Deep fantasy and RPGs are a genre that gamers never seem to get bored of. Becoming an elf, a mage, or a big human with an axe from the comfort of your living room is a must for most. Maybe it’s the complete immersion in a fantasy work that is so removed from the mundane reality of living in the real world that appeals to us all.
Anyways, SpellForce III is now on Xbox bringing a PC game that first released in 2017 to our beloved consoles. Should we be cosplaying as one of the main characters? Let us find out.
The SpellForce franchise started out back in 2003 on PC and now we get the chance on the console to play the third in the series. Not only do we get the main story in SpellForce III Reforced, but some extra bundled DLC as well. There are hours of this RTS/RPG game to play through which is good value for money.
There are several modes to choose from in the beginning. There is the campaign mode which encapsulates the main story and the added DLC and this can be played alone or in co-op mode. Skirmish mode which sees you battle foes online to climb up the leaderboards, a journey mode which is sort of like an open world mode with a created character of your own and unique quests available to play. You’ve also got an Arena mode which puts you in a horde, constantly attacked by ever-increasing difficulty of enemies. My main focus for this review may have been the campaign, but it’s well worth dipping into the other options too.
The story is one of high fantasy and quite an in-depth narrative. The writing is strong for this genre, as is the world-building and atmosphere it creates. You start the game in a prologue that introduces you to the systems but also to the world itself. When you start the game properly you then play as Tahar, but this is a character you can create in your own likeness. The mage wars – rebel wizards being naughty – has been squashed by the crown and after the war the world of Io is in chaos as anarchy reigns and the earth is consumed by a plague called “bloodburn”, that threatens to destroy everything. It’s up to you to make everything good in the world again.
The gameplay is a mixture of the traditional RPG elements where you level up characters by getting experience points and loot from crates and enemies. You explore a world, have fights, do quests, and make the most of the ability to use magical skills as special attacks. But also you have the RTS elements, where you have a base in which you collect resources from the area around you like wood and stone. Build more buildings around your base like a barracks and then get more soldiers for your army for example. You know the drill.
The control system – coming from mouse to keyboard – is always tricky in games like this and for the first hour or so I felt that with SpellForce III Reforced. Just getting my selected hero to move from here to there was a bit more laborious than it should be with a point and a click. But like all things, you get used to it and after a while you don’t even think about it.
What I did love was the combat, as we get the opportunity to send huge waves of your armies against enemies. Half the time I didn’t know what was happening, but zooming in and then unleashing a special ability never got old. The RTS elements and base building elements work well and are simple enough to use. People expecting an Age of Empires type RTS will be disappointed, but it’s great to have both elements combined in a successful unison.
The visual layout is the most important part of SpellForce III Reforced and it doesn’t disappoint. On a beauty level, the maps are well presented and the detail and areas you traverse are very pretty indeed. The menus are good, but sometimes the text can feel a little small and it feels like the devs haven’t taken into account the fact that most Xbox consoles are attached to a TV on the other side of the room, rather than a monitor. Get close though and you’ll discover that the character models look great, as does the artwork and colour scheme throughout.
In terms of soundtrack and effects, this game has all you want from a huge fantasy saga. Dramatic music is found swelling and rising in all the right areas, swords are clanking and people are screaming, all to ensure that it makes you feel like you’re right there in Io. The addition of a strong voice-over group of performers helps give gravitas to the game and the actors deliver every line with relish.
There is a lot to love about SpellForce III Reforced, especially if you are an RPG and RTS fan. The world it builds and the story it creates are immersive and compelling, whilst the visuals add a layer that makes it stand out from the cheaper version of games of this genre. But there is also a ton of content to be had here, even if you’re just playing the single-player material. Yes, the control system takes some getting used to and the text can be a bit too small, but on the whole SpellForce III Reforced is a top game.
SpellForce III Reforced is on the Xbox Store