Warlock 2; The Exile, is a turn based, 4x strategy, sequel to the original Warlock: Master of the Arcane, takes place after the Armageddon DLC, where upon the world of Ardania, was broken in to shards. You take command of a Warlock looking questing to travel these shards, build an army and empire with which to take control of the shattered lands, under your own banner.
Warlock 2 shares many features, with others in this genre, as you can play a Hex-based, turn based, strategy, while placing its own spin on the style. While at first glance Warlock 2 can seams almost like a magic version of Civ 5, playing for only a small amount of time will show just how much is different and new. With side quests that will randomly pop up, spells that range from simple fire balls to opening up volcanoes or even summoning dragons, and more it soon becomes obvious that playing Warlock 2 is completely different to many others of its kind and an experience that really allows you to explore the possibilities of the genre.
A big feature in Warlock 2 that I found immensely fun and interesting is the quest system. Although you always have a main quest to work towards, the core of the broken lands and unite the lands, other issues randomly pop up for you to deal with, from a plague to an avid fan wanting to write about you. Some of the quests take no more than a few minutes to complete if not on the spot. However, some have branching story lines that can take you several shards away and back again. Without having done the quest before it is almost impossible to know what might lead you on a faraway journey. This causes some very interesting situations and adding a degree of unexpectedness’ to the games, that makes every campaign different and interesting whilst adding a whole new dimension to the game and including your choices in it.
One of the games main draws is its focus on combat, whilst you can also trade and forge alliances with others in game. The main way to win in Warlock 2 is though a strong army and a powerful array of spells. Warlock 2 has a wide variety of creatures and warriors, for the player to command, while you will only start with a small town, with a low population and only a few squads of soldier’s. As the player explores the world they can quickly build an army, units can be earned through side quests, bought though town’s or gained though combat each time the player destroys a neutral mob and takes its lair, and this will happen a lot, there is a chance to gain a unit or artefact. After only an hour of play I had amassed and army with which to explore, conquer and hold 6 shards, and my army only grew from there.
Spells are the other way for combat to be performed and allow the player to directly interact with the world. As previously mentioned there are a great many number of spells in the game that allow everything from grand complicated tactical strategies, to simple Armageddon and mass fire power methods. For example, it is possible to raise and lower the land of a tile allowing for paths to be blocked off to stop enemy advancement, using this in conjunction with a well-planned assault can allow for player’s to set up situations where the enemy is out numbered 3 to 1 with no escape. While such a thing is possible it is also possible to rain fire balls for the sky on the heads of any that stand in the way or to raise the dead for the ground to act as reinforcement’s. This adds a degree of adaptability to the game and opens up so many possibilities for confrontation that those that enjoy the strategy part of games will love Warlock 2. This is essentially true in multilayer where you can match wits others leading to some truly strange and funny situations. Once I found myself with a set of fly trolls attacking and enemy ghost galleon over the lair of a sea serpent, and that was only the beginning of the situation.
For someone new to the Warlock series but with some familiarity with 4x games, I found it simple to understand exactly what is going on in the game, with only 3 resources, food mana and gold. It is relativity simple to manage your empire and make sure that you build the right structures to prosper. While simple for me I can see some people new to this type of game having a bit of a hard time keeping track of everything from the resource of individual cities to their lords, research and quests, although there is a helpful tutorial system that teaches you exactly what is going on a after a few hours play I expect that it will become quite familiar to the player.
Warlock 2 brings even more to the table with its music, the music plays comfortably while you explore the lands for hour’s without ever getting annoying, and producing just the right amount of atmosphere to really draw you in. While out on the planes of my ‘home’ shard fully under my control, the music take and upbeat turn, conjuring images of a grand empire, while after exploring though several portal and ending up in a dark land full of crystal monsters and hostile enemies, the music take on a dark and sombre filled tone, making you imagine what horrors must have befallen the land after being split apart. Really the music brings some much to the game’s atmosphere.
Some weakness to the game is its lack of diplomatic features compared to others in this genre, while there certainly options for the player to be diplomatic and to make alliances, it is obvious that this is not that the game was built for. Another is with the sire amount that you can do in the game may leave many new comers over welled or confused, being able to change to very land is being played on and other such abilities could lead to people getting over welled, in the multilayer, against those with some experience, with little chance to counter.
In conclusion Warlock2 is an amazing game that will provide any combat focused 4x fan an amazing time allowing them to conquer and expand as they see fit, while providing the more tactical minded player a base from where they can only expand from. Those that like to play 4x games more diplomatically to though tech trees, there are elements within the game but perhaps not as much as with others as the game is mainly combat focused. For those new the genre I feel that the game will provide a fun time, once they become accustom to the way the game works. Warlock 2 provides such a different experience from many others of its kind that I encourage people to give it a try.