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Warlords Battlecry 3: RTS, RPG and …Openworld?

Well no, not exactly. But I do think, despite the mish mash of genres, it still makes a good attempt at all of them.

My previous review concerned a very long series of turn based modern JRPGs. This is the complete opposite! A very old rts game made in the west. I was actually visiting my parents and checking out my old stuff and found a disc copy of WB3. I never finished it as a kid but I remember enjoying it fondly. So why not? I played it, finished it and now I want more.

Gameplay: Warlords Battlecry 3 is basically a RPG where you play as a character discovering some unknown evil and travel around the world to find ways to stop/seal it. You move around the overworld by picking where to go, doing missions and getting closer to your objectives. The combat is entirely RTS whenever it happens. You are not restricted too much on where to go (outside of difficulty) and you complete the main quest line by picking specific missions to do as you land on different areas. It is very open. You go where you want, do what missions you want, to level up, get perks and equipment for your hero. Aside from the free roam, there is some other rpg aspects where you can pick where your allegiance lies in certain missions (which allows other races to be picked at the pre-battle screen than your own) as well as other rewards. When you feel like you're strong enough, you can also tackle the main quest missions to beat the game.

The character creation: Race: The first step is determining your character, race, class and this is where things immediately gets crazy. There are 17 races and 29 classes. We're talking 17 unique entire playable RTS armies, with their own skill trees, strategies and units. Ok, let's be fair. A bunch of these are pretty similar with eachother. But at the same time, some are very unique. The undead for example, don't just build units in the barracks like most others. They build skeletons and from there you can just transform them into the next tier (like say a wraith or Skeleton knight). Then from that tier, you transform them further into an even crazier doom knight or a lich. The dark elves have units that can go invisible and a few of their forces have a passive that allows them to instant-kill enemies based on chance. The Knights have a large amount of cavalry units, making them fast and durable. The orcs can swarm you if you're not careful but then the Plaguelords have multiple units with aoe capabilities! It is very insane, not totally balanced and just nuts.

The character creation: Class: Of course that's not all. Your hero can also pick a class which adds further spells and skills. (Several classes have their own unique spell trees as well) You get points each time you level up (by in-game combat or finishing a mission) and you can invest stats as well as these skills. Again, these augment your hero and army further. Remember how I said the undead evolves their units via skeletons? Well let's say you pick the Necromancer class which gives you more necromancy points than you start off with as well as the 'memories' skill. This lets you summon skeletons with mana rather than just building them and the 'memories' skill makes your skeletons a bit stronger than normal. See where I am going? You walk into an enemy base. Summon a bunch of buffed skeletons, evolve them immediately and start smacking buildings. OR maybe you prefer to be a bit of a strategist? Rather than level up your intelligence for mana, you level up charisma to reduce your unit costs. You pick an alchemist as your class who can convert resources, giving you a hefty economy. Now pick the knights and in minutes you're swarming the enemy harder than a swarm race! Of course your hero can also be a fighter. Build him with attack/hp or even the assassin skill for instant kills and you're a dangerous unit rather than a backline style leader.

Combat: It is basically an rts game with your 'hero' being a central unit. Your hero can build, can fight and can wear equipment which augments either themselves or your army. They can also capture resource nodes (something your high tier units can do). Before each mission, you're also given an amount of points to choose what units to 'start' with. Maybe you want to pick some builders so your hero can be more active in the early game rather than build. Maybe you want some high tier units as your early game body guard. Now, your hero can die, its not permanent but you do lose them for the current map(including all their passives and spells). You can keep them safe in the back but they do buff your units so there is a risk/reward decision to be made if you wanna bring the hero to the front line. Your units can die and of course, it's permanent and they need to be produced again. Why does this matter? Well units in game can also earn exp and level up. It's capped but this does improve their stats and if they survive, you can keep them in your squad to take them to the following missions until they die or you remove them. That's kinda cool and gives you a feeling that this indeed a moving army, rather than just 'another zergling' or 'another marine'. This unit that has been with you since the island missions is now the vanguard of your army as you storm the castle!

The balance: Sadly with so much variables it is inevitable this game is oh so unbalanced. Certain classes will straight up break the game. Like I said, an alchemist hero can give you such a ridiculous economy and in RTS games, economy is king. The idea of units levelling up is great and bringing them with you is great but it also means it is very possible to train up a super unit and have them just rush the map, winning the mission in like 5 mins. Your hero can also become an insane powerhouse. You can make an assassin with something like over 50% chance of one-shotting any unit and gear up your hero with insane attack speed to just be a 1 man army. It is nuts. Do not expect starcraft balance here. Some races are also weaker than others. This makes a great single player experience but it can feel unfair in multiplayer maps. Your build also can be punished. A backline strategic hero can make army vs army missions easy but sometimes you get the odd maps where you only use your hero or a small amount of units with the inability to build anything. This leads to cheesing or a crushing defeat when your hero is basically no stronger than fodder. Luckily these missions aren't common and the harder ones are optional.

So what do I think about all this? It is very fun, very replayable but kinda flawed. Balance aside, the models look dumb, the voice acting(for heroes) is kinda whacky at times, due to it's age it can feel clunky and it definitely isn't as polished as something like starcraft. No not starcraft 2. Starcraft 1. A game older than it (and this is not a new game at all). All in all, it still is very fun for single player and I do recommend at least trying it out if anything I said sounds interesting.


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