First impressions after having played about 4-5 hours of the campaign (v1.0)
NB. I don’t want to be rude here, only give some comments meant with a blink of the eye. I like SD. It’s late at night, but I wanted to convey some first impressions of the campaign (first impressions can last for a lot of people …) Since this is not the Beta anymore I think comments and suggestions should be welcome and indeed expected. So the game can get even better.
Intro video: as I see it the main point of such intros is to excite the player and set the right mood (not much info is given here anyway). Unfortunately, with this quality it could be better to skip them totally since seeing such an intro in 2010 makes you expect the worst rather than giving you an adrenaline kick. Ok, if SD can’t afford to make an intro like WoWs Lich King, fine, but this is just not up to standard. The Original Age of Wonders looks better (no, not AoW Shadow Magic, but the old, old one). That was, what, about 15 or 20 years ago? Unfortunately, Mucha seems to have gone out the door and Mickey Mouse in.
Tactical battles: Projectiles like arrows are invisible. Worse, the camera is having an elliptical attack, but not at random: instead it moves away from the target just when you are about to see if the arrow will hit or miss, making it impossible to follow what’s going on. Worse, tactical spells: there are no visible animations, only sound. Then after a while also (all) sound is lost. What a let-down throwing your first fireball and getting as result only a number of damage but no flames, no animation. I hope this is a bug! How this survived the acclaimed Beta is beyond me. But then we never got to play a full version, did we?
Tactical map: confusing interface: where are the defense and attack modifiers and how do they work (what does it mean when it sometimes gives two def modifiers and sometimes just one, without any explanation?). No way of knowing when all units have done their actions! Preordering of units creates chaos and disaster in following rounds (don’t try to be too smart, giving help not needed). And please start with sovereign as default like in AoW since normally you want to use spells right away to soften up the enemy and see who survived before ordering your ground troops around.
(Spoiler warning): Lord Relias and his whole team were killed by the (third) trolls in the swamp. But after I had got the message that he fled back to the capital, I still got the “campaign victory text” explaining how he finds a crystal in the troll’s ruin lair after having killed them all … Is this a bug or just extreme laziness? Worse, it continued in a similar vein in the next fight, against the ogre. Relias “died” (i.e. was defeated when he took 15 damage while having 2 hp) while his troops killed the ogre. He then just stayed with the team after the fight (but with one hp), not fleeing back to nearest city, is this normal? It was not in his area of influence either. Since no explanations were given why he was still there after having seemingly died (down to lower than -10 hp), it felt like a bug, like the sovereign does not even have to make it through the battles, the campaign just continues. Also, I suspect a bug where it said I received a Summon stone giant spell, but could not find it. Another bug (or laziness): I started training peasants early, and then get the message 15 turns later that I can now train peasants, needed to survive …
Soundtrack: after just a few hours already the music starts calling too much attention to itself. One main tune is also such a rip-off from the LOTR soundtrack that you might look out for a lawsuit! AoW had unique, wonderful music, so it can’t be impossible. Worse, the monsters don’t have their own sounds. Most of them growl alike, insect or wolf. I could accept the music, fine, but not the creatures sounding alike.
The second faction lord Relias visits (sorry, can’t remember the RANDOM house name this late at night) is stated to be a hot jungle region with exotic tribes and peoples. One minute later their sovereign shows up: dressed in what looks like a fur cap, fully dressed with a thick (fur?) cape, with long Viking hair and beard. Looks cool, yes, but just like a Viking. Ok, I’m not against that Random House did the texts but if they don’t communicate with the people doing the pics/animations it makes you laugh …
Sorry to say, but some of the names are in fact so bad (= difficult to remember and pronounce), even for a game, that I start suspecting Random House must bear more meaning than one would think … (example, the wives of the sovereigns, like the third one, was that Hoolapaloola, or?) How much did you pay them for that one? Is there a guide to pronunciation hidden somewhere in the hiergame…mem…non (ah, it’s just impossible)? It would be needed.
Crashes: just trying to open the workshop from main menu and the game crashes (late at night so sorry for not digging out a crash file).
I do think it will be a great game in the coming months. More to come later.
Over and out.