Last week I was lucky enough to be invited to THQ Nordic’s Showcase Event located within a dark eerie crypt deep below St Andrew’s Church in Holborn, London. Having made my way via land and rail I was excited to be one of the first to have a play at the latest builds of their forthcoming titles; Battle Chasers: NightWar, Elex and SpellForce 3 and also get to interview the team behind them.
As I descended into the cool and dimly lit dungeon-like crypt I was greeted by the PR crew, Dead Good Media, who enthusiastically led me to the 3 banks of neon lit gaming PC’s where I would be spending as long as I wanted playing each of the games. I seriously couldn’t wait.
Battle Chasers: NightWar was the first game on my list to play, especially after the feedback from fellow ThumbCulturist Glyn who had recently written a review of the game. Having sat at my PC Station, I donned the Turtle Beach headset, picked up the Xbox controller and away I went.
For anyone who hasn’t read Glyn’s review of Battle Chasers (I definitely suggest you quickly click here), Battle Chasers: NightWar originates from comic book legend Joe Madureira who is also credited for his work on DarkSiders and Uncanny X-men. The isometric Japanese role play game (JRPG) is very pleasing on the eye with an awesome amount of switching between exploring dungeons and turn based combat interlaced with explosive comic book cutscenes.
The storyline, as you would expect coming from Joe Madureira, is brilliant and incorporates a great deal of action along with comedy one liners that interject at times when you wouldn’t necessarily expect it. I loved how when using the Burst power-ups a comic-strip scene quickly appeared showing your character charging up and getting ready to unleash their fury onto the selected enemy before switching back to the combat action and literally leaving you to prey that you’ve made the correct decision and have finally done enough damage!
Having managed to fight my way to the end of the preview level and defeat the sword infused skull demon who turned my heroes into pin cushions, I sat down to have a chat with Joe about how the idea of Battle Chasers: NightWar came about along with his reaction to the very successful Kick-Starter campaign that allowed the game to be made. Battle Chasers: NightWar is due to be released on the 3rd October. An exclusive interview with Joe Madureira can be found here and bonus gameplay can be viewed here!
Having met Joe, and been very impressed to meet somebody with so much passion and energy when talking about their comic book creation coming to life, it was time for a good old cup of British tea and a samosa while I prepared myself for my first go at post-apocalyptic sci-fi fantasy Elex.
Elex, by THQ Nordic and Piranha Bytes (of the Gothic series fame) is a large open-world explorer that sees you play the role of Jax, a renowned Alb Commander based in Xacor on the planet Magalan.
Following a meteor strike that pretty much destroys the world, a new mineral known as Elex is introduced to the world prompting new factions to arise; The Beserkers of Edan, The Clerics of Ignadon and The Outlaws of Tavar.
The Elex is used in different ways by each of the factions such as harvesting it to drive new technologies, harnessing it to be used in magic and also injected as a drug to free yourself from all emotion. The usage of Elex by the new factions is seen as a threat by the Albs who have discovered the ability to consume, but control, the Elex giving them strength, focus and stamina.
Following a lone mission that you have been sent out on within Magalan, your glider is brought down within a forest. Lost and out of Elex, which you have been brought up on or your life, it is upto you to discover resources within the land, forge new allegiances, choose your battles and jetpack into new areas.
This is where you take over Jax and begin your exploration of Magalan. Wow there is a lot happening here and this is only the start! Elex revolves around exploring, crafting and upgrading however the beautiful part of this game is how you interact with the world. When you meet new characters, the choices that you make such as verbal responses, influence the way that they react and alters the story-line accordingly. When I was talking to a Beserker I decided to give a short witty reply to his question, only to find that it actually gained his respect and prompted him to help me. The outcome of the story is determined on how you have played the game with multiple potential endings.
The game-play is good with many varied vibrant areas set on the planet each with their own climates, structures and lurking nasties. I enjoyed the way that you were not restricted to one particular zone and could venture anywhere that you could walk/run and jet pack too. Far from the main storyline, there are many side missions and hidden resources to find to enable your character to gain better weapons and abilities. All in all there it is said to take around 100 hours to fully complete Elex.
The strong cinematic cut scenes and soundtrack certainly envoke an atmosphere of salvation as you quickly realise that everything within the world is trying to hunt you as you settle down into the game. I must confess that I died a lot of times, luckily the respawn point was not too far away. Needless to say there is a steep learning curve with Elex. If you are a fan of exploring vast worlds and like the ability of being able to influence those around you then Elex is definitely one to sink your teeth into. Elex is due to be released on the 17th October, you will not be disappointed. Game footage can be found here!
Having risen from my seat once more to find another samosa, I was lucky enough to be able to talk to Reinhard Pollice, Business & Product Development Director/Executive Producer at THQ Nordic about Elex. Read the full exclusive interview with Reinhard here.
The final game at the London ShowCase was SpellForce 3, an isometric fantasy saga incorporating a mixture of a real-time strategy (RTS) and RPG.
I must confess that I have never played SpellForce 1 or 2 since I took a break from PC gaming to focus on consoles for the last few years, however it didn’t stop me from having fun!
SpellForce 3 is a product of THQ Nordic and Grimlore Games who were established in December 2013. If you enjoy deep rooted strategy games that do not focus just on battle but also on the management of buildings, resources and economies then SpellForce 3 is definitely one to watch out for.
Being a prequel (500 years infact) to the original SpellForce games created by Phenomic Games, Grimlore and THQ Nordic have quite simply developed a fantastic and immersive RTS/RPG set across the fantasy world of Eo that players can pickup without prior knowledge of the other 2 games.
Building bases, raising armies, conquering sectors while also having control and full customisation of a number of heroes, the 30 hour long single player story mode packs many thrills along the way. Troop formations, tactics and skills all need to be carefully selected should you wish to command your soldiers into a winning fight and expand your sovereign territory.
I undertook the first part of the new story whereby I was required to lead my 3 heroes who comprised of an archer, a swordsman and an axeman to an area of interest in order to seek help for my people who were looking for a more permanent residency. As the world slowly revealed itself as I meandered the forest tracks, I was attacked many times by enemy soldiers who were determined to put a quick end to my quest. I wasn’t going to stand for that and with a few choice attacks from my heroes, the dead enemy soldiers made way for some well deserved loot. The enemy is not always just human I quickly discovered as a horde of spiders were next on the hit list along with their slightly larger parent. This isn’t a game for people with arachnophobia!!
Having located the area, the next part of the story unfolded and it required me to setup multiple bases throughout the map. In a nod to games such as The Settlers (which I totally love), the building of bases produced a ring of posts to identify the sector as yours. Once a base is built it is upto you to manage how it is run with resources being specific to the area. I found it very interesting when interviewing Reinhard Pollice of THQ Nordic how the very first SpellForce was actually developed with help from one of The Settlers creators.
As well as the single player campaign there will be a multiplayer component with various modes that will allow players to fight versus battles with upto 6 players or have a friend team up to play co-op within the single player story. SpellForce 3, at time of typing is currently having its multiplayer testing and so far it is performing well according to Reinhard with a release date of the 7th December. I very much look forward to spending some time back on a PC once this game comes out!! Footage of what to expect can be found here!
Well as you can tell, I had a very busy and fun packed day (with lots of samosas and cups of tea) at THQ Nordic’s London ShowCase! The games that I have had the privilege to play; Battle Chasers: NightWar, Elex and SpellForce 3 will defiantly not disappoint gamers worldwide. The passion and experience behind the titles comes across strongly within the finished games that look as good as they play.