• Driftland: The Magic Revival review by Rick Moscatello



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    Sedated RTS

    Driftland: The Magic Revival bills itself as a real time strategy (RTS) role playing game, but it sells itself a bit short by doing so.

    Most RTS games are mad clickfests, and top players in this genre regularly clock 400 mouse-clicks a minute madly micromanaging their forces to build up and overwhelm their opponents. Driftland does have RTS aspects to it, but only in that the game moves in real time, you’ll almost never be in a huge rush to do anything.

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    The basic premise of the game is you’re an uber wizard, ruling over a shattered world composed of islands floating in the air. Right away we have a cool start—you needn’t worry about being rushed by the enemy, as several islands will generally need to be moved around and connected via bridges (usually) before opposing forces could possibly meet.

    Like any RTS, there’s resource gathering; each island is rated for many resources, from the usual wood, stone, and gold to the more exotic diamonds, rubies, and mana. You’ll need peasants for this, but you can easily build cottages, although you’ll also build farms…it’s a fairly complex resource model (way more than usual for a RTS), but it’s all handled cleanly and simply.

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    At some point you’ll build a military, and here’s where the game branches off from the usual for this genre. Your troops have free will, you see…you can’t just grab them and march them off to their death. While they’ll generally head off to where the action is, the best you have in the way of control is to put down flags and offer bounties to have them go attack certain regions. (Fans of the old Majesty series will recognize this type of game, but that was some years ago, and the game also shares some concepts with Netstorm from 1997.)

    You can build knights, archers, and wizards (among other units), but it’s nothing like the frenetic mass builds of other games. Your whole army might be a dozen units, with no guarantee they’ll all be in one spot for a battle, but at least you can support them with spells if you’ve the mana for it.

    You can upgrade just about everything in the game, and you generally will. You can upgrade your farms to have more workers, you can build/upgrade a mill to improve your farms, upgrade the equipment on your troops (if they’ll come to the blacksmith on their own, anyway).

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    Eventually you get a big empire and then the usual RTS micromanagement clickfest does kick in a little, but at least the early and middle parts of the game let you plan your strategy about mining islands and exploiting resources as efficiently as possible.

    Overall, there are some nice ideas here, but the game clearly lacks refinement as ultimately you don’t beat your opponent so much as grind him down until he runs out of resources. Granted, this is an early access game and it could improve greatly over the next six months. Bottom line, if you’re not looking for a new take on RTS gaming, this one is safely avoided for now even if some people will love the game as-is.


    Overall rating: 79
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Driftland: The Magic Revival review by Rick Moscatello started by Doom View original post