Immortal Realms: Vampire Wars is a strategy game currently in its beta form, or in “Game Preview” if you prefer the Xbox lingo. This basically means it’s playable but not quite complete, and there may still be a few bugs lurking. There is a free trial available for those not comfortable with stumping up £39.99 for an unfinished game, and the full release is expected in the spring of this year.
The action takes place in the dark vampiric world of Warmont, which is in chaos. The strategic gameplay combines RTS, turn-based combat and card game elements. There are three ways to play Immortal Realms: Vampire Wars – a 12 part Campaign, Sandbox and Skirmish modes to keep you busy. The main story is split into three groups of four acts, each following either Dracul, Nosfernus or Moroia.
The first part of the Campaign follows Dracul, who is one of the three vampire clan leaders. You start in typical RTS fashion, the landscape spread out before you in all its glory. Each part of the map is sectioned off, and your units will have a limited amount of moves during each turn. Pressing X will open your actions menu and allow you to interact with what lies within each space on the map. Through visiting libraries, healing stones and other key locations you’ll be recovering health, feeding and upgrading your cards as you go.
You move your units as desired and then hit RT to end your turn. As you progress you’ll have to choose your moves around the map, and units, carefully. You can have a maximum of 9 in your party, and can move up to three spaces at a time for the most part. You’ll get a handy hint if you still have actions available before you try to move on. If you press up on the D-Pad, you’ll also get to choose a card to play from your deck, if you wish. There are loads of different cards to play – some will even award mission bonuses when used correctly.
When you are about to enter territory with enemy units, you’ll enter the combat phase. If it isn’t a close battle, you will have the option to “auto-resolve”, which essentially skips the playable combat part. And from there an indication of how likely victory is for your units will help you to decide whether to engage in combat, or to avoid. Be careful though, if you finish your turn on an adjacent part of the map to an enemy unit, they may well make the first move.
If, at this point, Immortal Realms is all a bit overwhelming, you can hit Y to access the tutorial in your options menu. Here you can also adjust the game speed, grid colours and much more. Don’t worry too much though as after an hour or so it will all seamlessly click into place.
Once you engage an enemy in combat, the game switches into turn-based strategy true and proper. You’ll first have to decide where to place each unit, before assessing the battleground to see which squares offer boosts and/or protection. Your units all carry their own stats, and your lord (Dracul in this case) can be levelled up through combat if you meet certain criteria. Once the combat phase is over, you will earn some new cards to play. These will be active outside of combat to help you recover and power up for your next battle. As you can imagine there’s loads to consider during each turn, something sure to please strategy fans.
In terms of the other modes, Sandbox allows you to set up your own campaign and choose the conditions. This ranges from clan selection to the location and victory parameters. It’s a handy space to hone your strategy skills for the main Campaign.
Skirmish is for when you just want to jump straight into the combat phase, rather than conquering a whole map. You can choose each army’s setup and stats then head right into battle.
As to be expected, there are still a few rough edges in Immortal Realms: Vampire Wars which will no doubt be ironed out before the final release. Lingering sound effects, jagged frame rates in cutscenes and delayed button presses don’t cause too much trouble, but are definitely noticeable annoyances. Remember though – Xbox Game Preview.
Immortal Realms: Vampire Wars on Xbox One is shaping up to be an immersive and engaging experience, especially for those interested in vampiric myth and legend. There’s a good depth to the strategy and, like a good board game, it is seemingly complicated at first but doesn’t take too long to get to grips with.
Huge thanks go out to Kalypso Media for allowing us the chance to take a look at Immortal Realms: Vampire Wars on Xbox One during the Xbox Game Preview period. Keep an eye out for our full review as and when the proper release occurs. If you wish to give it a look for yourself head on over to the Xbox Store and embrace the Xbox Game Preview goodness it delivers.