out.
As far as the world goes, I keep finding out interesting things. When you capture a town, you get x amount of a particular resource (money or other) per turn but it eventually dwindles down to nothing. It keeps you constantly on the go looking for more resources.
Also, after capturing a town you can search the caverns under it which triggers an event sort of similar to Battle Brothers events. So far, I’ve triggered earthquakes (12 days where battlefield hexes can shift up/down), accidentally released a bunch of werebeasts (they show up as additional neutral units on battlefields for x number of game days). I also got a large amount of the ‘flesh’ resource used to make medicine for that one.
Last night I found my first relic after searching, the ‘Relic of Hyge’. It’s a special high level mutator that adds the ‘siphon life’ trait to the character it’s equipped on. This provides a +3% permanent HP boost every time that character kills something (up to a 75% boost cap). I gave it to my berserker. With no armor he needs as many HP as he can get and he kills more stuff than any other character.
All this and I’m still only partway though the first zone, still learning stuff. I had a party of 8 bounty hunters come after me yesterday. As an escapee of the Sanatorium, they aren’t going to let Urtuk get away so easily, apparently. They’ll keep coming for him throughout the game with stronger parties each time.
Anyway, I just love this game. I haven’t even mentioned the soundtrack which is as outstanding as the artwork. Even in early EA the game is extremely polished in many ways already. I haven’t been this happy with an EA purchase since I bought Battle Brothers.