BattleForge Hands-On

Card-based combat takes the real-time strategy stage in BattleForge, and we take in an early performance.

BattleForge is a new game from developer EA Phenomic that takes a real-time approach to the complex deck-building and unit-balancing strategy of card battle games. Having previously developed the notable SpellForce series, EA Phenomic knows its way around the RTS battlefield and is aiming to mix things up a bit with BattleForge. You will derive your armies from cards you've collected through trades, purchases, or victories and deploy them at will, rather than spending time constructing buildings and harvesting resources. BattleForge will also support social interaction on a large scale, letting you trade, buy, and sell cards in an online marketplace, or take to the battlefield with up to 12 other players. We recently spent some time with EA Phenomic and sampled the unique flavor of this hybrid game.

Two Juggernauts laying waste to hordes of melee troops.

The action in BattleForge plays out from a traditional RTS point of view, and the core gameplay stays true to these roots in many ways. Selecting and moving units, engaging in battle, and spellcasting will all be familiar to those who have played an RTS before. The real differences were first apparent when we fielded our first army. Our card deck was displayed along the bottom edge of the screen, and mousing over a card popped it out to reveal the unit name, description, attributes, and cost. In addition to unit cards, there were spell cards that could heal our units or damage our enemies. To deploy a unit, we clicked the card to select it, then clicked on the battlefield, and voila, our new units appeared in a colorful flourish of energy. It's a simple, smooth interface designed to keep the action flowing freely.

Despite this focus on fluid action, there are still restrictions on when and where you can deploy your armies. Units can be deployed in close proximity to your other units, or at any point in a territory you control. Claiming territories is a matter of wiping out any foes in the area and capturing a monument that will stake your claim. This structure can be aligned with one of the many elements, and controlling more elements will expand the range of cards you can play. There are only a few other structures in the game. Some are cards that you can play, like a defensive tower, and others, like the aforementioned monument, exist on the map to be captured and help increase your power.

Units come in one of four sizes, ranging from human size to massive house-wrecking monster size. Larger units are more robust and have special abilities. We watched one giant-horned juggernaut use its stampede power to plow right through a massive defensive wall, allowing the rest of the units to pour through and decimate the enemy. Defeating the most massive of units will earn you its card, and you'll be able to use them in future battles. The units, as well as the landscapes, are detailed and well designed, giving BattleForge a very crisp, appealing look.

One of the more intriguing elements of BattleForge is the stage it sets for social interaction. On the battlefield, players can launch co-op campaigns that actually require both teams to work together. In the live demo we saw, two teams moved across a map through parallel territories. At one juncture, one team had the high ground while the other was level with the enemy. As the latter lured the enemy into the pass and engaged them in melee combat, the other rained down arrows and healing spells from its elevated position. At another point, the teams took on a pair of two enemy shamans that needed to be taken out simultaneously lest they heal or revive each other. Though we saw only two teams, BattleForge will support up to twelve players in massive cooperative/competitive battles.

Another facet of the social side of BattleForge is the online marketplace and forums. Here players will be able to buy booster packs, sell their unwanted cards, and trade with other players, as well as participate in auctions. EA Phenomic is hoping this will attract a vibrant community of folks looking to tweak their decks and strategies before and after battle. The combination of in-game social interplay and strategic, cooperative battle has been wildly successful in the MMO market, and BattleForge looks to capture some of that magic when it is released later this year.

Written By

Chris enjoys aiming down virtual sights, traipsing through fantastical lands, and striving to be grossly incandescent.

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Discussion

25 comments
Deltari772
Deltari772

Good conceptually, but I'm not interested in games I have to keep paying for. If it's "market place" used a currency you could earn ingame rather than real cash, I'd be interested, but as it is, it seems more like a profiteering scheme than a game.

leoleez
leoleez

cool, I played it. Fun but really it is alot of buying in the game

bankyoyo
bankyoyo

next year Beta starts November 7th

HufflePuff-TLH
HufflePuff-TLH

putting on tracked, sounds interesting, could be something differnet

UH-60Q
UH-60Q

when does it come out!

ork_slasher
ork_slasher

This looks like the game Saga online,but with better graphics.

orcsblade
orcsblade

looks awesome and sounds good.......

sergio_afonso
sergio_afonso

Very interesting! Im going to track this one.

klinsi
klinsi

Hm... looks like a kind of magic the gathering game eh ? Still its good game too

Agent-CSim-47
Agent-CSim-47

This looks excellent. I hope it comes out on X-Box

bornej
bornej

Looks like Saga on a fat budget.

TA127
TA127

The whole card and card trading sounds realy realy bad. I guess you can just collect 100 cards and win without an effort.

Kubilius
Kubilius

Ofcourse that booster packs will be bought with hard cash :)

C-Megalodon
C-Megalodon

Hopefully, the booster packs are not bought with real cash...This game really looks hopeful, and I hope that it will be.

PHeMoX
PHeMoX

It's not even known yet how much the booster packs will cost, so why all freaking out about it?? This game looks very interesting, I hope it will be good.

ddraig_danio
ddraig_danio

Yer, the price of cards is quite expensive so unless there cheap (like $5 aus for 10 cards) count me out

zelderex
zelderex

Looks awesome though booster packs do worry me my game budget is kinda low so spending even as much as some yu gi oh cards would set me back a bit

peeweeshift
peeweeshift

it actually sounds pretty nice. i dont mind dlc if the game rocks

halo129
halo129

could be good..... or could be bad

K-Grogg
K-Grogg

With all those booster packs this game better not cost us more than $20-30 with tax.

TristanH12
TristanH12

Wow if we have to buy booster packs separately then I will have to reconsider whether or not I actually want to invest in it.

GGCrew_basic
GGCrew_basic

I like the idea, but worried about the unannounced pricing for the booster packs. We are talking about EA after all...