Champions of Anteria is a mixture of small unit real time strategy and turn based kingdom. Based around a rock, paper, scissor elemental system, players will lead their champions on an epic quest to save Anteria from the grips of an evil wizard and end the conflict between the people. Along the way, players will liberate territories piece by piece as they march towards epic boss battles to save Anteria once and for all.
Champions of Anteria began its life as a brand new addition to one of Blue Byte’s biggest franchises, The Settlers. However, the studio opted to give Champions of Aternia its independence, casting the game as a humourous take on the standard fantasy genre. The story begins with three of our champions being tricked into rescuing a town from so called bandits who are actually minions of an evil wizard threatening Anteria. Now the target of the wizard’s wrath, the champions have no other choice but to defeat the wizard to secure their own safety and the safety of all of Anteria.
The plot of Champions of Anteria is entertaining, though it is nothing particularly ground breaking or unique. The humour helps differentiate the story a bit from the standard fantasy video game plotline, but it is definitely subjective. Some people will love the silly digs at the fantasy tropes like the constant mocking of epic hero poses, while others will may find the humour a bit too simple and stupid. The game’s dialogue is decent and the champions’ backstories are pretty witty for the most part. Some of the unit lines, especially Baltasar’s lines, can be a bit grating at times, while others are sure to elicit a good chuckle. Overall, the writing is decent, but it does have some very high moments, some really low ones, and a lot in between.
Champions of Anteria gameplay is broken down to two major phases, small unit real time strategy and a turn based kingdom builder. The game kicks off with a lengthy prologue that serves as the tutorial for the game, walking players through basic controls and concepts in both phases. Thankfully, future runs do provide players with the option to skip through the prologue.
Combat is the bread and butter of Champions of Anteria. Players select three out of five heroes to tackle a map, each with its own main objective and a bonus objective that will award players with buffs or an extra NPC unit. Hero selection is a huge part of the game. The damage system revolves around an extended version of rock, paper, scissors. There are five elements in the game: metal, nature, lightning, water, and fire. Each one is strong against one element, weak against another, and neutral to itself and two other elements. Since each hero is a master of one element and has a few abilities of a secondary element, players are given a preview of the elements they will face in an upcoming map to help players choose their heroes accordingly. For an extra edge, players can pack up to four crafted consumable items to bring with them for heals, buffs, damage soaks, and extra DPS. Each champion has a rather linear equipment upgrade path and a decent sized skill tree that gives players a bit of flexibility with characters.
Players control their three champions like any standard RTS, issuing commands to move, attack, and use abilities. To give players a little breathing room, Champions of Anteria automatically pauses the game when their champion draws the attention of the enemy and can be manually paused at will. Since players are given the benefit of stopping combat to plan, failing to heed to elemental system is a deadly mistake. A unit that has an element strong against the target’s element gets a healthy damage bonus on top of taking less damage from said unit and possibly being completely immune to their abilities. The combat system strikes the perfect balance between being easy enough that anyone can learn it quickly, but still complex enough to be fun.
While the concept being the combat in Champions of Anteria is solid, the execution is a little more lack lustre. The biggest problem is how incredibly stupid the heroes are. Traditional RTS units have a certain degree of autonomy to react against incoming threats. On the other hand, the player’s champions reaction is a little more muddy. Champions have no problem switching to a new target after their current one has been eliminated, but if they are not issued an attack command, they often will happily watch their comrade get obliterated by a unit while they idly stand by. Champions also struggle with corners and tight spaces, sometimes resulting in units running into walls until the player guides them around the corner. The problem was much more prevalent before the first post-release patch, but it is still occurring from time to time. All of the champion’s abilities have cooldowns, but it is only possible to view the cooldown timer of the currently selected champion. The result is that players spend a lot of time micromanaging three units, cycling between them constantly. I found this slowed down combat unnecessarily and became extra frustrating during boss fights that require extra movement of units.
There is a pool of objectives that the regular combat maps pull from. There is enough variation to keep things feeling reasonably fresh, from escorting caravans to defending territories from attack. For the most part, the mission objectives work well enough, but the ones requiring a little bit of stealth are probably the most frustrating of the bunch, as enemy aggro ranges are not always that clear, getting out of combat can be a royal pain, and, depending on the map, the NPCs are slow and have terrible pathing.
Champions of Anteria is at its best during the boss fights. These epic, multi stage battles pits champions against the leaders of opposing kingdoms who have special abilities and incredible pools of health. As I noted earlier in my preview of the game, these battles remind me of raid bosses from MMORPGs, where movement and positioning is just as if not even more important than damage output.
The kingdom management portion of the game is decent. There are two main sections of the world map, conquered territory that awards players with gold and renown each day, and the actual kingdom itself. In the kingdom, players need to synergize the environmental bonuses and each building’s bonuses/penalties to create the most efficient resource farms to fund equipment for champions, new buildings, and consumable items. It takes a bit of playing around to create the most efficient layout and metal can be a real pain to generate if a player is not careful. Frankly, I think a much friendlier option would have been to get rid of penalties for bad synergy all together.
Champions of Anteria has a cartoony art style that suits the game’s humorous delivery. The world is bright and vibrant. The UI works well enough, though cooldown timers for unselected champions would be appreciated. On the hardware side, Champions of Anteria ran well enough. There are plenty of graphic options to tune the game for most PCs. I did notice that there are some pretty vicious load times for getting the graphics to appear at times, especially when the game is first being booted up. I am suspect Champions of Anteria would be much happier running on an SSD and a video card with more than 4GB of VRAM.
Champions of Anteria features good sound effects. The soundtrack is appropriate for a fantasy game and serves as a welcome addition to the game’s overall feel. The voice acting is a bit of a mixed bag. Most of the voice actors do an excellent job delivering their character’s lines; however, there are some cringe inducing exceptions. Queen Nuaba’s lines are absolutely awful and Baltasar comes a close second. There were plenty of moments I seriously considered not taking Baltasar along in a battle just so I wouldn’t have to listen to him blather on.
Champions of Anteria is a decent RTS/kingdom builder that falls short of its potential due to clumsy execution. The world is charming and the audio/visual presentation is pretty good. The boss fights are an epic, fun experience. Unfortunately, the need to over-micromanage the champions really hamstring the game’s main RTS component.
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