Once upon a time…
In the Summer of 2015, Stardock released a 4X-RPG hybrid called Sorcerer King. The premise of the game was that after the events of Fallen Enchantress (or choose any fantasy 4X really) the bad guy (in this case, the Sorcerer King) had conquered the world. The good guys had lost.
Not content with ruling the world, the Sorcerer King had begun to use a mysterious artifact known as the Bane of Curgen (an orb) to destroy the shards of Elemental to ascend to godhood.
Your role in Sorcerer King was to stop him. To do that, you would raise and army, gather allies and confront the Sorcerer King in his fortress.
And this was super fun…for the first few times.
However, there are only so many times it’s fun to go kill fizban in his castle and Sorcerer King thus had limited replaybility.
Rivals: Your Turn
Over the past year, we gave some thought as to what would increase replayability without losing what makes Sorcerer King unique amongst 4X strategy games. We hit upon the idea that the player should have the ability to become a god too. In this way, we not only got to eliminate the Doomsday counter but instead gave the game more strategic depth without sacrificing the things that made Sorcerer King so special.
Below are a few key things that make Sorcerer King: Rivals different from Sorcerer King.
A New UI:
The first thing players will notice is that there’s a new UI. We tried hard to not have to change it but ultimately, we realized that to do what we wanted to do, we had to redo the user interface. For example, we want to support an unlimited number of world resources rather than the fixed number we had in Sorcerer King. Similarly, since the object of the game now is to charge up the orb of power (the bane) and compel it to obey you, we would need a different way of presenting that.
Also, as we made neutral civilizations into potential rivals, we would need to highlight that aspect of the game.
Two new races
I don’t want to rag on Sorcerer King. It is still a good game. We made some assumptions when we designed it that didn’t lead it to have the diversity we hoped it would have in gameplay.
Sorcerer King had 6 sovereigns to choose from. Which is nice. Here’s the issue, all 6 of them were sovereigns of the Kingdom. In other words, there was ONE race in Sorcerer King and you always ruled the village of Athica.
We made this choice with the best of intentions: It was good for the story. But it wasn’t good for replayability.
In Rivals, there are two more sovereigns but each sovereign leads its own completely new race which means they have their own units, buildings and spread their own environment across the world.
In other words, Sorcerer King had one race, Rivals has 3.
The most obvious difference is going to be the object of the game. Now, you use up mana to ascend. Doing so, however, makes everyone angry and go to war with you eventually so you have to be careful about when and how you do this. Moreover, as the orb gets magically charged, new spells come into play. By the end of the game, all hell will start to break loose.
In play testing, we’ve seen new players think “Oh this is easy” and start to charge up the orb really early only to get crushed utterly because when you start staring into the abyss, it will begin to stare back at you.
The Sorcerer King also has some demigods as lieutenants. They are insanely powerful. Players of Sorcerer King who go to Rivals will soon notice there are a lot more of them.
Sharing your creations forever
All the games in the Elemental series have had some modding tools. With Sorcerer King, it’s all been put out there for players along with the ability to share them. As I’ve said to a number of friends, I could rebuild Ultima IV with this this engine.
People who remember Neverwinter Nights and its modding power will be happy to know that they have been given that power once again and, thanks to Steamworks (and eventually via GOG) the ability to share their creations.
If there is interest, we will vastly add on to this (all depends on sales of course).
How you can help
Game sites cover things that are popular already. Stardock is an independent developer. In fact, we are, possibly, the oldest independent game developer left in the industry. We don’t have a vast marketing team to go out and build coverage. What you can do is spread the word. Word of mouth is king. We want to keep working on Sorcerer King for years to come and with Rivals, we have a game that you and us can do just that.
People who liked Sorcereer King are definitley going to like Rivals. It’s vastly better in every way. There’s more of everything and a lot of attention to detail.
People who like 4X games in general or even classic RPG games will almost certainly like Rivals.
Let us know what you think in the comments below.