Spellforce 3 Preview
Spellforce 3 is, like its predecessors, a mix of RTS and RPG. It is also a prequel to Spellforce 1 and takes place 500 years earlier, which means the world is not shattered yet. The story in Spellforce 3 will reveal what the reasons were for that to happen. However, knowing the previous parts is not a requirement for understanding what happens in Spellforce 3 better. If you have played the previous games, you will get to visit some known places and have a chance to see what the word looked like some 500 years earlier.
The game is divided in sectors and you can move from sector to sector by unlocking the current sector. After that you can travel to any of the connected areas from where you are now. The game will not limit you in any way with respect to what area you will visit next. Also the game will not scale opponents to your level. So you could end up in an area with way to powerful opponents.
The map of Spellforce 3 is rather big, so they implemented a quick traveling system, with portals that you need to discover first, before you can use them for your travels. This can also be used in the RTS part, where you could move your army very fast from one location to the next. They are available in multiplayer maps as well.
Every piece of loot you can find in the game is hand crafted. There is no loot with randomly generated values assigned to them. Each item can also have background information that you could read to learn more about that specific item and its place in the world. Lower level loot is placed in such a way that the category is specified and the specific item is then randomly selected from that category. Higher level loot is always hand placed.
When you create your character you do not create a class, but select 3 skill trees for your character out of the available 6, consisting of melee, ranged, defensive and magic skill trees. Your main character will always have one additional skill tree, which contains the leadership skills. So you have a total of 4 skill trees. Each companion in the game that can join you, of which there are 8, also have their own unique skill tree next to the three that belong to their build.
When your characters level up and you get to assign your skill points to skills, there is not an option to make the skills stronger. You can select a new skill or expand on a skill. For example, a whirlwind attack would, when you level it up, not become more powerful, but at the second level add a bleeding effect. More powerful skills is handled in a different way. When one of your character levels up, you also get to increase one or more of its attributes. Each skill is linked to at least one of those attributes. If the attribute increases, the power of the skills linked to this ability increases with it. If at any time you feel you have made a mistake and would like to redo your skill selection, that is possible, but is apparently rather expensive.
You can travel with a party of four, which means that out of the 8 possible companions, you can take only three. The companions that are not in your party will also level up and when you make them join your party later on, you get to assign the attribute and skill points, belonging to the increase in levels. Each companion also has their own background story and when they are in your party also have their own reactions to the world and your actions. Besides that, they chat amongst themselves as well.
If you enter a city that is not hostile towards you the entire city immediately gets revealed and is not covered in a fog of war as other areas are. An example of a city was shown with more than 1000 NPCs in it, which however are not all interesting. With that large amount, picking up side quests would not be easy, but in Spellforce 3 the NPCs will approach you when you are passing by, if they have something they want to share with you or would like you to do something for them. According to the developers the game is really story heavy and rich on quests with all the dialogs in the game being voiced. They explicitly mentioned that their every intention is to not have any MMO type fetch quests in the game. I did notice that some NPCs have a very noticeable identifier hovering above them, currently a placeholder graphic, to indicate that they have a quest or that you are doing a quest for them. If you don't like handholding this is not really a good feature I suppose.
The game does not have a penalty for stealing. That makes things easier for those who want to collect everything there is, but might impact the feeling of immersion a bit.
Spellforce 3 supports combining skills during combat, which changes the action of the skill being combined. So casting two different spells after each other might result in more damage than you would get from each spell individually. This is supposed to add an additional tactical layer and could mean you need to think about what characters you will take with you in your party. Assuming you know what lies ahead.
As mentioned the map of the game is divided in sectors and each sector has its own center, which comes with a certain type and amount of workers. Every single building in that sector needs workers assigned to them in order for the building to do anything. So woodcutters will pick up their axes and start chopping trees and miners will trod off to get that silver from the mine. You see the trees actually falling down in the game and being hauled over to the building. Like in the previous Spellforce games you need to assign the right amount of workers to your buildings for gathering resources. To increase the amount of workers in your sector, you need to upgrade the sector center or claim new sectors with additional workers.
Not all resources are located in all sectors. If you need resources in a specific sector that cannot be found there, you need to transport them to that specific sector. This is done by means of a cart, which moves, with the resources, on the map. This transport can be attacked and your goods can be stolen. Your workers can also be attacked and their goods can be seized. Obviously, you can do the same to the workers and transports of your opponents.
When a new building is to be created the construction starts when there are resources available. There do not have to be sufficient resources available to complete the building. When during the construction process the resources dry up, it stops and continues again when the resources are replenished.
Like before, the available resources in an area that you can collect, will deplete over time. There are however also resource packages to be found in the world that you can loot. On top of that, in the leadership skill tree, there is a skill that allows you to replenish the availability of resources in a sector.
You can also construct objects in the game, which will require resources to maintain them. As long as you supply the objects with sufficient resources they stay active, but in that case the resources are not available for your armies. In this way they want you to make choices on where to spent your resources on. As an example, in the demo a barrier was shown that kept out some baddies attacking a village. You could keep resources going into that, or you could also decide to give up the village and spent your resources on something else.
Early on in the game you can find an ancient city, lying in ruins. You can take over that city and rebuild it, which makes it your hub. When you unlock any factions in the story campaign they will settle down in that ancient city. If you meet characters who will join your cause, they will also settle here.
As to my question whether or not the game was reduced in complexity with respect to their predecessors. They did not agree, they had actually concerns that the game was becoming too complex, giving the scope of it. It is still a complex game, but they feel they have made it quite accessible.
The focus in the presentation was more on the RPG than the RTS elements. And it does look like there is more of an RPG in the game than in the previous Spellforce editions. They claim that the RTS part can be quite complex and I am, from wat I saw, not sure if it is an RPG with RTS elements, or an RTS with RPG elements, or that it nails it to have both in a similar fashion. It does look however that the game has more of an RPG in it than before, but only time will tell. Unless you are playing the beta, in which case you could tell.
Spellforce 3 is scheduled for release on the 7th of December 2017.
Here are some B-roll videos where you can see some in-game action:
Information aboutSpellforce 3
Developer: Grimlore Games
SP/MP: Single + MP
Regions & platforms
· Platform: PC
· Released at 2017-12-07
· Publisher: THQ Nordic