Avadon 3: The Warborn Preview - CRPG Brilliance
Lately, I have really wanted to play a good old fashioned RPG. Not something like the Elder Scrolls or Fallout, but rather a more classic turn-based RPG -- though something that isn't Baldur's Gate, Icewind Dale or Planescape Torment. Thankfully Spiderweb Software was kind enough to give me the opportunity to play and preview their upcoming title Avadon 3: The Warborn. I must say it certainly tamed my classic RPG itch most gracefully.
Anyone who has followed the RPG side of video games over the past twenty years will know of Spiderweb Software's games, even they don't know the developer's name. They created such titles as the Exile Trilogy, Geneforge series, and Avernum series.
Avadon 3: The Warborn is a CRPG in the veins of legendary titles such as those mentioned above. For what it lacks in graphical and aural appeal, it greatly makes up for in combat, character, a deep story, and characters that most games could only dream of delivering. It is the third and final installment of the Avadon series, and it is looking to be a cracker of a conclusion.
Will you be a defender, traitor or destroyer?
The player takes on the role of a Hand of Avadon. A hand is a person with extreme power, so much that they are above the law. They can act of their own will and decide who lives, who is arrested and who dies. Think of them as being a medieval Judge Dread but on a bigger scale.
They are judges and executioners. They only answer to The Keeper of Avadon, an individual who decides what actions are required to keep peace in the continent of Lynaeus. The story takes place with Lynaeus in constant war and Avadon as the once great fortress and protector of the land in ruins.
Redbeard, the Keeper of Avadon has been overthrown and is in hiding, leaving the forces of Avadon in disarray. The barbaric tribes of the Farlands are at war with one another. A mysterious figure attempts to destroy Avadon, and The Corruption, a disease, is spreading killing all in its path to the west.
You must choose how to deal with these situations. You must decide who you ally yourself with. You make the decision on who lives and who dies. Does Avadon survive or does it fall? Do you save the lands or destroy them? The fate of Lynaeus is in your hands.
One of my concerns with playing the third installment in the series is that I wouldn't understand the plot.
Thankfully, it is not required to play the previous two games before playing the third. A lot of the plot leading up to this installment is covered throughout the game through dialogue and finding documents in settlements.
The plot itself is interesting and at times quite intense. The player must make decisions that can really alter how the game progresses. In one instance, for example, the player must choose whether to show mercy to a town, raid it to set an example, or burn it to ground.
Each decision will result in a different outcome and certain characters will react differently to your choice. It is a story that you truly feel a part of, and where you decisions really matter and shape the world. It is something that is often attempted in video games but done in a way where whatever your decisions are, they make little difference to the world.
It leaves you feeling like your choices never really make that much of a difference. With Avadon 3 it is quite the opposite. Choices do make a difference, and they do so in a big way. As far as stories go, Avadon 3 is one of the best and most in-depth stories I have experienced in quite some time. So much so that it has kept me hooked for well over twenty hours, and is showing no signs of letting me go anytime soon.
Who will you be?
Before starting the game, you will get to choose the type of character you would like to play. There is a total of five different character classes to choose from.
The first is the Blademaster who wears heavy armor, specializes in close combat and charges into the heat of battle. They are extremely tough and have the ability to challenge enemies, causing them to focus their attacks away from weaker allies.
The Shadowwalker is an assassin. They are fast, silent and deadly. While they are not able to withstand the punishment of the Blademaster, they are capable of dealing a lot of damage and doing so quickly. They specialize in both melee and ranged combat, making them ideal for adapting to various combat scenarios.
The Sorcerer is capable of wielding the powerful magic of the elements. While they may be weak in close quarter combat, their magic makes them devastating from a distance. They are capable of using spells consisting of fire, ice, lightning, and acid.
The Shaman is a being who respects nature, and it respects them back. They have the ability to call the wild for assistance, along with having various skills and spells that come from the Earth itself. They are powerful allies capable of casting all forms of useful spells such as protection and healing. They are always a worthy ally.
The final class is one that you see in few games -- the Tinkermage. They specialize in creating all forms of constructs, such as turrets and traps, to aid them in battle. They are not half bad at attacking using ranged weapons, either.
Each of the classes is quite well-balanced. No one class has a distinct advantage over the other. They all are useful in their own right, and swapping around your allies to tackle various instances is vital to success. While a Blademaster might be useful in one instance, they might not be so in another -- and the same applies to all the classes.
This gives the game a further strategic element to it, making combat more in-depth. Figuring out what character class is best suited for the job can lead to quite a sense of achievement once you finally beat that battle you were stuck on for awhile.
Excellent and strategic character development
As you progress through the game, you and your party will gain experience. While experience is gained from combat most is gained from completing quests. Even those who are not in your immediate party will still gain experience as you do.
Each time you level up you will gain stat points and skill points that you can distribute how you see fit. Each character class requires different stats and possesses its own set of skills. The character development allows you to level up each of the characters in accordance to what suits your play style.
For example, with the Blademaster, you can make them an all-out powerhouse of destruction -- or you can choose to make them more a defensive type. Which of these types you choose will depend on the skills and the stats that you distribute points into.
Of course, you don't need to choose either one or the other; you can also have a character that is a little bit of everything if you wish. The system gives you full freedom, allowing you to shape your character and your allies as you want or need them.
If you are unhappy with your choices in leveling up your character, you can go to an NPC that will allow you to redistribute all the points. This further adds to the strategic element of the game, as you can change your characters stats and skills in accordance with different circumstances.
It is a fun system, and one that makes you think about how you want to shape each of the characters at your disposal. Not only that, but it is dead easy to follow -- whereas a lot of CRPG games can be quite complex and difficult to understand. This allows for all players of all to no experience to play with little difficulty.
If I was to criticize anything when it comes to it, it would be that some of the skills feel a bit overpowered. An example of this would be the Thorn Spikes spell. It makes any melee attacks deal back huge amounts of damage to the attacker.
The skills are one of the very few things I would criticize with the game and the only major fault worth noting. The imbalance applies to both the player's characters along with enemies. They require a bit of rebalancing but aside from that, everything about character progression is just dandy.
A brilliant CRPG is on the horizon
Avadon 3 may not have spectacular graphics and the sound effects may feel a bit amateur. Look past that however and you will find a game that has a ton of content. It has dozens of quests, items, and secrets to be found. The plot is great; it's intriguing, intense and gripping.
The combat is exactly as you would expect from a classic turn-based RPG. The character development is fun and deep. The characters themselves are really well-written and the choices you have to make, are difficult.
It is a game that players of all skill levels can play -- from those new to the genre to the downright masochistic CRPG veterans, there are difficulty levels to suit all. It is a game that will keep you hooked and playing, from the very moment that you start playing. I've enjoyed every minute of the twenty hours I spent with Avadon 3. And even with my version being the current beta build, it is immensely polished, with not one single technical issue experienced.
If you are a fan of CRPG games or looking for a heavily plot driven RPG, then Avadon 3 may be right up your alley, and is certainly a title to keep your eye on. From what I have experienced so far, this is looking to be a most promising title and release. Avadon 3 will release on Steam for PC and Mac users September 14th, 2016.
Disclaimer: A copy of the game was provided by the publisher for the purpose of this preview.