Wot I Think: Fallen Enchantress – Legendary Heroes

By Adam Smith on June 4th, 2013 at 2:00 pm.

Fallen Enchantress: Legendary Heroes is an evolution of Elemental: Fallen Enchantress, which was itself a complete overhaul of Elemental: War of Magic. This means that even with a colon and a subtitle, Fallen Enchantress: Legendary Heroes is still a title lacking the full history of its struggle. This is, in effect, Elemental: Fallen Enchantress: Legendary Heroes, although the desire to create a schism between the accomplished strategy role-playing of this latest release and its first incarnation is understandable. Legendary Heroes is the best of the three by some distance. Here’s wot I think.

In baseball terms, War of Magic took a swing and a miss so absurd that it probably dislocated its own spine as it span and slumped at the plate. Fallen Enchantress took a couple of balls and a couple of strikes, then managed to hit for a base run, only to be caught stealing at second base. Legendary Heroes may not quite knock the ball out of the park, but it has power, a more balanced style of play and, crucially, it knows its own strengths.

If none of that meant anything to you, perhaps this will – Legendary Heroes recognises the best of Fallen Enchantress and has been restructured to bring those qualities to the fore. The improvements aren’t additions on the whole, instead representing a fundamental shift, with seemingly minor but far-reaching decisions that focus the design on the previous game’s strongest aspects.

As the title suggests, Legendary Heroes places single-unit leaders centre stage, beginning with the ruler of a player’s people. As in the previous game, these mighty characters can be selected from several pinch-faced pre-designed folks or created, using a broad set of skills, attributes and equipment. Even the culture to which they belong can be hand-crafted and then saved, which means that after a few campaigns the game has a collection of user-made factions that can be added as AI opponents. The depth of customisation options extends to the randomised worlds as well, which can now be configured – if you fancy cutting down on the questing and exploration of the early game, that’s possible, but if you’d rather spend more time with the wandering monsters rather than the faction vs faction warfare and empire-building, create a world full of monsters and mysteries. Legendary Heroes will let you do that.

This goes some way to solving the previously problematic strategy-RPG divide. There was so much that was good in Fallen Enchantress that I almost surprised myself by being as critical as I was. I’d played several campaigns to completion and had a fairly good time but too many mechanics felt hollow or half-formed, and there was no compulsion to return. I’d spent so much time gathering loot for my solemn gothomancer that my settlements were neglected. The hassle of balancing them and the units they created wasn’t worthwhile when Karloff Munster was perfectly capable of conquering the world almost single-handed.

Legendary Heroes is immediately a much more involving game because the titular heroes are aspiring to become legends rather than already being demi-gods. They need support units and must plot their route across the world more carefully, levelling and collecting as they go. As they complete quests, the fame of the faction rises, attracting new heroes, which ties different kinds of progress together rather than leaving them disparate. Unlike its predecessor, Legendary Heroes prompts and pushes the player, ensuring that there are compelling decisions to make far more frequently.

While the features are mostly the same, those that felt like optional baggage in Fallen Enchantress are now essential to success and the component parts slot together far more neatly. Almost every aspect has been expanded or improved, including the tactical combat. The growth and branching development of cities is necessary, in order to bolster troops, physical resources and magical powers. There’s more variety in the world as well, which makes for less repetition at the beginning of each campaign. One game might begin with a spot of tomb raiding and the next might have your hero collecting wolf pelts so somebody can make a cloak for her. Legendary indeed.

A few hours later you’ll be raiding hell portals and hitting demons on their chitinous chins with magical hammers, which are precisely the sort of hobbies that legends are constructed around. The pelt thing might not make the cut – it’s no golden fleece – but by the end of a campaign, there will be stories worth sharing.

The actual story, the history of the world and its cataschism, isn’t worth telling so the game doesn’t really bother trying. Or maybe I wasn’t listening. Whatever the case, it doesn’t matter, because, for better and worse, Legendary Heroes is still a sort of DIY experience. I decided that Fallen Enchantress was “a strategy-RPG Airfix kit”, a collection of pieces that might eventually make something nifty but not without a lot of effort. Legendary Heroes is more like a toybox. You no longer have do the work – open it up and you’ll find something worth playing with straight away and the pieces combine to make new stories, like the time you made a plastic stormtrooper (Star Wars, hopefully) climb a Lego tower to kidnap a Sylvanian Family.

As with Fallen Enchantress, I’ve found myself enjoying the battle against the world and its wandering elements more than the larger conflict, which often seems a distraction rather than an epic war, but Legendary Heroes finally fulfils the promise of the deeply customisable fantasy strategy-RPG hybrid. In many ways the changes seem slight and some will argue that this should be a patch rather than a paid expansion, but it’s a far different game than it would have been if the graphics had been completely overhauled and a million new monsters had been added. Despite appearances, a great deal has been rewritten. It isn’t the prettiest game at the ball and it still requires a commitment of time and effort, but it does provide a deep and varied collection of items and mechanics that are more than capable of keeping the turns ticking over late into the night.

Fallen Enchantress: Legendary Heroes is available now. It’ll cost $39.99 if you’re new to the series but anyone who previously purchased Elemental or Fallen Enchantress should log in and check for a discount.

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49 Comments »

  1. Discopanda says:

    I don’t follow baseball. Can somebody give me a concise summary of the game’s quality in Olympic shot put terms?

    • analydilatedcorporatestyle says:

      Fret not, the ladies have facial hair!

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    • Convolvulus says:

      17.46 m

    • MobileAssaultDuck says:

      Their first put was terrible and they almost ended their career.

      Second set of puts had some middling success, and a few near DQs, but ended up with one decent put.

      It was found that he stepped over the line during that one decent put.

      But then they had a pretty decent, but not great put.

  2. misterT0AST says:

    This would be an insta-buy for me at 10€, or maybe even 20€. 25€ is stressing it. Although while typing this I can distinctly hear the developers yelling “DO YOU WANT ONE OF OUR KIDNEYS AS WELL?!?” from the other side of the world.
    I’m just too spoiled by game prices up to this point to bother paying 30€ for a single pc game.
    Maybe stingy people like me are not their target. Or maybe they’d sell a lot more copies at a lower price. I guess they made their choice.

    • dE says:

      For me, it’s not the individual pricepoint. Since I’ve got Fallen Enchantress, the price is down to 15€. Which is fair. My issue is with the feeling that Legendary Heroes seems like little more than a much needed bugfix/patch for Fallen Enchantress. Maybe I just haven’t seen the great additions yet, the feature list read like patchnotes to me.

      • MellowKrogoth says:

        Making a new release was a good idea since it might get me to try it. I skipped the previous two because of the bad reviews, so having a released game that’s the perfected version of what they were trying to achieve is good. Much better for people in my situation than having to read patch logs to try and evaluate if the game became good or not.

        • mouton says:

          Same here. Just might pick it up this time, when I would likely never notice even fundamental patches made to the earlier game.

      • SkittleDiddler says:

        That’s also my main complaint with this release. Everything about it screams “paid patch for owners of Fallen Enchantress and Elemental”. I’m a tad offended that Stardock felt it necessary to develop yet another separate game out of all the mistakes they made with the first two.

        Anyway, Legendary Heroes is a no-buy for me, even at the discount price — Fallen Enchantress was just too damned mediocre to warrant another questionable IP purchase.

    • Gnoupi says:

      I pre-ordered Elemental during its beta. Got this one for free.
      So it didn’t feel particularly stingy.

      • ScottTFrazer says:

        Yeah, they have been apologizing for that fiasco for quite awhile now.

      • Reapy says:

        Good to know. I also was a sucker, but I ended up leaving the thing in the shrink wrap still. I will finally download and play this game, have waited for it to feel like a complete game so I didn’t get overly bitter about it sucking. In my mind this will be the game I preordered.

    • jonfitt says:

      I’m not one to usually quibble about price, but I was interested right up to the point I saw it was $40.
      That’s just not a good price point for this game I think.

      • belgand says:

        It’s a series with an infamously troubled history and they’re going for something very close to AAA pricing. Actually, if you apply the various discounts and vouchers and such you can often get many AAA titles for that price or lower on day 1.

        They really need to be pricing this at $20 max. Even $30 seems a bit high compared to the many, many other games out there you can buy for that price point. That’s before we even get into the upcoming Summer Sale season.

        Thanks to sales and bundles a lot of gamers now have a huge backlog of top-quality games that they purchased for a pittance. You’re not going to do yourself any favors by giving them a good reason to look at your new title and decide that for the price they’re better off ignoring it and just playing one of the many games they already own.

      • noodlecake says:

        I disagree. I haven’t played Elemental or Fallen Enchantress but I have played this and I’ve enjoyed it way more than Civ V which was $40 when that came out. It offers a very unique experience (if you haven’t played fall from heaven 2), and the customization options are great. :)

    • Didden says:

      The pricing is a big deal for this, I felt they called it wrong. The same goes for the last expansion of Sins of a Solar empire – being all full price etc. Screw that. I’ll just wait for the sales.

    • UncleLou says:

      Just checked Steam, this is reduced by 50% atm, so it costs 15 EUR. Very unusual for a new game. Some sort of mistake, maybe?

      • LegendaryTeeth says:

        I believe you get that price if you own Fallen Enchantress

  3. BooleanBob says:

    “Legendary Heroes may not quite knock the ball out of the park, but it has power, a more balanced style of play and, crucially, it knows when to abandon a metaphor.”

  4. Ninja Foodstuff says:

    I’ve recently picked this up. So far I’ve approached it as a Civilization clone. Am I doing it wrong?

  5. Laurentius says:

    Ok, this game is a blast! I totally love it. I picked Elemental and at the release it was absolutely dreadful. I skipped Fallen Enchantress I was thinking about skipping this one too but friend said that it’s quite good. Oh boy it is, I just can’t stop playing it, “one more turn, one more level for my champion, just one more dragon to slay” is here. Tactical battle is exactly as I like simple but engaging. Graphics is also pretty good in my opinion, nice in battle animations and you can see your troops changing their appearances when you upgrade them. Sure there are some problems, like there are a lot of oceans but you can’t build ships. Also city building and empire expansion feels more like number crunching then organic feel of Civilization. Anyway game is great for anyone who likes 4X strategies, and especially for those who likes fantasy settings and a bit of RPG.

    • deralex says:

      Yes same experience but such a shame the scenario campaign has only one mission i hope the modder will deliver more e.g. game of thrones campaign or so..

      • briangw says:

        There are mods out, promoted on the Steam forums and Stardock’s forums.

  6. Goodtwist says:

    It this like the good old Warlords 2?

  7. Raazer says:

    Those screenshots look like rts combat. Did they go from turn-based to rts in this one?

  8. Heavenfall says:

    Selfish self-promotion time! The game is also moddable so there are things like this http://forums.elementalgame.com/443960 for those that prefer high(er) fantasy.

    • razzafazza says:

      your mod looks great and when i get around to trying legendary heroes i ll give it a spin – one question though: does it work together with that other mod that increases army size so battles feel somewhat more like battles ? i think its “immersion mod” or something like that and i ve seenscreenshots where a group of soldiers in that mod is 12 or so guys and not just 3.

      one of the main reasons i havent played elemental / fallen enchantress was the huge turn off of seeing most “battle” screenshots involve 3 x 3 soldiers fighting 2 x wolves and simiilar skirmishes – not what i d understand as battles – after hearing/reading there s a mod that fixes that my interest in elemental / fallen enchantress is back.

      • Heavenfall says:

        Yes, BlackRainZ who develops the Immersion mod has built support for Children of Storm.

  9. Bluerps says:

    Currently, my fantasy strategy needs are being fulfilled by Eador – but I think I might try Fallen Enschantress when I am done with that.
    (Of course, at the moment I’m playing neither, because of Vikings)

    • Sigh says:

      Wow, is a Viking invasion preventing you from playing your PC games! My sympathy goes out to you, your family, and your village. I hope the pillaging and raiding isn’t too severe.

      I can relate, because I had some difficulty with Visigoths last year which impacted my Far Cry 3 game.

      • Bluerps says:

        No, you misunderstand – I am a Viking, and all that pillaging and raiding is keeping me terribly busy. I tried to sneak in some gaming on the longship, but then the other Vikings got really grumpy.

  10. Sigh says:

    For those that pre-ordered or purchased Elemental in 2010:

    You should get this game for FREE! Just log in to your Stardock account (I believe Adam provides a link above) and Stardock will provide you with a Steam key and possibly a download from their site. At least one person already mentioned this, but it is worth repeating as I was not aware of this fact until recently.

    Enjoy.

  11. biz says:

    this game is so many genres

    I might end up having the most fun treating it as a roguelike on insane difficulties

  12. Yglorba says:

    Have they made the spells and city improvements more interesting?

    That was what killed Fallen Enchantress for me. Waaaay too many benefits that were just “+x to this number”, nothing else. Worse, they’d have city improvements that went in multiple levels of just “+x, + slightly higher x, +x and +y.” Nothing that felt magical. Nothing that felt like it actually changed the way you played; just successively higher numbers on a spreadsheet, like someone who had seen Master of Magic and Civilization through the glass at a store but didn’t really understand why they did what they did or what was fun about it.

    (This was also something I loathed about Galactic Civilizations, of course. Flat numerical bonuses are generally the most dull things in the universe and I instantly lose interest in games that focus too heavily on them.)

    Has that been fixed?

    • Laurentius says:

      Unofortunatley no, as I said in my opinion above, kingdom expanison and city building never feel like building Civ in magical world in this organic sense, it feels exectly like spreadsheet and crunching numbers, so this aspect is seriously lacking. Tech and magic tree is also a bit of a bland-shallow, but overal game does come through as tight experience: kingdom building, heros, tactical combat, quests, diplomacy, dragons, all this elements have faults and could be done beter but together make a really good game. And no, MoM still is a king for me but i playd it to death since i bought it on GoG last summer.

  13. Borsook says:

    I have a big issue with how this is being sold. It’s 30 euros, but -50% if you have the original. Seems good, yeah? But what if somebody wants to gift it to you? They’re going to pay 30 and not 15. What if there is -60% promo later on? you’re not going to save 50% but 10% on it. This model favours new customers, the traditional one (i.e. buy the basic game and this one is for 15) would be much better for old customers of the game.