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Written by  :  Queen of Hell (188)
Written on  :  Jul 24, 2019
Platform  :  Windows
Rating  :  1.29 Stars1.29 Stars1.29 Stars1.29 Stars1.29 Stars

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Summary

It should have stayed on mobile platforms.

The Good

What did I find good about this game? That's an interesting question to answer. Let's go over the departments, starting with the one that is thrown at you from the start - visuals. The art on the panels advancing the story was nice. The dungeon art was not terrific, but it was pleasing to look at, and doing its job to set the proper atmosphere of a cave, a classical dungeon or some sewer. And the Game of Thrones styled global map was a very cool touch as well, with the models of the major settlements often taken from the official maps.

I've also liked the fact that it is set in a universe that was not very popular in the day of its glory, shadowed by the younger sibling - WarHammer 40K. In 2019 the WarHammer Fantasy Battles world was closed entirely for a few years already, so making a game that explores these places was a really good touch. Especially since it had me introduced to it, and made me read up a lot of lore to get a better understanding of what's going on at all.

Oh, and the learning curve was more of a learning straight line - it is indeed very easy to learn how to play the game properly after just a few hours in, plus the variety of items and skills to equip does make it possible to suit every player's style.

I'm afraid those are about the only redeeming qualities this game has for me.

The Bad

What did I find bad about this game? Oh, boy, this is going to be a really long text, so brace yourselves. We're starting with the graphics department again. Remember I've mentioned the nice art on the story panels and in the dungeons? Well, that's about it, because the actual art used for the character and mob models is familiar to me from around the early 2000s. I'm pretty sure I saw similar, and even better done ones back in the day almost twenty years ago. It looks awfully contrasting and not in a good way with the background art. A bunch of repeating animations everyone has didn't help out much either. Different enemies within one faction soon enough turn into colour-coded entities, being basically a same model just in another colouring scheme, depending on their abilities and hit points. There was even one point in the game when a new type of mob was created by stripping animation from a regular one, and making it tougher. And no, it was not a bug.

Now, for music and sound. It's 2019 and it's a game released early this year. Naturally, one would expect a nice musical score, capable of filling a studio album on its own; a lot of sophisticated sound effects and a lot of acting people giving voice wherever possible in game. Right? Wrong. There's a track for the main menu, for the strategical map and settlements, for exploring a dungeon and for combat. Four musical tracks in total. There was an attempt to make them pathetic or emotional, but it failed, and when you hear the same tune over and over again it gets annoying and irritating. Sound effects were all stock, taken from some audio data bank apparently, and I can't say that any of them had significant impact on me. But what killed me the most here is that the creators were not bothered at all to get someone to at least narrate the text on the screen, it was like a release from the early nineties at best. Beside a few dying screams, there was absolutely no acting at all. No single line of dialogue was voiced either. You know, I remember a game out of 1994 that had employed several dozen actors to give it depth. I think that when a modern release is compared to something that is a quarter of a century old and the recent game loses the comparison, beaten fair and square... Well, I'd say it's quite a situation.

Let's talk gameplay now. I had grown up on the games from late eighties and early nineties, so okay, I can rant about graphics and sound, but I still can enjoy a game to its fullest if the most important part of it, the gameplay, is fulfilling enough. And what do we have here? From the very start you get some weird design decision that made sure that you can't access the options menu until you are actually in game. You need to start a new game, read an intro that you can't skip, read the tutorial, and only after that you might have a chance to spot a tiny cog button to configure the graphics, sound and UI. And while we're on the user interface topic - the game detected that I'm in Russia and set the language to Russian respectively. A few minutes into the game and you'll see that the localisation was done so badly that the text (which could easily be longer in Russian) is piling over the information boxes, covering and concealing completely quite important, especially at the start, things like the pierce damage resistance of an enemy. I'm unsure about the other languages it comes in, but it's obvious that only the English version was polished to make sure that the text fits every box designed for it. Good thing I'm fluent in it, and switched to the original the moment I could.

Suppose we got past that and finally reached the point where we read the information that is crucial for the game, and that info is the description of the four attributes that form the basis of the RPG system. Speed determines the chance of chained up attacks (Death Strike); Dexterity - chance to hit; Strength and Intelligence are self explanatory, but none of them is as valuable as Speed. The funniest part is that while your characters and the mobs have the same four stats employed, the value of each point in the stat... Maybe the enemies start handicapped, but each point they get into one of their stats is nearly thrice as effective as it is for your party members.

Each time you end your turn, the camera pans to the spot where most of your characters are, no matter how you've set it up before, or instead it for some reason hovers over to the enemies and you can't even see if their ranged attacks hit your warriors or not, and aren't able to see if someone has moved on them in melee either. Only sounds of somebody being slapped with a wet rag, which accompany a successful hit, could give you some suggestions then. And if that is not enough, a huge YOUR TURN inscription will hang up for several seconds, not allowing you to do anything but panning the screen, or rotating it.

Area of effect attacks are powerful if they hit, but you first need to make them hit. When you make one of your characters choose, say, a bomb, or a freezing spell, the cursor switches to several red squares highlighting where it would land, centred on your warrior, but it's a pain to make the damn thing move and fit to where you want it to go! You just move your cursors and the camera pans. You then click your cursors and it pans again, only jumping rapidly back to your characters. You growl and click again and finally make the red targeting squares move to where you want them to go only to get stuck behind some column. You accidentally click again because your finger gets tired, and it's released back into your crowd for some filthy reason. And if the surrounding area is of the reddish hue, good luck trying to see which of the enemy characters could be hit, and which could not. Oh, come on!

Have you had enough, cause we're just getting to the juiciest bits? No? Good. The game is a way to switch off your brain and let it melt a little after a long day, because it won't make you think more than once or twice every two hours in a session. Each and every dungeon is cleared in the same pattern. Your party slowly, steadily advances, keeping together all the time. Whenever a new area is triggered (by simply stepping on a square adjacent to a door), you put a tank or two in front of your ranged attackers, who pick from afar as many enemies as they can before the tanks sort out those who got close enough. AI is dumb here. The mobs won't try to sit you out and force you to move in so you could get your party into the line of fire of their ranged units in a favourable position. If they see that the only narrow passage toward your characters is one hell of a conflagration, or it is an area of snap freeze, they'll gladly rush through it, catching fire or turning into an ice statue. The variance comes in the form of regular ambushes happening both in combat and while you're crawling from room to room, the main problem being that an enemy can drop between your two weakest characters in that case. But if you have your party sticking close to each other, there won't be any problem. The game advert does not lie - it is indeed very easy to learn how to play the game, but mastering it is a combination of experiment and luck. You can't tell what an item can do unless you've gained it or at least managed to read its description in the barter window, and you can't tell how useful it will be for your character build unless you try it out. The luck factor is entirely in the domain of RNG...

Random Numbers Generator is the main deity in this game, it rules everything. It determines chances to hit, what are going to be your rewards for completing a dungeon, what characters are available to you, what happens next. It even controls your level up. You've absolutely no choice in what you're getting improved as you develop your characters, and it's just a random pick out of four main stats, HP, inventory space and action points. So expect stunted builds or melee characters who have suddenly been developed for intelligence based playthrough. And everything in the game costs money, even level ups, but the rewards you get and the prices you get for your loot are barely able to keep you from being broke, not speaking of allowing you to obtain nice new gear, so there's a lot of grinding to be expected. There are even achievements that clearly require countless hours sunk in the game. Like obtain one million gold, when after the moment I no longer had to spend any money, I ran through at least thirty dungeons and obtained around twenty five thousand gold pieces. Seriously? Or traveller - journey one hundred thousand miles. How am I even supposed to know how far or close I am to that amount?

But we're not done discussing the gameplay yet. What logic was used when making the random travel events is still beyond me, because at one point I can choose and equip a character that is going to deal with it. At another - I can't, and have to send in those that the game chose for me. And bugs... Bugs range from achievements not working (Floor is Lava is clearly broken, for example, I made sure that at least 25 squares are burning, and did not get it; Tank is broken - my characters have deflected ten thousand damage in total, I wager, but it still did not trigger) to the dungeons being completed randomly. I mean, you have opened up a room, quickly killed five Skaven inside and the dungeon is complete. Obviously, the QA department was not paid at all. The best explanation I had was that for some reason the victory trigger was tied to the specific room art and layout, not to the specific creatures, and the rooms do tend to repeat themselves inside the dungeons...

And after you've completed a main quest level, you can redo it again, and again, and again, knowing what to expect and grinding experience. But the wish to take care of your party members is severely hindered by the fact that they simply can't die. Even the most grievous injury just knocks them out, and they come back to their senses after the fighting is over. I think I better stop ranting about the gameplay aspect and finish this section with a few words on the story.

While it's nice that the game tries to explore the events not mentioned in the books and lore of this universe, I found most of the transits lacking any logic. An attempt to connect the levels to each other was done only in the third chapter. In the first two, you are presented with two or three levels that follow each other up at best, the rest being opened up with no apparent reason. I mean, why do we decide that our next stop should be there? Did we throw a damn dice and said that-a-way?? This lack of any logical connection and aimless hopping over the world put me off a lot.

The Bottom Line

Warhammer Quest II: The End Times is a port of a game released for smartphones and tablets, and its mobile roots are not just showing, they're all over the place. The creators did a really lousy job in my opinion, in the sole attempt to earn some more money on the hardcore WarHammer fans without even bothering to bring the game to what is a PC game minimal standard.

I'd say that if you're such a hardcore WarHammer FB fan that you can't pass a single release set in the universe, then sure, give it a go, and have your band of misfits wander the lands of the Empire. Or if you are a hardcore tactical RPG fan and are desperately looking for a game in the genre to play while you're waiting for the next AAA release. It would also serve nicely for those who had never played tactical RPGs before and want something easy to dip in the genre and learn the ropes, bells and whistles. Otherwise - give it a pass, you won't regret this, because I think the game is worth no more than a quarter of its price.

It fits the mobile world where it came from much better to kill some time on a long trip, but mind you - these versions are very monetized. Each new region and new character class are ought to be unlocked with a microtransaction.