Reviews - Updated on April 14, 2022

Is it possible to return the past, dress it up in new clothes and make everything even better than it was? Developers of HD remakes of game classics do not torment themselves with such philosophical questions – they sincerely believe that the injection of new technologies can revive the glorious past and make it our bright present. And they are often wrong…

Will you find all the soldiers here?

Beauty won’t save the world

About the same thing happened with the wonderful turn-based fantasy strategy Eador. In 2009, this game, created in fact by the forces of one person, Alexei Bokulev, became a local sensation in the genre – in terms of its depth, versatility and capabilities, it stacked on both blades of many competitors created by professional studios. Moreover, it intrigued me with an interesting system of random events that forced me to make difficult decisions.

True, for many, the game was too hardcore and old-fashioned. Scary two-dimensional, with an overloaded interface, a story campaign for 500 (!) Hours and a separate astral plane, where we, as a demigod, had to capture fragments of worlds, listening to philosophical dialogues about Chaos and Time in the spirit of Planescape: Torment.

The ubiquitous SoftClub, which is well aware of the Russian people’s love for such strategies in the spirit of Heroes of Might & Magic, naturally quickly assessed the prospects this franchise opens up and initiated the development of an HD remake (well, or a continuation – call it whatever you like, the point is not is changing). Alexey Bokulev worked on it together with Unicorn Games and Snowbird Game Studios.

The game received the subtitle “Lords of the Worlds”, was released in 2013 and brought some expected convenience: normal learning, flexible difficulty settings, the ability to save more often, a more intuitive and ergonomic interface. The campaign has become more concise and dynamic, shrinking to about 30 hours, and the graphics are three-dimensional and quite modern. Plus there’s multiplayer.

True, with new technologies came new troubles – numerous technical flaws, bugs, crashes, freezes, failed quests, broken scripts and other reasons for chubby patches. This despite the fact that visually the “Lords of the Worlds” were still inferior to Disciples III and Might & Magic: Heroes VI, and the interface, even in an updated version, could drive you into depression.

With humor, the authors are all right!

Heroes of the Roman Empire and Magic

As a result, the game was updated for a long time, while constantly adjusting the balance: when you have dozens of buildings with alternative development options and more than a hundred “units”, it’s really not easy to deal with it. And now, about the same story is being repeated with the large-scale addition “Eador. Empire”.

Its main idea is the emergence of the very Empire, modeled in the image and likeness of the Roman Empire, that is, with legates, centurions, legionnaires, gladiator fights in the arena and other thematic joys. Many immediately said that this was somewhat dissonant with the classic fantasy setting of the game, but the developers were trying to achieve this novelty, trying to diversify and refresh the passage.

In addition, four new heroes have appeared. The sorceress is able to learn spells without sitting out her pants in libraries and magic academies, the Lich is recruiting an army from the corpses he raises, the Legate immediately starts the map with second-level “units”. And finally, the Pilot is an analogue of the gnome engineer, who is able to fly in a balloon into enemy provinces and arrange sieges from the air (though only from the tenth level).

Each of the heroes has their own campaign, and the final one, for the Empire, opens only after completing the three previous ones. Naturally, new “units” were added. Imperial warriors have the “Discipline” ability, which strengthens allies if they are on adjacent hexes, and barbarians (healer, hunter, hunter, forester and others) are largely focused on long-range combat.

Winter fighters turned out to be especially interesting – white wolves, snow witches, frost furies and even frozen zombies. The game debuted ice shards of worlds, where heroes can train such cold-resistant fighters.

And in the “Empire” there were separate scenarios, “sharpened” for different heroes and with different tasks. And a new mechanics of patronage of the Lords has been introduced. Now we are not a demigod, but we ourselves are in the service of one of them. Accordingly, you can choose one of the four patrons, build temples dedicated to him, complete quests and accumulate the favor of the Lord in order to perform all sorts of useful rituals (that is, spells) on the global map for her.

Playing on winter shards with winter “units” is especially interesting.

Wanted the best…

All this really brought freshness and variety to the usual gameplay. Campaigns are divided into chapters, have a certain dynamics and tension, and involve the implementation of various related tasks. For example, in the branch for the titular Empire, you first need to accumulate certain resources, then suppress the uprising and repel the centaur invasion, then go through a special RPG map to the end and back (and it takes place in the desert) and, finally, defeat the Lich with his armies.

And the mechanics of patronage of the Masters brought variety to the later stages of the game, made the strategy more variable and gave a new meaning to the dense construction of the Temple Quarter. With the help of special rituals, for example, you can break through the front or counterattack immediately after the defeat, double the income in the province for five turns and greatly improve the mood there, but receive a large penalty to population growth (apparently, the rest are glad that they will breathe more freely). There is even an option to hit the enemy province with necrotic energy, destroying almost all life there.

… And it turned out as always

But the game, I repeat, overshadow the old sores. The interface (especially in the construction part) as it was, and remains frankly overloaded, intimidating and perhaps the worst in the genre. The picture also remained approximately at the level of 2013, but the optimization deteriorated. Everything slows down, especially in battles, there are occasional bugs and crashes, unjustified freezes…

With the increase in tactical maps, fights have become even more tedious and drawn out – fighters move slowly, periodically getting stuck in textures. And besides, you need to look for them for a long time in a lurid cluster of trees and grass.

On the other hand, the authors for some reason introduced restrictions on the number of moves in campaigns – tasks must be completed within the allotted time. This forces you to rush headlong across the map, neglecting thoughtful strategy, exploring provinces and visiting all interesting places. There are also problems with the balance – after all, there are even more “units”.

The dwarf pilot, as conceived by the authors, can play the role of a spy.

In general, as you might guess, patches immediately flew to the game – they come out almost daily. So, after some time, the authors nevertheless removed the notorious restriction on the number of moves in campaigns. It’s now possible to skip movement and attack animations, as well as enable a simplified graphical view without all that vegetation, which drastically increases the pace of battles. But there are still many problems to be solved – for example, for some reason, my Steam version, patched to the very tonsils, crashed regularly, and the earlier one from GOG.com worked much more stable.

***

After that, you’re not surprised why many people think that all these 3D remakes, expansions and sequels have never surpassed the 2D original and fan-made modifications. However, the game is developing at the very least, the authors do not give up, they constantly fix something, add it and make big plans for the future. I hope that sooner or later they will succeed – apart from them, almost no one is doing such big step-by-step strategies in Russia now.

Pros: new interesting heroes, factions, scenarios and campaigns; fresh mechanics of patronage of the Lords.
Cons: poor optimization and numerous technical problems.

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