The game is a cheerful and immersive melding of sandbox action, role-playing, and strategy games, the whole adding up to an immersive and exciting experience as you build up your mighty dynasty from humble and lowly beginnings. You can play campaign mode as a single player, or you can take your army online and play against other online players.
Dialogue engines have been dramatically improved, and along with this comes more realistic and engaging interactions between players and NPCs (non playing characters), many of whom need to be persuaded into courses of action that they are initially unwilling to follow. There is a progress bar to indicate to the player how well their offers are going down: if this bar is not filled with charm alone, they can switch to bartering to get the NPC to go along with them.
The strategic part of the game comes into play early on, with the player needing to examine the terrain, look for weaknesses in the opposition’s defences.
To speed up gameplay and move the action along, only certain parts of the fortresses (merlons, gatehouses and siege engines) are destroyable, so weapons should be placed with care, aiming to destroy those parts belonging to the enemy, while protecting your own siege engines to keep the damage flowing.
Weapon Classes and How to Use Them
In the game, soldiers are ranked based upon their class, being put into one of three categories:
- Infantry: Most usually aligned with pawns, infantrymen tend to be thought of as foot soldiers, moving at a walking pace for much of the time, and obediently doing as they are told. But well-trained infantrymen can form an immovable barrier, preventing an enemy force from moving across the land, and ensuring that fortifications or valuable assets are well-protected. Of course, this takes training and patience – and often, good leadership too.
- Ranged: The term ‘ranged weapons’ refers to those that can be used outside of close combat or hand to hand fighting. While today, a machine gun nest would be a perfect example of a ranged weapon – a weapon that works over a long range – in the times at which the game is set, the ranged weapons would have been serried ranks of archers, unleashing flight after flight of arrows, which could momentarily darken the sky when expert archers were at work!
- Cavalry: Usually the posh guys on horses, encouraging the poorer soldiers to run ahead and sacrifice themselves for the cause, cavalrymen were the most mobile soldiers on the field, often having an excellent view from their lofty position, and able to move quickly, jumping over obstacles and moving three or four times faster than a person, cavalrymen could engage with the enemy, break off, and then return to the fray with renewed vigour to finish off the enemies.