Plane Sailing: Warlock II – The Exiled

By Adam Smith on February 3rd, 2014 at 2:00 pm.

Warlock II is shaping up to be one of the most efficient sequels of all time. After a brief play and a prolonged chat with the producer, I’m confident that the developers have at least tried to address most of the complaints aimed at the original game and the shattered world structure adds a layer of management and strategic planning that I hadn’t expected. It’s also a fine game for people interested in exploring weird realms and the trailer below shows some of the different world types on offer. There’s also a refreshing alternative to the usual earnest fantasy voiceover. This video is narrated by A D Ventureman, Adventureman.

The brief blurb that was bundled with the video also reminds me of an aspect that I forgot to mention in my preview – customisable spells. In a manner reminiscent of ARPG items, spells have ‘sockets’ that can be enchanted with items randomly discovered across the world, during questing or combat. They’re tricky customers, usually modifying one aspect of the spell in a positive fashion while limiting its power elsewhere. Casting time might increase, for example, while damage dealt increases.

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27 Comments »

  1. Laurentius says:

    I wonder how city/empire building looks in this game, is it fun of its own or is it just number crunching for military ?

    • BTAxis says:

      That’s something I’m wondering too. I went into Warlock 1 expecting a sort of Civ style game with maybe a bit more focus on war, but I found the building aspect of the game rather disappointing.

      • pullthewires says:

        I was expecting similar – specifically something quite like Master of Magic, and was initially disappointed. I’m glad I kept with it though, as despite some flaws it was one of the most fun wargames I’d played in years, and I’m hoping this sequel is more about building on that solid base than an attempt at grand strategy.

    • LTK says:

      Judging from the original: although cities basically have no function outside enhancing your military power by production of units and resources, there is definitely some planning involved in building and expanding them, given that some terrain types have production benefits or detriments and that cities need to be specialized if you want to take advantage of the whole tech tree.

      • Grygus says:

        Also: there are no roads, but a building in a hex serves the same purpose as a road does. So there is another influence on where you place a building, and since the game loves to spawn things in your backyard, and given that you can only place one building per city size, this seemingly small thing can become important later.

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  2. mouton says:

    Excellent! The first game was okay-ish but ultimately it fell short and felt lacking in many areas. Would be wonderful if they expanded on it extensively.

    • Chalky says:

      Yes, the original was pretty rough around the edges but had some very nice concepts in there. A more polished version with a big AI and victory condition overhaul could be very good indeed.

  3. grimdanfango says:

    Man, I am so grateful to Firaxis for Civ 5. Not particularly for the game itself, I still feel they took a bit of a step back compared to Civ 4. No, simply for showing the world that hexagons can look beautiful!

    I’ve never been a fan of square grids… nothing in nature organises itself into neat square gridlines, all that nasty business with adjacent-squares-are-1-unit-away, diagonals-are-also-1-unit-away-even-though-they-should-be-1.414-units-away… it’s just not natural!

    Compared to hexagons. Every adjacent cell is the same distance away. Bees make their homes out of them, and bees are great. Turtles, sunflowers, the Giant’s Causeway.

    Hexagons are awesome :-)

    • jrodman says:

      Hexes have their odd properties as well, but they do seem like a better approximation for distances. The wiggle to go in a orthogonal direction can be a bit off-putting.

      I’m fine with both in most types of games.

    • socrate says:

      Firaxis is not the people that showed that hex could be beautiful ffs people do some research before posting if you don’t play alots of game.

      • jjujubird says:

        haha right? Hexes have been in strategy games for decades.

        • grimdanfango says:

          Oh internet, how predictable you are :-)

          I wasn’t claiming Firaxis invented the use of hexagons in games. I’d have to be pretty damned stupid to think that.

          I was pointing out that until they made Civ 5, hexagons were still somewhat synonymous with blindness-inducingly bland wargame interfaces. For some reason it never seemed to occur to anyone to couple a hex-based game with a team of artists. Firaxis realised the obvious truth – hexagons are not only great for turn-based-grid-based games, but they lend themselves to natural form far more elegantly than squares do. They showed the world that they can be beautiful as well as awesome :-)

          • MellowKrogoth says:

            Maybe you should look at the games Ino-Co made before Warlock, then: Fantasy Wars and the Elven Legacy series. Turn based, hex-based, beautiful graphics… The only merit of Civ V is to be well-known.

          • grimdanfango says:

            Hmm, fair point, I wasn’t aware of their pre-Warlock games. They had indeed already made games with decent looking 3D and a hex-grid map.
            I would still say they suffer from a lot of the same issues as most other pre-Civ-5 hex based games. The terrain is still just derived from a square-pixel height-field, with a hex based movement grid projected over the top. (The same way King’s Bounty does it, which apparently uses the same engine) They weren’t using the hex tiles themselves to define the terrain, and so overall it looks a bit vague and blobby like most height-field based maps tend to.
            They very obviously threw away that graphical style entirely, and took direct inspiration from Civ 5 once they started work on the original Warlock, to the point of it being hard to believe that it’s not using the same engine. So I would still argue that Civ 5 is leading the way here.

      • grimdanfango says:

        Hah, very contructive. I’m more than open to discovering new games I had never come across, so please, go ahead and fill me in. I’ve played an awful lot of games over the last three decades, and I’d welcome your insight if you think I’ve missed anything significant :-)

        What earlier game out there used a hex grid to create as beautiful-looking naturalistic terrain as Civ 5?

        Settlers 1-4 used a triangular grid to pretty good effect, but nobody seemed to take much notice, and even they moved away from it later on.

        Fallout 1-2 used an isometric hex grid and looked rather wonderful, in its own brown, brown, bleak way, but it was hardly demonstrating the natural beauty of hexagons.

        Countless millions of war games have used them, but I can’t honestly think of any pre-Firaxis that didn’t sap my will to live just by looking at a screenshot. The vast majority simply employ a flat 2-dimensional tile grid.

        The King’s Bounty games have hex-based battle grids and pretty-enough graphics, but the grids themselves are just projected onto flat areas of the floor, as in a lot of similar world-map/battle-map style tactical RPGs.

        I’m well aware how many hex-based games there are, but I’ve never seen any pre-Civ-5 that used hexagonal tesselation to create such beautiful looking terrain.

  4. DatonKallandor says:

    I know that voice! That’s George Ledoux aka Duncan Fisher from Mechwarrior 4 Mercenaries and various other voiceover fame.

  5. James Allen says:

    Isn’t the shattered multiple map thing the same as the different map layers from Warlock 1?

    • Horg says:

      Not quite. I think the idea is that players will progress through a series of small map shards, rather than playing on a single main base map with some small connecting maps. The idea is that players will always have a definitive goal, to conquer the current map shard and move on to the next, which should improve the later stages of Warlocks game play over the original.

  6. DrManhatten says:

    Awful voice over in that trailer tries to be funny but instead is just plain embarrassing

  7. socrate says:

    Wasn’t warlock that really bad Master of magic wanna be that was nothing like master of magic and was basically just exploiting and milking the Majesty brand with tons of re-used asset and content?not to mention a really lesser Civ game and thats saying alots with Civ 5 in play.

    seriously il never get these paradox fans they would eat crap out of a bowl if paradox would tell them to do it.

    • tormos says:

      you seem like a fun person

    • guigr says:

      I’m no Paradox fan and they indeed have their problems with quick cash grabs and buggy products BUT Warlock had really good gameplay mechanics and was really fun despite the beyond retarded AI.

  8. MaximusG says:

    The first game was good, but too simple and tailed off towards the end. I hope this one has more depth and content!

  9. Saarlaender39 says:

    As someone whose native language isn’t english, I have to ask:

    Shouldn’t that “Pure Hextacy” at the end of the video, be written “Pure Hextasy” ? (“s” instead of “c”).

    • The Random One says:

      Huh, you’re right. It’s a portmanteau of Hex and Ectasy, there’s no reason for the C there since the tail end of the word comes straight from Ectasy. I guess it looks weird? Just like capitalizing Ectasy every time makes it look weird because it looks like I’m talking about the drug?

  10. bstard says:

    Hmm a Paradox game with less than 7000 different dialogs and stats. This will not do.