One game that I’ve been keeping an interested eye on is Stardock’s Elemental: War of Magic. Elemental is a 4X turn-based strategy game fused with role-playing elements in a high fantasy world. Here’s the description from the homepage:
Elemental is a fantasy strategy game set on a world filled with magic and ancient lore. Rule a fledgling kingdom and expand it across the world through a combination of magical power, military might, diplomatic skill, technological advancement and bold adventuring.
As sovereign, you begin as the only being in your kingdom still able to channel power from the shards of magic, a series of mystical artifacts left over from the cataclysm.
You must decide how much of your power to imbue into your heroes as you build new cities, explore dungeons, perfect spells of ever increasing power and negotiate with friends and foes.
Victory can be yours through conquest, magical supremacy, diplomatic alliances or the completion of the master quest.
I don’t know; perhaps it’s just that I’m in the mood for this type of game where I can take my time and plan instead of relying more on reflexes to play. But the idea of the game just very much intrigues me. Normally in strategy games I tend to feel a sense of disconnection, but that should be solved by having your own (main) character in the Sovereign. I’m also drawn to the fantasy setting much more than the sci-fi or real world settings that most other strategy games seem to use. I find the graphics quite appealing too (definitely a distinct style) and the promise of being highly moddable is exciting as well (might be interesting to try and make a drow race, but even if one doesn’t do any modding then one can generally still enjoy the works that others do).
Elemental is currently in beta testing and set to release either at the end of summer or somewhere during fall (depending on how smoothly development goes, as Stardock seems to be one of those “when it’s ready” developers). As I understand the game is currently in Beta 1 phase, meaning that none of the 3d graphics are in yet (on purpose, so that the players testing will focus more on the game mechanics and what would make the game ‘fun’ than on graphics) playing purely off the cloth map.
To give you an idea of what that’s like, here’s a YouTube video. Just remember that it’s not supposed to be fun yet and that it doesn’t have the 3D graphics engine yet:
As I understand the game is set to go into Beta 2 any time now, during which the beta testers will get access to the full 3D graphics engine as well.
Part of what makes the game interesting as well is that they’ve created a rich lore for the game and have entered a partnership with book publisher Random House to take the setting across various media, including a book titled “Elemental: Destiny’s Embers” to release in August. In that way it’s much like Mass Effect and Dragon Age. But perhaps even more interesting is how the developers maintain a direct line of communication with their community, asking how the community sees certain design questions.
If you’re interested then here are a couple of articles from the last few months regarding the game:
- [link] to GDC progress report at GameSpot. (March 12th 2010)
- [link] to interview with Brad Wardell at Rock, Paper, Shotgun. (March 23rd 2010)
- [link] to interview with Brad Wardell at IncGamers. (April 19th 2010)
- [link] to impressions article at IGN. (June 1st 2010)
- [link] to preview article at GameSpot. (June 2nd 2010)
A few additional updates.
First of all there’s a new dev journal up on the official site which has a variety of new tidbits. This includes their target release date of August 24th, an awesome screenshot with dynamic fog of war generated using an advanced multi-core algorithm, a link to a (soundless) movie showing the 3D graphics, and a YouTube movie showing some of the map making modding tool. Definitely worth checking out.
There’s also another preview at BigDownload which talks about a number of the key features of the game.
And last, but not least is the following 12 minute developer walkthrough (note that the sound cuts out briefly partway through):
Looking quite interesting and potentially a lot of fun.
- [link] to June FAQ dev jounral at Elemental.
- [link] to preview article at BigDownload.
- [link] to developer walkthrough video at GameTrailers.