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Warlock 2: The Exiled Preview: Just One More Turn
Warlock: Master of the Arcane quietly released in 2012 as a fantasy take on traditional turn-based Civilization gameplay (read our review). It got a mixed-to-positive reception with the general consensus that it was a good start with lots of potential. Thus a sequel that can build upon what worked and fix what didn’t should provide the perfect solution for fans still looking for that great Fantasy Civ game. From my time with Warlock 2: The Exiled I easily feel the Just One More Turn addiction begin to seep in as I expand my empire, acquire a wide variety of fun fantasy creatures and heroes and explore this new fractured world.
Warlock 2 starts off acknowledging the events of the previous title (which I never played, despite being a Civ-aholic) with a wizard ascending as The United One and sundering the land into multiple smaller biomes. In gameplay terms these worlds are separated by portals and act almost as little board game maps, creating a unique, if sometimes confusing to keep track of, field of play. Monster dens dot the worlds at the beginning and crop up throughout the game; powerful snow queens with their maidens and bungalows, a red dragon nest with a dangerous marauding dragon and rogue guilds all hold numerous treasures if you can take them on. Rewards range from resources to spell-altering runes to new units or powerful heroes, and provide and exciting and unique aspect to the gameplay in addition to warring against the United One’s Great Mages.
The campaign of the Exiled, which can be selected when generating a new map, is essentially just a more story-focused world that really shows off the concept of numerous tiny worlds. Trying out a new portal (which always has a task or quest associated with it) and landing into a realm of ice, lava, deadlands, or jungle is always exciting and a fun way to introduce the varied gameplay that Warlock 2 provides.
Resources are kept simple and familiar – gold, food, mana, and research. Research works just like the venerable Civ franchise, but instead of technology you research new powerful spells, from the obvious fireballs and heals to support your units to providing more fertile land for your farms or increasing you maximum city allowance. Gold, food, and mana are used to build new units and structures but also drained every turn from enlisting a large army and powerful heroes; careful management is key and a winning recipe for any good strategy game.
Up to four powerful heroes can be hired as they randomly appear in the Hall of Lords, granting fun new abilities like vampirism and healing, and able to use various artifacts you find in the field. Once I looted a giant’s lair and was rewarded with an Olden Ghost, a powerful undead hero that is completely immune to conventional attacks. Later I found the Wand of Helia, granting a hero a new powerful AOE Firestorm attack.
Attack and defense range from several different attributes including melee, range, elemental magic and death magic, and finding the proper weakness to exploit in a large foe is the key to keeping up with the powerful creatures that roam the world, though the fact that melee units cannot even attack flying units seems far more frustrating than challenging, especially in the early game.
While several nagging inconveniences attempt to derail my enjoyment – a minimum amount of tooltip information and the shocking lack of a searchable encyclopedia being the biggest, I find myself completely addicted to the solid turn-based strategy gameplay. Warlock 2 smartly uses Civilization V as a template for its gameplay and UI while infusing lots of fun fantasy aspects such as heroes, treasure, tons of neutral monsters to fight (and obtain), quests to complete and spells to unleash. If you’re a turn-based strategy fan (especially of the Civ variety) and enjoyed or even passed over the original Warlock, this sequel should certainly command your attention.
Warlock 2: The Exiled releases on April 10. Pre-Ordering now gives you instant access to the game. Stay tuned to Leviathyn for our full review.