21st May2013

Review: Fallen Enchantress: Legendary Heroes

by Chris Maeurer

Fallen Review: Fallen Enchantress: Legendary Heroes

From the original, buggy release of War Of Magic, the universe of Elemental has seen some turmoil.  Seemingly rescued with a critically acclaimed new release of Fallen Enchantress last Fall, things are certainly looking brighter.  Not satisfied with the myriad of accolades and acclaim Fallen Enchantress has garnered, Stardock has looked deep into their crystal ball and overhauled the game.  That final, mystical product, Fallen Enchantress: Legendary Heroes is finally here and we’ll let you know if it’s as magical as its name implies.

30 Second Review

(+) Updated Hero system rewards your actions with heroes, rather than randomly unlocking them

(+) New graphics engine, new monsters, new skill trees

(+) Great pricing for new or returning plans

(+) Added depth to customize Champions

(+) Tons of content and replayability

(-) Champions do not bring armies when recruited

(-) Lack of a “line of sight” requirement for ranged attacks

2013 04 22 00002 Review: Fallen Enchantress: Legendary Heroes

My Kingdom for a Champion

The story and setting for Legendary Heroes is a bit cliche, but little story is needed to move the game along.  The world is in a bit of upheaval, since the War of Magic.  Monsters run wild, and factions are warring for control and dominance.  You choose your faction and your Sovereign Leader (or customize your own) in an attempt to become the dominant faction and rule the magical world of Elemental.  Granted, the devil is in the details, but it’s the details of the strategy of Legendary Heroes, not the story, that will keep you up at night for just ‘one more turn’.  The game is a 4X strategy title that attempts to link the empire building mechanics and use of Champions in a deeper way than the previous entry.  Starting with a Sovereign, or Champion, you explore the lands and perform quests for your kingdom.  As you expand your empire and complete quests with your Champion, other Champions will rally to your cause.  In the previous game, they were randomly found on the map.  In Legendary Heroes, new Champions are the direct result of the Fame that you attain as you progress in the game.  This change certainly removes the random element of gaining new Champions, but it does not alter the delicate balance of strategy required to be successful.

02 Review: Fallen Enchantress: Legendary Heroes

Know When to Walk Away, and Know When to Run

Legendary Heroes starts your Sovereign with a small army and a land to settle.  Looking at resources, enchantments and production, you choose a plot of land for your capital.  After that, the rest is up to you.  The land is littered with monsters, monster lairs, quests and more.  You take up the task of training armies, researching advantages for your kingdom, expanding your empire beyond your capital and charging your Champions to fame and glory through battle.  Battles can be played out on a turn-based map controlled by the player, or autorolled by the AI.  Obviously, the AI may not always make the best choices or use your units to the fullest, so autorolling is best used sparingly.  Also, quest-based battles will not give you the option to autoroll them, so you may want to take some time and get familiar with the battle mechanics.  There is a bit of luck involved regarding starting locations and available resources.  For me, the greatest difficulty is knowing when to charge through and when to wait for a more tactical opportunity.

As much as I can be a turtle-type player in RTS and strategy titles, turn-based games, like Legendary Heroes, bring out the Juggernaut in me.  No, not the powerful kind, but the kind modeled after the Marvel Comics character, who charges head first into everything and is easily defeated.  It is very tempting to take on everything you see on the map and attempt to clear large plots of land.  The problem is that you will easily exhaust your armies and resources, giving you a wounded Champion lacking an army to command.  Equally tempting is my Juggernaut-like ability to barrel through turns, rapidly trying to finish research projects, structures and recruitment, while ignoring the micro-managing of my empire.  This tactic, too, can lead to your demise, albeit at a later stage than the first.

You’ll make the rookie mistakes in your first game or two, but the game seems to just get better the more you chip away at the strategy and management.  You’ll quickly develop your economy and build preferences, and that can be the real magic of the game.  The realization will hit that most quests and monster lairs are better left for the middle and end portions of your game.  As the turns and hours progress, your risk/reward perception is honed like the blades your Sovereign wields.  No matter how much I failed, no matter how many empires I left in charred ruins, the thought of starting fresh was still magical and alluring.

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A Faction of What I Once Was

Each faction has its own abilities.  Choosing between them can be difficult, as they are all equally advantageous.  The Tarth are ignored by monsters pouncing on random attacks.  The Gilden can train Iron Golems and the the Magnar can trade slaves, using less resources.  Regardless of the faction you choose, each city can be customized to a Fortress, Citadel or City.  When you achieve higher levels of fame, a choice of two new Champions to recruit will be given.  Not all Champions will align with your playstyle or empire build.  For example, you may have chosen a Ranger type Champion to begin the game and be offered a more magic-based Champion to recruit.  Leveling your Champions will offer you a particular class for your hero to specialize and a skill tree customized to that hero’s class and background.  This progression can give you a valuable tool to use various hero types together and balance their strengths to further your empire.  In practice, your warriors may be strong conquerors, while your mages lay back amongst the cities, casting enchantments on them and providing support.  The obvious advantage here is that your playstyle and tactics are not limited by the faction that you choose at the beginning of the game.

01 Review: Fallen Enchantress: Legendary Heroes

Elemental Will Cast a Spell on You

Simply put, you will be enchanted by the game.  The more I played, the more I discovered, and the more it kept me coming back for more.  I can’t say that I’ve been this enamored by a fantasy strategy game since Heroes Of Might and Magic III.  There is a scenario-based campaign to fill the role of a story campaign.  If that’s not to your liking, you can simply customize a map, number of opponents and embark on a new adventure each time you restart.  Regardless of faction and setting, the game allows you to customize all of your units, their appearances and their equipment.  Fallen Enchantress: Legendary Heroes  is wildly addicting and offers just enough variety to fuel the ‘one more turn’ golem inside you.  I went through a phase of not finishing campaigns by just restarting on new maps, with new factions and seeing what the game would throw at me.  It’s that depth and variety that kept me from being satiated and shows me that my time in the world of Elemental is far from over.  I am very excited by what Legendary Heroes has done, and I cannot wait to see what lies ahead in the post-release patches and updates.  If you like a little fantasy role-playing in your empire builder, then look no further than Fallen Enchantress: Legendary Heroes.  You can purchase Fallen Enchantress: Legendary Heroes on Steam or directly from Stardock.  Don’t forget that the game is $39.99 and contains all of the content found in the original Fallen Enchantress.  If you have already purchased Fallen Enchantress, you can get all of the content from Legendary Heroes at the discounted price of $19.99.  For either price, Fallen Enchantress: Legendary Heroes will enchant you into hours of ‘just one more turn’.  It gets a 9 out of 10.

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