Review: Warhammer Quest 2: The End Times01 Nov 2017 2
Review: Warhammer Quest 2: The End Times
Released 20 Oct 2017
As yet another year draws to a close, it is time to start thinking about dusting down your tuxedo or sprucing up your evening gown in preparation for The Pocket Tactics Annual Awards. Back in 2013 the runner-up award for Game of The Year, as voted for by you, the public, was the original Warhammer Quest. Is this sequel well placed to do even better?
Warhammer Quest 2: The End Times is a large game, weighing in at a hefty 1.8GB. I encountered the same difficulties squeezing the game into my iPad as I foresee when the time comes to don my tux. However, after a nip here and a tuck there, I was raring to go. Ready to lead my band of warriors across a war-torn land in a quest for a magical mace to bring about the downfall of an evil king.
The usual fantasy hokum is saved by the darkly atmospheric Warhammer setting, with its array of grandly named adventurers and repugnant enemies, of which there are 25 brand new ones to skulk, slither or stand in your way. Whilst it is difficult to imagine the plot winning an Oscar, the presentation gleams like a dragon’s hoard. The highly detailed and atmospheric 3D graphics zoom and pan smoothly. The cinematic soundtrack is by turns rousing and tension-filled, and the map shows cities mechanically soaring from the ground, a la Game of Thrones.
As the quest begins, your small party consists of only two members, led by the stoically named Captain Marcus Hammerfall. However, you will soon pick up new members along the way, up to four of which can make up your adventuring party. The main focus of the game is the ten-part story campaign, each mission located in a different city. You will also face random encounters and have the opportunity to complete side quests in order to grab new cards. As a reminder of the game’s tabletop heritage, characters, armour, weapons, equipment and skills are all represented by collectable cards, of which there are over 200 to acquire.
Reach a city and your party can visit the local inn to recruit new warriors, purchase and sell equipment at markets and spend time and money at the training ground to level-up your party members. None of these things come cheap and you may be tempted to supplement your supply of gold by purchasing more at the cost of £0.99 per 1000 gold coins. Other real-world purchases allow you to buy a new ten-part quest for £4.99. There are also three new warrior and equipment packs available at £2.99 a pop. So, you are looking at spending close on £20.00 to purchase the lot.
The interface works really well and cleverly manages to avoid menus for a much more immediate experience that allows players to focus on the action. It is a very linear, streamlined game in which there is no need to wade through a forest of technology and skill trees. Your warriors start each round with a set number of action points, which are represented by white dots. Moving to a neighbouring square costs a single action point. Be carful though because you warriors will happily walk into blazing fires, setting themselves alit in the process. Combat actions like slashing with a sword or drawing and firing a bow will expend larger numbers of points. The result is a very approachable game that you can jump into without having to constantly refer back to reams of rules.
The release of The End Times has not been without its problems. A fatal bug in the initial release corrupted game save files and although this has now been resolved, the game still suffers from numerous other issues. It occasionally crashes, however the game saves your progress every turn so there isn’t much backtracking to contend with. There have also been reports of various items being unbalanced, or not working at all. I have just completed a giant spider hunt mission without even a sniff of an eight-legged foe. Thankfully, the developers seem to be responsive and keen to resolve these issues as quickly as possible.
My other gripe concerns character level advancements. I feel that battling through an encounter and earning enough experience points should automatically be rewarded with a level increase without the need to visit a training ground and spending additional gold. Gold is usually in short supply and the ever-increasing amounts required to level-up means an growing pressure to spend additional real-world cash.
The End Times is light on strategy and the early missions will present few real problems. The chief consideration is selecting the correct type of weapon to exploit the weakness of the enemies that you are facing. These enemies tend to behave in very predictable patterns and it is often the case that you just need to pick most of them off at distance, before sending in your melee units for mopping up duties. The result is a game that lacks tension; everything plays at a leisurely pace and there is no motivation to keep your adventurers on the move. At least in the original game, the random dungeon events provided the motivation to stay on the move. There is an added incentive to take care of your party since if an adventurer is knocked out and not revived immediately then there is a chance that they will suffer a serious injury. Such wounds will have an impact on a warrior’s abilities in future scenarios but even this will only last until they reach their next experience level.
Warhammer Quest 2: The End Times is a flashy but simplified successor to the original. It feels less like a board game than the first game and more like a game tailor-made for the digital medium. Unfortunately, a sense of challenge and tension has been lost along the way.