It’s hard to believe it was just under a month ago that Fallen Enchantress went into public beta. We’ve gotten a lot of great feedback, a lot of bug reports, crash reports, and suggestions.
Next Thursday, we plan to release BETA 2 which is intended to go out to everyone who purchased Elemental: War of Magic in 2010 plus anyone who has pre-ordered Fallen Enchantress.
Today, I’m going to walk you through some of the changes Derek and his team have implemented. Those of you who were Fall From Heaven Fans or Galactic Civilizations fans will hopefully see the combination of the two really starting to show in beta 2.
We have gotten a lot of feedback with regards to the “first impression” elements of Fallen Enchantress. Part of that goal is to make it clear to players what the distinctions are between each faction and each sovereign.
Across the board the art team has started to put in the Fallen Enchantress specific art assets. This effectively means the world will look quite different. More punch, less blah when it comes to the scenery.
Beta 2 is our first pass with displaying the path of a selected unit.
The main map UI has bee modified as well to place the often missed Govern button down with Spells and Turn in the bottom right. In addition, important events now pop out for a turn from the side to inform players of events without interrupting the action.
The new Kingdom Report screen helps players see where their kingdom stands as well as how far along they are towards achieving victory in one of the 4 victory conditions.
Music & Sound
Beta 2 includes the first set of new sound effects for Fallen Enchantress along with many new musical tracks to help bring the world to life. I suspect the sound will be something that has amongst the biggest impact since FE beta 1 barely had any.
Balance changes will be both subtle and obvious to players. Fallen Enchantress provides 3 different technology paths to choose from. Beta 2 is designed to give each technology tree its own path to world domination.
The Warfare path is much the same as it was with Beta 1. The key resource for mundane warfare is metal, a resource that players pursuing this much live and die by.
The Civilization path has been altered to give more emphasis on building up your Empire through using diplomatic power. The resource of power here comes in the form of Diplomatic capital which is spent recruiting mercenaries, monsters and other factions to the war fighting for you.
The Magic path has gotten the most love. Between raw mana power and magical equipment that uses crystal in lieu of metal, you can end up with a very powerful force of magical units. Mages, Warlocks, and all manner of new units start to appear as the player goes up the magic tech tree.
Champions are automatically able to cast spells. What makes the sovereign special – as a channeler – is they’re the ones with the ability to derive mana from the shards. All spell casters use the global pool supplied, ultimately, through your channeler. The bottom line, lots more magic being thrown around.
Caravans are gone. They were a held over idea from GalCiv II that never made the sense in the Elemental universe. Roads now grow up somewhat more organically based on your civilization techs with corresponding economic benefits.
Beta 2 is our first pass at nailing down the three distinct acts of Fallen Enchantress.
Act I has the player exploring the world, building up their kingdom and trying to keep the world from ruining them. (Explore, Expand).
Act II begins when players determine the strategy they’re going to use to achieve victory. Maybe they’ll do it by building lots mundane units, maybe they’ll focus on a handful of champions, maybe they’ll recruit their armies, maybe they’ll build a force of powerful, magical armies or maybe they’ll amass enough mana and spells to bring ruin to their enemies and glory to their friends. (Exploit)
Act III is the end game, it’s the execution of their strategy. And this is where a lot of thought and effort has been put in. Wrapping up the epic wars, quests, schemes, etc. For me, personally, I enjoy being able to do very horrible things to my enemies with mana. If I have enough mana, I should be able to bring down the pain to those who oppose me while making my kingdom a land of gods. This means expensive spells that can be stacked but don’t necessarily have upkeep.
In addition, the final quest and the spell of making are in the process of being made a lot more interesting and accessible.
I would be remiss to not talk about the computer players. The tactical battle AI has been written from scratch for Beta 2. Late game, there will be no mistaking that this is a game with magic. Watching players and AI setting things up with their spells, countering each other spells, etc. is very enjoyable. I have come to the point where I end up watching the battles on auto play instead of using auto-resolve because it’s fun to watch ala GalCiv II battles.
The AI is much improved when dealing with custom created factions. In my game, I have created all my favorite Tolkien races and put them up against me. The AI will use the attributes that go with them to make them play differently. So my "Orcs” play quite differently from my “Elves”. Modders, post-release will of course be able to take this to ridiculous level.
The AI is also much better strategically. It manages groups of armies now, this is something I never did get quite right in GalCiv II’s AI but the FE game engine makes it a snap for me to organize vast swaths of units and treat them as a single unit – and they don’t have to be on the same tile so it’s not some obnoxious death train.
As a result of the AI improvements, the harder difficulty levels, where the AI gets special bonuses, have been drastically turned down.
The AI will raze cities and will surrender rather than dragging the game on endlessly. How they play depends pretty heavily on the faction. So don’t expect them to train or
I’m only scratching the surface here and I’m forgetting lots of small and large balance tweaks to the game ranging from cost of upgrading units (much cheaper) to the pacing of the tech tree to the cost and maint of units. You’ll have have to wait and see for answers on all those things.
I will say Champions are still very powerful but they will level up much slower if you try to just create a stack up them. I had..ahem…a game last night where my “mega stack” of 5 champions got killed by a single AI champion because my stack was only level 5 and the AI champion was level 8 (and since the AI now makes great use of magic in tactical battles, it can do some horrific things to those who are unwary). On the bright side, trained units don’t count against you in terms of experience sharing. So put that champion with lots of trained units, it’s what the AI does.
When will the final version be released?
We still see months of work ahead of us. We don’t have a specific “gold” date yet. We intend to follow-up with a BETA 3 roughly a month from now. We’ll have a better idea where we are at that point to start thinking of release dates.