Paradox and Ino-Co's turn-based strategy/RPG Warlock: Master of the Arcane is the subject of three new previews, and we'll begin the reading session with this brief commentary-laden piece on Eurogamer:
It's thick with monsters and their lairs, more than a few of which will take a sustained effort to fight past, while the Great Mages of the land cast spells as if from on high, raining fire upon each other's armies or bolstering their towns with special abilities. A little adventuring reveals portals to other planes, entirely new maps which exist in parallel and are often even more diverse in their deadliness.
While each Great Mage will have the ability to ultimately research their way toward a world-conquering spell, if thinking your way to success doesn't appeal then violence solves all kinds of problems. "You could also capture all of the Holy Grounds, the special locations where temples can be built," says Pavel, "Or you could defeat an avatar, a personification of one of Ardania's gods."
Beyond the joys of nature and what's in your cities, there are glittering manifestations of magic to be gawked at, as spells are cast to forwarding or ruinous result in a broad spectrum of effects. And when you see a glowing portal, don't let yourself become too mesmerised by its swirling beauty or prospects of plundering, as it obviously links to another world - and it does work both ways.
Most things have some associated sounds, like the cawing of strange birds in the jungle, or frog calls in the swamps, and then there are the witty retorts of your lackeys joyfully clamouring for "Loot! Loot! Loot!" or some such, and the whimsical twang of some ranged weapons, all of which will inevitably cause your mirth, just when you meant to remain grave and supercilious while inspecting your rank and file.
Some structures require special hex tiles like iron, gold, magic areas, and more. Warlock promotes activity in the game. You won’t find yourself needlessly moving troops around waiting for something good to happen. I found myself constantly exploring with my troops and finding new features in the game. One such feature is portals. You may find these hidden around the map and if you enter them with troops, you’ll be transported to an entire different world inhabited with strong creatures and high rewards. You need to be very careful in these portals, as I found out the hard way. Oh, and just because you can go in and out of portals, doesn’t mean other things can’t. Remember that!
Warlock does a great job at taking a formula like Civilization and making their own beast. Ino-Co Plus fills your map with so much that every round is just as exciting as the last. Every time I got far enough to find out a few new things, I would start over and employ what I just learned and feel anxious about it. One missing feature is multiplayer, but fret not! This is planned as an after-launch update and DLC may even come, as well (oh please give us a Vampire race!).