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GDC Preview: Warlock 2: The Exiled

At last week's Game Developer Conference in San Francisco, Paradox Interactive demonstrated how it's listened to the first Warlock's player complaints and with the help of developer Ino-Co Plus (makers of Majesty 2) has come up with a new-and-improved version of the turn-based fantasy wargame, namely Warlock 2: The Exiled.

Screens from Warlock 2: The Exiled-slide0
Courtesy of Paradox Interactive
Screenshots, Warlock 2: The Exiled
Screenshots, Warlock 2: The ExiledCourtesy of Paradox Interactive

In Warlock 2, players are again cast as Great Mages. They'll start on a small, randomly-generated world without high-level threats or resources, and will work their way across other worlds to Ardania. During the demo, Paradox producer Jörgen Björklund chose to play a descendant of the first Warlock's infamous King Rat. This regal rodent was impressively rendered, as were the game's other mages, terrain and menus.The first significant change to Warlock 2 however, is the addition of two modes: alliance mode and story mode. Björklund explained that alliance mode allows human players to join forces if they want to and gang up on the AI, and story mode gives players' actions more profound meaning.

The point of Warlock 2 is similar to that of the previous game: to gather resources and build up your city, thus becoming powerful enough to crush your opponents. The emphasis this time though, is on strategy and to that end, Paradox and Ino-Co Plus have now made it possible for players to see what each of their upgrades are leading to before choosing them. They've also made better use of players' time by making the game semi-simultaneous, thus allowing players to perform empire management tasks during their opponents' turns.

Other improvements include greater accessibility (Paradox has a reputation for making difficult, hard-to-learn games) in the form of an extensive tutorial as well as a more readable interface, and clearer skill trees. Moreover, the team has made it so players can more easily align themselves with the game's powerful gods. Though all this (and the addition of two new races, the Planestriders and Svarts) is welcome news, the best development is the addition of a suite of new modding tools. Through a series of intuitive menus, players can make their own Mages (and represent them with uploaded selfies if they want) and can create or mod existing units, actions, perks, spells, buildings, races, locations, artifacts and quests. Björklund also mentioned that players with xml skills will really be able to go nuts doing even more granular kinds of customization.

From the GDC demo, Warlock 2: The Exiled is looking exceptional. Wargame fans and gamers previously put off by Paradox titles' notorious complexities should find the game refreshingly accessible while 4X veterans and dissatisfied players of the original Warlock should find the improvements they were clamoring for. So get ready Mages, both Great and Aspiring—the battle for dominion over Ardania begins April 10th.

For more information about Warlock 2: The Exiled, visit Paradox Interactive's official website.