If, like me, you remember Master of Magic very fondly, then Worlds of Magic and its brand of turn-based strategy will feel both familiar and entertaining. Creating cities, researching spells, hiring heroes and building an army all thrown against a magical backdrop is not entirely new. In fact Chris on our team recently reviewed the similarly themed Age of Wonders III recently. While there is certainly room for Worlds of Magic to grow and improve, I cannot help but feel like the development team is at least headed down the right path here.
There is some nice variety in setting up your character right off of the bat, and I have created enough now that they do feel different from one another once you take the time to delve into what Worlds of Magic has to offer. The tutorials are certainly helpful, with lots of pop-up advice from the very start. One could almost argue that they are too prevalent, but I would rather have too much information than not enough when trying to learn a game with this much depth. Some of the tool tips did repeat themselves, reminding me that the game is still in Early Access and that bugs and optimization are going to creep up now and again.
Speaking of optimization, I do hope that the AI processing increases quite a bit down the road. I love some of the larger maps and scenarios, but it can take a very long time to wait out those turns, and with absolutely nothing to do during that time (you cannot even look at your cities to plot your next moves), it can be a bit dull during those lulls. Thankfully it looks as if the development team is taking feedback seriously. After spending some time on the forums and reading feedback from other users, I have seen quite a few people who feel their ideas are not only being heard, but in many cases implemented. That alone is an excellent reason for optimism.
Everything that is there, from establishing buildings and setting up your units makes logical sense. There is an excellent flow to how turns play out in Worlds of Magic. An area that could perhaps still benefit from balancing is the difficulty in early combat. My first two matches ended very quickly and with no shortage of frustration as I sent my troops around to explore, only to encounter and get immediately wiped out by nearby enemies. I did not see that occur in later sessions of play, but it could very well give someone with less persistence than myself a poor initial impression.
As the game sessions grow, there is the problem of lengthy AI turns to contend with, but I thoroughly enjoy my turn. During those times there is plenty to be done and progress feels substantial. Combat is entertaining, especially when you are the aggressor. I will say that when the enemy decides to get aggressive, they tend to become very aggressive and that can get a bit frustrating. That being said, the sense of accomplishment when pulling out of those situations is quite high.
This being Early Access, there are bugs worth noting. I ran into some sort of a movement bug that basically paralyzed my forces despite not having used them yet this turn, and that ended two of my campaigns. Also, movement on the map gets a little weird at times if you are trying to traverse already covered terrain. There was also one crash, right when a battle was about to start. That never occurred again though, but it is a sign that Worlds of Magic still needs some polish.
It is easy to see where the team is trying to go with this game, and it will be fun to see how Worlds of Magic continues to develop. In reality it is not quite ready for Prime Time yet, but I think the team at Wastelands Interactive is headed down the right path.
Preview by Nick