Test – Spellforce 3 Reforced: a disappointing port on consoles

Released in 2017 on PC, Spellforce 3 is finally entitled to a console port. But is THQ Nordic’s strategy game still worth a look?

Alongside the big RTS franchises like Age of Empires, Starcraft or Command & Conquer, there are a few series that are a little less known but which have nevertheless managed to forge a fanbase over the years. On the surface, Spellforce is nothing special. This is a classic real-time strategy game. The title of THQ Nordic has however managed to find its audience by developing a rich universe through each new opus. Until now, however, the series had never left the PC. It’s done with Reforced, the PS4/5 and Xbox One/Series port of Spellforce 3.

Visually, the game hasn’t aged too badly, despite the years.

Bad surprise right out: Spellforce 3 is not delivered by default with all of its extensions. The basic game is sold, on consoles, 39.99€. To recover its two (large) extensions, it will be necessary to pay 20€ more for the integral edition. A first setback for buyers since casually it is still a game of more than five years that we are served again at a high price. That being said, clearly, if you’ve ever played a previous installment in the franchise, the Complete Edition is worth checking out. Its two extensions, Fallen God and Soul Harvest are great successes.

Spellforce 3, in its basic version, nevertheless already offers substantial content with a beefy single player mode and a Journey mode that will keep you stuck for hours. The title draws its particularity from the fact that it mixes a strategy game and a role-playing game. Here you lead a hero and his army. At the start of the adventure, the player will have to choose one of the three factions available to him. Each has its characteristics and units. Spellforce 3 takes care to develop the RPG aspect by offering character level-ups, numerous dialogues and secondary quests – essential for improving your character. Interesting ideas which are however not explored to the end. Because let’s face it, Spellforce 3 remains above all an RTS. A game in which you build a base, raise an army and crush your opponents.

Some game sequences are very impressive.

The problem is that Spellforce 3 is neither a good RPG nor a good RTS. The title has managed to forge a community thanks to its very rich universe, and it is true, admirably represented on the screen with superb artistic direction, neat dialogues and very nice visuals. On the gameplay side, however, it’s a very generic RTS that doesn’t really shine but remains decent.

On PC, the title remained pleasant to play with the pad and the mouse, despite a very heavy interface. On console, on the other hand, the experience is much less convincing. The controls are complex and the game interface has not been adapted to the pad at all. Understand by this that once in the menus, the texts appear very small, as they would appear on a PC screen. A display that is not at all suitable for television screens… Manipulating the cursor on the screen is also a real way of the cross. We feel it, the developers did not strain to bring the game to consoles.

The interiors are superb.

It’s all the more unfortunate that the game offers a rich and very pleasant single-player campaign to discover the game mechanics of the series. The game alternates narrative sequences, management and strategy brilliantly to teach you the basics of the trade. Pad in hand, however, the experience can sometimes seem disturbing. When building your base, the pad controls remain decent. In the heat of battle, when it comes to moving troops quickly, however, everything can quickly become very complicated…

Reforced also introduces another very rich game mode called Journey, which offers to create your own character and become the leader of an army of mercenaries. To progress in this mode, it will be necessary to accept contracts. Your character will grow stronger as the adventure progresses. The richness of the mode is to swap the linearity of the single player mode to allow the player to follow the path he wants.

Players who wish to can also compete online in a pleasant conflict mode that lacks strategic richness. Because this is indeed the main flaw of this Spellforce 3: it is a pleasant RTS, full of good ideas and visually neat, but which lacks depth and on which it is difficult to return once the adventure closed.

On the finish side, it’s hard to forgive the odds of this console version which has clearly not been adapted to pad controls. The title also retains its original flaws with often mediocre dubbing, long dialogues and pathfinding from another age. If you have the opportunity, therefore prefer the PC version.

Conclusion

If he managed to forge a solid fanbase on PC, Spellforce 3 struggles to seduce on consoles, the fault of a grip not at all adapted to the pad. The developers have not bothered to rethink the handling of the game. The controls are complex and above all the interface unreadable on a television screen. However, the game itself is still very enjoyable. Spellforce 3 draws its richness from its believable fantasy world, effective genre-mixing, and solid direction. The title presents itself as a curious mixture of RTS and RPG. However, its gameplay remains very generic. Given the complex controls, we can only recommend that you play it preferably on PC. Especially since to get the full game (the basic game + its two extensions), you will still have to pay €59.99 on consoles…

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Spellforce 3 Reforced

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