Real-time strategy games are one of my favourite genres. Building a base and gathering resources in order to send an army out to win dominion of the map is a huge thrill.
It’s a game style that lends itself to any setting, because as we all know; war, war never changes.
Most of the time, RTS games, however, seem to be set in sci-fi universes. There are a few great fantasy RTS games, Battle for Middle-earth was an excellent example and sadly now nigh impossible to get a hold of.
4x games, on the other hand, seem to largely be set in historical or fantasy settings which is where we find the hybrid real-time 4x Driftland The Magic Revival.
Currently in early access, Driftland The Magic Revival is set in a unique world, one ripped literally apart by a magical apocalypse. Four races, Humans, Dwarves, Dark Elves and Wild Elves struggle to survive on mobile motes of earth floating high above the shattered core of the world.
With limited resources on each floating island, each kingdom spans an ever-growing suspended archipelago linked by bridges.
Driftland The Magic Revival Preview
This mobile floating island concept is key to both the story of the campaign and to the gameplay overall. At the time of writing only the Human campaign is available to play. As well as explaining some of the stories of the game this campaign serves primarily as a tutorial.
There is a lot to figure out in Driftland The Magic Revival. Like many 4x games there are a lot of resources to manage, as well as keeping your population happy and growing. The pace is pretty fast and there is a lot to keep track of.
Scouting and exploration are very important.
Your castles surroundings are hidden in the fog of war, which often requires flying units to clear. Once a new island is discovered, its time to make some real decisions. Do I drag it over using magic and connect it via bridges to my empire at the cost of an added burden on my economy due to its upkeep?
Do I simply raid it for treasure or tame its invaluable flying creatures if it holds any? Do I terraform it to a biome more hospitable to me?
Luckily there is an excellent overview screen accessed simply by zooming out far enough. This screen allows you to see at a glance, what is happening across the map including what buildings are ready for an upgrade, where your units are and where they are headed.
I spend almost as much time in the overview screen as I do in standard view and would love to see multi-monitor support brought in after release so that I could have this strategic godlike view available at all times.
Strategic and Godlike
The ability to manipulate the map by moving, terraforming, creating or even destroying islands adds a unique element to this game that I have not encountered elsewhere. Deciding which of these actions to take and when can make or break your empire.
It’s possible to arrange the islands defensively around your primary sites of industry or make a landbridge across the abyss so that you can march you soldiers across to enemy territory keeping your precious flying units tactical strikes.
Breaking the bridges of your opponent’s Empire means you can then steal their islands, or simply fling them off into the far reaches of the map making them useless to your enemies.
Driftland The Magic Revival has a bit more of a macro based play style than typical RTS. Typically you cannot give direct orders to individual soldiers or units but place markers around the map which your units attend to according to the priority assigned the marker. Most of the time this works out just fine, if I want an area explored, I just place a marker there and when a unit is free they travel there and survey the land.
If I want a bandit camp cleared, I do the same thing; place a battle marker on the camp and soldiers will run over and clear it out. When I want a little more control I can also group certain units together into camps, then I can tell that camp specifically to go and raid an island.
Occasionally I have had problems with placing a marker only for it to be ignored regardless of units being free and able to tend to it however I’m sure this issue will be sorted out before launch.
As it stands I am really enjoying Driftland The Magic Revival.
The different races provide varied gameplay with unique traits and abilities. Skirmish mode gameplay is fast, fun and incredibly strategic. What Driftland The Magic Revival currently lacks though, is multiplayer.
According to developer Star Drifters though we should see multiplayer coming with the 1.0 launch on April 18. For me, multiplayer and a few little bug fixes will make Driftland The Magic Revival automatically included at any LAN.
It’s a great choice for those wanting something that plays a little faster than your standard 4x game but with all the strategic complexity.
Driftland The Magic Revival is currently available on Steam Early Access for AUD$27.95 with a full launch expected on April 18.
It was previewed using a digital code provided by the developer.