Disciples II: Guardians of the Light Impressions
We dig into Strategy First's first stand-alone add-on to its highly acclaimed turn-based strategy game.
We were eager to start playing Disciples II: Guardians of the Light, the first of two recently announced stand-alone expansion packs for Strategy First's fantasy-themed turn-based strategy game. Disciples II was originally released in January of last year, so it's been a long wait for these new add-ons, which retail for about $20. This first expansion focuses on the two noble factions of Disciples II, the Empire Clan and the Mountain Clan, whereas the forthcoming Servants of the Dark add-on focuses on the evil Undead Horde and the Legions of the Damned.
At a glance, Guardians of the Light doesn't do much to change anything about Disciples II, which itself was largely similar to the first Disciples game. The object of each scenario is still to travel about the map using small parties of powerful units, defeating enemy camps that bar your progress and eventually taking on rival enemy heroes. Along the way, you'll be competing for resources and experience points, hoping to overtake your rivals. Guardians of the Light features the original Disciples II campaigns for the Empire and the Mountain clans, so these will be familiar territory for fans of the previous game. Additionally, it includes two high-level "minicampaigns" for these factions, but these can't be played from the get-go unless you've already got a hero that's at least level 10. That means newcomers to Disciples II, or those who might have uninstalled the original game during the past year and a half, will need to play through the original campaigns before they can access the new campaigns.
Guardians of the Light also provides 15 new "quest" maps, essentially stand-alone scenarios. These seem to be on par with the quest maps from the original Disciples II, but they restrict you to playing as the two good-aligned factions. Though the game's presentation is largely unchanged, the graphics for the factions' capital buildings have been improved, and some new music tracks have been included. Also, an auto-resolve option is available for expediting the game's turn-based combat.
Additionally, the expansion touts a random map generator, though this turns out to be a feature of the game's scenario editor, and it cannot be accessed directly from the game. The random map generator does generate a random map for you, based on a basic set of parameters, but it won't automatically generate a well-balanced scenario. It's really just a tool for would-be Disciples II mapmakers to start working from a foundation, rather than from scratch.
Guardians of the Light also includes a "multimedia portfolio" in which you can view some of the game's stylized, memorable artwork, but the core of this expansion seems better suited for those new to the world of Disciples II rather than those who've gotten their fill of the game during the past 18 months. Stay tuned for a full review of Guardians of the Light. In the meantime, take a look at these new screenshots from the add-on.
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