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SpellForce 3 mashes up two genres into one beautiful package

Hybrid RTS/RPG coming this year to PC

Grimlore Games/THQ Nordic
Charlie Hall is Polygon’s tabletop editor. In 10-plus years as a journalist & photographer, he has covered simulation, strategy, and spacefaring games, as well as public policy.

As someone who enjoys both a good isometric role-playing game and a good real-time strategy game, I’m ashamed to say that, until a few weeks ago, I had never heard of the SpellForce series. But after a demo during a pre-E3 event in California, SpellForce 3 suddenly looks very interesting.

During my short playthrough, the game presented itself as a traditional top-down RPG in the style of Baldur’s Gate or Pillars of Eternity. But then, at the end of the first dialogue-heavy quest, I was given command of a small patrol. I had a half-dozen cavalry, some men at arms and archers at my disposal to tool around the map with and secure objectives.

And that’s when the demo ended, unfortunately.

I have to emphasize the simplicity of the single quest I ran. My heroes were returning from what seemed to be a decisive, tragic battle and trying to find food and medicine for a group of refugees. We ran out to grab the goods and when we came back we found a secret message. Then it was back again the way we came for a short battle.

But the game environments look amazing. The combat was interesting, and featured all the grouping and order-issuing common in a modern RTS game. The development team told me that battles would scale up into the hundreds of units, while still following the core of party and their RPG storyline.

SpellForce 3 will include a 30-plus hour campaign, as well as gear to collect and armies to upgrade. It also has a multiplayer mode that supports up to six players and a two-player campaign cooperative mode.

SpellForce 3 is expected to be released this year for Windows PC.

The next level of puzzles.

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