The Duke Nukeum Forever Of RTS Expansions
SpellForce 2: Faith in Destiny is a standalone expansion to 2006’s SpellForce 2: Shadow Wars. Considering that the game’s first expansion came out in 2007, this one has been a long time coming and has had a complicated development history. After SpellForce publisher JoWood indefinitely postponed the game due to financial issues and dissatisfaction with its developer, Nordic Games stepped in. Nordic Games signed a deal with JoWood to bring Faith in Destiny to market, and also hired a new development team to revamp several major aspects of the game.
Because of this history and a lack of specific information from Nordic Games on the changes that it is making to Faith in Destiny, the currently available details on Faith in Destiny may change by release. In particular, the available images of the game may not represent its final look, as a graphical overhaul is one of Nordic Games’ main goals. With that in mind, let’s take a look at what SpellForce 2 and Faith in Destiny have to offer gamers.
The original SpellForce 2 game combined role-playing game elements with real-time strategy gameplay at a time before it was cool to stick RPG features into other genres. Although there wasn’t a great deal of innovation on either the RPG or RTS side, the combination of the two was popular with quite a few PC gamers. It featured three factions composed of the usual fantasy races: humans, elves, and dwarves forming The Realm; orcs, trolls, and barbarians forming The Clans; or dark elves, gargoyles, and shadows forming The Pact. These three armies clashed in a traditional fantasy story of people struggling against impending doom. The game’s RPG elements showed up in the customization of the player’s Avatar and hero units. In the SpellForce 2 : Dragon Storm expansion, the draconic Shaikan faction was added, and the addition of hero quests and item crafting added more RPG elements to the game.
SpellForce 2: Faith in Destiny opens with the SpellForce world of Eo in a sorry state. The scattered islands that make up the world have been cut off from each other when the teleportation system collapsed during the events of Dragon Storm. In the midst of desperate attempts to restore the portals, a new nameless enemy attacks and (of course) a new hero must rise up and claim his destiny. This Shaikan hero is seeking answers to the disturbing dreams he’s been having, a journey that will lead him to discover his own link to the nameless evil that now plagues the world.
The biggest change that Faith in Destiny brings to SpellForce 2 is the addition of the demonic “Nameless” faction, which serves as the enemy in the single-player campaign and can be player-controlled in multiplayer matches. The creepy units of the Nameless blend traditional aspects of demons, the undead, and elementals. Examples of Nameless units include the Damned, twisted souls that lust for battle, the Soul Benders, hissing mages that charm their foes, and Erupt, a gigantic titan that squashes foes with its earthen feet.
Other than the addition of this new faction and the new campaign, Faith in Destiny doesn’t appear to be making many major gameplay changes to the SpellForce 2 formula. Perhaps the most interesting change is the ability for the player to ride into battle on a dragon, courtesy of the hero’s Shaikan alignment. There appear to be some interface improvements that will lead to more responsive battles. Perhaps Nordic Games will add more new features, but currently the company appears to be working first and foremost on gameplay tweaks and balance improvements.
Multiplayer in Faith in Destiny is a bit of a question mark at the moment. JoWood has shut down the online matchmaking service for SpellForce 2, though gamers can still play together via LAN. Nordic Games plans on revamping Faith in Destiny’s multiplayer experience, so hopefully this revamp will include a new matchmaking system that will revive the online SpellForce 2 community.
SpellForce 2: Faith in Destiny seems mostly targeted at old fans of SpellForce 2 who have been waiting years for this expansion. Curious gamers who are unfamiliar with the series can find SpellForce 2 inexpensively on digital distribution services such as Steam and GoG.com, but new players should keep the limited online multiplayer in mind. Can Nordic Games rescue the Faith in Destiny expansion from development limbo and bring out a great strategy/RPG experience this May? It won’t be long before we find out the answer.