Oriental Empires – Civilizations Expanding East on September 20th
I've always had a strong interest in ancient China. Particularly so when it comes to the Three Kingdoms era; the conflict between the Shu, Wei and Wu states close to 1800 years ago. Of course, there's an even richer history than the relatively small Three Kingdoms era. Oriental Empires, a new 4X strategy game, looks to take advantage of the setting and pique my interest.
Oriental Empires is being developed by Shining Pixel Studios. Headed up by Total War veterans R.T. Smith and John Carline, and being published by strategy veterans Iceberg Interactive, there's a lot of caliber coming with this game. This sort of backing, as well as the game being in a playable state before being released into Early Access, does immediately lend some credence to the project. What only improved on things is the two-hour live stream session that Iceberg Interactive did early this month.
This live stream works particularly well as Iceberg are allowing general gamers to play their games as a way to promote them. It adds some sense that it's how you will genuinely be playing the game when you get your hands on it. Fitting in with this is the fact that, as will be visible in the below video, you can also see how things can go wrong for the player. It's always entertaining to watch people lose at the game and learn how to work around it yourself.
Now this is only an early access look at the game, so there's a lot that could be brought in. My fear is that while it's set on an accurate map of China, you won't actually be able to play through actual historical periods and settings. That's about my only concern for the game so far. This is because the features that have been listed, and what has been visible already, makes it look incredibly good.
At first I was thinking it would be China: Total War. Of course i'm wrong there. Taking place on a hex grid, you build cities in a Civilization style and they have their zones of control, which you can appear to develop on. The units you create also operate in these hexes. However, using these units seems to take an almost Hearts of Iron stint, by setting up battle plans and formations, then just watching the events unfold.
What should be noted is that you can zoom in and see battles on a total-war style scale. The battles then appear to take place in real time, following certain battle plans. This can be viewed on an earlier live stream and you can see how the formations that you set for a unit also impacts the strength, how they maneuver in battle and their overall impact. This will work for skirmishes between small numbers of troops, to huge battles and sieges involving thousands.
The features listed for the game are extensive. Featuring a single, contiguous, huge map of China in which fully animated, highly detailed 3D models will live, work and fight to survive. It is said to have sixteen different factions, all balanced with their own pros and cons. You will develop your cities, changing the land around them. This takes place over thousands of years of Chinese history.
Your goal? Victory and to unify China. You'll eventually become the emperor as you grow in influence. This gives you the ability to set laws, declare edicts and more as the world changes and develops. Throughout it all you will have to deal with rebellions, the changing of culture and other leaders. All while maintaining the best balance you can in your cities, your empire.
I've watched over three hours of gameplay now, in the two live streams. I'm genuinely impressed with how the game looks and it's something that I'll definitely be keeping an eye on. Oriental Empires can be found on Steam right now. It's also scheduled for an Early Access to release on the 20th of September.