Codemasters and Triumph Studios have been keeping very quiet about Overlord, which you might remember claimed our Best Surprise award at last year's Electronic Entertainment Expo. Despite regular publisher badgering, we've heard almost nothing about Overlord since returning from that event. So it's with great pleasure that we're finally able to bring you the first of what we hope will be many updates on the game leading up to its release.
The feature that most obviously distinguishes Overlord from other third-person action adventure games is the horde of gremlinlike minions that will accompany the titular central character at all times. The minions' loyalty to you knows no limits, and they'll die for you without a moment's hesitation if you ask them to. You shouldn't think of your followers as dispensable meat shields, though, because they have plenty of other uses and will grow stronger alongside you if you look after them.
You'll be able to command up to 50 minions simultaneously, and because they come in four distinct flavors, part of the challenge will be determining the makeup of that group. Your most common allies will be brown "fighter" minions, who are skilled in melee combat and will gladly taken on suicidal bomb-carrying missions behind enemy lines, but you'll also be fighting alongside red "fire thrower" minions, who are immune to fire and can hurl fireballs at enemies; green "assassin" minions, who are immune to poison, are skilled backstabbers, and are able to turn battlefield rubbish into upgrades; and blue "healer" minions, who can resurrect fallen allies and are the only ones able to swim. If you've played either of Nintendo's Pikmin games some of this might sound familiar, but we're assured that Overlord's gameplay is anything but derivative. Pikmin don't get distracted by beautiful succubae, beer, or music, for example, which are all things that you'll need to look out for when managing your minion horde.
Moving your personal army will be achieved using the right analog stick for the most part, with additional controls making it possible to select individuals or small groups for certain tasks. Alternatively, you can simply highlight a target object, building, or enemy and send minions toward it one at a time using what is essentially a fire button. The minions are purportedly intelligent enough that very little micromanagement will be necessary, and they're opportunistic enough that they'll often return to you with scavenged goodies after completing whatever task you assigned them to. Minions automatically equipping makeshift weapons and armor from fallen enemies are perhaps the most obvious example of this, but they'll also bring you tributes in the form of gold, enemy souls for use in the creation of additional minions, and rare metals that can be used to forge new weapons and armor pieces for yourself. Said items can be imbued with special powers if you tell minions to sacrifice themselves in the forge while they're being crafted, with red minion sacrifices resulting in weapons and armor that deal or are resistant to fire damage, for example.
The home base where you'll be crafting new items and practicing your skills is a dark tower that's in ruins at the start of the game. The tower will be rebuilt as you progress through the game, and its appearance will reflect your reputation and your alignment in the game world. As the overlord your being evil is a given, but there will be plenty of opportunities in the game for you to do things that are really evil. Giving in to any of these temptations--killing harmless peasants, betraying your mistress, or exterminating an entire race, for example--will result in your character becoming increasingly "corrupted," which, if you're a particularly evil sort, you might think of as a measure of how much fun you're having. However, one of the game's achievements will task you with completing the game while remaining 100 percent uncorrupted, so those of you with a penchant for points will want to play as a (relatively) nice guy at least once.
Overlord is currently scheduled for release this summer, and although we haven't had an opportunity to get hands-on with the game yet, we're hopeful that it won't be too long before we do. We look forward to bringing you more information as soon as it becomes available.