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Wartales Review

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I have a funny feeling that the rest of the reviewing crew on TheXboxHub are all allergic to strategy games, given the amount of them I get to review. 

The title under the spotlight this time is the snappily titled Wartales, a new game from Shiro Games, which has launched Day One onto Game Pass. With the promise of a vibrant and expansive world to explore, and more missions than you can shake a stick at, the scene is set for an epic adventure as we attempt to not only survive, but thrive in a violent medieval world. Can we pull it off? 

The story of Wartales is pretty scarce and a bit throwaway, to be brutally honest, but as an attempt has been made to frame a narrative framework, let’s have a peep at it shall we?

wartale review 1
Wartales tells tales of war

The Edoran Empire has fallen, more than 100 years ago, ushered out by a plague that swept the land and wiped out a lot of people. Of course, when a civilisation falls, what is left is pretty much chaos, banditry and savagery. So it proves here. Into this land we are thrust, with our band of mercenary companions, left to either sink or swim based on the decisions we make. 

Presentation of Wartales is the classic tale of two halves. There is the overworld map, where our little merry band can wander around, meeting people and getting into scrapes, and then when combat is initiated, there is another screen, with the standard turn-based strategy combat we are all familiar with. Blimey, that sentence ran away with me!

The overworld graphics are small but perfectly functional, and as we explore, we can find new locations and meet new people, not all of whom we have to fight! The combat screen is much  more zoomed in, showing our band and the enemies we have to fight much more closely, and the combat is brutal to watch with a lot of blood and gore. Be warned if you have kids around. The animation is decent and while the overworld screen has minimal animation and not much detail on the group, the depiction of the countryside is very nice. I’ve enjoyed how the landscape is revealed as you explore too. 

We can highlight the sounds of Wartales too – from the howls of wolves and neighing of horses right up to the sounds of battle, along with the fully voiced interactions when you meet people, the whole presentation just works. 

wartales review 3
You can probably hear the howls

Whenever you start a new game of Wartales you have to select the backgrounds of your group, which affects the way that certain traits and characteristics can either help or hinder your prospects. You get to choose two good traits and one bad one, so choose carefully!

Once you have selected your team, you are basically left to your own devices on the world map, able to move in any direction you feel like. Exploring is the key here, as when you find places of interest quite often you can find new people to speak to. These can not only offer you missions to carry out for them, ranging from saving a husband to hanging, through to helping the guards take out a nest of bandits. 

These missions count toward the fate of the area that you are in, depicted on the map as a purple circle. You can also take missions from a notice board in a tavern, once you’ve found the town of course. These are shown as a red circle and in this way you always know what you are working towards. And, best of all, there are certain places in the world where you can partake in a little fishing mini game, so this is already getting an extra half a star just for including that. 

Of course, you can’t avoid combat in a game called Wartales and this is where the terrain becomes a bit more familiar. When combat begins, we are placed on the map, the enemies randomly dropped, and then battle is joined. As is usual in this genre of games, we are able to move inside a certain radius; end movement next to an enemy and we can then attack. Having two or more people around an enemy gives you a bonus, as the foe is surrounded. It’s then down to taking it in turns to attack until either the enemies are defeated, or we are!

wartales review 2
Don’t get too attached

One thing to note – when an ally is knocked down, they are in a dying state, and can only move. If an ally can reach them and use First Aid, they will be revived, but if they are attacked again when they are dying, they will be gone forever. Don’t get too attached is my advice – it’s like an episode of Games of Thrones in here! 

One nice touch is that if you are fighting animals, they can be captured by someone if they are engaged in a battle with a different character. These captured animals then appear in your next team; while you can’t control them directly, they can turn the tide of battle in your favour by attacking your foes. 

Of course, all this fighting and exploring, fishing, mining and woodcutting gives our team EXP to use, channelled into a number of the usual areas, such as constitution to give team members more health, strength to let us hit harder and so on. As each member of the crew levels up, you can use a career path for them, and each particular job has different skills that can be utilised. It’s even possible to promote folk to be captains of the squad, and so on, so they then get extra perks. 

This levelling up is done when the troop rests at a campfire, and you also have to not only make sure you have enough money to pay the wages when they are due, but need to make sure that you have enough food to keep your troops happy; a disgruntled company performs less well in combat, which leads to a downward spiral and a trip to the restart screen. Ask me how I know…

wartales review 4
FIGHT!

There is a possibility to play Wartales in online co-op, but sadly, despite this being on Game Pass, the online world has been remarkably dead. However, this isn’t a massive issue, as the single player game is so vast and with so much to do, you’ll never tire of finding things to do. In fact, it feels pretty endless with actions to take on, fish to catch, missions to do and so on. It all means that should you be in the market for a strategy survival game, you could do a whole lot worse than focus some time on Wartales. If you have a group of people to play with, then jolly cooperation can be yours. 

Are there any issues? Well, apart from the dead online world and the lack of a mini map on the world screen (it is annoying having to go into the map to orient, then I have no complaints. There is so much content included in Wartales that there is no hesitation in recommending it.

SUMMARY

Pros:
  • Massive amount of things to do
  • Great combat with interesting mechanics
  • Exploring the world feels like a full time job
Cons:
  • Nobody online, weirdly
  • Why no mini map?
Info:
  • Massive thanks for the free copy of the game, TXH
  • Formats - Xbox Series X|S (review), PC
  • Release date and price - 31 October 2023 | £33.49

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Simon Parnell
Simon Parnell
25 days ago

Disingenuous. The game is a 3/10

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<b>Pros:</b> <ul> <li>Massive amount of things to do</li> <li>Great combat with interesting mechanics</li> <li>Exploring the world feels like a full time job</li> </ul> <b>Cons:</b> <ul> <li>Nobody online, weirdly</li> <li>Why no mini map?</li> </ul> <b>Info:</b> <ul> <li>Massive thanks for the free copy of the game, TXH</li> <li>Formats - Xbox Series X|S (review), PC <li>Release date and price - 31 October 2023 | £33.49</li> </ul>Wartales Review
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