Published on June 12th, 2014 | by JC Richardson0
Conquest of Elysium 3 Review
Illwinter’s Conquest of Elysium 3 might look like it’s strictly for the hardcore, but beneath the austere looks is a rich fantasy world which sword and sorcery fans will just lap up.
You can tell from the screenshots that COE3 doesn’t ‘do’ flashy visuals, and if that’s enough to put you off a game then you won’t enjoy yourself much in Elysium. There’s very little animation going on, even in battles, and the units aren’t exactly detailed, but players of a certain age will feel a wave of nostalgia for the old 16-bit era of war gaming.
COE3 centres on the exploration and conquest of a randomly-generated map, whilst up to three other players (human or AI) try to do the same. If your commander is killed, that’s the end for your ambitions, and death can come shockingly fast depending on how the map falls at the start of a campaign. For example, my Necromancer was murdered by a gang of six roving deer before he could build up an effective army, so that kind of scuppered that round. It’s a Rogue-like element to the gameplay which not all strategy fans will appreciate, but if you go into this with a Rogue mentality you’ll find plenty worth exploring.
There’s a massive range of classes to play as in COE3, and your choice makes a huge difference to the gameplay. Barbarians can recruit cheap, tough foot soldiers which is a boon for beginners – but there are much more interesting careers too. My favourite (so far) is the Lovecraftian High Cultist, who can summon ancient beings from bodies of water on the map, and offer up human sacrifices to gain intelligence on the enemy. Great stuff.
On the negative side, there are a few bugs in the transition from the PC version, most notably the inability to ‘re-activate’ a commander if they’ve been left on sentry duty at a base. Also, there’s no way back to the main menu from within an active game, so if you want to start again you have to exit the game fully and re-start, which is a pretty annoying thing to discover in a £6/$10 game: in fact it’s kind of inexcusible.
Nevertheless, Illwinter have packed their game world with detail, and if you can forgive the odd bug and the simplistic graphics, you’ll have a heck of a lot of exploring to enjoy in the months ahead. Remember, Winter is coming.
Summary: Looks and quirks aside, Conquest of Elysium 3 offers players hours of engrossing 4-X fun, with masses of replay value.