Sunday, June 30, 2013

March of War Early Access Impressions

I like Turn Based Strategy games and I like World War II setting so when a game combine both and gave the setting a more unique touch by making it an alternate history with Dieselpunk influence of course I'll be really interested in it. March of War successfully gained my interest and I immediately tried it after it went on Steam's Early Access. Is the game any good? let's find out.

I need to start by telling you that this is by no means a review of the game as it is still on Early Access and will go through several changes before it is fully released so any negative point I have regarding bugs and glitches can be safely ignored for now as long as the game is still in this stage of the development. And yes, the game have various bugs that the devs needs to work on. Performance issues, control issues and even server stability makes the game less enjoyable than it should be. But we will ignore this for now because it's NOT the final version of the game.

The game offers six different factions to choose from, each with its different units and playstyle. These six factions will battle to take control of the world and each player will take part in that battle. The player will see a world map, color coded to see each faction's areas. Contested areas will also be marked so that players can quickly go there and lend a hand to their faction. Players can choose to either do a PvP or PvE match to help their faction gain a foothold in the area. A match, whether it's PvP or PvE will generate resources that the player can use to do research, buy more units and also level up.

I like this whole world domination campaign feel, however there is a weakness in that you need to be in the same faction with your friends if you want to be in the same Battlegroup. But since you can't play any other game mode other than 1 vs 1 you don't really need to group up with your friends anyways. The game also offers another layer of intrigue with Faction leaders. Faction leaders are player-voted and he/she can make alliances with other faction, making diplomacy a part of the overall game experience.

The number of factions available creates another problem: imbalance. Try as hard as you might, but having three factions with different powers will never make the number of people in each faction balanced. Just by logging in the game and looking at the map we can already see which factions are the most popular and which are not very popular. The less popular factions will have less territory and less people to push out their territory. Hopefully, the diplomacy aspect of the game can balance this out. But whether or not it would work is still to be seen.

The combat in March of War is quite enjoyable in my opinion. Players will need to capture and control several strategic places, each generating different resources. These resources in turn will be used to call more powerful units to the battlefield(if the player already purchased that unit in his army). Aside from basic infantry units, the number of other units are limited to how many the player has purchased in his army(by buying cards). This makes it more important to take care of your advanced units and players will have to use their basic infantry units more effectively. Nothing is worse than having to rely on basic infantry while your enemy still have access to all of his best units.

You can also do research to unlock more units and add abilities for your current units. You gain research points after every match and you can decide what to research first. This will add more variety since players from the same faction could have different approach in combat according to what they have researched. Although on higher level it doesn't really matter anymore when everything is researched.

While the overall concept of the battle is enjoyable, there is several problem that makes it not so enjoyable, especially on PvE: the AI is cheating. Even on the highest difficulty, the AI isn't really "smart" but instead they cheat to make it harder. This is a bad way to increase difficulty since the player aren't fighting a smarter opponent, just a stronger opponent. How does it cheat? simple, they know where your units are and will act accordingly, including using abilities on your unit's location even when they shouldn't have known the location of your units.

Graphically, the game looks pretty good. Although it can't be called phenomenal it isn't that bad to look at either. I like the overall design and I think the game's graphics serves its purpose. Artwork for the characters and cards are also pretty decent.

Overall, March of War might be worth checking out if you like the setting or are a fan of turn based strategy games. It's free to play so you won't be wasting any money on it and the overall concept for the game is pretty solid. We'll see how the devs handles the bugs and glitches and hopefully they can successfully make this a much better gaming experience. Oh, and I almost forgot to mention that the game is episodic so the developers will be adding new stuff periodically to the game, which is always good(unless they mess up the balance).

Check out March of War on Steam.

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