SpellForce: Conquest of Eo – First Impressions

Conquest of Eo is a 4X spinoff of the SpellForce series, and initially, my impression was great. But as it turns out, the game seems to have some serious problems in form of difficulty. The first few hours were awesome. It felt like a nice mix between Age of Wonders and Fallen Enchantress: Legendary Heroes. I was happily building up my heroes and doing some general adventuring when something foul and smelly revealed its head. As it turns out, the circle mages, which are powerful opponents, don’t play by the same rules.

Suddenly, one particular circle mage that didn’t like my fledgling mage tower started to show up at my gates with increasingly more difficult stacks of units. I defeated him the first couple of times, however, soon enough he started to show up with units beyond my capacity, and promptly destroyed me. It’s a real shame too because the game up to this point (as mentioned) was damn good. The problem, beyond the increase in power, is that it’s really hard for you to do the same – and I like that aspect, that it’s slow and hard, but it means you are screwed when the enemy AI doesn’t play by the same rules. Another missing thing here is that there seems to be no diplomacy, which means you can’t buy your way out of a pickle.

Otherwise, it seems to be a really fine game with interesting adventuring in turn-based 4X mode. You don’t expand as in building more cities, but you upgrade your tower and increase its influence. You also use heroes that can build lodges that expand your domination further. When the game doesn’t feel like screwing you over, it’s really pleasant to adventure, gather more resources, and do quests. The graphics and art are also well-made, and the experience overall makes for a somewhat classic PC gaming experience. The story, part of the main campaign (the currently only way to play) seems to be good too. The writing is snappy, and sets a nice atmosphere for the world of Eo – a world filled with magic and monsters.

My own little tower of Babel

All this makes it more so bitter that the “cheating” AI ruins it. Now, I’m a bit pissed off to be honest, wasting money and all, so I have not explored all venues before hitting the quit button. Maybe there is a way around this, maybe you don’t even need to meta-game to get passed it, but the thing is, I’m not the only one. Many are asking the same questions over at the forum. This makes me worried it was an intentional design decision to make the game harder, which also means there is no way out of this. That is my impression anyway, it started great but quickly fall on its face. Conquest of Eo shows awesome potential, however, brutal and unfair AI holds it back and makes it feel like a grind instead of an adventure.

Thanks for reading


PS. It is as I fear, the design is intentional. This was said by a developer on Steam forums:

Uram should not attack you unless his relationship is below 110 with you, so there is some control there. Sometimes it is better to move away than risk annoying him further. The game scales with time, so the longer you are in defensive battles or lag behind in resource acquisition, the more the difficulty may escalate. Starting in another region, lowering difficulty, and keeping the circle happy a bit longer are all around that. We are looking into more customizable difficulty as well

Yeah, this means there is no way around this. The game is set up so the circle mages will start to harass you at one point or another. You might be thinking of just avoiding them, but you can’t since events lower your reputation with them, and eventually, they will see you as an enemy. This is very much gameplay designed around a meta this is unknown to the player, which makes it doubly bad. Also level scaling never feels good in any RPG game. Real shame.

Update 2023-02-26
The devs of Conquest of Eo have released a patch that seems to fix some of the issues I have with the game. I have not tried it yet, since I got burned out on the game, but going over the patch improvements it looks good. You can find the update here!

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