Armies of Exigo Impressions

We take a look at EA's upcoming tri-factioned real-time strategy game.


Armies of Exigo

While EA's The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-earth has received plenty of attention, the company is readying another fantasy-based real-time strategy game for this year, Armies of Exigo. Being developed by Budapest-based Black Hole, Armies of Exigo aims to deliver traditional real-time strategy gameplay on an epic scale.

Armies of Exigo features some unique twists on the RTS formula honed by games like Warcraft III. Check it out. Click "stream" for a larger view. The game features three warring factions: the Empire, which consists of humans, wood elves, and other "light" races; the Beast Horde, made up of trolls, ogres, and similar creatures; and the Fallen, which includes aliens, insectoid creatures, and dark elves. Each faction has about 20 units, and the factions are designed to be asymmetrical, so they're generally similar to one another. Units will be able to level up, though each faction will do so differently. Empire units will level up individually, while Fallen units will accumulate all their experience into a "soul pool." Once the pool fills up, all Fallen units will level up.

Perhaps the most innovative feature in Armies of Exigo is that it takes place on two different levels. In addition to the regular surface world, there's an underground level directly beneath it. This adds a new dimension to the gameplay, as you can focus to build on the surface, build in the underground, or both. If you build a base on the surface, the enemy can bypass your defenses by going under them. One trick will include casting a poisonous gas spell directly under an opponent's base; the gas will then seep to the surface and damage units there. Or if you're on the surface, you can go directly atop someone's underground base and cast an earthquake spell, which will cause the roof of the underground cavern to partially collapse, wreaking damage to the base below.

The single-player campaign will be spread over 36 missions, 12 per faction, and you'll play each faction over the course of the game. We're told that missions will vary: Some will include conventional resource gathering and base building, while there will also be exploration-style levels and missions that will require you to defend a position at all costs. On the multiplayer front, the game will support up to 12 players and will have 30 to 40 multiplayer levels. Each player will be able to command up to 200 units, so it'll be possible to have gigantic battles with more than a thousand units in play.

Considering that it has to compete against Activision's Rome: Total War and EA's Battle for Middle-earth, Armies of Exigo looks pretty good. The game's 3D graphics engine renders detailed units and landscapes, and it's capable of handling large numbers of units on the screen at once. The game also incorporates some physics; we saw ogres toss boulders into massed infantrymen, some of which were thrown into the air. Black Hole is currently polishing and balancing the game, and Armies of Exigo is expected to ship this September.

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