Wot I Think: Dominions 4 Single Player

By Adam Smith on October 18th, 2013 at 9:00 pm.

Dominions 4 excites the storyteller in me. There are sagas to share and they’re not the sort in which a fisherman becomes a king or a lord protects his homestead from a great slavering beastie. Dominions doesn’t care for trifles and the fish it fries are blasphemous monstrosities that live somewhere in or about the R’lyeh region. This is a turn-based strategy game in which nations and armies are pawns in the service of pretenders, avatars on the verge of godhood, who clash with one another as they strive to be the last deity standing. Here’s wot I think.

This is a game in which Zeus can punch Cthulhu in the face and an immortal lich king can reanimate his fallen bodyguard to create a dread army, more powerful than the mortal flesh that the enemy so foolishly flayed from moon-white bones. I finished a campaign yesterday and at one point, in an attempt to explain to the rest of team RPS why I’d been unresponsive for most of the day, I described the situation I found myself in:

“I just hired a sorceress whose special ability has this effect: ‘loses less subjects during cross-breeding rituals, thereby creating more freaks.’ She lives in Thing Woods. That I do not know how to perform a cross-breeding ritual is currently the saddest fact of my life.”

In that particular game my pretender was a crippled forge lord, Vulcan on crutches, and he led a nation of centurions and gladiators, a post-pantheon Rome that had chosen its one true god. He went before them into battle, wielding a whip that sparked with lightning and struck with a sound that split the sky.

Using strength of numbers and discipline, I conquered a continent but one rival remained, his capital city a drowned Atlantis beneath the ocean’s waves. Occasionally, amphibious armies assaulted my coastal provinces but they didn’t threaten for long. My defences, built on the fruits of a strong economy, ensured that the only real damage they inflicted was to the value of previously in-demand beachfront properties, which were now downwind from heaped piles of rotting fishy corpses.

Victory conditions have changed since Dominions 3. Previously, I would have had to destroy that city under the sea in order to ascend to my rightful place (perching on a cloud quaffing Ambrosia on the rocks and lobbing the occasional fireball at My People to keep them in line). Dominions 4 adds the Thrones of Ascension, fixed structures that are randomly scattered across the world. The pretender who claims the thrones ascends to godhood. To make the process more interesting, rather than simply being points on a map, each throne is named and grants bonuses/powers to the pretender who holds it.

Conquering the thrones is more complicated than it seems. An army cannot simply destroy any surrounding forces and tap into the power of the mighty furniture – only the nation’s prophet or the pretender itself can claim a throne. The player can turn any ordinary commander into the current prophet of his/her faith but there can only be one at a time. A wounded and aged prophet can be a hindrance and I’ve sent a fair few into unwinnable battles just to be rid of them.

As for commanders, they come in various flavours, including warriors, wizards, and formidable, legendary heroes and creatures. Every nation has its own set of recruits, covering ordinary units and commanders, and magical sites can be discovered on controlled provinces, unlocking even more possibilities. I found the cross-breeding sorceress lurking around one such site, paid her a few pennies and brought her on board. She was the kind of person I wanted on my side, even if I didn’t know quite how to utilise her extraordinary abilities.

The life of a wannabe god is confusing. Maybe it’s the pubescent stage and everything, from spots to sexy thoughts, clears up a little after ascension. There are so many possibilities that it can be hard to focus. Do I really want to go to University? Which one? Which course? What kind of trousers should I wear to the interview?

Replace those concerns with god creation, nation selection, magical research paths and battle plans and you start to realise just how many pairs of proverbial trousers a divine being has to choose from. Like a kid in a candy store or our teenager in a student bar, the Dominions player may well be paralysed by possibilities. When selecting a player character, how is it possible to choose between a fountain of blood that demands sacrifices, granting great and terrible powers to its priests in return, and a giant angry bull that is almost always on fire? There are, effectively, infinite possibilities, with many physical forms unique to a group of nations, and magic and dominion effects chosen by the player.

Oh gods. I haven’t even talked about dominion yet and it’s right there in the title of the game. Every pretender has a ‘dominion’, an area of land that falls under its control, where it is worshipped and its influence spreads. During creation, the dominion can have negative or positive effects associated with it and its overall strength is decided, determining how quickly it spreads from temples and the actions of prophets.

A weak dominion might consist of barren fields and an unfortunate populace, cursed and vulnerable to the accidents of life. Selecting these negative effects provides the player with more points to spend on their pretender – more magical paths can be opened up and the power of each one can be expanded. There’s a thematic sense to these choices – a powerful necromancer’s lands may, necessarily, blister with plagued livestock and blighted crops.

Creating themed gods is my favourite part of Dominions 4. I choose a nation that would either suit them perfectly – a Cthulhu and his deep ones – or let them lord it over some poor sods who’d much rather have a kind benevolent ruler but have ended up under the thrall of a sphinx that vomits blood. I have enjoyed the actual campaign part of the game as well but considering how quickly a map can be conquered and victory won, I’ve finished an incredibly small percentage of the games I’ve started.

Here are some reasons for that. The end-game, despite the improvement brought on by the inclusion of the thrones, can be somewhat tedious. In the instance described above, even though I didn’t need to destroy the enemy pretender, I still had to claim an underwater throne. There are many ways to do that and amphibious armies are easily recruited – every new province creates units of its own type rather than converting to the player’s nation. I opted to have one of my mages construct a magic item that allowed my prophet to breathe underwater and then sent him into the depths.

It’s pleasurable to flick through spellbooks, forges and mercenary stacks in search of a solution to a specific problem, and Dominions 4 probably offers a greater variety of specific problems than any other game of this sort. They arise dynamically as well, from the choices made before the game has begun and through the actions of enemies and independents alike. Satisfying as the process can be, it’s also time-consuming, with a great deal of cumbersome army management and research balancing required to reach victory.

Combat is autoresolved but formations can be chosen beforehand. This is important – archers should be set to the rear and large units, such as mammoths, should be placed far away from everybody else. If they flee, they will crush everything behind them. Setting formations is fiddly – as is much of the interface though it’s much improved from Dominions 3 – and while it’s a good thing that different opposition unit compositions require new approaches, it’s sometimes tempting to throw more units at a problem rather than tweaking the specifics.

The game’s scope – GODS AT WAR – led me to expect grander campaigns. Even the larger maps don’t take long to fill, however, and there’s a great deal of micromanagement. The things being managed are cool and all, lots of monsters and magic, but the process can be arduous. Every clever aspect of the map, such as the integration of seasonal changes, leads to further considerations and in a game overstuffed with things to learn about, management can become exhausting.

Then there’s the AI. It isn’t terrible but it isn’t particularly challenging. Teaching a computer to use the industrial revolution’s worth of tools that the game provides would probably be impossible – I’m not convinced it’s possible to teach a human how to operate every nation, spell and unit at its best. There are thousands upon thousands of unique objects – far from the rock, paper and scissors that make up the forces in so many games – and opponents often treat everything at their disposal as a blunt object to lob at the player.

Here’s the thing though – I’ve still put sixty hours into Dominions 4 without touching multiplayer. I’m going to look at that separately next week, including the new cooperative Disciples mode. How have I spent so long enjoying a strategy game with AI that is so poorly equipped in the I department? Here is my secret and I’m going to whisper it because it’s something of a dark one.

I play with myself.

Yes, yes, I know that’s what playing against the AI entails but I’ve been digging deeper into introspective conflict. In my current campaigns, all of my nations are human-controlled but I’m the only person here. Turn by turn, I engineer plots against myself. While I may lack a fog of war to veil my own thoughts (drinking helps), my approach to Dominions relies on a degree of roleplaying. What would this particular pretender do in these specific circumstances?

Despite the cumbersome interface and lacking AI, Dominions 4 is a remarkable toybox and even though I expect multiplayer to be the glue that makes everything hang together, I’m thoroughly engaged by the level of experimentation and exploration that the game systems allow. It’s almost like a more complex Cosmic Encounter, with a great deal of the excitement stemming from unusual and unexpected situations that place two bizarre rules in opposition to one another. It is an enormous game supported by intelligent systems, allowing for all manner of situations to emerge and to be handled as appropriate and possible. I still haven’t even mentioned that a campaign can be set in one of three ages, with the earlier ones favouring magic and the later ones seeing military technology advance and the mystical arts waning. These don’t just impact stats. There are entirely new nations and altered forms of existing ones in each era.

And as for the cross-breeding sorceress? As is often the case with Dominions, I had to return to the manuals and supplemental spell material to create my freaks. The learning curve is like a giant roundabout but if you’re happy to keep on turning, changing your approach and mindset at the start of every lap, there’s an enormous amount to see and do. It’s a game that suits after action reports, full of myths, monsters and madness, but while the stories are enjoyable, they don’t paint the full picture. Anyone hoping to forge stories of their own will require an enormous reserve of time and patience.

Dominions 4 is available now.

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44 Comments »

  1. MrEvilGuy says:

    “I play with myself.”

    I think this has just become my favourite review of all time. And I also think that’s a great idea. I’ve tried playing with myself in chess, but it never really worked. But in a game like Dominions 4, there’s so much complexity and choices to be made that I wouldn’t know how to win against myself even if I wanted to.

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  2. Premium User Badge

    Kelron says:

    We have an active subforum organising Dominions 3 and 4 games:

    http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?31-Dominions-Dominions!

  3. Laurentius says:

    I’m playing almost exclusively starategy games since May, first series of games of Elemntal-Legendary Heroes, then a couple of games of gold MoM for a good mesure, then Endless Space-Disharmony nadagain MoO2 for everlasting comparisons, then Civ5-Brave New World then Europa Universalis 4 so i really thought that my thirst for strategy has been quenched for some time but this got really interested. May check this out.

  4. Freud says:

    I love strategy games but I have a hard time getting over the initial hump of bothering to start a game that throws an insane amount of stuff at me at once. So while 2000+ units, 73 starting nations, lots to research., three different eras, menus all over the screen and so on is probably a good thing it’s basically a coin flip between spending 15 minutes or 100 hours for me.

  5. Vinraith says:

    Ah, Dominions. Such vast potential, such frustrating lack of real support for single player. There are few games that can generate the level of affection and frustration in me that these games do.

  6. Lacero says:

    Is knowing the auto battle AI still 90% of the game? I remember reading a lets play of this and almost every big decision for items and units was based around how the AI would use the unit in the battles. As they’re not player controlled.

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      Kelron says:

      I doubt it’s changed much from Dominions 3 in that respect, setting up your battle plans is an important and unfortunately fiddly part of the game. But it’s not so much understanding the battle AI as understanding how to make your units effective with the limited options for scripting their behaviour. Dominions 4 does add some more options here – for example unit formations and the ability to have archers behave like proper skirmishers rather than choosing between “Fire until everyone is routed or dead” and “Fire for 3 turns then run away” in Dom 3. I haven’t played it yet so I can’t say how much of a difference it really makes.

  7. Nenjin says:

    To me it really is the combination of details and the interconnected story-like nature of each nation in each era that really makes Dom replayable. If the pretenders or nations or spell lists or magic sites were any more generic, Dom might not rise above a lot of the other games in its genre.

    But stories, and story-telling, just seem to natural evolve from the details the game provides, and I love that. And there’s so much variety out there in terms of style and flavor, there’s a nation/pretender combo out there for just about everyone.

    It’s just too bad that they keep recycling the game tired graphics and UI between versions. If Dominions LOOKED like games today, and had the ease-of-access, I think it would be a runaway hit. As it is, lots of people don’t get past the appearance.

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    strangeloup says:

    It certainly sounds really, really interesting — I’d been giving half an eye to Dominions 3 when it popped up on Steam — but the PS1-level graphics are a bit offputting. Then again, I’ve enjoyed the hell out of Spiderweb Software’s games, and they look even worse, so I could be talking nonsense.

    In the meantime, for fantasy-strategy things, I’ve still got both Eador games and Warlock to start, so I’ve probably got plenty on my plate as far as the genre’s concerned.

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      Kelron says:

      Battle graphics are bad, but most of your time playing is spent on the main map screen (as shown in the 3rd screenshot in the article). Thats just an image + data telling the game where the province borders are, so it’s not hard at all for the community to create much nicer looking maps than the ones the game randomly generates.

  9. megazver says:

    Did they really put the Allah icon among the gods you can play as? I sense a potential shitstorm.

    • airmikee99 says:

      You’re confusing picturing Mohammed with the Allah icon, the former is a no-no, there are no rules against the latter.

      • megazver says:

        Call of Duty got into hot water with just some Allah-related writing on the frame of a painting that hung in a toilet. Putting Allah as a playable character equal to a bunch of other filthy pagan idols has as much potential for overdramatic butthurt, I believe.

        Quran has a _huge_ hate-stiffy for polytheism.

        • Disillusion3D says:

          Call of Duty got into hot water with some Allah-related writing on the frame of a painting that hung in a toilet _because_ it hung in the toilet. Putting in Allah the way they did here is probably as safe as having Islam in Civ V (so quite safe).

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          jrodman says:

          Does Allah here specifically mean the Allah of Islam? Allah just more or less means “God” in Arabic, so is sensible in any relation which has a single important god.

        • Leb says:

          as a Muslim gamer I see no need of shitstorm.

          I mean, Allah in the bathroom – disrespectful.

          This on the other hand, i dunno, don’t see any issue personally..

          • Premium User Badge

            Kong says:

            As Islam has no single authority which interprets the rules and teachings of the prophet, every local Imam may decide for himself what is offensive and what is not.
            The best known example is the dresscode for women. To my knowledge the Quran says that women have to dress adequately. This could mean that women should at least wear bikinis in Europe, and would be obliged to show their faces in public according to western custom where hiding the face is considered impolite or suspicious.
            The use of Allah in a medium like this, where he is in danger of being defeated by tentacle faced cthuluids could make some Imam very angry.
            Not that I care too much.

  10. ANtY says:

    Wanted to ask just how old is this game, tho it seems like it just got released.

    • Nenjin says:

      Because the split between gameplay and graphics is about 80/20. Dominions 4 was made this year, but the previous games its based on go back several years. It may look fugly, but it’s got more INTERESTING content than perhaps any 4x game I’ve ever played. MoM is the only other fantasy 4x I’ve played that I feel like each nation/elemental.

  11. Shadow says:

    I played a couple of Dominions 3 campaigns back in the day, and just a bit of the more recent pseudo-RPG, Conquest of Elysium 3. But I don’t get the impression Dominions 4 has enough content and improvements to justify the considerable price tag.

    And it’s not just the graphics and interface that look and feel extremely rustic, I also remember the sound in D3 being very limited and strictly functional.

    35 dollars? Really? Given the amount of reused resources, I suspect the developer’s just feeling greedy. But then again, they’re used to charging along the lines of Matrix and Shrapnel Games’ “grognard pricing”. They need to come down from that rarified cloud.

    • vgsmart says:

      Hey Shadow. Joe Lieberman here, I do PR for this game and many other indies (Spiderweb Software, Muse Games, and a lot of others). I wanted to reply to your post specifically because it brings up a really important point of interesting debate, as well as a few questions I can answer directly.

      First, I don’t know if it has enough content to justify the price to you. The price is 35 dollars. To some the difference between 5 dollars and 35 is nothing, to others its eating for a week. It has a lot of small looking changes that really impact gameplay, but that may not be enough for you. There’s about 20% more content if you go by numbers (units, spells, etc) – and when you’re talking about thousands of units as the base amount, it’s actually a substantial amount of art :) – But nobody will argue it isn’t rustic. It is what it is.

      So there are the direct answers, but here’s the item of debate:

      Is 35 dollars too much for a game? I promise you they don’t feel greedy (I know them, it’s not really a greed driven kind of game, unless you really think they’re selling hundreds of thousands of units). Here’s the issue though: The more you spend on a game the more time you will, statistically, dedicate to learning it. If you picked this game up for a dollar, say, in a bundle down the road, the odds of you wanting to sit down and reference the 116 page manual is basically zero. There’s more to the price than just a supply/demand, by charging more it is literally an incentive to learn the game, and if you do learn the game you’ll enjoy it more, tell your friends about it fondly, and hopefully increase sales. I am not saying this was actually considered by the developers (I didn’t ask) but rather this is a personal observation I have made over my last decade of working as a game PR guy. So, to conclude this post, I am suggesting that people would end up missing out on enjoying this game if the price were lower. A pretty odd way to think about it and I would love to hear if people agree or disagree.

      Oh, and it’s always easier (and very likely) for prices to fall in the future if the 35 dollar vs. 10 dollar (or less) price difference IS an issue. There’s nothing wrong with it if there is, but when people are willing to back a game on Kickstarter for 50-5,000 dollars for a game that may never exist… well… clearly the value of a game varies from person to person :D

      -Joe Lieberman
      PR Guy

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        jrodman says:

        35 is certainly “above the norm” for my idea of games. Certainly there are AAA titles starting at 60, but I don’t even consider buying them.

        Of course, for a game that I keep playing for years, 35 seems paltry. But how do I determine which games will be like that ahead of time? And what sort of sales mechanism could exist that rewards depth and isn’t annoying? I don’t really know.

        In any event the *style* of depth offered here is probably not (does not sound like) my cup of tea, so I’m probably not in the target market anyway.

      • soldant says:

        I don’t buy your “$35 for increased learning time” argument. It doesn’t matter if it’s $5 or $90, I’ll invest the time to learn the game if I think the rewards are good enough. The only thing that the price changes is whether or not I think it’s worth the money to buy into it. If I buy it and find out that I don’t like it or I can’t be bothered to learn it, the $35 isn’t a factor. It just makes me disappointed that I paid for it and didn’t end up liking it.

        I played Dominions 3, sort of liked it, can’t decide whether I want to pick this up. I echo Shadow’s query of whether or not it’s worth the cash.

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        ffordesoon says:

        There’s something to your argument. The sixty-dollar price point of AAA games is in many ways ridiculous, but I’ve read plenty of comments about Bethesda games in which the commenter says something along the lines of “I played Skyrim for eighty hours, and hated every second of it!” Which has always struck me as odd; if you’re not enjoying a game, stop playing it, right?

        Thinking about it purely as a value proposition, though, I can understand being determined to wring more than sixty dollars’ worth of enjoyment out of a game you paid sixty dollars for. And, seeing as how the accepted measurement of enjoyment among gamers seems to be hours played, I can imagine someone angrily striving to get the time-to-dollar ratio below 1hr : $1.00 before condemning the game.

        However, I think jrodman is ultimately correct. It’s not so much that a game like this must be sold at a certain price point, although pricing competitively tends to be wise. It’s that a game this complex and time-consuming and – let’s face it – unattractive has problems facing it no matter what, and when it’s also not priced competitively, it becomes much easier for even the audience who would probably enjoy it to move on to other games.

      • Shadow says:

        First of all, I’d like to apologize. I was pleasantly surprised by the tone of the replies here, which was better than the acid edge of my original post. You can chalk that up to pent-up frustration over the pricing of otherwise fine wargames, I suppose. My remark about greed was uncalled for.

        Thank you for taking the time to answer, Joe. I see your points, but I think there’s a sweet spot, price-wise, between supply and demand, and Illwinter’s missing it. Maybe the devs feel the need to charge high because they haven’t historically sold many copies of each of their games, but ironically enough, that pricing might be the reason why. Another reason might’ve reached Illwinter from their neighbouring wargame devs in sites like Shrapnel Games: their perceived target audience. That target, from my perspective, is approximately middle-aged hardcore wargamers with good, steady income according to their age. They don’t play many games, so can easily afford steeply priced titles every now and then if they know they’ll be spending many hours with them.

        As for myself, I’m an avid gamer with a strong taste for strategy games and constantly on the hunt for interesting titles. My income isn’t stellar, and I live in South America, to boot. I buy often, and don’t usually go over 20-25 dollars per purchase unless it’s really worth it. Anything over 15 dollars I research thoroughly. With only 20% extra content, and even considering the unquantifiable mechanical improvements, Dominions 4 is a hard sale. Maybe if I hadn’t played its direct prequel I’d be more enticed, but who knows… Sounds to me it should’ve been an expansion, and priced accordingly.

        Anyway, I’m not sure what I can say about your “learning incentive” argument. I’ve found myself disappointed and unwilling to spend cost-proportionate time with AAA games I paid 60 dollars for (i.e. Company of Heroes 2), but I’ve also been thrilled by and eager to learn everything about titles I paid 15-20 bucks for (i.e. Kerbal Space Program, Spelunky, Crusader Kings II). I think people should be encouraged to learn and get neck-deep into a title by great gameplay and design. A hefty price tag shouldn’t be a factor in that.

      • iridescence says:

        RE: the “If you invest more money you’ll invest more time in a game” argument. I don’t buy it. If anything, I’m more critical and less forgiving of games I’ve paid a high price for. I sense biased statistics because, obviously, people will be far more likely to take a chance on a $5 game than a $60 game. The people who buy a $60 game (especially an indie one without much marketing behind it) are going to be the hardcore fans of that title or new people who *know* that’s exactly what kind of game they want. So, yeah those people will probably spend more time in the game but there’s also a lot less of them.

      • vgsmart says:

        Hey guys, thanks for the civil (on RPS no less!) replies to this :)

        I honestly can’t say for sure if the price is too high, too low, just right. In general I usually try to get my developers to charge more than they think the game is “worth” – because most people under value themselves and their creations. I did not, for the record, have any conversation with the Illwinter team about their pricing, but I am speaking in general terms. I know, that makes me your enemy and I am sorry, haha, but my goal is to make sure the developers can keep making games (and actually pay me).

        We half-joke in the industry that we’re all racing to charge nothing for our work. The reality is, as far as pricing goes, this is a very dangerous trend. This run towards free to play or 99 cent games inevitably leads to worse products, and please don’t give me the exceptions to the rule :) We have to focus on the big picture. So in the long run I am actually pro-higher prices, but it’s a trend that is very difficult to fight. 6-7 years ago indie games went for 20 bucks or so on average, but were far less popular on the whole. I can’t with absolute certainty tell you that the price change created more demand or not though, within the industry it certainly feels more like the quality of independent games (due to the increase in tools and decrease in tool costs) shot way up simultaneous to the price going down.

        This post has nothing, and i mean NOTHING to do with Illwinter or if 35, 25, 5, or .99 is the right price for Dominions 4 or not, but I felt you guys would enjoy hearing at least one game-business professional weigh in with his own experience and position.

        Oh and as side note to the “this should be priced as an expansion” argument. What’s an expansion for a 60 dollar wargame go for (since that was Dominions 3′s price, right?) Seems like 35 bucks isn’t that far off the mark. I don’t buy that it’s an expansion though. A lot of under the hood stuff changed, most notably that you don’t have to do Play by Email for multiplayer. You can actually play in real time if you wanted. We did it last month with some youtube casters (we’re still playing that game from version 3.99 actually, since after 6 hours of live play we wanted to keep going….)

        Still, my opinion sticks to if the price is the issue, that is just a matter of waiting for it to drop. That’s just the kind of world we live in!

        -Joe

        • Reapy says:

          I think it is a good price for what it is. I’ve been on the sidelines looking at dominions 3 and 4, but the price has steered me away from it because I know I’m probably not going to play long enough to learn it. When conquest 3 came out, I waited till I could get it for a good price and jumped on it since I wanted a taste of the dominions world.

          But for a small company of and the amount of time one person has to do to get a game like this up, I can understand the price, but that same ‘invest to invest your time’ reasoning has also kept me from idly purchasing the game. I don’t know what price I would do that at though, so I’m probably out of audience. I do know I would buy any bundle that had it in there immediately.

          So, I think because I wouldn’t be playing it heavily and just kind of toying around, I wouldn’t go for it until it was 5 dollars, but if I was going to install and play it, I think 35 is a good price for the amount of content it offers (again not coming from having dominions 3)

          Finally, unrelated, but the throne thing reminds me of the Malazan empire, a very cool magic system they have going on, cries out to be in a game (though I guess it originally came from a PnP game)

        • Diverted Traffic says:

          “A lot of under the hood stuff changed, most notably that you don’t have to do Play by Email for multiplayer. You can actually play in real time if you wanted.” – vgsmart

          Both Dominions 2+3 could be played with a direct connection to a server. Both games could also be played PBEM, but it is wrong to say that being able to play with a direct connection (“real time” as you put it) is a new feature of Dominions 4, because it has been an option in earlier versions of the series.

        • Shadow says:

          “Oh and as side note to the “this should be priced as an expansion” argument. What’s an expansion for a 60 dollar wargame go for (since that was Dominions 3′s price, right?) Seems like 35 bucks isn’t that far off the mark.”

          To be honest, if Dominions 4 is overpriced, Dominions 3 was wildly so. I bought it back in the day as a bit of a gamble, and while I enjoyed a number of playthroughs, it definitely wasn’t worth modern AAA pricing (in a pre-StarCraft II time when AAA pricing was $50, to boot!). It was traditional wargame pricing, pure and simple: high not because the game was that costly to make, but rather to make each of its expected low sales count. I still hold that it’s a misguided approach.

          Personally, I suppose, I would’ve priced Dominions 4 (and 3) in the 20-25 dollar range. Potentially with some manner of discount for 4 if you already owned 3. Because that’s the thing, as I said earlier: as a returning player, having spent a boatload on the prequel, it’s specially hard for me to accept a 35-dollar price tag for a conservative follow-up.

          That’s all subjective, in the end, but Illwinter should really carry out some thorough market research. They’ve done some of that already, apparently, to go from charging 60 to 35 dollars, and I guess I understand their reluctance to decrease it further, for the time being. Nevertheless, I feel they’re still missing the mark. Not nearly as wildly as with Dominions 3, but still.

          Admittedly I haven’t really contemplated the possibility of Steam-side discounts, but it’ll be a long while until they allow a reduction substantial enough to make me comfortable with investing in the Dominions franchise again.

  12. Evertoaster says:

    Dominions 3 is a deep deep game and very addictive. One of my all time favorite games. I usually play single player on normal setting.

  13. mike2R says:

    There’s something about the setting of Dominions that I love. There’s a common fantasy trope about living in the after days. You know the one; once upon a time powerful magic ruled the world and things that are unimaginable were common place, but those days are gone now, leaving behind only a few conveniently scattered swords of +5 fire attack or whatever. I’ve always felt a little disappointed that I had to read/watch/play in these after days. Why couldn’t I live in the time of unimaginable power? What was it like? And why did anyone need so many swords of +5 fire attack anyway?

    Dominions fills in this blank. As a pretender God vying with others to be the supreme being, the gloves are off. If it takes legions of demons, or withering the entire world, or reaching through the veil to free insane dead gods from their chains to fight for me, or producing magical weapons on an industrial scale to equip my terrible servants, then that’s what it takes. The prize is worth it.

  14. GoateeGamer says:

    I can’t help but feel a little cheated. I bought Dom3 shortly before Dom4 was announced. I understand it’s just good business to do one last cash-grab before unveiling a new product, but it feels like charging for patches is the new thing.

    Seems like everyone is doing it now. I like Mount&B and DoW2, but it’s pretty obvious the sequels are just marginally improved versions.

    • vgsmart says:

      Please contact us at the contact info found at http://illwinter.com/about.html -> We didn’t do much promotion of Dominions 3 before announcing Dominions 4 (we oddly got Greenlit, but we had no control over when that would happen). Anyway, it isn’t our goal to cheat anyone and we’ll work out something to make you as happy as possible! Please reference this thread as well as enough info to confirm you purchased a copy of Dom 3 around the time you suggest.

      -Joe the PR Guy

    • Elmokki says:

      Dominions 3 was in Greenlight for a very long time. I’d imagine it was originally put there while Dominions 4 was in active development though, but it hadn’t been announced back then. Had it gotten greenlit earlier it would’ve seemed less like a cash grab.

      I do agree, though, that it might’ve been nice to set the price in Steam lower than the 18.99 euros it is right now and include in the description that a sequel is coming. The multiplayer community died down a lot after Dom4 release anyway.

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  16. Luca Gadani says:

    really very nice, the graphics do not look bad but I found it too complicated. Excellent your own review

  17. Eschatos says:

    Not to be rude, but reviewing Dominions 3 single player is like reviewing Counter Strike or Dota’s single player. It’s there for practice and not much else. A capable AI for a game this complex is effectively impossible for a two man dev team.

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  20. sventoby says:

    Looks interesting, but it’s also probably the most inaccessible looking game I’ve seen since Aurora.