WarMage Battlegrounds Preview
Burst Online Entertainment’s most recently launched is currently in the early beta phases, the highly anticipated WarMage Battlegrounds. It’s a free to play MMO title that combines various mechanics from a variety of strategy titles, from MMORTS games to table top. When I was first asked to preview WarMage Battlegrounds, I did what I usually do, searched around for some videos and screenshots and after viewing a few, I was convinced this would be a game I’d play for a few hours and never think of again. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Cast aside your typical MMO criteria and explore a unique game that features a wealth of innovation.
The first thing that struck my attention in the WarMage Battlegrounds Preview was the in-depth approach to a tutorial. Strategy games are known for having a steep learning curve so the majority ease players in with a ridiculously simple tutorial to teach them the basics, but WarMage Battlegrounds is a little different. There’s a text tutorial that can tell you about some of the features as well as a huge selection of video tutorials, both of which can provide a huge wealth of information. However, if you’re more interested in the typical on-screen tutorials, they are also available as you progress. Although a very basic idea, straight from the go players are given a choice on how they wish to learn, something that most of today’s games don’t seem to care about.
WarMage Battlegrounds isn’t your typical strategy game as it doesn’t force you to spend hours upon hours building troops and constructing buildings, instead it’s based totally around the turn-based combat. The first battle in the tutorial provides you with a few basic units, as well as some tips and hints as you progress. There are multiple actions you can take during your turn, choosing to move units to defensive or offensive locations, or launching attacks and abilities. There are 2 main methods of dealing damage, normal attacks and Morale abilities. Normal attacks deal minimal amounts of damage but help build your Morale bar so that you’re able to use more powerful abilities. The Morale abilities consume Morale in order to be used, but they’re also more effective the more Morale you currently have, adding an important choice in each attack you make. Another aspect of battle management is the Mana system. Similar to MMORPG titles, players earn Mana over a period of time, although this can be boosted by occupying certain Hex (movement spaces on the map) locations. Mana opens up new magical abilities that can cause devastating damage and effects, calling on all sorts of powers to destroy your enemies.
The depth of the combat doesn’t end there as there’s tons of other features that combine to create a truly unique turn-based experience. Every map is different and each has a variety of obstacles and special Hex spaces that can all have large affect on tactical combat. Certain spaces can be occupied that allow your team to have increased defense against certain elements, heal over time, earn more mana or increase attack with certain skills. Placing the correct type of Battle Units in the correct spaces is vital to a successful campaign, occupying choke points with your heavily armored Defender, sneaking behind enemy lines with your Warrior or taking up that Hex space to boost your Mages magical power. If I was to go into extreme detail on all of the possible tactics deploy-able in a single match of WarMage Battlegrounds, I’d be writing this preview for the next two weeks.
Although the battle system itself is highly in-depth, even greater depth is added with the Store function. The store is the main place players will go as they progress through the game, unlocking new Battle Units, Spells and Artifacts as they earn gold participating in games. Battle Units represent the core of your squad, each with their own strengths, weaknesses and abilities. Each Battle Unit has is given a race, such as Dwarf, Human and Dragonkin, with each race having distinct differences. Certain Artifacts that you can purchase also have conditions that aid specific races, such as reduced damage to Humans. The best way to describe these features would be to compare them to popular Tactical Card Games (TCG). You can collect a huge variety of Battle Units, each of which can be combined with other races, Artifacts and Spells, combining to create thousands of possible squad combinations. This insane amount of customization gives players the opportunity to tweak their squad on a regular basis, specializing in certain tactics or building a squad designed to defeat certain enemy group make-ups.
WarMage Battlegrounds is currently still in an early development phase but is open to anyone that wants to try it. A game so early in development is sure to have some teething problems and WarMage Battlegrounds is no different. There’s currently a lack of reward incentive for the PvP, although this is an issue that is scheduled to be addressed soon, and there’s also some other minor problems that make communication and chatting a bit cumbersome at times. It also seems to take quite some time to be able to earn enough gold to purchase extra units. Although WarMage Battlegrounds is easily one of the most unique titles I’ve had the pleasure of playing, it’s not for everyone. The battles can be very long, sometimes running over an hour, but for players looking for a new level of tactics and strategy, they’ll relish every single second.
Something else that should definitely be taken into consideration is the community. The game is not hugely popular so you won’t find thousands and thousands of players logged in, but every single time I logged into the game I was greeted by several players and GM’s. A number of players also offered to tutor me if I was struggling to understand any areas of the game, and also invited me to spectate their matches to pick up tips. I have played over 400 online games and this is the most welcoming community I have ever come across. I want to give a huge shout out to Pryde, Orrorios, Zaex and Siana. The relentless patience these players showed while guiding me through the beginning of the game was nothing short of heartwarming. The fact just regular players are willing to do so much to show new players the game is a huge compliment to the developers. A unique welcoming for a highly unique strategy game.
Stay tuned for our full review closer to release.