Review: Warlock 2: The Exiled
Title: Warlock 2: The Exiled
Platform: PC (reviewed)
Developer: In-Co Plus
Publisher: Paradox Interactive
Release date: 10 April (Now!)
Tagline: Challenging 4X game
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I incorrectly presumed how Warlock: Master of the Arcane was going to play. I saw it and thought “Awesome, Civ 5 with fantasy stuff. I’m totally down for that!”. It was a game I never got round to playing though unfortunately, so when the opportunity arose to review the sequel I jumped at the chance. I was wrong. The Warlock series is it’s own special creation by developers In-Co Plus. In Warlock 2 you play as a Great Mage, trying to get back to the land of Ardania to reclaim your home land and defeat The United One.
It’s a 4X strategy game covering many realms and you have to go through them all, taking out the other great mages before you can challenge the greatest one. You start the game on a small realm with a couple of units and from there your empire must grow. You can research new magic, explore the realm you’re in, produce units and fight. The worlds are full of dangers and there are often nests of creatures just looking for a fight. But once you vanquish them you are rewarded with resources and because these are so scare you want to go after them.
The city building aspect is interesting because you can only build one building per thousand citizens. It makes picking what to build next much more tactical. Buildings are also built on the hexes, meaning space is often an issue later on when the city has grown. This makes every choice critical, do you got extra gold now? Or do you go for bread to ensure you’re units are fed? Or go military and get archers? There’s a lot of routes to take and this is one of the games strengths.
There seems to be a lot less units to choose from per race and they all seem to be fairly similar which is a shame, this is counter-balanced by the wide cast of hero characters that pop along every so often and can be recruited. They are one person wrecking machines who can survive a whole lot longer than a standard unit. I should also mention the wide range of monsters to battle. The enemies and challenges you face have been well thought about and there is a lot in the game to keep you on your toes.
I really wanted to like this game, but I struggled. I’m a big fan of Civilisation 5 and have put in a fair few hours on the game. It’s everything I love about games and maybe coming in to the game thinking it would be similar was a mistake, but Warlock just doesn’t feel as smooth playing in comparison. The next few paragraphs explain some of the major grievances for me, but mostly it was just that I didn’t want to keep playing. If you’re a big fan of Civ 5 you may struggle to enjoy this game.
In this day and age games are often claimed to be dumbed down, easier and your hand is held throughout the experience. In Warlock 2 it often feels like you’re more leashed than simply held. At the start of every turn you’re near a gate a pop up with the choices you can action. Despite the previous eight times to postpone dealing with the new gate the game is like “HAI, THERE’S A GATE HERE THAT NEEDS TO BE DEALT WITH”. It repeated every turn and was just so pointless. Hopefully it’s patched so that things like these only pop up when you approach them.
Paradox are known for their voice acting, it’s always cheesy and always a little overdone. Normally this works in their favour and brings a smile to the faces of children everywhere. However for Warlock 2 it’s just horrid. I wince everytime I select my Elven archers because I know the clip about to play is horrid. It’s pretty horrible throughout the range and any time I encountered a character I rushed to read so I skip the audio. It’s a real shame because I have loved previous titles audio such as Dungeonland or Dwarves.
I do want to warn you on the difficulty of the game. This game is not easy. Balancing the cost of units with small cities that don’t produce much is challenging. On top of that being strong enough to defeat the monsters on the map which continue to respawn later on even though you’ve cleared the land makes defending a key priority along with exploration and attacking.
The editor that comes with the game is pretty thorough. You’re able to change anything in the game, give it a new image and edit it out to your hearts content. You can edit maps, characters, units, races, leaders and items. A very broad range and it’s included right from the off. Thankfully it’s fairly difficult to overwrite something or ruin a particular item in the game as it’s clear if you’re adding something new to the game. I’d definitely recommend waiting a bit before playing around with it though. Get used to the game first, then tinker.
All in all, I don’t think Warlock 2 is necessarily a bad game, I just had a bad time playing it. I’d much quicker load up Civilisation 5 or Heroes of Might and Magic 5 than Warlock 2. It’s voice acting is awful, the popups are coming at you at every angle and it just seems a little too convoluted. However, if you can find the joy in this game, if you’re a fan of the first one I think you’ll get some great mileage out of it.
- Tactical city building
- Great cast of heroes
- In depth game editor
- Horrible, horrible voice acting
- Popups can be annoying
- Challenging for the terrible gamer
There’s definitely nothing here to frighten the younger gamers, it’s a fantasy story though I do think the game may be too difficult for the little ‘uns.
Warlock 2: The Exiled was reviewed using a Steam promotional code.