Warlords Battlecry III Impressions

We get a first look at the next game in the fantasy-themed Warlords Battlecry real-time strategy series. Exclusive screenshots and details inside.

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Few real-time strategy games have as devoted a following as Warlords Battlecry II--and for good reason. The first Warlords Battlecry was a decent real-time strategy game that took place in a fantastical world of humans and other magical creatures who battled each other by using armies of units with special abilities, in addition to using persistent hero units who carried their experience levels over with them between campaigns. And Warlords Battlecry II was a great sequel that blew the original game away, thanks to its improved and highly addictive combination of real-time strategy and role-playing. Can the next game be even better? We recently had a chance to see an early version of Warlords Battlecry III in action, and what we've seen so far seems promising.

This powerful golem will make an excellent addition to your armies.
This powerful golem will make an excellent addition to your armies.

It turns out that Australia-based developer Infinite Interactive has been quietly developing Warlords Battlecry III for the past year. From what we've seen, it's clear that the team intends to add plenty of new features to the previous games. For instance, Battlecry III will introduce five new playable races, boosting the total in the game to a whopping 16. There are three new spheres of magic (poison, divination, and arcane) and 30 new spells. The new game also has three new terrain sets (grassland, desert, and volcanic rock/lava), plus eight new hero classes.

In addition to all this new stuff, major portions of the game are also being rebuilt. In response to player requests, hero types are now independent of race, so it's now possible to create an undead druid or a dwarf knight. The way heroes gain levels has also been improved; now they can gain levels in the middle of a game, as opposed to having to wait to finish the current map to do so. It doesn't sound like much, but this new feature should reinforce the role-playing elements that were so effective in the previous games.

We're happy to see that the graphics engine is finally getting an overhaul, since Battlecry II suffered from some seriously bland art direction. Infinite Interactive is sticking with a 2D engine, but they're putting a lot of work into fleshing out units and animations so that creatures look a lot more lifelike. The developer has also introduced a new particle system to improve spell and magic effects, and a new terrain-rendering system has been included to help make the maps look better.

Details regarding the campaign are still scarce, but from what we've heard, the game takes place on the southern continent of Etheria, and two of the new races are the reptilian ssrathi and the insectlike swarm. Fans can also rest assured that Battlecry III will retain the popular dynamic campaign system, which means you'll choose your path of conquest rather than being presented with a linear set of missions like in so many other real-time strategy games. As for multiplayer, it'll be in the game, though, once again, it's too early to know what kind of game types will make the final cut or whether other features, like cooperative gameplay, will be included.

Battlecry III will feature plenty of new units, plus it will include enhancements made to existing armies.
Battlecry III will feature plenty of new units, plus it will include enhancements made to existing armies.

Infinite Interactive apparently hopes to expand the Battlecry series' loyal fan-following with the new game's improved graphics, and it seems as though all of these new features will help even more to broaden the franchise's audience. Though the names of the development companies have changed, Battlecry III remains in good hands. The company known as Strategic Simulations Group, which originally created the Warlords strategy games, split some months back, and Infinite is an offshoot headed up by Warlords creator Steve Fawkner. Warlords Battlecry III is scheduled to hit store shelves next May.

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