It's been two years since we last looked at The Settlers: Kingdoms of Anteria, and we'll never see it again. Developers Ubisoft Blue Byte announced yesterday that they have "made the decision to steer this project in a new direction, meaning The Settlers: Kingdoms of Anteria as you know it no longer exists." It's no longer a kingdom-building strategy game or a 'The Settlers' game at all, but some sort of singleplayer party-based tactical RTS/action-RPG... thing? But hey, it isn't a MOBA. Even if the new name, Champions of Anteria [official site], really does sound like one. Here, have a look:
Blue Byte keep calling it an RTS, but I'm not sure why. Champions of Anteria will give players control of a party of three champions chosen from a selection of five (your rock-paper-scissors setup with five magical elements and different classes), then sends them on missions with various objectives to complete to conquer territories on the world map. Combat's real-time with tactical pausing. Here's creative director Mihnea Dragoman explaining a little about missions:
"We have different objectives, ranging from you attacking a fortified enemy position, to going to rescue a spy behind enemy lines – and you need to be a bit stealthy, and not attract a lot of attention, and try to avoid fights as much as possible – to just trying to fend off a very big creature that comes to defeat your small settlement on the map. It uses typical RTS controls, so RTS players will feel right at home with this, but it is more on the tactical side. It’s more about trying to avoid the fight if possible, and just accomplishing your main objective as optimally as possible."
The only building going on here is upgrading a home base castle, which unlocks abilities and houses crafting facilities for potions and items. It's very much not another Settlers, but a tactical RPG with a range of objectives does sound interesting. Hmm!
It's a pretty huge shift in direction. Blue Byte don't sound happy with what The Settlers: Kingdoms of Anteria was or how people responded to it, but evidently found some core they wanted to continue - even if it was just the setting of Anteria. As for a future actual Settlers game, Blue Byte say "rest assured that The Settlers is alive and kicking!"
What is up with Blue Byte calling Champions of Anteria an RTS, though? Bits of their description remind me of Warcraft III's campaign and missions, and the heroes obviously do, but stripping it down to heroes only would seem to take the game away from RTS-land. Ah, I don't know. I suppose it doesn't really matter.
Champions of Anteria will cost $29.99 when it hits Steam and Uplay on August 30th.