The SpellForce franchise has been around for a little over a decade at this point. Around three years ago the third installment in the series was released. At first glance the series might appear to be your typical RTS game, but what is unique about it is there is a pretty big emphasis on RPG elements as well. Around a year ago I took a look at SpellForce 3’s first expansion Soul Harvest. Today I am looking at the game’s second standalone expansion SpellForce 3: Fallen God. SpellForce 3: Fallen God is basically everything you could ask for from an expansion by adding the troll faction and expanding on what has made the franchise so enjoyable.
SpellForce 3: Fallen God follows the troll Akrog and his closest advisers. Akrog has recently become the chieftain of his tribe after his father was killed. He takes over a tribe that is in grave danger. Poachers have hunted them for their tusks. There is also a deadly disease ravaging through the tribe killing many of the tribe members. All seems lost until an Elven stranger makes Akrog an offer to save his tribe. All Akrog has to do is resurrect a fallen god.
As I mentioned earlier SpellForce 3: Fallen God is a standalone expansion for the SpellForce 3 series. Basically this means that you don’t need other games from the series to play it, and it has its own contained storyline so you don’t need to be familiar with the franchise’s story. As for the gameplay it maintains the RTS/RPG hybrid that the series is most known for.
In many ways the RTS mechanics are similar to many other games from the genre. Basically this element of the game comes down to gathering resources in order to add buildings and train military units. You will then use these military units in order to defeat your opponents. The game does differ from your traditional RTS game in two main areas. First the game utilizes a sector based system. Basically the world is broken up into different sectors. Each sector has its own resources which can be collected and you have access to a number of workers in each sector which gather resources and build buildings. The other main difference in SpellForce 3: Fallen God is how units are trained. There are base units that you can build. In order to upgrade these units you send them to different training buildings which turns them into a more powerful unit depending on which building you sent them to. This can be done several times in order to create even more specialized units.
Along with the RTS mechanics there is a pretty strong emphasis on RPG elements. Basically you are given a number of “hero” characters to control. Each of these characters have their own individual stats and special abilities. They earn experience through battles which allows them level up and improve their stats. Each hero has its own class which impacts what abilities they can learn. Each character also has their own inventory. In many ways these elements of the game remind me a lot of your typical third person RPG. The combat relies on you choosing an enemy to attack and the character will then use their basic attack to start attacking the target. You also have access to the hero’s special abilities which you can periodically activate by pressing the hotkey that you assign it to.
While SpellForce 3: Fallen God has a few unique mechanics, it does feel a lot like Soul Harvest and thus doesn’t drastically change the formula from other games in the series. Because of this if you have ever played another game in this series you likely will already have a pretty good idea of what to expect from SpellForce 3: Fallen God. The main difference in the game is the addition of the troll faction. The trolls have a few unique twists which differentiate them from the other factions currently in the game. Basically if you like the SpellForce franchise I see no reason why you wouldn’t also enjoy SpellForce 3: Fallen God.
In my opinion I found this expansion to be quite enjoyable. I mostly focused on the campaign, but the game also features more traditional RTS skirmishes where players fight against one another. What I liked about the gameplay is that it does a good job combining the RPG and RTS mechanics. I personally preferred the RTS mechanics which is mostly due to being a bigger fan of that particular genre. The game shares a lot in common with your typical RTS and yet has its own little tweaks which make the game stand out. Some of these elements might take a while to learn if you aren’t familiar with the series, but they make SpellForce 3: Fallen God a unique experience. Anyone who is a fan of the RTS genre will likely really enjoy this element of the game.
I also enjoyed the RPG mechanics, but not as much. As I mentioned earlier this element of the game reminded me a lot of your typical third person RPG. While the RPG mechanics aren’t as deep as a traditional RPG, I thought the game actually gives players quite a few different customization options. You can somewhat alter the appearance of the heroes. You can also choose the class for each hero, determine how skill points are allocated, and pick which special abilities to unlock. I don’t think these elements are enough to intrigue someone who has no interest in the RTS mechanics, but I think they are a nice complimentary mechanic.
The RPG elements do introduce one of the game’s biggest issues though. At times the game can kind of overwhelm you with the amount of things that you need to keep track of. Between focusing on gathering resources, building your base, training units, and managing your heroes; there is a lot to keep track of at any given time. In particular if you don’t have a numbers advantage you might have to really micromanage your heroes to make sure you take advantage of their special abilities. This can be a little overwhelming at times. Because of this I was pleasantly surprised to find out that you can actually play the campaign cooperatively with another player online. I thought this worked a lot better than I was expecting as it allows each player to focus on different areas so neither player is overwhelmed.
As for the campaign’s story I was pleasantly surprised by it. I haven’t finished the campaign so I can’t comment on how it ends, but I found it compelling. The story is actually quite a bit deeper than I was expecting. It is clear that a lot of effort was put into crafting the backstory behind the troll tribe that you play as. The trolls have a compelling story as despite their large size they face a lot of threats. The story is mostly about how a young leader leads his tribe to a better future. One unique kwirk about the trolls is that they use a sort of broken English to communicate which also relies a lot on talking in the third person. Some people might find this to be kind of annoying, but I think it brings a lot of character to the game. What I liked most about the story is that it just seems to have much more depth than your typical RTS game.
On top of the story I found SpellForce 3: Fallen God’s atmosphere to be quite good as well. For an RTS the game is visually impressive. The different types of units are unique and show a surprising amount of detail. The environments are gorgeous as well.
As for SpellForce 3: Fallen God’s length, it will depend quite a bit on what type of player you are. The campaign is estimated to be about 20 hours long. I haven’t finished the game to verify it, but I believe that this will be pretty accurate. Each mission can take quite a bit of time especially if you don’t rush and try to complete the side quests. Outside of this the game has your typical skirmish modes. If you are into RTS skirmish modes you likely will get considerably more time out of the game. Competitive players will likely get considerably more time out of the skirmish mode than even the campaign.
At the end of the day SpellForce 3: Fallen God is a good addition to the SpellForce franchise. In many ways it is very similar to the other games from the franchise. Like the rest of the franchise it does a really good job blending RTS and RPG mechanics. The RTS mechanics will be familiar to most fans of the genre, but there are some unique twists as well. The RPG mechanics are similar to your typical third person RPG. It might not be as in depth as a typical RPG, but it is a lot deeper than you would expect from a secondary mechanic. I was impressed with the game’s campaign as it is quite long and has a pretty compelling story. To top it off the visuals are quite impressive for a RTS. I would say that the game’s biggest issue is that it can be a little overwhelming at times.
My recommendation for SpellForce 3: Fallen God is pretty simple. If you have played other games from the series and have enjoyed them, I see no reason why you wouldn’t enjoy Fallen God as well. Those who have never played a game from the series before though but like the idea of a RTS combined with an RPG, you likely will enjoy the game and should consider picking it up.
Buy SpellForce 3: Fallen God online: Steam
We at Geeky Hobbies would like to thank Grimlore Games and THQ Nordic for the review copy of SpellForce 3: Fallen God used for this review. Other than receiving a free copy of the game to review, we at Geeky Hobbies received no other compensation for this review. Receiving the review copy for free had no impact on the content of this review or the final score.