A superb addition to Fantasy General II, Empire Aflame expands the title’s content with even more scenarios, units, and heroes to waste away the hours.
Developer: Owned by Gravity
Publisher: Slitherine Ltd.
Release date: 21 Oct, 2020
Fantasy General II was something of a surprise hit for me. Although it checks all of the boxes for a strategy title that I would enjoy, I wasn’t confident enough that I’d enjoy it to dive right in at the $40 price tag. I was quickly converted when I learned that the Empire, with its penchant for using the undead in its forces, was getting its own campaign. My interest was piqued and I dove right in to see what was going on with both the base game and its most recent DLC.
Fantasy General II: a Brief Summary
For those who aren’t in the know, Fantasy General II is a turn-based tactical strategy game based in a fantasy world. Campaigns are a string of scenarios that tell the story of your heroes while allowing them, and their units, to progress from each situation to the next. Your forces are continually improved by resources, items, and experience, and your army will look vastly different from the start of your journey by the end of it. Oddly enough, think of something akin to a fantasy Panzer Corps.
Heroes and units progress down separate paths. Heroes gain experience that improves their attributes and grants skill points that can be spent to gain fairly unique, powerful abilities that can give you significant advantages on the battlefield. There tend to be several ways that each can be specialized and these paths vary wildly between characters. For example, at any given time you may have a hero that can choose between being able to carry an additional magical item, summon a new kind of ally, boost their health, or inspire their allies and improve their capabilities when they are nearby. Each of these unlocks further abilities on the same path, many of them being progressively better than the last.
On the other hand, units still gain experience and have their attributes boosted upon leveling up, but they have sizable class trees that they can upgrade to when the necessary resources are available. Interestingly, experience and class upgrades are two separate systems, meaning that you could upgrade a level one unit to a top-tier class as long as you have the resources saved up. These class trees are a blast and are easily my favorite part of Fantasy General II.
The Empire Returns
A second long campaign has been added to Fantasy General II, and it tells the story of Moira and Filos, a transmuter and a renowned general respectively. They belong to the Empire faction, a rival to the barbarians of the original campaign that was available only in skirmish mode. I’ll avoid spoilers to the narrative here, though it’s a story that’s full of interesting twists as well as an increased emphasis on choice. Clearly, the developers have learned a thing or two about where they want the title to go after the recent Onslaught DLC.
The Empire itself has a few perks that come along with playing it. For one, merchants are readily available that let you purchase resources with gold, which is beyond convenient when you need them. The ability to tax subjects will also mix up your strategies as burning settlements to the ground for a quick payout is no longer an option; the longer you can hold onto and maintain a healthy settlement the more gold you’ll receive from it during the scenario.
You Can Never Have Too Many Classes
It may be unsurprising after some of my earlier statements that my absolute favorite part of this DLC is the addition of a few new units and class trees. You’ll run into a few new takes on the frost trolls that you’ve run into in the past, as well as some rather nasty shadow demons that you’ll come to despise.
Being able to play as the Empire through a long campaign makes the game feel fresh for those who enjoyed playing through the barbarians their first time around. Although unit trees tend to have some similarities between primary factions, there’s enough variety that you’ll have as much fun tailoring your unit composition as you did the first time. Moira’s hero capabilities also augment this by offering a path that grants free undead units at the start of each scenario. Though they’re mercenaries, they act as great fodder while your elites relentless tear into your enemies.
For the most part, Empire Aflame is more of the same when it comes to Fantasy General II. I don’t at all say this in a bad way though; I’ve often found that my favorite type of DLC is that which just gives me more of what I love without trying to reinvent the wheel. This is achieved here by adding a lot of new content that fits nicely into the setting and rules that veterans of Fantasy General II have already become accustomed to. New units, new heroes, new campaigns, and even a couple of new map themes make this a must-buy for anyone that considers themselves a fan of the title. I’m already looking forward to whatever is coming our way next in the series.