Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Warhammer Quest Takes A Game Turn

While Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition left some people wondering why anyone would ever create a classic turn-based role playing tabletop game without overcomplicating everything, along comes Warhammer Quest. It delivers Dungeons & Dragons style play better than any app before it.

Although role playing is naturally limited — making the game more akin to a turn-based dungeon crawl (a.k.a. hack-and-slash campaign) — Warhammer Quest does exactly what it sets out to do. It allows you to lead a party of four pre-generated characters on a series of loosely-tied dungeon adventures.

Warhammer Quest works as an interactive story, with you playing every player. 

The party consists of the proverbial troupe made famous by Lord Of The Rings: marauder (fighter), elf (archer), dwarf (fighter), and wizard. There are three additional characters that can be purchased, including classic Warhammer-like characters such as a troll slayer dwarf, warrior priest, and archmage elf. Although the additional character packs are steep, the game is tooled for future character packs too.

The important thing to know here is that while a large party can travel from town to town together, only four find themselves on a quest or adventure at a time. So unless you plan to ignore one of the original four outright, characters will have to be rotated into alternating quests in order to keep them relatively close in level, something that is challenging even if they journey together.

While the characters do place treasure, artifacts, weapons, and armor in a community pool (unless they possess the item), experience is tallied on individual merit with an unfair advantage of last hit being awarded the kill. The point is that every character needs to get their hands dirty to progress.

A quick overview of a turn-based, semi-strategy game. 

The game is mostly broken into three play areas: towns, dungeons and the map. Towns (and cities) are where the party can sell and purchase goods, level up, pray to their patron, and find quests that are tied to a larger overarching story of sorts. Dungeons (and quests) are located around the city, usually consisting of missions (rescues and assassinations), quests (find specific treasure), and arch stories.

The map is how the party navigates between the other two play areas. If they are starting in a town or city, for example, every quest marker within their immediate proximity will be available. Sometimes something might happen on the road, but those stories are mostly scripted content and not real action.

The skirmish elements take place in dungeons and on quests (which are also dungeons with different goals). Much like the board game that Rodeo Games ported into an app, the battle area is a dungeon grid. Characters move to engage monsters, use items or cast spells. Spell casting can be a mixed blessing. Characters within the spell radius can and will be injured by friendly fire. Wild swings can cause damage too. And some characters don't fight well in a crowd, occasionally becoming pinned.

Once you kill all the monsters (orcs, goblins, trolls, etc.), the party collects any loot or artifacts before moving on to the next encounter. It's surprisingly fun, even if turn based means a slower paced game.

What Warhammer Quest currently lacks are any point-and-click search points in the richly rendered landscapes. As far as anyone can tell to date, there are no secret doors or non-combatant encounters.

A little bit about the development team at Rodeo Games. 

The basic game play concept not only comes from Warhammer Quest, but also the perfection of a platform designed for a different franchise. Rodeo Games developed a space story franchise called Hunters and Hunters 2. Hunters 2 has a similar play style as well as some fun customization. The attention to detail is apparent in all their work.

The development team came together specifically to make iOS games in their Guildford, Surrey studio, which is located in the United Kingdom. The developers have worked for a few large-scale projects, ranging from Criterion Games and Lionhead Studios to EA Games and BodyCount.

Warhammer Quest By Rodeo Games Grinds 8.5 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale. 

Rodeo Games has been known to work diligently at producing additional content for the games it creates, which keeps everything fresh for nominal support. The game already has an expansion pack.

Overall, Rodeo Games has set a new bar. And after talking it over with my editor, there isn't too much that can be improved. A few long-term suggestions might include modest customization for characters (especially names), findable loot (as opposed to automatic awards), secret doors, traps and locks for thieves, etc. And, of course, if they are ever able to port characters or play parties made up of multiple iPad players (especially those entering lightly custom dungeons), they might have a serious run on paper games too.

Warhammer Quest is only available from the iTunes App Store. The initial game is $4.99 and well worth it. While there are in-game purchases and warrior packs, the initial game is immersive, offering plenty of play time. Visit Rodeo Games for more intel.
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