We’d wondered what had happened to Hegemony: Rome. After conducting an interview at the beginning of the year, nothing much had really been heard from Longbow since, and I almost gave up the project as dead. I was glad to then be presently surprised with the game’s presence at this year’s GamesCom show, under the wing of German publisher Kalypso. The team seemed to be doing well, and I was eager to learn what they’d been up to in the previous months. The game’s really starting to take shape, and there was a fully working demo being showed off to me as the guys went over the game and what it was about.
|The campaign map viewed from the 'strategic' level. You can seamlessly zoom in and out between this mode, and the 3D rendered view
For those of you who don’t know (or can’t remember) Hegemony Rome: The Rise of Caesar
is a historical strategy wargame, that focuses more on tactical combat and the logistics of creating an empire, although it does have some empire building/management to it. Focusing on Caesar’s conquest of Gaul (Modern day France) between 58 – 50 BC, there are 25 factions in total, representing the vast amount of different tribes that inhabited the area (And the encroaching Romans, of course). There are two faces of this game – a heavily scripted campaign mode, which follows the exploits of Caesar through-out his campaigns, and a variety of Sandbox modes that allow you to just pick a faction and go nuts. Outside the campaign mode, the ultimate goal of the game is to win by conquering the world, but there will also be dynamically generated objectives to give your life meaning in the short term.
The engine behind the game looks very slick at the moment – zoomed out, it represents an old school paper map of the area, almost like a board-game, and there are chess-like pieces that represent your towns and your armies. The armies move in real-time across the map, assuming you’ve given them orders, but you can also zoom right in where the view changes in the 3D battle environment. Here you’ll be able to see your armies and units in more detail, see the towns and forts, and the terrain, and get a more close-up view of the action.
As we mentioned above, there’s a large focus on combat, but also the logistical challenges that come with maintain armies and terrain. Supply lines are key, and you can have your armies disrupt and/or blockade supply routes to deny enemy forces their supplies, or starve out a town to make it easier to take. Rivers form key borders along the map, and thus the bridges that cross them are focal points for control. There is a number of fort ‘slots’ around the map that you can choose to build fortifications on to help control your territory easier. Armies, towns and forts can be set to different ‘stances’, which have differing bonuses and effects.
Rome is the sequel to Hegemony: Wars of Ancient Greece
(and its expansion, which are now collectively called Hegemony: Gold
), and the previous game had a number of issues associated with it that the team have tried to address this time around. Work has been done on the AI so that it too is trying to conquer the world, the same as you. You should be challenged in your quest for domination, not just ticking down the moments till your inevitable victory. There’s also a few more tools for you to manage larger empires – the forts that we mentioned can be used for defending borders instead of using an army that you have to control, meaning you shouldn’t have too much to think on all at once.
|An example of a 'fort' ot 'camp' that you can build. Different from the towns & cities, these bases can help control vital areas and supply lanes
There will be a dozen basic unit types, which you can then specialise and build them up as they go along. You can customise formations too, and armies are recruited from a central pool of ‘recruits’, which acts as a resource of its own. Be careful though, as recruits are also needed for building up your empire’s infrastructure, so you can’t do too much of one lest you cripple the other. You have to think tactically about how you fight – troops can be flanked and receive negative buffs, you need to use the terrain to your advantage and be mindful of the season. Supplies are everything, and you can’t go rampaging around the countryside at will. Hegemony Rome is shaping up to be a decent enough game right now. It’s going to be rough around the edges, and even with the 25 factions, I reckon replay value is going to be limited, unless they really make the factions feel different. Still, it’s an interesting twist on the wargame framework, with a rarely covered setting (The Gallic Wars specifically, not the roman period), and hopefully the mechanics will support what we’ve seen so far. At the time of writing, Hegemony Rome: The Rise of Caesar is due out on PC early 2014. Most Anticipated Feature:
To see how the late game plays out, and whether the logistics system is as good as they say.