Having revived Nier, Toylogic’s follow up title, Warlander, is something rather different.
Forget single player adventure with puzzles and an emotional narrative; Warlander is all about intense multiplayer action. Playing as part of a team, this is all about knowing your goal, pulling your weight, and overcoming the competition. Emerge victorious, and aside from being smug you’ll receive increased rewards. Lose, and well, there’s always next time.
Jump into Warlander, and you’ll find yourself a member of a 20-strong army. Your goal: wage war on your opponents, battling your way into their inner keep in order to destroy their core. The question is: how many armies do you want to wage war against? If you want a clear opponent to focus on, perhaps just a 2-army match-up will fit the bill. But if you want something on a larger scale, 5-army match-ups are also available, where making allies pays dividends. Just be careful you’re not stabbed in the back.
But how does Warlander actually play, you’re probably wondering? Ultimately, it’s a third-person action game, full of intense combat encounters. Three character classes are available: the Warrior, who excels in close combat, the Mage, who hangs back and attacks with powerful spells, and the Cleric, who holds their own in combat while supporting other players. The nature of Warlander means that you might concentrate on one class or employ all three. Especially as the Warrior and the Cleric also have ranged combat options.
As mentioned earlier, the goal in Warlander is waltzing into an opponent’s inner keep and demolishing their core, taking them out of the battle. The problem is, it’s not easy accessing that core. Penetrating a castle’s defences requires a battering ram or an equivalent siege weapon, but they need to be built and moved into place to be effective. Alternatively, there’s strength in numbers: get enough players together and barriers can be quickly brown down with a hail of attacks.
Of course, the real entertainment in Warlander comes from the tug of war that takes place on the battlefield between castles. Towers that acts as spawn points get contested, and players need to be aware of when their castle is under attack in case they need to go back to defend it. Divided into five squads of four, however, each army determines its grand strategy beforehand, with each squad given a priority of attacking or defending.
Ultimately, success comes down to how well players fulfil their roles. An army will get nowhere if its attackers can’t break down defences and overcome those who stand in their way, for example. And to help in this endeavour, players can improve their characters over time, equipping them with better armour, weapons and skills. These powered up combatants can’t be employed from a battle’s outset, however. First, lower rank characters need to be deployed until Valor has been earned.
There’s quite a lot going on in Warlander, then. And that’s before you also have to get your head around powerful cataclysms and giant robots that are sometimes drawn into battle, both of which can quickly change an army’s fortune. In fact, in the early hours it perhaps can all be a little overwhelming. Stick with it, though, and things fall into place.
A number of things about Warlander may deter some players from investing too much time into it, however. Its melee combat, for example, feels overly scrappy, and players might not like the fact that you can only block, not dodge. Balancing also seems to be all over the place, with the Cleric class certainly being the weakest of the three. And then there’s the pay-to-win element. Yes, as well as cosmetic, you can buy ability-altering items as well as consumables that can boost growth.
But it’s early days for Warlander, and while there are some things that undoubtedly need polishing and tweaking, there’s fun to be had at its core. In any case, it’s free to play, and you can pick up the basics in minutes. So, if you’re after a game that allows you to wage war on a large scale, it’s worth giving it a try.