Long time developer of The Settlers and the Anno games, developer Blue Byte has launched a brand new – although Settlers-inspired – IP with Champions of Anteria.
For a long time, we had not heard much buzz surrounding Champions of Anteria. Then during a Gamescom-event, we ran into a group of German journalists who were all eagerly anticipating the game’s impending release. With that in mind, we dove into the game’s background and became intrigued as well.
Champions of Anteria is, in a way, a spinoff of the Settlers series of games. They are well-received village builders, with a huge following in Blue Byte’s homeland of Germany but with fans spanning the globe. Champions of Anteria was originally going to be a new entry in the series, but Blue Byte had a change of heart when it appeared as though they were straying too far from their Settlers formula.
With a new name, Champions of Anteria is now a hybrid game that mixes village building with action role playing and a tiny bit of real time strategy as well. Having said that and having played the game, our conclusion is that the game still leans quite heavily on the Settlers origins it has, but manages to mix things up just enough to be different.
In essence, you’re getting two games blended into one – much like how games like Dungeons 2 and Spellforce do. The village building aspect of Anteria is its best developed part – perhaps not surprisingly considering Blue Byte’s area of expertise. In fact, building up your village is quite similar to what you’re used to in the Settlers games, right down the visual style that the game uses. Again – when you look at the development of the game – this is no big surprise.
Settlers fans will feel right at home when it comes to building their village. There are different categories of building, there are resources to be gathered, and strategic placement of your assets is important when it comes to being effective. A large part of this has to do with the elements – with some buildings thriving next to water where others won’t, for instance.
Your champions also play a role in how to manage your village, as it’s they who will embark on missions for you. You’ll want them strong, and equipped with a good set of weapons – and when you select a mission you’ll switch to an action RPG style of gaming. This is also where Champions of Anteria starts to struggle.
The action RPG portion of the game looks like your typical action RPG title – with its visuals resembling Torchlight to a degree – but the action never feels quite as polished as it does in other games. The sad part is that you’re constantly thinking that a little bit of extra polish is exactly what the game needs, and this applies to a few areas. For one, there are AI issues, where characters either feel paralyzed or stupid. One of your champions can be engaged in battle, even losing, but his companions who are standing two steps away won’t lift a finger unless you explicitly instruct them to do so. When you do, controls feels imprecise as well – clicks not registering and attacks missing the mark are not rare events.
Although imprecise controls aren’t strictly an AI issue, there’s also pathfinding that fails at times. Characters can wander off and take the long way towards their destination, unwittingly attracting attention from superior (number of) foes. The effects can range from comical right down to ruining the mission you’re on – which is also true for a number of technical bugs in the game.
While the action RPG half of the game is far from perfect, it’s not beyond repair – but the game clearly needs a bit of patchwork before it’s as fun as it can be. There’s an entertaining light-hearted fantasy storyline behind everything that’s delivered with a dose of humor, the village building is fun, but the package doesn’t quite come together just yet. As a result, it’s hard to figure out who to recommend the game to at this point. Village builders are better off playing a recent Settlers game, and there are many excellent action RPGs out there worthy of your attention. Mixing the both of them together is a nice idea, but Champions of Anteria doesn’t quite deliver on its promise just yet.