Fallen Enchantress is Stardock's most ambitious title yet. Hot on the heels of Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion, Stardock intends to make sure that its upcoming fantasy strategy game is as good as they can possibly make it.
Executive Producer and Stardock CEO, Brad Wardell outlines some of the new features in the much anticipated 4th beta release of the new title, "Beta 4 introduces the new economic system. In 4X strategy games, the underlying economy - how you get and spend resources - is really the unspoken heart and soul of these games. As a game that takes place in a fantasy universe, we have the opportunity to do some really interesting things here."
Fallen Enchantress's lead designer, Derek Paxton, took his experience making the popular Civilization IV mod, Fall From Heaven, to create something really worthwhile. "It's all about your cities," said Paxton. "Starting with Beta 4 you can specialize your city as either a Town, Conclave, or Fortress. Towns are the source for food, growth and money. Conclaves are where your research, both technological and arcane, occur. And Fortresses are the source of your most elite and powerful military units."
Beta 4 also will be added a third basic resource - essence. Previously, Fallen Enchantress's resource economy followed the tried and true track of food and materials. As a fantasy game, Paxton decided there was an opportunity to add another dimension to what could make a city special: Essence. "Essence is the land's natural magical affinity. Lots of city improvements make use of this resource. Essence also allows players to cast powerful enchantments on a city. The more essence, the more enchantments the city can maintain."
As part of the new emphasis on city specialization, players can now construct upgradeable outposts away from cities. These outposts address the issue known in strategy circles as "city spam".
"Instead of players having to build lots of cities to have a chance at winning, they can construct outposts," said Paxton. "In beta 4, these outposts can be upgraded to boost allied units, give penalties to enemy units, scare away monsters, and help the cities they are associated with."
While the new economic system is the most important change in Beta 4, Stardock has also put its user interface design team to work enhancing the Fallen Enchantress user experience. To this end, the cloth map has been revamped, the main user interface has been cleaned up and the rich tool tip system updated.
"Even as we add depth to Fallen Enchantress, we want to make sure the game is approachable. We don't expect users to have to read the user manual to know what's going on," said Wardell. "The game should walk the player through how to play the game and the interface should be intuitive enough that it just makes sense."
Elemental: Fallen Enchantress Beta 4 is expected to be released later this month. The final game isn't expected to be released until this Fall but anyone who pre-orders it can join the beta.