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Fallen Enchantress: Legendary Heroes Review

By on May 31st, 2013 8:53 am

FE: Legendary Heroes| Review | City Battle... with a dragon

Legendary Heroes, the recently released standalone expansion for Fallen Enchantress, is the definitive way to experience the world of Elemental. It has taken me awhile to come to this conclusion, because frankly, I just wasn’t too sure about it at first. The changes, on paper, seem relatively minor. I questioned whether they justified the full asking price, or even the reduced upgrade price, especially when there have been opportunities to pick up Fallen Enchantress pretty inexpensively. When I first fired Legendary Heroes up, I was a bit underwhelmed to be frank. The thing with Legendary Heroes though, at least for me, is that it took awhile to fully comprehend and truly appreciate the differences. Looking at a changelog is one thing, but what I had to find out was what these changes really meant.

Brief Overview of Changes

Legendary Heroes has brought more of everything Fallen Enchantress had as well as quite a few larger changes. There are more quests to do, more items to collect, new spells and abilities to use, new heroes, new monsters, a new scenario, and even the reintroduction of two factions from War of Magic, the Urxen and the Capitarians. In addition, there is a huge map size now for those who want to get lost in a single game for many, many hours. Somewhere in this image is one of my armies.

FE: Legendary Heroes| Review | A Huge Map

It is important to note that this expansion includes a lot of changes, so I’d highly encourage you to check out the full changelog they’ve posted if you’d like more details. Even some of the smaller changes, like the easy to use unit upgrade system, are great changes even if they don’t dramatically change gameplay itself. I’ve done my best to pick what I feel are the two changes that essentially change the gameplay the most, and these are the new tactic and hero changes, to cover in depth in this review.

Tactically Speaking

One of the biggest and most noticeable changes you’ll find in Legendary Heroes is in its tactical combat. These changes are comprised primarily of four things, including the swarm mechanic, new tactical combat maps and placement, new weapon abilities, and new unit abilities.

Of all of the combat improvements, swarming is the biggest since it can occur in any battle involving at least 3 units. Swarming occurs whenever two or more units from one side are adjacent to an enemy unit and one of them decides to attack. Whenever this occurs, you will visually see the unit attack, as well as any units from the same side that happen to be standing nearby. In actuality, they aren’t all attacking, but instead the unit attacking is gaining an accuracy and damage boost. It’s a nice mechanic that is simple to understand, easy to use, rewards good unit placement, and one which increases the effectiveness of smaller troops and pack animals like wolves. While I would have liked to see some more advanced mechanics, for example something like flanking bonuses for having the enemy occupied from the front and behind, the existing swarm mechanic does still encourage good tactical placement. The only change I’d like to see to the existing swarm mechanic is for the presence of other friendly defending troops nearby to reduce the effectiveness of a swarm, as one would thing it would in real life.

It’s a good idea to understand how swarming works, especially since you’ll be getting many more opportunities to use it due to an overall decrease in distance between unit starting positions. Stardock felt like a lot of time was spent simply crossing the battlefield, so they decided to bring the frontlines closer together. I have a mixed opinion on these changes. As you may recall, in my review of Fallen Enchantress, I mentioned how frustrating the game’s arbitrary unit placement in combat could be. Thankfully, archers and mages are automatically placed pretty far from the front line using this new system. Unfortunately, it also exacerbates the issue of the game inappropriately placing weaker (or wounded) units in the front line, often getting them killed before they even have time to act. Even though there is an overall decrease in starting distance, some maps still have plenty of distance between your ranged troops and your melee, as illustrated below.

FE: Legendary Heroes| Review | Plenty of distance between melee and ranged

Every weapon type used by your standard troops as well as your champions now includes a special cooldown based ability. Axes now come in regular and duel wield variety and have a cleave that can hit 3 targets (and can still backswing as before for a second chance on a missed attack). Spears can impale and hit a target and the one behind it. Swords could already counterattack before, and remain largely unchanged. Maces can deliver a crushing blow for extra damage at the cost of your next move. Shields can bash a target back a square, which is great for positioning enemies or opening gaps. Crossbows have been added and can penetrate through one target and hit another. In addition, some new powerful weapons with unique effects have been added as rewards for taking on some of the game’s biggest wildland challenges.

FE: Legendary Heroes| Review | Cleave is one new weapon ability

I’ve mentioned several tactical changes already, but I also need to mention the new abilities nearly every unit on the battlefield has. Stardock realized that a lot of the units in the game were just not that exciting to fight with or against. To start with, they gave every faction in the game a special move for their units. If you play as the Altararian’s, for example, every unit you have can take the opportunity to move (not attack) twice in a row through the use of a cooldown based ability. This allows them to quickly close gaps, run away from attackers (for ranged types) or get into better positions in combat. The Quendar, on the other hand, have more of a fun ability, one that allows them to breathe fire on an enemy nearby. I’m not sure how well all of these are balanced, as I have not played every faction yet, but they certainly add some additional flavor to units that were very one-dimensional in the past. Aside from these faction based abilities, numerous other monsters and hero abilities have been added as well. I’ll cover some of these in the section on heroes below.

Two key things have been removed from the tactical game. One is that the game used to have armor defense and attack damage types, like crushing and piercing, which have now been removed. In actuality, I used to judge all of my units almost entirely on their attack and defense score, regardless of weapon type. With the new system, a well timed cleave or crushing blow can be the difference between victory or defeat, and with a 5 turn cooldown between uses, you have to carefully position yourself for their best use. This is more fun than the prior system. The other removal is encumbrance. In the past, your heroes could use any item they were qualified to use based on level and were strong enough to hold based on strength and encumbrance. Now, encumbrance is gone and instead there are armor proficiencies within their skill/trait trees that allow using heavier armor. Some people don’t care for this change, but overall I didn’t find it affected my gameplay that much one way or the other. Mechanics that used to modify encumbrance, like horses, now provide other bonuses instead.

FE: Legendary Heroes| Review | Encumbrance is out and proficiency is in

Heroic Changes

Stardock wasn’t entirely satisfied with the way heroes were obtained or in how they advanced in Fallen Enchantress. I didn’t have a big issue with either of these systems, but now that I’ve played with the Legendary Heroes changes, I will say they made the right call and I wouldn’t want to go back to the prior system.

Heroes are now obtained through a new resource type called Fame. Fame is acquired through the creation of certain buildings, the research of certain technologies, and through the completion of quests that you pick up either on the map or via random event. Fame isn’t a revolutionary change, or likely one you will even pay much attention to, but you will know it is there when the new champion selection window appears. As you meet certain fame thresholds, two new heroes will appear and offer their services. In the past, you had to research certain technologies, save up enough gildar/money, and then find them on the map to recruit them. With this new system, you can choose the one of the two based on their starting abilities that best fits your current or future needs. It isn’t apparent at first, but after playing with this system for awhile, you will discover that higher levels of fame bring better and higher level heroes to you.

FE: Legendary Heroes| Review | Some new potential recruits

Your heroes are now truly yours to customize as you see fit. In the past, heroes would level up and offer one of about 5 choices, most of which were not very interesting. Now, once you have selected a class for your hero, you are instead able to place points in a skill/trait tree. Each skill tree is divided into various options, allowing you to build heroes in the manner you feel best fits your goals. For example, I was able to select a mage class for my hero at level 2. At level 3, you are now able to start selecting skills from within the mage tree, and these skills are divided primarily between a summoning focus and a tactical spellcasting focus. I was no longer dependent on luck, hoping that the choices I wanted would appear on level up.

With these changes, hero skills are even more important to get right than in the past. With more options available, it is important to look ahead and plan accordingly. Do you want to possess incredible skill with a bow? An assassin ability allows you to hit multiple targets with a single shot, but only if you unlock the correct abilities to make this possible. Want to summon one of the most powerful elementals in the game? You’ll need to start early to reach the end of the summoning branch.

FE: Legendary Heroes| Review | Choosing a new combat ability

On the downside, you’ll still be unlocking a lot of small passive upgrades along the path to get to these. Things like repeated + to accuracy, + 1 level to summons, + 20% to spell damage, + to attack, + to defense and so on are filler elements in the different trees. Thankfully, the reward is usually worth the wait, as using the warrior’s blade rush ability to slice through multiple enemies with a single move is incredibly satisfying. The mage’s abilities were less satisfying, but his tree does open up some new spells that are unavailable elsewhere, and vastly improves summoning effectiveness when compared to Fallen Enchantress, should you choose to go that route. They’ve even added some necromantic spells, should you want to use the undead to your advantage.

FE: Legendary Heroes| Review | Blade Rush is effective

There seem to be a lot more hero options then before. You will see your standard fare of basic low level heroes early on. If you persevere and keep increasing your fame though, you may start seeing some really interesting options. In addition to some more powerful standard heroes that come well equipped and with pre-existing skills, creatures, twisted beings, and other creations are now potential heroes for you to acquire. These heroes are immensely more fun and interesting then getting another basic Ironeer defender hero that comes with a mace and a shield. Not all of these heroes come knocking on your door however. Some of them require that you find them or complete special quests, but believe me when I say they are worth the effort. Not only are they unique in appearance and story, they also tend to have great special abilities.

I can’t stress this enough, but these new heroes bring an element that I felt this series needed going all the way back to Elemental. With this change, Legendary Heroes brings the fantasy back into fantasy 4X in a big way. I would love to see even more of these in the game, as well as more trainable creatures to replace the mundane men that make up the rank and file, but we shall see what the future holds.

A New Scenario

Legendary Heroes includes a standalone scenario rather than the series of scenarios Fallen Enchantress included. In my prior review, I noted that Fallen Enchantress’ scenario seemed like a storytelling adventure and endorsement for the power of their modding engine. In contrast, the Legendary Heroes scenario is very similar to the sandbox game, allowing you to fully control all aspects of your empire and expansion. At the same time, it also contains various RPG elements and even helpful tips from your allies about general gameplay. I enjoyed playing it, and though it wasn’t entirely gripping from a storytelling perspective, it was nice to have a planned, less random, world to explore. My only advice is to pay attention to the quest objectives presented, as attempting to go head on into the maw of the enemy in hopes of conquest was a fools errand, at least in my case. Once I focused on the task at hand, I was able to complete the scenario with the tools I had available to me.

Still Room for Improvement

One of my biggest issues with Fallen Enchantress was late-game empire micromanagement. Stardock made a few changes to help reduce rapid settlement development. One of these was the introduction of a population cost for pioneer units. This means that creating a new pioneer, which is required for founding new settlements, will reduce the population of the origin city. This of course makes that city take even longer to level up, so pioneer spam will hinder you if done in excess.

Another change in this same vein is the introduction of unrest as a new mechanic introduced to help reduce, if not prevent, rapid expansion. With each new city you add to your empire, a global unrest penalty is added to every city you own. Combined with penalties for enemy occupation, which can make new cities you conquer nearly useless at first, and penalties for cities not directly connected to your capital, rapid advancement isn’t always recommended.

There are methods to combat this, including unrest reduction spells and enchantments, stationed heroes (especially those skilled in governorship), and unrest reduction buildings. On the flipside, there are also spells that further increase unrest, and the AI is not hesitant to use these on you. While unrest is a welcome mechanic, it isn’t the change I was personally looking for.

FE: Legendary Heroes| Review | These guys aren't happy I'm here

I’m going to make this plea again. I really wish Stardock was able to create a governor/manager AI that could help manage my cities for me. Perhaps I’m just lazy, but beyond a half dozen or so cities, I just can’t be bothered to manage the build queue very well. I may select a few things that meet my immediate needs, but I don’t feel I am doing as effective a job as the AI would be given the same situation. I prefer to focus on the front lines and my original core cities, and taking new cities can sometimes feel like an increased management burden rather than a worthwhile accomplishment.

This is a big reason why I prefer smaller map sizes as opposed to larger, as on large and huge maps there are potentially dozens of cities to deal with. For example, in the last large map I played, the AI had about 30 settlements between them and I had around 8. That’s a lot to manage. Razing cities to the ground is always an option, but the AI is also able to re-colonize these locations if they are dealt with in this way, which means you need to hunt them down and destroy them yet again. If you don’t mind micromanaging or simply ignoring these cities, this may not be an issue for you at all, but I feel like I am missing opportunities when I don’t micromanage these settlements. Thankfully, conquest is not the only victory condition, so conquering every city is not a requirement even on a huge epic size map.

Legendary Heroes did a great job adding more fantasy elements to the game. I hope that, should they choose to continue the series further, that they continue to expand upon this. The non-human champions and monsters are the most interesting to interact with. The more fantastic the spells and abilities get, the more interested I get in playing further. Perhaps sadly for Stardock, it seems the further they stray from their original War of Magic design goals of men vs fallen men, the better the series becomes. Perhaps it’s no coincidence, but the game is becoming more similar to Master of Magic in the process as well. This is especially true when some of the up and coming user mods are considered.

To their credit, Stardock did fix the issues I had with tactical battles as well as some other annoyances, like a lack of information about buildings being destroyed. This may have been something they patched in prior to this expansion, but I don’t have Fallen Enchantress installed to check currently. I’m just happy to see it was fixed. There is still a failure to notify the player about spells cast against their units on the strategic map though. I have to listen for the sound effect and check for damage to really be able to tell.

FE: Legendary Heroes| Review | You can now GOTO a destroyed resource


Fallen Enchantress: Legendary Heroes is the best 4X fantasy game in recent history. It is not a perfect game, and is not quite a legendary one either, but it is getting very close. I can easily see myself pouring dozens of more hours into the game as a direct result of the new mechanics they’ve put in place. If you didn’t like Fallen Enchantress, it may not be a total gamechanger for you, but if you liked it at all, you are going to want to take a good hard look at Legendary Heroes. I certainly hope we see additional content and expansions of this caliber for this series in the future.

Fallen Enchantress: Legendary Heroes

Fallen Enchantress: Legendary Heroes (PC)

Buy at GamersGate, Steam, GameStop or at the Stardock store.

Space Sector score:
The Good:
– Tactical combat greatly enhanced due to new abilities and mechanics
– Hero customization and variety offer diverse strategic options and replayability
– Improved fantasy world feel across the board
The Bad:
– Frustrating tactical unit placement with no player input
– Late game still too micromanagement heavy on larger maps

Keith Turner, also known as aReclusiveMind here on SpaceSector, has been an avid gamer ever since he first laid his hands on a Commodore 128 in the mid 1980s. He enjoys multiple computer game genres, but his primary interests are in deep strategy games, 4x games, rpgs, and action rpgs. He enjoys writing and hopes to contribute with additional reviews, previews, and informative AARs to the community. See all Keith’s posts here.

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  1. DarthXilef says:

    Thank you for your reviews and thank you for this site! Was looking forward to this one!

  2. hakkarin says:

    I bouth the previous installment and found it boring because I thought it felt too bland. Kind of like a fantasy clone of Civ 4 but with no soul and boring tactical combat. If I felt this way will this verison somehow change my mind?

    • Tickle says:

      I am in the same boat, so if someone can change my mind I may go and install it :-)

      • DevildogFF says:

        I really didn’t like Fallen Enchantress, but Legendary Heroes has me hooked. There is always more things to do and between the quests, new heroes, and random events, it feels like there is always a reminder of how alive the world feels.

        I actually play the combat now, something I always auto resolved before, and genuinely feel like this game has more soul than it ever has. It’s significantly better and deeper than regular FE.

      • Keith Turner says:

        RE: Tactical Combat
        I’ve been a critic of the tactical combat in this series since War of Magic. Fallen Enchantress made it somewhat better, but it still lacked in that area. With Legendary Heroes, tactical combat is vastly improved, that much is undeniable. With swarming, the new weapon special abilities, every faction getting its own special ability, new units to recruit with special abilities, and new hero special abilities, I don’t feel like tactical combat is lacking anymore. There are also some very powerful and unique weapons to find through quests for your champions, and some of these have unique abilities not found anywhere else.

        As to the no soul part, that’s harder to quantify. Based on my prior review, I’m sure you already know I enjoyed Fallen Enchantress.

        If you mean soul as in things to do, Legendary Heroes has increased the variety of quests and activities to take part in. There are new monsters and heroes to contend with, as well as new ways to build your heroes. Summoning has also been made viable, both in terms of necromancy and elemental summons. There are quite a few interesting random events that can occur. There are overall many more strategies available to you then ever before.

        If you mean soul as in story or life in the world, I do feel Legendary Heroes has improved upon this quite a bit, but as I mentioned, the more fantasy and diversity they inject, the better the game has become. As a 4x game though, I think it has enough going on to keep you interested.

        I’d love to see a new faction or two introduced that are not men, but some other race. I understand the item customization limitations, but some of the new heroes, the summons, and the juggernauts make it apparent that non-human troops are quite possible. The choice to go with only factions of humanoid and similar races of men has been the biggest drawback in the series, and I think they have come to realize that.

  3. Eno says:

    I bought FE with the hopes of supporting Stardock in its crawl out of the screwup that was War of Magic. I never played WoM but I felt they were doing the right thing by admitting and addressing their mistakes. By purchasing FE I did NOT know I was paying to beta test an entirely different game I would have purchase separately. Many of the changes from Legendary Heroes came about through the efforts of Fallen Enchantress players but we need to pay again to access the fruits of our labors. Bait and switch but our morals dont engage for problems that costs less than 20$

    • jackswift says:

      I have a hard time taking these kind of comments seriously. The reason is that I paid over $70 for a Limited Edition of War of Magic preorder wayyy back in 2009. If you want to talk about bait and switch, sunk costs and the amount of time I spent beta testing WoM and having to wait more than 4 years to finally receive a product worthy of the time and money I spent…

      If you have FE, getting LH for half off is a pretty good offer that not very many other companies do. When I think of other stand-alone expansions, if you have the original game you’re usually stuck paying the full price for that expansion (or some measly discount like 10%, not 50% like Stardock is giving).

      You should also be thankful Stardock actually listened to the gaming community and “beta-testing” FE players and improved their game. There are plenty of studios out there that would take the money, run and not even improve the game or listen to the gamers who purchased their product. If you have a problem with developers getting feedback from a gaming community to make and sell a better game… I would suggest you never buy any games in the first year or two they come out.

  4. salvo says:

    I agree with the review. Legendary Heroes is a good game with the potential to grow to a great one. There are some odd design decisions though, especially as mentioned in the review, the random placement on the tactical maps, what makes the use of ranged units extremely risky, so as to convince the player not to use them at all. I really hope they change that and introduce some sort of pre-battle unit placement.
    The game has some stability problems too, at least I got some crashes on tactical maps.

    after all, a great time for TB strategy/rpg hybrids, expeditions conquistadores has been released too, and double fine is kickstarting a new promising one, massive chalice

    • Keith Turner says:

      Sorry to hear you had some crashes. I’ve not managed to trigger any during my many hours with the game, but of course hardware and software differences will cause experiences to vary.

      The unit placement is a problem for a few reasons. Looking ahead to 1.1, the proposed fix is to allow friendly units to be able to pass through other friendly units in tactical combat. I don’t agree with this and feel it is not the right solution. The right solution would be to reward smart unit placement and not box our heavy hitters in behind our weak/injured ones. I know they don’t want to allow the player exact control over battlefield unit placement. If we could at least layout the order in the army management view, so I can move injured units to the back, I think it’d be better than nothing. Moving through units like you are a ghost is a side step to the issue.

      EDIT: Yes, I’ll be playing Expeditions: Conquistador as well. I got my key last night for it. I won’t be writing a review for it, but I’m excited to check it out.

      Massive Chalice is a bit too much of a wildcard for me yet. I am waiting to hear more about the product. I did back Broken Age though, so I may back this one once I find out more.

      • salvo says:

        well, I didn’t play the new expansion much before, but after playing a bit longer now, I’ve to say that not having any kind of control over unit placement in tactical battle can be rather frustrating. On several occasions I had already damaged units destroyed in the very beginning because they were randomly put at the very front. I just don’t understand how the designers could come to such decision. It’s really annoying because even after a reload the units are placed in the same way. A good example of how a minor design flaw may spoil an otherwise good game.

  5. Towerbooks3192 says:

    Never read a review in quite awhile. Good one Keith. I would agree on the part about reading changelogs.and actually seeing the changes through the game. I know FE could still be better and hopefully stardock would never abandon it.

    I dont know if it is just me though but I am not that crazy about FE compared to something like civilization and the like. There is this feeling deep inside me that it somehow lacks a “soul” like something that made me love other games in thegenre but did not find in here. I like the game and the mechanics but I think it never crossed the boundaries of like and love yet

    • Keith Turner says:

      You mentioned FE, but have you also tried Legendary Heroes? I’m not saying it will necessarily change anything for you, but I’m just curious. I think the biggest issue with the series was its reluctance to commit to fantasy. I know Brad was pretty set on it being men vs other men for a long while, but I hope he and Derek are able to see how much better the game is when a sense of wonder is added, as has been with LH. Now, they just need to add even MORE. :)

      • Towerbooks3192 says:

        I forgot to mention that when I say FE that is with LH. Sorry.Yeah I know they tried to be something unique but I do miss all the run of the mill monsters you see in fantasy strategy and would welcome factions like the ones found in age of wonders shadow magic. Like I said, FE even with LH lacks a soul and I cant seem to put a finger on what it lacks.

        Also the lack of option to organise troops before battles is frustrating because that feature already existsin games as old as heroes of might and magic.

        • Keith Turner says:

          That’s a good point I missed since I’m a bit worn out on traditional high fantasy. I’m the guy who’d be fine if did not see an elf in a fantasy game ever again, haha. I actually like the variances here, with the wildkin, juggernauts, shrills, demons, wildlands boss monsters, etc. I’d love to see a wildkin or perhaps monster faction introduced some day. Creature factions would be a nice addition and change of pace for sure. Some people would rather have traditional fantasy races though.

          I really hope they rethink their unit placement. As a long time player of tactical games like the Heroes and Disciples series, it is frustrating to have no control.

        • Towerbooks3192 says:

          It would have been tolerable if the fields are as big as age of wonders where you have time to position your troops before it could engage the enemies. I am not sure if its in this game though but I really loved and missed the option to do a coordinated attack/siege with a number of armies that you have in your map. Cities are a bit tough to crack with only one group of units or sending one to their deaths and finishing the siege with another one.

          I was also hoping that they would have applied some things from age of wonders like the siege and elevation (some units could easily bash a gate to bits and some could fly over or scale a wall.). Anyway as long as Stardock will continue supporting it I guess its going to be getting better and so far I could say that LH is more fun over FE and hopefully it will get its “soul” in a future expansion

  6. Nekromanta says:

    FE (7/10) is a good game, but FE LH(8/10) is much better. One mod make FE LH almost perfect fantasy 4xstrategy game > Children of Storm (FE LH + CoS mod= 9,5/10)

    Whats new in this mod?

    120+ new magical items
    17 new events
    12 new fantasy factions !
    34 new fantasy champions
    18 new monsters and their lairs, and 5 of those are recruitable monsters
    4 new types of rivers and lots of new stamps featuring arctic and burning lands terrain
    .. and much more (items, traits, mounts to mention a few things)

    And AI works in this mod!!! Maybe some one write review for this great mod?

    Other mods:

    • Keith Turner says:

      I try to always give a nod to the mod community so people have an idea what’s out there, but I haven’t personally been able to check it out yet. This mod is one I certainly had in mind when I mentioned about up and coming user mods.

      I don’t think I’ll get around to writing mod reviews, but I appreciate you mentioning it here for others to check out if they are interested. I know some people don’t want to play a game that is designed and balanced by anyone other than the official developers, and so I write my reviews with the bare game in mind. Mods can certainly turn good or even great games in to even better ones though, so it is an important consideration.

    • jackswift says:

      Children of the Storm is a great mod… it’s been retooled all the way from Elemental, and keeps growing in size and scope through each Elemental game. Heavenfall does a great job keeping it up to date and balanced (for the most part). If you feel the need to command angels, centaurs, specters, goblins, etc. then install Children of the Storm posthaste.

  7. Ermdog says:

    Nice review! I agree with what you had to say, especially when it comes to late game micromanaging. They really need a system that allows your cities to auto build.

    As far as the game goes, I love it. I have put in a lot of hours on this one. I think the character leveling system and the way you recruit heros is a plus from the old way. I found myself unable to locate many of the heros during the original FE. I find myself making decisions wither I want to build more fame buildings to get heros or spend it on leveling the city, so there are decisions to make. Big improvement over original FE. Great game!

  8. Thiosk says:

    The thing I still can’t wrap my head around is the tech system. Everything from questing to construction seems better (I got this version for free, just like the last version) but I never really know what I’m supposed to be doing. I have the same issue with the tech tree in civ 5: trees require this foreknowledge that if I don’t have, I feel i just can’t interact with it well.

    However, it has taken an hour of my spare time. I’ll probably put more time into it later, but my wife was annoyed at the lack of nice background music, so she prefers I keep playing the other strategy titles.

  9. Chris says:

    Yeah it seems that later on the game tends to get more micro intensive.

    I get the overwhelming feeling playing it that there needs to be some sort of well, sense that you’re in a magical realm. Not sure how to say this, but I just do not get that feeling that the whole world does not feel “alive”. It feels like I’m playing Civ, but with magic, and in some areas, less depth. I think that the diplomacy and random events could use some work.

    Somewhat off topic, but Keith and Adam, I would recommend considering moving away from the scoring system to evaluate games … there’s just too much room for subjectivity in the way that games are scored.

    • Adam Solo says:

      Hi Chris, thanks for bringing the score system topic up because I’ll take the opportunity to express my opinion on the matter.

      Scoring system, yes, there’s always a considerable amount of subjectivity involved. Not only with coming up with the score itself, but also with assembling the pros&cons list, and all the review actually, all the text. We’re fully aware of this believe me. Actually, it’s a very hard and time consuming process, to play, review and then edit the reviews, where we usually discuss the score between ourselves till we’re happy with the full outcome.

      But, as our review score system page explains, I feel that our reviews are reliable, including the scores, because remember that we’re covering very specific genres here, ones where we consider ourselves expert gamers (playing consistently for many, many years). So, that’s why we’re confident that our reviews (and the scores) are accurate and fair enough to be used by the public.

      Moreover, if you check our “specialty” on the About page, you’ll see that it’s no accident why is Keith who tends to review more fantasy and RPG games while I review more space-based & sci-fi games in general. Kyle is our iOS/Android Hero, he tends to review more games for iOS and Android. Of course, all of us have played other types of games heavily as well. I played a lot of RPGs myself, which also include many fantasy elements, and Keith also played a great deal of space-based and 4X games, so, we can understand and complement each other’s work.

      In other words, I feel that we have what it takes to do a fair job on coming up with the review scores for the type of games we cover. And, I believe that everything in the review: text, images, pros&cons list and the score itself, have a purpose, which make the reviews more complete in the end, and more valuable for the reader looking for our opinion.

      This is my opinion. Of course, I understand that others, like yourself, may think that scores may be a problem because they may distort a product’s subjective value. I respect that point of view, but I’m personally very confident that including a score in a review, for the time being, is the best way forward, and a better service overall for our readers. Taking into account the particular genres we cover, and our personal experience.

      • Chris says:

        I think that a “get this if” type of system would work better, seeing that different people have different needs. I mean there are different types of people.

        From a buying perspective:

        1. Those who buy a lot on release day. They are usually willing to pay more and based on past experiences have some tolerance for some bugs.

        2. Those who get mad when there’s any bugs. Willing to pay, but not willing to tolerate a buggy experience.

        3. People who want/need to save money.

        Then from a gaming perspective, there are people:

        1. Who hate tactical combat and want something like Distant Worlds or GC2. This type is the kind that will autoresolve most of the time.

        2. Who want a “Total War in space” but with more strategic depth. Had SOTS 2 been a bug-free, lag-free, and well designed experience, such a title might have been perfect. This type of player loves tactical + strategic.

        In general among gamers though:
        1. Complex tech tree is good – it offers the possibility for a lengthy game

        2. A well constructed diplomacy system is desired (this is an example of a game that does not focus too much on it and IMO, it lessens the magical world setting somewhat)

        3. City management, something not emphasized as much again in this title

        4. Something to prevent endgame micro-hell (so to speak). End game has this problem.

        5. Modder friendly

        6. Good AI (since 4X games well, they are not the best choice for multiplayer as games can get very lengthy) – this one is tough to do well and well, I’ve always wondered if it will someday be possible to make AI as good as a human player.

        7. A well designed UI. Lets face it, in strategy games, migrating throughout the UI is a very intensive task, especially later on.

        8. The world to be active. Random events, perhaps many victory paths, and things going on outside your realm that have a direct impact.

        9. Tactical combat – this one is divisive, with some wanting a more complex version of chess, while others like me want good tactical combat. Also, a realistic autoresolve is a part of this.

        Not applicable to this title, but a ship designer for space type of strategy games.

        • Adam Solo says:

          That’s a good needs/wants list. And, I try my best to include as many of those items as possible in the reviews. The most information possible. Then, it’s up to the buyer to assess everything and make an informed decision.

        • Benji says:

          I like the scoring system you use now!

    • Keith Turner says:

      Legendary Heroes is a very fun and interesting game with a lot to do and various ways to play. It is better then any of the other fantasy 4x games out there, with the exception of perhaps Master of Magic, but it has been far too long since I played that to compare.

      I’d love to see more fantasy added, as mentioned in the review, but the game is great as is. If they do another expansion and add in some of the elements I’ve mentioned, I can easily see the series becoming a 9+ for me. There is certainly room for improvement, and until then, mods like the ones mentioned by some of the commenters here seem to offer an infusion of fantasy elements. I’ve not personally tried them yet though.

      Review scores are certainly subjective. I’ve seen games I loved get blasted by reviewers, and yet I’ve seen the opposite as well, games I hated getting great scores. I feel like the closing paragraph, and the pros and cons are very important to read along with the score. Of course, the article text, the reviewers history of scoring, and the person’s interest in the genre all play a factor. I love fantasy games, especially those that dare to venture away from Tolkien high fantasy, which I have played for the death for over 25 years now (Commodore 64 days).

      • Chris says:

        Judging by what I am seeing it looks like this is a very iterative type of title. Stardock will probably continue to release expansions based on feedback and their own ideas of this game for the foreseeable future.

        Maybe I had too high expectations. To be honest, I feel that Stardock is somewhat of an overrated developer. For example they did leave GC2 with serious bugs to the AI at the end of Twilight of the Arnor that the modding community can only partially fix. Off topic, but I am not very fond of Brad Wardell in person – there are some things that he has done that I find disagreeable. I mean there are things I agree with, their willingness to make a mea culpa, their support of the modding community, no crazy DRM that forces people to be online or installs malicious software on my SSD, and their partial bug fixes etc, but yeah I do find myself not having a high opinion of Stardock.

        There seem to be very few titles in the world of fantasy 4X gaming these days – even space 4X, arguably a niche type of game is itself considered wanting when it comes to new titles. Very few AAA publishers, CA excepted seem to be pushing for any type of new game in this field. I think it’s because strategy gaming itself is a niche. MMOs, MOBAs, and FPS are the big winners in computer gaming, with maybe sports games being a distant. Casual games seem to be taking off, but as the decline of Zynga shows, there may not be as much money as one might think.

  10. Martok says:

    (Note: As one of those fools who pre-ordered the original Elemental, I received both Fallen Enchantress and Legendary Heroes for free.)

    I never did play the original War of Magic, nor Fallen Enchantress, so I cannot compare them to Legendary Heroes. I can say this much, however: I’m having a blast playing FE:LH. This is very much like the fantasy 4x game I’ve wanted to play for years now. Whatever mistakes Stardock have made with the first two games, I think they finally got it right!

  11. Towerbooks3192 says:

    This may sound stupid and I dont know where to ask this. I forgot my stardock account, Who is the fallen enchantress and what happened to her in the story?

    I knoe she was guarded by a titan and I didnt know what became of her after that. I also tried searching for answers on google but I never found the answers I was looking for

  12. fafrin says:

    Have to say I’m having a lot of stability issues in tactical mode and in late game generally. overall I think it’s an OK game that needs a decent patch and I have to agree with others that it is annoying to have your weak/injured units randomly placed at the front in combat!!??

  13. Ono says:

    I liked your review and found it fair and comprehensive. I feel an 8.9 is higher than I would have given, and part of that is due to many of the reasons that have been discussed here at length, but primarily due to one not mentioned (also not in the original review), namely the UI. The UI is greatly subpar, and although there have been improvements since September 2009, when EWOM first was released, these have been drops in a bucket. The UI is clunky and detracts from what can often be a challenging slog through micromanaging swamps. One other point deserves mention, and that is the suboptimal AI, which is surprising considering that this is apparently brad’s main love. Even in version 1.10, the AI fails to attack my defenseless cities, wandering around instead seemingly aimlessly. I feel that with a vastly improved AI and a greatly overhauled UI this game could be an 8.9, but is now just slightly better than good.

  14. Chris says:

    Now that I have had more time to play the game, I do feel that there are a few pressing issues that need to be addressed:

    1. There are still some bugs within the game that remain. I have experienced several CTDs. It’s not SOTS2 by any means, but they are there.

    2. Stardock did put a lot of effort into making the previous games’ flaws addressed although it’s not perfect. I stand by what I said that the world does not feel alive. There are many monsters in the world, but the fights get very repetitive.

    3. There needs to be more variety in the equipment. Perhaps more enchants and some genuine tradeoffs would have been nice.

    4. Balance does have a few issues – there are a few ways to “gimmick” the system so to speak.

    5. Diplomacy does feel shallow as I mentioned earlier.

    6. As you did mention, very large maps are an issue. Managing 15 cities + many armies is quite an issue.

    7. The AI still is not very good at unit design. That and it declares war too often and is ill prepared.

    8. The UI could use a bit of work.

    Otherwise, the only other thing I would like to see is more depth. A bigger tech tree, and more elaborate quests, comparable to what you would find it a full old-school type RPG title.

    It’s a “good” game as you mentioned for sure, but the cumulative effects of all of these due greatly detract from the gaming experience of Legendary Heroes. I think it needs another expansion to transform it to the realm of a “great” 4X game.

    One thing I would like to see in this game is real time tactical battles or the option to swap between real time tactical type gaming and this TBS type tactical combat. Out of curiosity Keith, did you find the game lacking in depth?

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