Battle For Wesnoth

The fate of Wesnoth is in your hands.

While Wesnoth has been out for years, it’s as fresh and worthy of a review now as it was back when it first hit the internets.  The reason for this is quite simple; it has long been a member of that rare entity of freeware that is so good that it feels as though you bought it at a store.

A turn based strategy game with an almost real time strategy feel, Battle for Wesnoth sets you in a wondrous fantasy land with a history so long and so vast that to try and give a synopsis of the story would be futile.  You can play as the rightful heir to the thrown, or the leader of an elvish clan trying to find a new home, or you can play through a horde of other campaigns, each unique in content with unique characters and unique units.  In fact the variety of stories you can play is such that you almost feel as though each can be its own game.

And when you are bored with the stock campaigns, you can design your own, or you can challenge your friends to prove who is the greatest strategist.

In fact, the sheer mass of options available to you alone sets this game apart from the rest in that there’s simply so much you can do.  You can play for weeks upon weeks and still only see a fraction of what Wesnoth has to offer.

And this is a good thing because the basic mechanics of the game are simply too good to be true.  As I mentioned above, this is a turn based strategy game, however it often feels more like an RTS.  This is due primarily to an approach that is more in keeping with titles like Starcraft and Warcraft, than Final Fantasy Tactics and Heroes of Might and Magic.

Unlike other more popular TBS’s, most everything in Wesnoth takes place on the field of battle; resource management, tree progression management, even the storyline.  While Heroes of Might and Magic clearly separates battle from everything else, Wesnoth adopts the approach of the BLIZZARD strategies in making you focus on everything all at once.

This hybridization on old concepts creates a wonderful experience; one that ropes you in easily and makes everything feel much more urgent and important.

Of course, this would all fall apart without a solid foundation, but Wesnoth has that covered.  Learning how to play takes minutes, with the control of your troops greatly streamlined.  Thus, Wesnoth becomes the kind of game that you can play in twenty minutes, or you can get yourself absorbed for a whole day.  It’s simply brilliant; the minutiea is a non factor, allowing you to focus much more on broader tactics and strategies which is the true joy of the game.

This is bolstered by lovingly crafted pixel art and a truly epic soundtrack that hearkens back to the golden age of pc strategy games.  You know me, you know my love for this type of visual, but you truly have to see BFW to appreciate its aesthetic qualities.

These are in turn strengthened by the variety of units you control.  According to the site there are over two-hundred different units you can control which means you don’t run into that typically annoying instance where the graphics are pretty, but the actual subjects are too few and repetitive.  Indeed, you’ll find yourself playing over and over again for no other reason than to see what other units you can cultivate if you can just manage to get that level 2 ranger to level up one more time.

But all the techno-stuffs can still fail in one area-fun.  Wesnoth doesn’t.  There’s an almost intangible quality to BFW that you can’t put your finger on, and yet you can feel it driving you, forcing you to keep playing, to see what the next mission is, or what the highest level of the next unit looks like.  You will find yourself on a mission to flee your pursuers through a mountain pass, and you can actually feel the urgency and suspense as the army of skeletons just behind you nips at your heels.

Call it pacing, call it developing a formula that works well, call it what you will.  All I know is that Battle for Wesnoth is damn fun, and it’s a blessing that something so well polished and engaging is free.

One Response to Battle For Wesnoth

  1. ¿Que tal todo? He estado visitando tu weeb por sobrado tiempo hasta estos momentos y finalmente tengo el
    valentia de comentar desde Vera Pueblo de Espaa .Unicamente
    me gustaria decirte que continues haciendo tan gran desempeño!

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