SpellForce is a long running series that was first released in 2003. It melds both RTS and RPG into one game creating a hybrid that interestingly works quite well. With the release of SpellForce 3 it continues to build on those ideals and advance an already impressive series with multiple additions. During my playthrough it reminded me of my time with Bauldur’s Gate or Divinity while also including elements of Warcraft; keeping me interested until the bitter end.
SpellForce 3 takes place around 500 years before the Convocation in Eo (the world of SpellForce). This event was caused by the Circle Mages that consisted of 13 power hungry wizards and sorcerers. The game itself is a prequel to SpellForce: The Order of the Dawn and plops you into the daughter/son of a rebel mage named Isamo Tahar, a charismatic man who turns against Queen Ayelith to gain overwhelming power. Through General Sentenza Noria’s command the character you control is saved from execution. You then join the Royal Army in hopes to atone for your fathers sins. The story thus far has been entertaining throughout my playthrough, but the characters you encounter are less than interesting and typically bland.
With a story that can range from 30-35 hours, I found it quite difficult to actually care about anyone other than the protagonist. It didn’t help that the voice acting was sometimes awkward and a little silly.
Graphically speaking, SpellForce 3 is absolutely breathtaking. I was impressed with the level of detail they put into each character. The environments range from dank and ominous dungeons to lively jungles each one more elegant than the last.
The game does a nice job at blending both RPG and RTS together into one nerdy concoction. The RPG element starts when creating your character. You’re able to choose three different talent trees from six available trees: Brutality, discipline, archery, elementalism, black magic, and white magic. These give your character distinct skills and spells to destroy your opponents and heal your allies. You can also chose six different classes if you want somewhat of a pre made build.
Down the road you can add different party members along the way that compliment your fighting style. Each member has distinct abilities that you can take advantage of to get a leg up in battle. You can have up to three characters join you on your campaign. I chose the soldier class for my playthrough so it was nice to have the extra damage from an archer, the menacing spells from a black mage, and a friendly white mage healing the entire party. Different load outs provide you with the option to switch current tactics around. Making it impossible for you to be put into unwinnable situations.
The RTS aspect of the game has you build familiar structures to collect resources and start building your army. Each territory you control has a set amount of resources you can gather over time but will eventually run out. This requires you to explore the current map in search of new outposts to expand and keep gathering. When building new logging or hunting cabins in nearby territories, current outposts that you control will deliver the needed supplies by caravan. While upgrading your outpost you’ll be rewarded with new workers that can be distributed to nearby buildings. Each worker assigned to a nearby building will speed up the process of collecting wood or food for creating new units.
Building barracks supply you with units that you control and upgrade over time. When starting the game you’re only allowed two types of units. You can find blueprints to unlock more and subsequently assemble a stronger army. Each unit has strengths and weaknesses that have you thinking carefully about the choices you make and can turn the tide of combat if chosen incorrectly. After you feel comfortable with your current situation, you can go explore and attack enemy outposts. That being said, there were numerous times my units were running into each other and not attacking the enemy I was clicking. Even when it came to the main characters I noticed sluggish responses and spells failing to activate. Leading to an unfortunate demise for you and your party.
After you finish the campaign, you can hop on over to the skirmish and multiplayer modes that allow you to play as either humans, elves, or orcs. Each are interesting in their own right, but don’t have much different between them other than looks.
SpellForce 3 houses some interesting ideas and executes some of them quite well. However, the characters didn’t quite catch my attention and I was more than a little frustrated with some of the bugs. Nevertheless, my journey through Eo was an enjoyable one.