Strategy Game of the Year 2015: Templar Battleforce

By Tof Eklund 28 Dec 2015 0
Tripadvisor says "Xenos, sandstorms, and the illegal spice trade. Would purge with fire again!" Tripadvisor says "Xenos, sandstorms, and the illegal spice trade. Would purge with fire again!"

The Trese BrothersTemplar Battleforce isn’t the glossiest strategy game of the year, nor is it the most exquisitely polished or delicately balanced. It wears its inspirations on its sleeve, from Space Hulk and XCOM to Dune and Battlestar Galactica, so it probably can’t even be considered the most original strategy game of the year.

What Templar Battleforce has going for it is strong one more turn / one more level appeal. In game design, this is called a “feedback loop,” a pattern of stimulus and response that keeps players engaged. Engagement is a fuzzy term, so let’s break it down. What makes Templar Battleforce so compelling?

Part of it is a matter of feel. Your Leviathan mechs and their versatile pilots play like a superior fighting force facing nigh-insurmountable odds. The lucid 2D art makes them massive even as the game’s system allows for displays of supreme accuracy and agility. Unlike the clunky awkwardness of Space Hulk’s Terminators, or the fragile incompetence of a green recruit in XCOM, your elite soldiers in Templar Battleforce actually play like elite soldiers, even at lower levels.

Another compelling element to the game is the way it embraces Strategy RPG (SRPG) mechanics. The interactions between a Zendu-blooded pilot’s skills and their Leviathan armor’s loadout can be tailored like a suit. If you’ve speced your pilots appropriately and given them the gear they need, then all you have to do is get them to the right place on the battlefield, and they will do their duty with aplomb.

But it’s the campaign that ultimately makes Templar Battleforce a winner. The missions are varied, demanding different use of the tools at your disposal, the plot and backstory delve into the lore of previous games in the Star Traders universe, and there’s a sense of being part of a military trying, sometimes desperately, to respond to changing political as well as strategic concerns.

As a result, nearly every mission comes with a chance to try out tweaked strategies, adapt to new situations, and prepare for the next fall of the hammer. Templar Battleforce isn’t perfect, but it delivers an engaging battle/upgrade loop throughout the best single-player campaign of the year.

To see all of the games recognized in the Pocket Tactics Best of 2015 Awards, visit the 2015 Awards Index page.
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