Elemental’s Stylish Launch Trailer

Elemental – War Of Magic arrives next week, bringing with it a feast of 4X fantasy strategy-RPG happenings. Stardock have released a launch trailer which gives you a flavour of the game, and you can see that below. Personally, I’ve found it fascinatingly intricate, but a little tricky to get to grips with in the beta of the game. I’ve found the pace of things and the escalation of a events a little overwhelming, and I hope the balancing and tweaks that have been going on over the past few weeks will ease that. We’ll have a properly detailed look at the game soon, nonetheless, hopefully with some time spent examining the game’s multifarious multiplayer.


  1. Celkiasian says:

    Any word of a demo? It looks like I could love it or hate it.

  2. Lobotomist says:

    True. I am really considering buying it. But since i am more RPG player and much less Strategy player.
    I am not sure how the game will sit with me…

    We need DEMO!

    • Snall says:

      I own it and played the demo off and on, last time I played I built one city and basically just built my channeler up, plus being able to marry off and breed your kids is pretty sweet. I can only imagine tons of ppl will make pure RPG campaign type stuff. It’s sort of like playing ur P&P wizard and then imaging ruling a nation, is good. (Working 16 hours, a little off so dont mind my weirdness)

    • Stromko says:

      I was planning to buy this after donating plasma, but my exceptionally refined sense of hypochondria was too much for the technicians and they turned me away. Next month though, surely.

    • Okami says:

      @Lobotomist: They said that the single player campaign is so heavily scripted, that it’s actually more of an RPG than a strategy game. For example, you don’t research anything in the campaign but instead get new spells and technology for completing quests and such. The gameplay is supposedly also more about managing a small group of adventurers than managing a whole empire.

      This all sounds rather nifty to me, since it means that we’ll basically get two different games in one. Though I do hope that the scale of the single player campaign will escalate in the later parts so that at least some empire managing of epic proportions will be going on. Which would feel all the more epic, because you’ve spent so much time with your characters when they still were lowly adventurers.

      Brad Wardell also claims that he’s rebuilding Ultima IV using the modding tools, though he’ll never release it, so that he doesn’t get sued by EA. Which is a shame, really, but at least it’s a good indicator of what can be done with the tools.

    • Zenicetus says:

      @Okami: I haven’t been following this too closely, but if it’s similar to the way they did the GalCiv series, the single player campaign is essentially a tutorial for learning how to play the the sandbox game.

      I’m a little ambivalent about it based on what I”ve seen so far, and will probably wait for a demo before buying. I loved the GalCiv series, that was a masterpiece. This one… I dunno. I’ve read a few of Brad’s blog posts about how it works and I still can’t quite get my head around it. Also the art style looks ugly to me, but that’s just subjective opinion. I could ignore that if the gameplay is good.

    • Archonsod says:

      The beta was somewhat reminiscent of Lords of Magic. You can go for the traditional military route with key characters bolstering your force, or you could go for a hardcore party of high level adventurers too.

      One of the victory conditions is a huge multi-part quest too, so I expect simply playing it as an RPG would work, though of course that doesn’t necessarily mean doing so would be as much fun as it could be.

      Although they are planning to add dungeons and the like shortly after release, so it looks like that aspect may be improved.

    • Okami says:

      @Zenicetus: I’ve played GalCiv and I know their campaign and from what I’ve read about Elemental, the campaign has nothing to do with the GalCiv campaign but really seems to be a story driven rpg campaign. GalCiv had spaceships and planets and stars and there is no sign of those in Elemental either.

  3. Rinox says:

    Is that final sentence (“the next tun beckons, sire”) a cheeky reference to the infamous Evony ads? :P

    Either way, excited!

    • CMaster says:

      I thought it was more to lure the civ-esque “One more turn” crowd. Although any chance of luring the Civ crowd at the same time as Civ comes out seems unlikley.

    • Ginger Yellow says:

      Well, I’m part of the Civ crowd, I suppose (played every game since the original plus SMAC and even Call to Power). And I’ve got Elemental on pre-order. From the beta it seems really good. Buggy as hell, but then that’s what you expect in a beta.

    • pipman300 says:

      yeah no way they’re luring me back to crack when my pimp/drug dealer sid meier is releasing his super-drug that gets you high and gives you an orgasm at the same time

  4. Bob's Lawn Service says:

    So, how does it compare to MoM?

    • Mr Labbes says:

      What’s MoM?

    • Joinn says:

      MoM = Master of Magic

    • Tetragrammaton says:


    • Tei says:

      I am a MoM fanatic, but my faith to experience again something like MoM is almost null. This one will be a good game, but nothing can compare to MoM.

      To make a decent MoM clone, you need character and civilization progression, two worlds united in war, lots of chockepoints (the nodes), ruins, legendary legendary legendaries, worldwide apocalypsys spells ( like… stop time, or make the whole world enter a volcan era..)… and lots others. MoM is a special formu… spell.

  5. robrob says:

    Will this run on my laptop?

    Any potential answers should keep in mind that I refuse to divulge any technical aspects of my laptop beyond “it runs X-COM” and “it does not run Crysis”.

    • tomhet says:

      Yes, it should run on pretty much any hardware. If your laptop is closer to X-COM than Crysis, the game will look as cloth map with icons.

    • robrob says:

      Awesome, thanks tomhet. I will give this a go.

  6. Bob's Lawn Service says:

    I’ve just finished watching the trailer and it feels really uninspiring.

    • Sonic Goo says:

      I agree. The game sounds really interesting from what I’ve read about it, but the trailer seems a bit meh to me as well. I think it’s mostly the combat animations. I know turn based combat is supposed to be like that, but maybe it’s time someone moved it forward. Add some ai and multiple abilities to each little character to add some more variation to the fights, maybe? That’s for some other, future, game, though. Still intend to get this one. :)

    • Archonsod says:

      They added special abilities in, but we never got to play with them in beta.

  7. Slamelov says:

    The beta crashes a lot for me, but the game is very good.

  8. snubber says:


    • Tetragrammaton says:

      Im curious as to how this compares. Personally Im not really a fan of the art direction, seems a little too gamey (Like GalCiv3), if that makes any sense. Will be interesting to see what the community does with it though.

    • Mark M says:

      It’s really not much like MoM at all. The subject matter is similar but the gameplay, pacing, etc is all very different.

  9. Mac says:

    Is it turn based or real time?

  10. Xercies says:

    What a boring trailer…and it ddn’t really give anything away except the fighting….

    • frags says:

      I agree. Perhaps its better to watch those playthroughs that Brad Wardell’s did than to watch this.

  11. Web Cole says:

    Been looking forward to this. Here’s hoping its good.

  12. Gothnak says:

    This is my most anticipated game of the year… And that trailer is pony… I almost felt bad sending it around the games discussion email group at work as it looks so amateurish compared to every other trailer sent, even if i know the game is going to be awesome…

  13. Hakkesshu says:

    Does this still support the really large scale maps they talked about a year ago on Gamasutra? Like, if you have a really fast 64-bit processor, you can make maps so large they’d take a year to play through. It sounded really awesome, but I haven’t heard anything about the feature since then.

  14. Chris D says:

    While we’re waiting for a demo there’s an AAR up on the journals page of the game’s site which gives an idea of how the game plays out and introduces most of the main concepts.

  15. Bossman says:

    I played the latest beta and thought it wasn’t as good as Master of Magic. My main problem with the game was that all the factions are pretty much clones and the combat system lacks depth. Supposedly they have fixed the combat system in the release version but the factions are still going to be very boring.

    • Mark M says:

      I played the beta also and agree with all of this.

    • 2ds says:

      They’ve publicly stated a number of times that the beta is not feature complete and is essentially a “real” beta, no what google calls a beta which is really a publicity stunt.

  16. pakoito says:

    I’m not sure if it’s double reinbow for me with that fourecks thing. Is it more like…you know…starcraft, or more like HOMM and King’s Bounty?

    • Stabby says:

      It is turn-based, but much more in-depth than HOMM could ever be. Maybe, HOMM mixed with Civilization? It’ll still be double rainbow. Wait for the demo and give it a shot :D

  17. Hentzau says:

    It looks very… brown.

    • Zenicetus says:

      Or too olive. Yeah, I think they made a big mistake with the art direction. It won’t matter to the hardcore turn-based crowd, but this isn’t going to help sell it to a larger audience.

  18. Tei says:

    Let me help you:
    “Too gamey”: wen a fireball don’t look like a fireball, but a icon of a fireball.

  19. SAM-site says:

    Tuesday cannot come fast enough.

  20. DojiStar says:

    I preordered and have been playing the beta a little (and keep in mind, the beta is really a beta, not a demo — no streamlined code, lots of bugs they want to test, missing content, etc.). Not quite sure how to address everything on this thread:
    – It is definitely similar to MoM, although it lacks some of MoM’s elements like the two connected planes. The RPG part is deeper, with quests and marriage of your sovereign and children and so on. There’s a lot of “stuff” with tech trees, items, ruin exploring, quests, etc.
    – The AI will probably be killer, even without cheating.
    – The techs, to me, felt far too generic as well as the factions. I had this complaint with the GalCivs. But the final release may be different; I heard they were holding back a lot of content from the betas.
    – Along with that is it probably going to be very “gamey” (not in the sense of a pheasant you shot you hang upside down for 3 days before eating, a la traditional French country cuisine). In the sense that everything will likely be there because of meticulous balancing and min/maxing rather than game “lore” or flavor.
    – Even the release is not final. Stardock is doing at least 30 and 60 day extensive patches/updates/new content. They don’t skimp on post-release polishing; they work for your gaming $. The game, like GalCiv, will likely dramatically improve over time. And after 6 months, there will probably be mods that make it whatever you want.
    – I found the tactical combat to be pretty flat. But I didn’t think it was all that good in MoM, either.

    I’m just trying to help people make up their minds about it. Personally, I found Civ to be boring since the original without radical mods (FFH). Elemental will probably have much deeper gameplay and sharper AI than Civ5. But vanilla Elemental will probably feel, sadly for me, like a carefully balanced strategic wargame with fantasy flavors a little more than a rich living fantasy world game.

    • Bob's Lawn Service says:

      “– Even the release is not final. Stardock is doing at least 30 and 60 day extensive patches/updates/new content. They don’t skimp on post-release polishing; they work for your gaming $. The game, like GalCiv, will likely dramatically improve over time. And after 6 months, there will probably be mods that make it whatever you want.”

      I’ll probably wait for a year or so to buy it on budget then.

      I’m afraid it is going to end up like every other Stardock game I’ve ever played (GalCiv 2 and Sins of a Solar Empire). Great concept, seems like it should be fun but it just isn’t.

    • Okami says:

      @Bob’s Lawn Service:

      I’ll probably wait for a year or so to buy it on budget then.

      As a developer, reading this sentence on a message board has the same effect of me as hearing fingernails slowly scratching over a blackboard. It actually causes me physical discomfort.

    • CMaster says:

      Except developers offer me very little reason to ever buy at launch. If I buy then, I’ll pay a lot of money (~£35) for a game. In 3-6 months getting it for half that from Play or Amazon will be straightfoward, in 12 months it will probably be in 2 for £20 at Game and in some ridiculous Steam sale. In the mean time, the launch bugs and balance issues will have been smoothed out (if they ever will be)and inevitable early sever-overcrowding will have ceased. Only times I’ve ever got games near launch have been when they’ve either been gifts, or very generous pre-order offers.

    • Okami says:

      @CMaster: Oh, I’m not saying that I don’t understand this line of reasoning and of course I’ve bought games on the cheap as well. Hell, I’ve worked on games that I wouldn’t pay full price for as a consumer. But I still hate to hear stuff like that, nobody likes hearing people discuss how they don’t value what you’ve (or people like you have) done and would rather wait for some time until it’s cheaper.

      As for not buing incomplete games: All games are incomplete. Every game I’ve ever worked on had at least 30% (and even more than 50% in some cases) of it’s intended content cut before release. But the game still got sold for the same price that it would have gotten sold for if it was “complete”. It’s just that customers usually have no idea what should have been in a game and what not. In many cases the complete game is whatever the developers burnt onto the gold master the day they ran out of money. Of course nobody ever knows that and so feels as if they had bought a complete product.

      But if you promise to support the game after release, people start feeling that they’re not getting enough. If the developer has still money left on the day they ship and so can continue to release stuff for free, they surely must be cheating me out of something. It’s all really rather weird.

    • TCM says:

      Not that this has anything to do with free dev support, but I hope we can agree that Day 0 paid DLC (which this game does not and will never have, from what I can see) is an act of unspeakable condescension. And evil.

    • 2ds says:

      Someone recently explained that by saying there was usually 2+ weeks of downtime between the game going gold and being released where the dev team didn’t have too much to do, making DLC or fixing cut content so it could be put back in was an excellent use of that time.

      Having said that, day 1 paid DLC is a dick move, I think it should be released free.

  21. colinmarc says:

    Is that you, Footkerchief?

    I played the beta quite a bit and loved it. I am quite looking forward to the full game, which beta testers get early!

  22. Vinraith says:

    Anyone know how the AI is at this point?

    • protorp says:

      I haven’t played the beta enough to make a fair judgement (too many crashes, fair enough at that state) myself, but there’s been a lot of talk by Brad Wardell in the dev journals about how AI coding is his favourite pastime, how challenging play vs the AI is his personal main aim for Elemental, how he’s planning on taking time off in the autumn to make mods and code AI updates for it . . . &cetera . . .

      One specific mentioned is that the AI for different factions / races is supposed to be better at making realistic demands “in character” (I assume matching their good / evil / other fantasy tropeness) during diplomatic negotiations.

      Fingers crossed all this is indeed the case, AI makes or breaks this kind of game for me . . .

    • Vinraith says:

      Yeah, Brad did quite well with the Gal Civ 2 AI so I’d expect it to be quality here as well, I’m just curious what state it’s in at the moment. :)

  23. Bob's Lawn Service says:

    @Okami : I can’t help it.

    If what DojiStar says is correct it will be six months before we see a complete Elemental game. And no, I don’t buy that this is the complete game on release if the developer plans to patch out the issues and polish it for six months after selling it to me. From a consumer point of view it would be better if they held onto it for an extra six months instead. If it is like other Stardock games it isn’t going to last on my hard drive for six months until they finally get around to finishing it anyway.

    On a side note : It is frustrating to run out and buy a game because you’re excited about it only to be penalised having to buy mini DLC expansions when I can wait for a year and buy the Game Of The Year Edition with all the DLC included for half the price of the original game. If you’re going to go the expansion pack route, spend a year making one large expansion that feels like a game’s worth of content and sell that to me.

    • Okami says:

      As I’ve stated above, I fully understand your position, I just don’t want to hear it :)

    • Psychopomp says:

      “And no, I don’t buy that this is the complete game on release if the developer plans to patch out the issues and polish it for six months after selling it to me.”

      I heard a Q&A department can test as well as hundreds of thousands of people.

    • DojiStar says:

      Oh, sorry, maybe I wasn’t clear. I’m not saying it won’t be complete at release. It will. I’ve never bot a Stardock game that was incomplete, shoddy, horribly buggy, or empty on release date. They release real final products — better than many mainstream publishers.

      It will likely be like GalCiv2 where substantial improvements take place afterward. A lot of that is based on getting giant user base feedback rather than just beta testers, things that don’t work out all that well in practice, fans who demand something additional or changes somewhere. It’s like additional DLC for free for the extra stuff, and ‘I’m going to tweak the AI until you break down in tears’ from Wardell.

      So don’t feel cheated on the gold release. But, otoh, you can certainly wait 12 months, get it cheaper, and get all the tweaking and polishing. I’m not sure whether to applaud Stardock’s commitment to making sure games are really good, even after release… or whether to suggest someone there goes to business school.

    • Archonsod says:

      You could apply the same to any game. On the other hand, it’s not like you have to re-mortgage the house to buy it.

      I upgraded to the limited edition solely for the cloth map …

  24. pakoito says:

    “Beta is buggy but in release it will be fine”

    No it won’t. It’s Demigod all over again.

    • Lacero says:

      But Demigod was made by a completely different company?

    • Jeremy says:

      Yup, developed by a different company, and then Stardock actually went back and fixed the problem for a game they didn’t even create.

  25. Bob's Lawn Service says:

    As long as I’m feeling cranky : Can’t Brad Wardell afford to buy decent artists are a good art director? The art in Elemental looks utterly flat, bland and unexciting. Games like Kings Bounty have proven how simple, clean and gorgeous art can be mixed with a catchy soundtrack to really draw the player into the world. It has a wonderful style to it. In contrast Elemental looks amateur.

    • Sarlix says:

      Hey cranky pants. I was watching some beta gameplay on youtube and it didn’t look flat or boring to me.

      I’ve never played kings bounty before, but I just took a quick peek and the graphics look very wowish to me. At least Elemental has gone with a unique? art style. Certainly looks very different to me.

      please don’t yell at me :-)

    • Archonsod says:

      The art style isn’t too bad to be honest. It gives a fairly unique feel to the game beyond generic fantasyland. They did want to keep the requirements low though, and of course keeping a fairly simple graphical style lowers the bar for mods too.

    • MWoody says:

      I fully agree. I’m a huge Master of Magic fan, so unless it totally tanks I’m going to buy it. But that art style – supposedly based on stained glass windows, for some reason – is so bad I fear I’m going to find it constantly distracting. Particularly frustrating is how on the overworld map, everything points in different directions. I counted no less than four different perspectives in one screenshot on their store page.

      I mean, I don’t mind graphics being representative rather than actual, but for chrissakes, PICK an ANGLE and stay with it!

  26. Mark M says:

    I’m pretty hugely disappointed in this game so far. I think the developers really missed an opportunity here. Also the UI is awful.

    • Jeremy says:

      Really? The UI is the one thing that has been changed dramatically since beta 4, and is the one thing that beta testers won’t even have access to until it is released. Are you basing the UI off of the screenshots/videos or from the beta?

    • Island Dog says:

      If you are judging this off the beta, there have been significant changes since the last public beta. The betas for Elemental were never meant to be “fun” or be an early demo opportunity. I would recommend giving the release version a shot.


    • Mark M says:

      Well, I pre-ordered and there’s no refunds, so I guess I’ll find out.

      But ffs I just wanted Master of Magic with a few updates. That’s nowhere near what this game is, while the hype / build-up was exactly about that.

  27. Island Dog says:

    The demo will be available after launch. Resources are going to the full launch before that. ;)

  28. Bob's Lawn Service says:

    “. But that art style – supposedly based on stained glass windows, for some reason – is so bad I fear I’m going to find it constantly distracting. ”

    It is because when you look at stained glass the vibrant contrasting colours and gloss mixed with opacity are what make it so striking and eyecatching. Stardock seem to have made everything matt olive and brown which has the effect of making it all seem rather drab. As if they are using the palette from Fantasy General with a stained glass style.

    • Archonsod says:

      It is supposed to be a devastated, lifeless land. Be a bit odd if it looked like the set of the Teletubbies.

    • Mark M says:

      A devastated, lifeless world would be matte brown, huh? How convenient.

  29. Bob's Lawn Service says:

    @Archonsod : Then choose an art style that compliments the world you are creating. Once again, a good art director would tell you this.

    But I hate to keep bashing on this because I really want it to be great.