"Meticulous development is leading to one of the most detailed game worlds I have ever seen."
When I sat down with the THQ Nordic team for an interview, I had very limited knowledge of their games and did not know what to expect from the meeting. Little did I know what I was in for with the upcoming Spellforce III.
The isometric RPG is chronologically set before Spellforce I and will have several story references to that title, a treat for long-time fans of the series. However, it is not necessary to play Spellforce I beforehand; the game can be fully experienced without having played any of the previous entries.
When watching the trailer, the first aspect emphasized was the non-linear progression and the open world game structure. While this is a common theme among modern western RPGs, the scope and scale of the world is incredible and taken to the next level in Spellforce III. Not only is the environment massive, but there is plenty of lore and content waiting to be discovered, including hidden notes, items, and character interactions with the game containing over 240,000 lines of dialogue, providing months of content for players to discover.
The game is very story driven; player choices affect the environments and NPCs during your progress. In the gameplay I was shown, the team provided an example with refugees where players can decide not to rescue them or to help them. The former decision means they are gone for the rest of the game, while the latter leads to having more allies for the army and more manpower in battles, clearly showcasing the influence the player has on the world, this situation being one of multiple instances where decisions are crucial.
Combat in this game is real time strategy with a foundation in classic RPG mechanics. Customizing and upgrading your characters for battle is an intricate endeavor in itself, with multiple skill trees available for your character than can be combined to have countless builds to suit your tastes (e.g. a black mage can invest in defenses alongside intelligence to have a tank-like build while being able to execute powerful spells). The equipment upgrade system is equally as detailed, with characters having different pieces of equipment more accessible to them depending on their stats (e.g. a black mage would have to invest more in its attack and defense to equip heavier armor).
The last feature shown was the base building and expansion. Expanding your territory requires a powerful army to help with tasks around the base, including defense and resource gathering. Workers can be assigned depending their occupation, such as hunters being sent out to hunt animals for their resources, while marksmen can be assigned to towers to defend the base. Additionally, enemy sectors can be looted for resources and to acquire more territory for your empire.
After viewing the trailer, it is clear that THQ Nordic is going all out to ensure that Spellforce III is packed to the brim with content, while paying attention to detail to polish the game and have it run smoothly. Meticulous development is leading to one of the most detailed game worlds I have ever seen, and players will have a chance to enjoy it at the end of the year. As RPGs become bigger in scale, Spellforce III is looking to move the genre forward and provide players a grand adventure.