Runemaster Preview: I'm intrigued, but show me the combat!
The very first game I got to see during PDX Con (Paradox Convention) in Miami was Runemaster. My excitement was high because it is not only a completely new IP for the publisher, but it also is one of the first stricly RPGs in their library that (apparently) plays much like Heroes of Might & Magic or King's Bounty.
Right from the beginning, we were told that combat wasn't going to be shown at all, which for a game that relies on it, was somewhat of a letdown. However, we did get a pretty good understanding of the story, the setting, and the choices the players will have to make.
Based on Norse Mythology, whichever race you decide to play as (one of six) will ultimately decide whether to stand on the side of Thor or Loki. Joining Thor means you're standing against the end of the world known as Ragnarok, while joining Loki means you're set to push it further and ultimately make it happen. We've been told however that the story isn't as black and white as it sounds. Thor's not necessarily the good guy, and likewise, Loki isn't ultimately evil.
The early build already looked pretty enough. We saw as the devs clicked around the world of Midgard and watched their on-screen avatar move around the world map, collecting various items and loot, and of course avoiding enemies, since combat was already in the game, they just didn't want us to see it. Just show me the combat!
Your choices in the game reach beyond just siding with Thor or Loki. You also align yourself with various Gods, and as you complete tasks, you'll gain favor. It'll be important to side with certain Gods, as gaining favor for some means losing favor for others. Choices even extend to what kind of army you'll be recruiting, which also plays into the emergent storytelling. Just because you play as humans, doesn't mean you can't get an army of trolls or goblins for example. Though they might hate humans at the start of the game, completing actions that they'll see as favorable will in-turn make them indebted to you, and thus able to be recruited. Can I see the combat now?
One of the more impressive features that has me quite excited are the procedurally generated worlds. Each map in the game will be randomized, meaning if you're ever to replay the game as any of the other races, you won't go through the same locations six times in a row. This is also one of the reasons that the devs were aimlessly walking around the map with no clear goal or event to show us, since the map was generated at the start of our session. Just wish I could have seen the combat.
Even though we walked out without a single glimpse at the combat, we were told that it will be hex-based, with importance on strategic placement and environmental bonuses, and of course, since it was likened to games like Heroes of Might and Magic, it will be turn-based.
Personally, I'm a big fan of hex turn-based combat, and the fact that Paradox's suite of games is predominantly strategy based has me believing the game is in good hands. But regardless of how pretty it looked on the world map, it's ultimately the combat that will have to win me over. Just wish I could have seen it...