Posted by Thomas Giles on Mar 15, 2012

Confrontation Hands-On Preview

Confrontation is a new tactical RPG from Cyanide, the guys who are working on the Game of Thrones title. We got our hands on the preview version; a 2-level trip through a tutorial and then on into a full-on dungeon filled with numerous and varied bad guys, and culminating in a glorious battle with a giant half-beast-half-machine monster.

The gameplay is somewhat reminiscent of the “pause and play” style of the Dragon Age series. While you can drag a box around everyone and right-click an enemy to start auto-attacking, where the game really gets interesting is in the paused mode. Each unit has 6 unique abilities, mapped nicely to the easy-to-reach QWE and ASD keys. They’re even laid out in the same two lines of three fashion, making it very easy to get used to which key you’re looking for. Some abilities will be targetable, in which case you can click a target; and some let you click to set the AoE (Area of Effect).

If you hold shift while selecting your ability, or it’s target, it will be added to the character’s queue of actions, after-which it will revert back to auto-attacking a nearby enemy. You can even queue up movement, basic healing, or change-weapon commands. Once you get the hang of it, the system is very easy to use, but lets you have a good tactical grip on the actions of your units.

You’ll be gaining XP per character as you defeat your enemies, letting you add to a unit’s stats each time it levels up. There are 6 attributes to level, each with a well written and clear description on how it will affect the unit’s performance when using various actions or abilities. Some attributes will enhance certain colour abilities, for example, each action’s colour, or type, clearly visible as a background to it’s button.

As you explore a level, you may find a Weapon and Armor cache. By collecting it’s contents, you can then spend Weapon and Armor points across your units as you see fit. This upgrade and levelling system, while letting you fine tune your different unit’s strengths, is really straightforward to use, once you get the hang of it. Unfortunately, there wasn’t too much about this in the tutorial, but you can figure it out easy enough.

In a lot of RPGs, there’s an unofficial list of roles, something along the lines of Tank (to absorb damage), Healer (character who casts supportive spells and such), and DPS (Damage Per Second, a character who focuses on the “real” attacks, usually ranged). The game embraces this aspect of the strategic RPG genre fully, giving each unit a natural position within the party, which will determine where in the diamond formation they will naturally gravitate towards as you move the party around; which you can set yourself, swapping people around with each other. There is also a small icon next to each character’s health bar, revealed when you mouse over them, that shows the character’s natural type, hinting at their most effective use within the party.

The graphics are pretty cool; featuring gnarly creatures and badass enemies. The dungeons are dark and gloomy, and the outside world is bright and desolate. The world is great to look at; everything detailed and doing a great job of supporting the lore and story for the particular mission you’re playing.

The animations are decent, but the spell effects are spot on. While they aren’t all that bright and colourful, they fit right in to the more realistic feel of the world they’re going for.

The story, as far as I could make out, was the whole world’s at war with each other. And you are some dude in that war. There was a lot of text, and all of it was voice-acted, which was a nice addition, but something about it, maybe the delivery of the voice actor or just the copious amount of info-dump going on, left me not actually getting anything out of the story. The voice-acting in-game, too, particularly the acknowledgements for when you command a unit to do something, were pretty over the top.

But those are minor gripes. Once you get into the feel of the game, and the gameplay itself, all that becomes background noise that your consciousness can easily brush over. And once you get to the point of really getting the strategy down and wiping the floor with bigger groups of enemies that once wiped the floor with you, this game is really, really fun.

For anyone who likes detailed RPG worlds and lore, or anyone who prefers the more strategic, unit-command focused games, there’s definitely fun to be had with Confrontation. And with 4 playable factions available in the full game, I can’t wait to get my hands on the full version!

Outside the main game, there’s also an “Army Painter” option, allowing you to tweak and customize the colours of a given unit. You first select a faction, and then a unit within that faction (and my there a lot of cool units in this game!)… Then, you are shown the unit’s 3D model, standing amongst paint and glue pots, along with some cool looking Confrontation cards – showing the game’s roots in classic table-top roleplaying. You may then edit the colour scheme of the character, selecting a background and foreground colour for each collection of areas in the model. You can also, of course, rotate the view, and even have the unit switch weapons if they support it.

From the looks of the preview, this game is going to be a great play, and undoubtedly with a hefty amount of gameplay. The playing of the game has just the right amount of strategy but the player feels in control of his units at all times. I think this title will be a blast to play for die-hard fans of the genre and newcomers alike.

Confrontation is set for release April, 2012 for PC. Find out more on the Confrontation site.

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