Okay, who broke the world?
The world has been smashed up into little pieces and now is the time to make your way from one piece to the next on a journey of conquest, all the way to Ardania. Along the way there will be obstacles to overcome, mostly in the form of monsters and other Mages. But nothing will matter until you have wrestled power back from The United One and his minions.
So, once again we head back to Ardania for the sequel to Ino-Co’s fantastical take on Civilization. Cast as The great Mage, who admittedly is a bit down on his luck, the player will start out on what is basically a shard of land, with one small city.
The map is divided into hexes and the player will find themselves moving around their units to explore or take on roaming monsters as they try to find the portal that will take them to the next shard. Through this portal, once it has been activated which usually involves some form of payment of resources or defeat of an angry monster, the player can send forth units and settlers in order to establish a dominance on the next shard. The target is home, the land of Ardania, and a quick look on the worlds map will show that there is a fair number of different shards to work through before getting there.
Moving from shard to shard is perhaps one of the most enjoyable features of Warlock 2: The Exiled. Each shard world is different and contains not only different monsters and resources, giving ample opportunity to establish cities, but there is also the possibility of coming across other Mages. The diplomacy option opens up negotiations and, if befriended, these other Mages are not shy about helping out in a crisis.
Which there inevitably will be as The United One knows that you are coming for him and will repeatedly challenge you along the way. There is very little rest in this game.
The basics are as you would expect and bear more than a passing resemblance to other games of this genre. The player establishes cities in which they can construct new buildings, provided they have enough population, on the surrounding hexes in an attempt to open up new building options, additional resources or more powerful units. The city is also where the player can create units to move around the map and fight on his behalf. Units have a fixed movement allowance each turn and, provided the movement allowance is not all used up, can also attack. Melee attacks require the unit to be in an adjacent hex to their target, while ranged attacks can be a set number of hexes away.
Besides being a military commander and a city founder, the player also happens to be a Mage of some note, and the player can research new spells to bolster their spell book which, like the buildings or the units, will take a set number of turns to complete. Mana is a resource in Warlock 2 and will dictate what spells the player will be able to cast. Once a spell can be cast, such as the simple fireball, it can be launched upon any hex that the player chooses. The Great Mages’ reach is vast.
Then there will be heroes that turn up at your city looking for employment. Pick and choose who to take on as one of your commanders and send them out into the world as an individual powerful unit to support your regular units, many of which have their own special abilities that will require a cooldown time before they can be used again.
The spell tech tree in Warlock 2 is worthy of a mention, allowing the player to research a given number of spells within a given category before unlocking the next tier of spells. Also worth a mention are the self-controlling cities which the player will find necessary to use as they progress. There is a limit to the number of cities that the player can control without causing unrest, at which point the player may choose to assign certain cities as self-controlled. These cities allow no building or recruitment, but bring other benefits to the realm whilst not adding to the city limit.
For players of the original Warlock game, Warlock 2 brings around many great improvements, some obvious and others not so much, that result in a better game. It is also quite a different game to the predecessor. Whereas the previous title was all about conquest, this time around Warlock 2 is more about moving from one shard to the next in an attempt to get home.
There is a Sandbox mode for those who want to play a more traditional version of the game, with all of the new enhancements but without the shard hoping. And of course there is multiplayer, something which I look forward to trying out further down the line. Warlock 2: The Exiled is now available to pre-order, with the official release coming on April 10th. However, pre-ordering will give the buyer access to play the game now in its almost complete form, albeit without the Editor, which will be added in before the launch.
Warlock 2: The Exiled looks to be an impressive step up from the first Warlock title, which was pretty good to start with. Besides the addition of the Editor, I am not sure what else will be tweaked/changed in the run up to the official release on April 10th, so if you are a fan of the genre and enjoyed the first Warlock game, I can see no reason not to grab Warlock 2: The Exiled right now!