Spellforce 3: Soul Harvest is the standalone expansion pack to Spellforce 3, first released in 2017. Soul Harvest overhauls the UI and some core gameplay features while adding new flying units, hero abilities, two races, and a 20-hour campaign that is set three years after the events of Spellforce 3.
Spellforce 3 brings players back to Nortander. The Purity Wars is over, and the surviving followers of Rondar Lacaine have been scattered. Several new threats are appearing while Nortander is still shakily rebuilding. The Wolf Guard are struggling with understaffing and new leadership. Nortander’s elite fighting force will need to pull together to stop a new force threatening to consume Nortander.
The campaign story is decent. The writers have a few different threads they are trying to weave into a coherent story, so the plot can get a little scattered at times. In the end, they manage to create a narrative that drives the plot well. Players have some flexibility in determining how deep they want to dive in the story as there is plenty of optional dialogue that will provide details about the world’s lore. The campaign is delivered in a way that those who are playing a Spellforce title for the first time will still get some enjoyment out of the game, but those who played 3 will be treated to a few familiar faces.
Spellforce 3: Soul Harvest is an RTS/RPG hybrid. At the core of everything are the game’s heroes who are treated as RPG style characters. Players choose two skill trees for the main character General Aerev and mercenaries, while story characters have their trees pre-selected. Character skills and equipment will carry over between levels. Maps general cycle between an RPG style dungeon followed by a more traditional RTS map.
The new campaign is enjoyable. The developers are very quick to introduce the two new races in the game, something I felt they were a little slow at in the base game. While the goal in the RTS portion of the game is the usual wipe your opponent off the face of the world, the RPG quest system gives the campaign a little more variety. Even in the RTS heavy maps, completing quests will unlock alternative routes and extra loot to give players a leg up. I like the equal emphasis the campaign puts on the RPG sections of the game, as it is a big part of what makes Spellforce 3 unique and breathes life into the campaign.
The two new races are an enjoyable addition. The Dwarves rely heavily on stone and offer strong defensive play. The Dark Elves are the more unique addition, focusing more on relentless offensive attacks and harvesting the souls of the dead for their best units.
Spellforce 3: Soul Harvest does a good job adding a bit of polish to the game mechanics and provides new strategies for players. Heroes are now locked to two skill trees with a special skill based on the two skill trees selected. While this whittles down the number of available skills, there is still only twelve skill slots for all four heroes. It’s still extremely limiting, especially since items with usable skills take up one of those slots. On the other hand, the addition of flying units and blueprints to lower the cost of certain units and buildings offer some new options for players. Considering the game’s emphasis on global resource management, being able to surprise enemies by attacking their backlines can really change the flow of the game.
Spellforce 3: Soul Harvest’s graphics are pretty much the same as the original game. The graphics on max setting can still hold their own in 2019. The new Dwarf and Dark Elf races are well designed, fitting within the overall art style in the game while still being distinct. The Dwarfish architecture is boxy and full of straight lines, while the Dark Elves have a more shadowy and ethereal design.
The audio experience in Spellforce 3: Soul Harvest is theweakest point. The sound effects are decent. The voice acting is on the rougher side. General Aerev’s male voice actor feels oddly out of place compared to the rest of the actors. The other actors make an admirable attempt, but the quality of their performance falls short. The music on its own is decent, but low key. I often found it a little out of place during extended battles, as something a little more upbeat would have been better.
Spellforce 3: Soul Harvest is probably the right purchase for those interested in SpellForce 3. It polishes up the game in subtle, but helpful ways that gives the game a bit more variety. The meaty campaign is an enjoyable one, though the voice acting can fall a bit short at times. Spellforce 3: Soul Harvest never exceling at being an RTS or an RPG, but its recipe for combining the two makes it still a very attractive niche title.
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