STAFF REVIEW of SpellForce: Conquest of Eo (Xbox Series X)

Monday, April 29, 2024.
by Adam Dileva

SpellForce: Conquest of Eo Box art The SpellForce series has been around since 2003 when it first released. Playing somewhat like a Diablo and Sacred game with RTS elements, the series may not have reached the same heights, but it certainly has its following and even got the remaster treatment from THQ for its third game back in 2021. What I don’t think many were expecting as the latest entry, SpellForce: Conquest of Eo, to be drastically different, instead a turn based RPG with some 4X elements, resembling more of an Age of Wonders game instead.

Set in SpellForce’s world somewhere in its timeline, you’re in control of your master’s wizard tower, but they have passed and the tower is in shambles, so now it’s up to you to figure out what happened and uncover secrets, all while defending yourself and your tower from others. The Circle of Mages are the most powerful Magi in Eo, and you are clearly nowhere near as powerful as them as a lowly apprentice. You actually are kind of pathetic when you compare your powers, so it’s going to take a lot of time and effort to succeed in the dozens hours long campaign that is procedurally generated. You’ll have many decisions to make along your journey, though it’s all done through text, so don’t expect any exciting cutscenes.

You begin by choosing one of three classes, each of which play quite drastically different from one another. One creates glyphs to improve your units, another crafts items and bombs to support you in battle, and lastly, the one I started with, was the Necromancer, that can raise the undead into a controllable army hoard.

Playing an evil Necromancer was quite fun, raising the undead and controlling a near unlimited army to overwhelm your opponents. Next I tried playing the Artificer, creating glyphs and items to boost my armies after mining a bunch of ore. These units weren’t nearly as many but seemed powerful. Lastly was the Alchemist creating potions and bombs to use in combat, though I enjoyed this class the least. If you don’t want to play either of these classes, you can create your own mixture and your own class, but you’re going to want to have some playtime under your belt so you know what best to focus on. If you choose to spend some more money, there’s also a Demon Scourge DLC that allows you to play as a Demonologist, though this was not included in our review edition, so I’m unable to comment on how it plays comparatively to the others.

As you grow in power from a simple apprentice to a masterful mage, your journey won’t be easy, as the world is full of others that are trying to expand in the land of Eo as well. You’ll quickly begin with a simple minion or two, eventually amassing an army that can all be controlled individually or in squads should you wish. Building up your tower not only makes you stronger, but your home base can also eventually be moved across the map, and will be needed to, to take on eventual challenges and campaign progress.

While your overall goal may be to find the ultimate source of magical powers, the Allfire, you’re going to make friends or enemies along the way, harvest resources, explore a large map, fill your grimoire with new spells and abilities, expand your territory and try to make your previous master proud. Unlike most 4X type of games, you command your tower, acting like your city, but you can move it when needed once you’ve learned the proper spells and will need to be careful, as you need to defend it and prevent it from being destroyed.

Your grimoire is your trusty spell book. You only have a few pages to begin and not many spells to use. You’ll need to spend research to learn new abilities and spells, and completing certain quests will unlock new spells pages which will unlock even more powerful spells. There’s a lot of upgrades to get, and the better and more powerful spells take more resources to research and cast.

Along the way you’ll have the opportunity to recruit special units, acting as a hero or apprentice, able to lead your troops in battle. You can group different units and troops together however you wish, crafting your armies. I do wish I was able to make larger armies as a bigger unit, but learning how to create groups of troops will play into your strategy. Do you surround a tough foe by a number of groups and battle back to back, or separate, divide and conquer? You’re able to cast spells before battles, buffing yourself or inhibiting your enemy, this of course takes some resources to do so though.

When you’re not exploring the overworld map, you’ll be placed in combat. While you can choose to auto resolve most battles aside from the powerful enemies, doing so might have consequences you don’t want, like dead units since you’re not directly in control. Should you decide to actually take part in battle, you’ll be placed in a small hexagonal gridded map and occur in turned based combat. You can see on the map where you can move and decide which enemies to attack if in range. If you’ve been taking place in battles beforehand and leveling up, you’ll have unlocked special abilities and stat increases for your units along the way.

Depending on which class you decided to play, your combat strategies will differ greatly. As a Necromancer I simply overwhelmed my enemies with a huge army, though I found Alchemist a lot more work having to remember to use potions and bombs to win in battle. Other than a few instances, there really seems no alternative to combat much of the time as there’s no diplomacy mechanics. There are times where you’ll anger characters or get them on your side, but eventually you’re going to travel and expand into others territory, and it’s up to you how you’ll react to them defending their area.

While the overworld map is static and doesn’t change from game to game, events and how things play out will each time, so I opted to play a bit differently every game as I tried each class. The world is colorful and the units are varied based on which class you’re playing, but unless you’re actually controlling each battle, there’s not too much detail to see, though I do enjoy the high fantasy aesthetic. The audio however was quite lacking. There’s a light soundtrack that plays as background but there’s no voice acting, which is surprising giving how much dialogue and text there is along the way.

While not quite as in depth as a true 4X title, there’s still quite a lot to take in and learn, and honestly, the game doesn’t do a great job at teaching you every nuance. Controls can be quite confusing, and it wasn’t until my second play as the Artificer where I really started to understand strategic gameplay and planning my moves ahead.

While I found my first playthrough a confusing and frustrating mess, it made much more sense trying the other classes. They all play differently enough to warrant other playthroughs and require different strategies. Once I got the hang of the gameplay and how to best progress, I went from being frustrated to wanting to play ‘just one more turn'.

**Spellforce: Conquest of Eo was provided by the publisher and reviewed on an Xbox Series X**

Overall: 7.0 / 10
Gameplay: 8.5 / 10
Visuals: 7.0 / 10
Sound: 5.0 / 10


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