Rise of Legends Preview – BHG Visit
Big Huge Games is in my own opinion filled with some of the brightest minds in the industry. To have your first title sell over 1 million units goes a long way to showing your staying power in the RTS market. Rise of Nations destroyed the myth that the RTS market is stale in fact it goes a long way to show how much a few bright minds can reshape a genre.
This brings me on to Rise of Legends… if I were to sum up Rise of Legends in 1 word it would have to be wow…. I was blown away by the demo version that I got to play. It fit into a category of great visuals and awe inspiring physics. Watching units and buildings explode into huge fiery clouds of debris made my mouth water and made my fingers tingle. Some units in the game were just cool to look at while others made me want to use them to kill things. Some of these units were Heros.
Hero units have a variety of special powers some of these powers are to summon units onto the battle field. These powers are much more dramatic than Rise of Nations’ General powers. In the game I played (which by no means is an actual interpretation of the finished title) I was able to summon a force of flying units large enough to help shape a close battle into a victory. Powers like these will certainly shape strategies once the game is released and I am very excited that BHG made unit powers a larger part of the game. Heros don’t work in the same fashion as WC3 heros work. In RoL you will need to spend resources to add spells and abilities to heros. This means you can get a decent hero without the extra effort of tediously leveling him, this I am a fan of, because I hate tedious leveling of anything :D.
Other units like the air units I go to mess around with were simply ownage. I built a whole screen full of those puppies and merrily flew them up and down the screen annihilating everything I passed.
Resource collection is by normal means and abnormal means. You will still need peons to mine Timonium but you will also use districts as a source of resourcing. Guilds and trade districts all help you to gather resources, Cities and guilds are huge parts of the game, you will need to learn what they do and how they can help you meet your strategic means.
Cities are just unbelievable, they move and appear busy all the time, you upgrade the cities by adding districts onto them, adding Guild districts gives you research points and increases the amount of resources you receive from ruins, Trade districts increases your resource cap and increases your number of trade routes, Military districts makes your city stronger, gives you a free grunt unit, and increases your pop cap. Once you reach a certain amount of districts you are able to upgrade your city to the next level buy building a Palace district.
There are a ton of cool features, techs, and units which all stick to a more traditional RTS mode of gameplay. The units are bigger which makes micromanaging them in combat much easier. Also unit responsiveness is on queue to help the hardcore guys out in the super terrific awesomely spectacular multiplayer mode!
Rise of Legends comes with an MP lobby that made me want to weep with joy. The work put into the MP system is a joy to behold, I don’t know if they are going to stick with Gamespy but even if they do no one will notice it at all. The lobby is simple to the noobie eyes but under that simplicity is a deep rich feature loaded system. You can create new lobbies and add your buddy list to it or invite others to join the conversation which will be awesome for tournaments and league games. I was so impressed by the lobby that I wanted to get on the phone and tell my wife (who is an avid Rise of Nations fan and was equally let down by the lobby) all about the coolness that BHG has created for us, the fans. BHG was also kind enough to make stat pages for each player. In these stat pages you can view how well you do with each race and also your level in the ranking system. I was extremely impressed with the MP portion of Rise of Legends
I was also the first person outside of BHG to view the editor, I was floored… the editor has so many options and is so easy to use that I felt like making a scenario myself (and I don’t really like scenario building). This thing had it all… from a simple to use yet highly complex cinematics editor which Graham Somers used to make a cinematic in mere seconds, this thing started at a high view looking down on the scenario then zoomed in at the specified time (which was as easy to input as a birth date) and followed in the pattern he set for it to move flawlessly. I mean it’s incredible, it’s the best looking and easiest to use editor I’ve ever seen. You can change the game world in any way you wish, use pieces of some buildings to create new objects in the game world (thanks to the physics engine), and change the height, color, and texture of the terrain to anything you like. Did I mention the whole game is built based on the editor? Anything in the game can be manipulated through the editor (besides unit models).
I can’t really go into as much detail as I’d like about the game because it’s such an early build but from what I’ve seen and experienced everyone will be pleased with Rise of Legends when it ships in 06.