Warlock 2: The Exiled – Review
Follow Genre: Strategy
Developer: Ino-Co Plus
Publisher: Paradox Interactive
Platform: PC

Warlock 2: The Exiled – Review

Site Score
8.1
Good: Deep and tactical gameplay, colourful art.
Bad: Cluttered UI, lack of victory conditions.
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0
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It’s only been a few months since I’ve discovered a little gem call Warlock: Master of the Arcane. It was, in fact the 5th of February, the day Paradox’s showed off its Humble Bundle, that started my addiction to this combat-driven fantasy version of Sid Meier’s Civilization.

What can I say, I’m an absolute sucker for hexagonal strategy games done well. Thank god that Warlock 2: The Exiled strayed nothing from its predecessor’s path to glory.

Story

Warlock 2’s storyline is actually one of the most important additions to the series. It’s so-titled Exile-mode sets you on a path as one of the greatest sorcerers ever. Sadly, you’re also one of the few remaining ones and you have been cast out of you home-country, Ardania, by a being called The United One.

Ignoring the somewhat daft naming of this game’s ultimate bad guy, it is a decent enough set-up to embark on a quest for revenge, aka uniting the world’s different planes of existence through martial and magical prowess.

The story works, as simple and clich├ęd as it might be, mostly because this is a strategy game. There’s no great plot on offer, but neither should you expect one, since a decent strategy title will keep you thinking about tactics, diplomacy and ruses at all times.

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Graphics

Compared to the first Warlock-title, The Exiled is certainly more detailed. Don’t expect anything too engrossing, this does remain a fairly niche game presented by a company that lacks the enormous budgets the truly big developers and publishers throw around.

But at least it’s pleasing to look at and the units all look sharp.

The game is also sprawling with colour, so you’ll hear no complaints on this point.

Sound

The music fits in comfortably with the rest of the game, often opting for a peaceful tune carrying a certain sense of mysticism, while never becoming obtrusive.

I’m repeating myself, but this is as it should be in strategy games. A full-blown orchestra sliding in with big fanfare is wasted on a game like this and it would only distract players from the task at hand.

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Gameplay

While a comparison to Sid Meier’s Civilization seems rather apt at first glance, a closer look reveals that Warlock 2 is all but a bland copy of that game. First of all, there are no diplomatic victories. Battling the ultimate evil leaves little room for haggling and compromises, instead your focus lies in developing a well-trained army to supplement your own arsenal of arcane wizardry.

To keep things interesting you get to play as one of six races. In other words: Humans, Monsters, Undead, Elves, Planestriders and Svart. The first four pretty much speak for themselves but the latter two races might require a short description. Take the Planestriders for example, they are made up of a mix of different races, all outcasts who couldn’t find a home with their original fellow-men. The Svart, then, are a technologically advanced race with a knack for amassing large amounts of gold. Each race has its own strengths and weaknesses, as is proper for this kind of game.

While I mentioned earlier that there are no diplomatic victories, it nonetheless remains a healthy choice to keep your neighbours happy trough trading and political bantering. Because while the true threat lies with The United One and his legions, there are several other factions vying for your place in the spotlights.

As to keep things fresh, Warlock 2: The Exiled makes use of randomly generated shards (aka maps). Essentially this means that you never quite know how things will work out, nor what to expect from your surroundings.

What is essential each and every time, though, is to build a respectful army and using your book of spells to its fullest. Sure there are spells that produce a great fireball and come in handy during a fight, but there’s tons of other magic to support the more mundane tasks in life. Spells to change the landscape or to increase food output, for instance.

You’ll need every single one of those spells, by the way, as the gameplay largely revolves around hoarding mana to support your army with and to amass gold and food to keep your cities bustling and your subjects pleased.

In addition to all that, there are Hero-units who lead your army, can be equipped with more powerful armor as they go along and who add a certain RPG element to the mix.

It’s a great and compelling system that’ll draw you in for many hours. My only complaint are that its interface remains messy and cluttered, adding a slight amount of irritation when you’re in the middle of unfolding a more complex tactic and the fact that a way of winning the game, aside from mass-murdering an entire population, would have kept things interesting even longer.

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Conclusion

Consider this my new waste of time after a long and tiring day of work. Warlock 2: The Exiled is a great example of how strategy games aren’t a total lost cause in this age.

Interesting gameplay that offers a mix between powerful wizardry, managing more traditional troops and some resource management keep you busy for a long time to come.

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