War For The Overworld Is Redecorating With Expansion

Also known as Dungeon-Keeper-without-the-copyright, War for the Overworld [official site] left Alec’s glasses bright pink – it was just similar enough to the old dungeon management game to make him nostalgic of the old days, but it didn’t manage to conjure up the magic of the original.

Since release in April 2015, though, the developers have been busy renovating. Yesterday marked their 40th patch, and the cumulative changes are indeed impressive. (I guess that’s what the new Steam Reviews are for) Yesterday also saw the release of the game’s first paid expansion Heart of Gold (though it’s free for backers and customers who purchased the game before May 2nd). If you’ve dismissed it at launch, it may be time to don your adventurer cap and take another look.

In an earnest dev diary written right around launch, the devs had readily admitted that their game wasn’t fit for release, and that they had to rush it out the door due to financial woes. In time, WftO has started to look more like what they had envisioned in the first place, with patches adding “4-player multiplayer; a map editor with Steam Workshop support; balance passes to improve single-player and multiplayer; addressing player feedback on the UI, room efficiency, adjustable game speed and more.”

The full notes for yesterday’s Patch 1.4 are this-a-way, but these are the highlights:

  • Revamped Titan system
  • Revamped combat
  • New unit voices, VFX, animations and behaviours
  • Significant performance improvements
  • New systems such as the peace warband to keep specific units out of combat
  • Improved AI which makes use of Titans and Artefacts properly
  • Improved UI including a new payday overlay
  • Many balance improvements including a revamp of the unit leveling system, making high level units more valuable
  • Many more gameplay improvements
  • Some of those actually do address points that Alec felt were lacking, like the UI, character design, and the game’s balance being excessively skewed towards frantic RTS strategy as opposed to lived-in dungeon.

    Heart of Gold, the new paid expansion released alongside patch 1.4, brings a new 4-level campaign played from the perspective of the Underlady Kasita. Also, the usual bag of goodies: a new spell, a new defender for your precious gold, new decorations and skins.

    As mentioned, Heart of Gold is free if you purchased the game before May 2nd, or if you bought the special edition. Otherwise, Steam demons demons will loot treasures worth £5.59/$7.99 from your vault/other gold-hoarding location. Wirelessly and without spilling blood. How convenient!

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    6 Comments

    1. Burningvillage says:

      This game is way better than it was at launch. I recommend it.

      • Malcolm says:

        I scrolled past this in my Steam library only the other day. Time to give it another go by the sounds of things.

    2. Jakkar says:

      .. yet it still looks tasteless, and dull. It still looks like a game created with only the code and the plan in mind. We remember Bullfrog games not simply because they were fun, but because they had humour, because they had style. Because they were painfully British. Because they felt like Monty Python, Terry Pratchett, Douglas Adams, Stoppit and Tidyup and Wallace and Gromit shoved into cargo container full of angry pine martens and shaken, before being applied to a hospital sitcom, or 1980s tacky fantasy, or prehistoric religion.

      Saying “I miss that game, I have some programmers, a vague attempt at copying its visual themes, and a need for money; halp?” isn’t enough.

      WftO just doesn’t have a spark, any more than Dungeons did.

      … Hell, would any of us have loved Evil Genius if not for its style? For raw gameplay it was an utter failure of design, because it has nothing *but* style, with no actual intelligent thought applied to the gameplay loop of heat/enemy spawning/research and development.

      Style counts for a *lot* with a simple management game.

      • australopithecus says:

        Personally, I prefer substance. Style grabs the attention early on, but after thousands of hours playing Dungeon Keeper and Dungeon Keeper 2, it was the substance of the mechanics that kept me playing.

        War for the Overworld was a bug-ridden mess when it was first released, but I give enormous credit to the young, inexperienced development team that they stuck with it and did the hard work to fix there game even though the world had already written it off.

        The game today is incomparable to what it was immediately after release. As the devs have cleared the bugs out of the way and continued to polish the game underneath, a real gem has emerged with it’s own style.

        After giving up on War for the Overworld immediately after release, I went back a few months ago and had a blast, completeing the whole campaign. So far I’ve been loving the additions in this new Hearts of Gold expansion too.

        I encourage anyone who was turned off by the initial mess to give War for the Overworld another shot. It’s now a wonderful game in and of itself, but more than that the devs should be congratulated and rewarded for never giving up on their vision.

        • k47 says:

          Thanks for this. The bugs and the unfinished UI was what drove me away and I haven’t thought about going back. I wanted to love it, but more so I wanted to run away from it. Your comments meant for me a chance to go back to it, and so I will.

          As for style vs gameplay, I’m with you. After a few dozen hours it’s the gameplay that keeps me going back to the same games. God knows I’ve played some really awful looking games because of how engaging they were gameplay-wise, and WftO aimed to have that under its surface (pun intended).

    3. Stengah says:

      Might want to clarify that the new expansion is only free to people that purchased the game before the May 2nd in 2015, not the May 2nd that just happened.