Already a hit in its native Russia, Elven Legacy is a hex-based strategy game that its creator hopes will have the same commercial impact here in the UK and the surrounding European territories. Whether it will enjoy the same kind of success really depends on how many new players take to the grid-based movement and traditional fantasy setting. However there’s already enough of a faithful following of strategy gamers who will be wringing their hands in anticipation for Elven Legacy’s arrival that it can’t possibly fail to ignite interest.
Elven Legacy’s maps are divided into a network of conjoined hexagonal spaces, which limit your movements to six directions as you make your way to the various areas of interest dotted around the environment. Built with clarity and function in mind, Elven Legacy’s sense of scale can be initially quite jarring with your units towering above castle barracks and city walls, but it soon makes sense once you realise that you’re always given the best possible view of your surroundings. Our hands-on with the game showed that Elven Legacy is very much in the same mould as its predecessor – so much so that given a cursory glance, you could be forgiven for thinking you were looking at the same game. However given the success and playability of the first game, that’s no bad thing.
The hex-based grid was something that came from Fantasy General, the inspiration for both Fantasy Wars and Elven Legacy.
Heroes like these are your most valuable units. If they fall in battle, it’s game over.
Originally inspired by Fantasy General, Elven Legacy is a direct sequel to Fantasy Wars and as such continues within the fantasy world of Illis, utilising the same sort of aesthetic and HUD. While the two games look superficially almost identical, there are a number of new features and subtle refinements beneath the surface. The AI has been vastly improved for starters putting a far greater emphasis on tactics and winning battles through your own careful strategic planning rather than sheer strength in numbers. Capturing towns and cities is another important element that helps in rapidly building yourself an army, recruiting followers as you pass through various settlements. Doing so also grants defence bonuses as well as a boost to your numbers. There are a number of allied units that you’ll encounter during missions including heroes, scouts, archers, cavalry and melee units. Elven Legacy retains the same accessibility as its predecessor, dispensing with the accompanying reams of text and numbers you’d normally associate with this kind of game.
Graphically crisp and clean, Elven Legacy’s verdant landscapes can also have a significant effect upon battle. Learning the best place to deploy your units on the map can be pivotal and when you’re restricted to only one unit per hexagonal cell, it pays to take a steady, considered approach towards preparation. The types of units you choose and their morale can also be hugely influential factors in determining the ebb and flow of combat, but there are a whole host of different tactical methods and combinations for you to experiment with during each of the 19 single-player campaign missions. At the beginning of each level you set your own difficulty level making it possible to play each individual mission at your own level of skill. Having trouble on the harder modes or finding it too easy? Just dial the challenge up or down accordingly. Problem solved.
Players who loved Fantasy Wars will clearly eat up Elven Legacy with a big, hand-carved, wooden spoon. Essentially more of the same, polished to a gleaming shine and focused on a new race to boot, Elven Legacy should satisfy all but the most malcontent goblin-fancier. There’s heaps of interesting stuff including 16 multiplayer missions for 2-4 players, unlockable bonuses and perks for achieving a gold rating on each stage, loads of different unit types and the ability to play as humans in a completely separate campaign. Each unit and hero character possesses their very own special abilities too, which can be developed through gaining experience points in true RPG style. With dragons, flying galleons, siege machines and hundreds of new opponents to face, Elven Legacy promises to provide players with hours of compelling turn-based strategic gameplay.
There’s also a powerful mission editor that is incredibly easy to use that should have the online community buzzing with content. With a slew of unique maps bundled especially for multiplayer, there’s limitless longevity to Elven Legacy’s local and online play. It seems Ino-Co’s declaration that ‘wargames deserve better’ has been well and truly met with Elven Legacy’s devotion to making a fantasy strategy game that does its fans a massive service. Surely the promise of three expansion packs in the pipeline that will allow players to play as other races such as Orcs will be music to those same fans (pointy) ears too.
This dopey looking sod is an ogre. Underestimate him at your peril!
The interface may look exactly like Fantasy Wars' but it has been tweaked and refined for Elven Legacy.
Interview with Maxim Bodrikov, Game Designer, Elven Legacy
We met with Elven Legacy’s Designer to learn a little more about the game and its impending release in the US and Europe.
Strategy Informer:Fans will know that Elven Legacy is the sequel to Fantasy Wars, so what have features can we expect to see in the new game?
Maxim Bodrikov:There is a lot of stuff never seen in Fantasy Wars such as a full, new race available for playing in the single-player mode and in multiplayer. There are loads of new abilities and artefacts, and more importantly we’ve really improved the artificial intelligence, which is challenging players to win by achieving more than just kills. Then there is the difficulty, allowing players to choose the level of hardness at the beginning of each mission, which is good for veterans and beginners. If the mission seems too hard, the player can restart it and choose the easy mode and achieve victory.
Strategy Informer:Which games would you list as your closest competitors and what, if anything have you learnt from these other games?
Maxim Bodrikov:Our source of inspiration was a great game called Fantasy General. We even tried to get the license to use the name, but we failed. When we made Fantasy Wars, we were really trying to make Fantasy General 2, so this was the main source of our inspiration. There have been many cool wargames in the past such as Rise of War and Panzer General, but Fantasy General is the source for most of our ideas.
Strategy Informer:Is the hexagonal based-grid mechanic something unique to Fantasy Wars and Elven Legacy, or did this come from Fantasy General too?
Maxim Bodrikov:You can turn the grid off if you want, and yes, this was something that was in Fantasy Wars too that came from Fantasy General. Something unique to Elven Legacy is the improvement in the game interface. Let me show you (shows us on laptop). You can see the way you can move units forward to this green point (a green cross on the map showing how far your units can travel), you can see their level of experience – you can see here we have a very experienced unit – from the triangle we can tell we have a very tough hero.
Strategy Informer:How long did it take you to build Elven Legacy and have it running smoothly?
Maxim Bodrikov:About one year. The experience that we gathered during the development of Fantasy Wars was very useful, so there was just one year of developing.
Maxim Bodrikov, Game Designer, Elven Legacy.
The landscapes look superb. There are no restrictions over camera movement, so you can zoom as far in or as far out as you like
Strategy Informer:How has Elven Legacy been received in Russia?
Maxim Bodrikov:We’ve already released this game in Russia and we’ve had very good rankings from the press and from players. There is a pretty big community for Elven Legacy making their own levels, competing and even dreaming about a sequel to Elven Legacy. They’re always playing it then discussing it on the forums.
Strategy Informer:Are you confident that Elven Legacy will repeat the same success in other territories?
Maxim Bodrikov: Yes, we are hoping for that. We hope that European players will like Elven Legacy and enjoy it.
Elven Legacy is on course for a March 20th release in Europe.