Later this month the PC gaming crowd who enjoys a good romp through high-fantasy worlds ripe with turned-based strategy elements will have something to sink their teeth into. From Snowbird Game Studios comes a non-linear tactical RPG affair that puts players in the role of commanding small armies to do battle with evil forces in order to rid the cosmos of treacherous bad guys. In the vein of linchpins like Heroes of Might and Magic, Disciples and King’s Bounty, Eador: Masters of the Broken World looks to bring prestige back to the recently underwhelming genre. But can it reignite the flame that has long since burned out?
Eador: Masters of the Broken World immediately sets itself apart by its unique take on a setting. Instead of players trouncing dastardly foes across a landscape to vanquish evil from a single, encompassing planet, Eador introduces players to a world that’s literally been ripped apart and scattered among the stars. Players can visit each of these shattered land masses to wrestle territory away from the enemy; however, each shard has a specific difficulty level attached to it. Thus, it will be up to each person to decide what degree of challenge they’re willing to take on. Once a destination has been decided, it’s off to the front lines, which in this case is a map, comprised of hexagonal spaces on which to move. Towns and fortresses are just two of the structures that one may have to lay waste to in order to claim victory. To lay said waste, though, it will be up to the player to decide which hero they will use in order to fulfill that objective.
At the start of the game, players are given three characters from which to choose: a warrior, mage or scout. The chosen hero will be the one controlled by the player on each map where they are free to move about in order to accept and carry out quests, engage in combat, level up and gain new abilities. Essentially, this is the character each player will want to focus on in order to dish out the pain as well as build alliances through diplomacy. They are also the one who is responsible for the building of one’s kingdom.
At the beginning of Eador, players are given a solitary stronghold and are asked to grow their empire by whatever means they deem fit. Building within the walls of one’s domain equates to constructing builds of various kinds ranging from pubs to shrines and arcane towers; all acting as the vitalities of the player’s territory. After all, these structures will provide resources, food and manpower to the player’s sovereignty. Outside of one’s borders, however, exist provinces, or locations across one of these floating shards that contains distinct items and capital, some of which may be needed for the player’s empire to flourish. It will be up to each person to seek these out and decide if the resources available are worth the harvesting effort.
To harvest the assets of a province, one must do battle to gain control of that land. Upon entering a new area in search for goods, a combat scenario will kick off, and the player will be introduced to a tactical map filled with allies, enemies and plenty of hexes across which to move. This is where Eador starts to feel familiar to the previously mentioned series. The player’s army will begin on one side of the map, with the rival force on the opposite. Battles play out in a traditional, turn-based fashion with players issuing move, attack and special-ability commands in order to waylay their adversary. Rangers, wizards, warriors, summoned beasts and the like are just some of the combatants and character classes to send off into the fray and duke it out on this hexagonal battlefield. Taking into consideration each character’s strengths and weaknesses surely proves key in overtaking a province or besting any baddie — and exploiting vulnerabilities when possible is encouraged as our time with Eador showed us that the enemy AI is no slouch. In fact, it gave us quite a challenge, especially on the shards with inherently highly difficulty levels.
In essence, much of Eador‘s enjoyment will come from these tactical combat situations; and make no mistake that the bulk of the game will be spent traversing hexes in order to properly align a character for that very sweet, wholly satisfying killing-blow. At the same time, players will spend many a hour navigating the game’s menus, which is something of a concern. We say this simply because the menu aesthetic is uninspired at best and ugly at worst. Furthermore, it can be easy to get lost in a sea of text and pop-up boxes filled with statistics and lore, making Eador a game that could prove off-putting for newbies of the genre. Outside of these visual issues, though, Master’s of the Broken World is a game that’s relatively easy on the ol’ eyes. Sure, the graphics will not win awards and blow the proverbial mind, but they get the job done. They are, at the very least, nicely complemented by the game’s sweeping fantasy score that felt particularly Tolkien-esque.
In the end, Eador doesn’t seem to be a game that breaks new ground. In actuality, it feels like a tried and true formula with a fresh coat of paint on it. That’s not necessarily a bad thing for a genre that doesn’t garnish the attention it deserves. In truth, these types of turn-based, hex-heavy RPGs don’t come out all that often, which makes Eador‘s lack of fantastic creativity far more forgiving. If players are looking for a solid RPG of this type, or a follow-up to the original game, Master’s of the Broken World seems like it will scratch that itch. Thus, be on the lookout for the title when it launches sometime later this month.