This is from a poster over at the 'quartertothree' forums:
"Please point out any factual inaccuracies in the below report, I want to like this game, so if I missed anything in terms of game mechanics (or I have just demonstrated how stupid I am) please let me know so I can try again.
The long and short is that this "game" is an incredibly tedious and frustrating collection of broken mechanics thrown together. Micromanagement hell does not begin to describe it.
The demo somewhat hinted at this problem but some clever design was hiding the extent of the problem. Once you play longer the whole thing collapses. Think of the problems ramping up according to an exponential curve based on the area you control. Shame the objective is to control the whole map !
As an introduction, the game lacks some fundamental features:
- there is no centralised list of units. So the only way to find a specific unit is to fly around the map and select each and every city in turn to see what's available.
- the number of units you can control is subject to a hard cap depending on the population of your cities. There is no way to increase said population.
- on average, a city can only support 1 or 2 units: a city does not allow you to generate enough units/structure to defend itself. This is the crucial point and central to the whole mess.
- there are no effective fixed structures to defend cities (catapults do not work, they defend jack shit)
- the various factions ALL attack you, ALL THE TIME. There is no way to arrange peace.
- your position on the map is central
The above means that once you reach a certain number of cities, you cannot possibly defend all of them at the same time. The more you expand, the worst your position becomes.
Since you cannot make peace with any of the factions, there is no safe place anywhere in your empire. The only way to kill a faction is by taking all its cities (expanding), which only make matters worse ....
The ONLY way to reliably defend a city/area is by stationing a large stack of units (which cost more resources than said unit/area can generate by itself). So what happens is that you reach 10+ cities and the "game" becomes a tedious exercise in shuffling stack of units around the map to put out the fires lit up by random stacks of enemy units. I can hardly describe how frustrating and boring this becomes.
If you decide to make a concerted push to get rid of one specific faction and through some clever management finally manage to take all its cities (usually 5+, so not exactly easy either) without losing the other half of your empire YOU ONLY MADE THINGS WORSE FOR YOU! Because you enter into contact with even more factions and the few units you have are now stretched over an even larger surface.
To repeat the previous point, a city does not usually (couple exceptions, that's about it) generate enough resources to defend itself effectively, the more cities you conquer, the worst your position becomes and the more overstretched your military resources become. As a result, after a certain point, you are stuck: it becomes impossible to expand further and all you can do is react defensively.
So, what's the point of expanding? it just makes your life harder. Except, conquest is supposed to be the whole point of this broken game! The core driver/idea is broken!
Finally, the sense of direction you get in the demo (through the quests) - which to me was a clever way to mitigate the above problems completely disappears shortly thereafter. You just have a laundry list of places to take over which pretty much boils down to "take over the entire map".
That's why this makes me so angry and I mention "bait and switch" with the demo. I honestly cannot believe anybody played beyond 10-15 cities and did not realise how seriously broken the situation becomes.
in addition, the UI/gameplay suffers from some pretty bad decisions:
- units are linked to a specific city and respawn there if beaten in battle. If you ever lose a big battle, be prepared to go around the map to try and collect your units together again.
- on the strategic map, slaves and normal units are not differentiated when garrisoned, so you quickly look at a city and think you have a garrison when in reality no defenses are available.
- the strategic map quickly becomes the only way to play but clicking on the mini map is awkward as it involves some zooming effect taking a couple seconds. By itself not a big deal but when you are constantly moving around it becomes frustrating.
- the only way to kill an enemy unit is by beating it once in combat then having some fast unit run after them to capture them. You cannot reliably do any of the above from the strategic map (finicky controls) so you need to zoom right in at the tactical level and micromanage that stuff. When you are managing 3 fights at the same time, this is great.
- If you do not kill enemy units, they just respawn a little bit later and come back at you. Also, apparently, the AI is not bound by the same rules regarding number of units, so after a while each faction attacks you with stacks of 10+ units
To finish on a more positive note, I would suggest they introduce the concept of PD in a similar way to what is available on dom3 (i.e. permanent but limited provincial defense forces that allow you to maintain a modicum of peace in your inner territory and protect against raiding parties)
This would certainly reflect historical reality AND actually give the game a chance to be playable"
Now he started out very enthused by the game and posted a couple of positive things prior to that post above, but it seems either he is doing something wrong or there may be some issues the devs should look into solving? I've only played the demo myself but am interested in this game if things like this can be addressed.
So i'm thinking how much can be balanced via patches+modding? Having looked around the internet i think people are really wanting to like this game but there may well be a few issues outstanding. for example do marriages do anything currently? - can they be made to form an alliance with another faction etc. It seems some form of diplomatic option could be quite essential to achieve the aims of the game?