SpellForce 3 - Reforced Review

SpellForce 3 - Reforced by developer Grimlore Games and publisher THQ NordicSony PlayStation 4 review written by Pierre-Yves with a copy provided by the publisher.

Estimated Reading Time: 6 minutes.

Having originally launched in December 2017, Grimlore Games and THQ Nordic's SpellForce 3 is now available on a console. Having been refined over the years and put under a new banner of SpellForce 3 - Reforced, this Real Time Strategy RPG is now available outside of the realm of keyboards and mice. With plenty of updates and refinements under the hood, the result is an interesting one.

Having originally reviewed the PC version for Chalgyr's Game Room, Robert's review was favorable enough. Having also reviewed it at the time for DigitallyDownloaded, I had also enjoyed my time with the latest in this series of hybrid Real Time Strategy and RPG. So when the opportunity arose to dive back in, but on a console with a controller, I was curious to see how it handled.

Starting off with the main portion of the experience, your heroes, things work fairly well. Once selected by either having your cursor directly above them or by pressing and holding “X” to expand a selection menu, you can then order them to a new location. Moving to a new location like in most RTS will come in one of two types. Move to the new location and ignore anything and everything else, or, move to the new location and fight as needed. Both work well enough and expand over to your armies once they start to be built up and assigned to different squads to move around.

The main difference between these two is that your heroes also have special abilities that are attached to a command wheel menu that can be brought up at any point in time. What I enjoyed about this wheel is that it made it much easier with a controller to select special abilities than it would have with the normal command bar that comes with a keyboard and mouse approach. Furthermore, what I continued to enjoy is that this command wheel is a shared element between all heroes. This shared space lets you setup according to what makes the most sense for you, and for the heroes that you have on the field. Once you’ve run out of space, a quick click is all that is needed to swap for an entire second command wheel which is great for lesser used, but still useful, abilities.

Moving from heroes and their troops into buildings and bases, this is where things kind of fell off for me on the console version. In the PC version, it was easy enough to rotate your buildings as you needed in order to maximize the use of space. In the console version however, short of constantly trying to rotate the camera and hoping that you get it right, if a building doesn’t fit it’ll try to throw itself into the next available spot. This made it hard to manage the placements of barracks for example alongside wood and stone cutters for your main bases before even worrying about outposts and defense towers to start mining metal. Much less building farms with orcs in their barren lands when all you want is a few trees to get things going!

As time goes on, and that these buildings have been set up, and you have your defenses in place, there's a bit of a rinse and repeat that will start to get old. Starting with a central location as your main base of operations, you'll soon have to conquer outposts, take them over, and build up. Over, and over, and over again all while under constant attack meaning that you can't really move your main army from that point if you don't want to lose all of the effort that you put in.

Eventually it'll be safe enough once you get troops mainly for this position and enough towers, but with the controller? It made it harder to swap between these locations unless you've really explored your options and know that there's an option for the overview map. Sadly this is still several clicks away and oftentimes it'll be faster to simply mosey your way over there with the cursor instead of fumbling around for which menu. Another approach to mitigate this would be to "hotkey" squads to these locations and then double tap the selection to move the camera over to them.

When not worrying about a base, building a base, outposts and managing your armies though, SpellForce 3 really lends itself well to the consoles. When only having your heroes available to explore a location and basically go on a dungeon crawl, the adventure is not that dissimilar than your standard top down third person isometric RPG. Your characters can be moved around as mentioned above, use their attacks and then interact with switches, treasure chests and looting defeated enemies. The character menus themselves are fairly easy to set up gear, learn new abilities and then set these new abilities to the command wheel. Finally, if you really want to zoom in on the action, you can and it's in these moments that you really get an appreciation for the levels of detail that went into SpellForce 3.

If there’s one real complaint however to SpellForce 3 - Reforced, other than some of the adaptations to the controller which were to be expected, it would be the user interface. The UI cannot be scaled up which means if you’re sitting 5, 10, 15 feet away and have a decent sized screen? You’d better hope that you know what you’re looking at or you’ll need to move up close in order to better read the screen. When looking to see if it was an issue with the PC version, it looks like there are some workarounds, but sadly there was nothing within the console’s in-game menus.


Overall though, Grimlore Games and THQ Nordic’s SpellForce 3 - Reforced is a decent experience on the consoles. While it may need a bit of an adjustment period to get the feel for a real time strategy on the consoles, it shows that there is a way to do it and I think with the mixing of RPG elements and that level of dungeon crawling helps to break up the pace just enough to make it all work together without the need for a mouse and keyboard for extended periods of play.

Score: 7.75 / 10