Preview: Confrontation

Platforms: PC

Focus Home Entertainment and Cyanide Studios are about to release a new tactical role-playing game, Confrontation, and we’ve been lucky enough to get a preview copy and get to give you a little heads-up on the game.

Confrontation is an adaption of the fantasy miniature wargame by Rackham and combines role-playing game elements with group combat strategy elements focusing on small scale tactical battles. The games is set in a realm called Aarkash, where the age of Rag’narok is fast approaching, and the player takes control of a small elite group of Griffin warriors infiltrating enemy territory, exploring wilderness, dungeons, secret laboratories and other environments.

Confrontation has a ‘pause-plan-assign-play’ squad based tactical combat system similar to other role-playing games, such as Baldur’s Gate and Dragon Age, however there is one new and interesting difference; each character has an action queue so that you can plan several actions ahead. Also, each character has their own spell or spell-like powers allowing them to damage opponents or buff themselves and/or other party members, and one of the main tactical elements of the games appears to be working out the best methods of combining each character’s powers to gain an advantage over the opposing forces. Tactics are the key to the game, if you approach each combat as a toe-to-toe battle you will be reloading quite regularly.

Another interesting element of the combat system is that when a party member runs out of health they collapse to the ground in agony but don’t die straight away, instead they have an agony bar which slowly decreases the longer they are left unattended. To revive them you simply need to send another character over to heal them, however this is best left until all the nearby enemies are dealt with. Rolling around in agony for while does have its side effects as the revived character get a penalty to the experience they gain from that point until they activate a special recharge stone that can be found in the dungeons, however this does seem to lead to your weaker characters falling behind on experience as they tend to get knocked down more frequently.

Unusually Confrontation has a very simplified inventory system - basically, there isn’t one. Each character has a primary and secondary weapon choice (though some don’t even appear to have the second choice) and some armour which appear to be fixed to that character and the only ways these items can be improved or upgraded is using weapon and armour runes that you find in weapon and armour racks throughout the game. However these upgrades are also limited so each weapon or armour can only be upgraded once every five levels. The levelling up aspect of the characters is also fairly simple, with the ability to increase one of six attributes and/or the character's powers.

Visually the game is detailed and looks good at reasonable graphics levels with the ability to zoom right in to your party members or hover above them at a distance so that you can see more of the surrounding terrain. However there does not appear that you can interact with too much of the environment; a few levers to open doors, the weapon and armour racks to provide you with runes, and chests which disappointingly seem to only provide bandages that you can use to heal a character in combat.

There were a couple of elements of the game that appeared to not be working correctly in the preview version which will hopefully be fixed when the game is released, for example after first meeting a new enemy or finding an important area messages are displayed saying that entries have been added to the codex, yet there didn’t actually seem to be any way to open this codex to see the information. Also in the main interface you can hover the mouse over a character's weapon to see information about it, including the damage it delivers, etc. but when in the character detail screen when you are trying to decide which weapons to upgrade you don’t seem to be able to display this information.

Overall it looks as though Confrontation will be a good addition to the tactical role-playing genre with some unusual and challenging elements. It will definitely appeal to those who know the original miniature wargame and those players who enjoyed the tactical elements of combining characters skills in games such as Dragon Age though whether the storyline is as in-depth or engaging as some of the other role-playing games mentioned is difficult to tell from a limited preview version.

The final game will also have a multiplayer element allowing players to take control of characters from different factions within the game and battle other players elite units from around the world. Success in these battles will allow players upgrade their characters and unlock new more powerful units to bring to the battlefield.

Confrontation will be released on PC in retail and online stores on April 5th 2012.

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