by The King
I would like to point out that before reading any further that this game is still in early access so all of my notes below are based on a completely unfinished game and that it is still be worked on, any issues that I found will more than likely be smoothed over by the time the game releases.
Loading up Dreadlands I was met with the bright and over the top comic styling of a post apocalyptic world, and I liked it!
I was then given the chance to pick my characters; the choice was between 3 factions who are battling for survival and for top spot in this vibrant wasteland.
I took charge of this Rag tag horde of warriors, all very Celtic and Scandinavian warrior like in appearance, well behind the gas masks and post apocalyptica styling anyways.
My main character, a shaman, the very aptly named; Anger Smasher, is dressed in the skin of a bear over a gas mask and sporting a back pack with a pair of huge buffalo horns attached to them.
The aesthetics of Dreadlands are very appealing and catching making you want to venture further in to the world and progress through the map.
The Gameplay differs from when you are in battle, to when you are travelling the map and then also when you are in town exploring and gathering info and whilst I hate to use other games as an example, I do feel it is apt in order to provide a good understanding of how the game plays.
The battle of the game plays out like a Xcom version of Borderlands; the turn based top-down strategy game has all the feel of Xcom with more abilities, combined with the visual appearance and styling of Borderlands, complete with all the comic style and brash colours and post apocalyptic trashy weapons etc.
The turn based system and variety of team members as well as enemies allows you to change your tactical style up and in some cases even forces you to change your style up mid battle as it throws differing problems and enemies at you.
The movement across towns and maps reminds me of a sort of amalgamation between the original Final Fantasy VII map system mixed with the command and conquer click and move system. You can move in to towns and interact with people, procure goods, get missions and trade all in a click and move scenario, but also as you move across the map step by step you unsheathe the shadow that covers the land and find new towns and new scenarios such as ambushes and hideouts to attack.
As you go through the game, winning missions and getting kills, the levelling up system gives you a choice of 2 upgrades with each level up, making you choose between which one best suits the character themselves and also the playstyle you have within your team and or game.
In the same vein how you gain level ups for your characters as you win battles you also end up gaining fame as you complete said missions, you become heralds of your clan, as well as revered amongst other tribes and in the lands you visit.
This also unlocks other items such more cards for your battles (which I will explain in a mo) as well as items slots and such.
Upgrade your characters giving them more fitting abilities and acquire new and more powerful weapons for your team helping you take on stronger enemies and take out dens and bases.
With each battle at the beginning you are asked to choose your card deck, you get 4 cards, these cards are trumps you can use within battle.
Cards such as, leg traps which halt your enemy in their tracks for 2 turns, beware though as they will trap you too if you run through them as I found out at my peril…..
There’s healing cards, disabling cards and enhancing cards, all to help you progress and win the battle at hand.
As you walk across the world you open up the map, parts of the world are wonderfully put together and described in a great way and they are also varied in feel and aesthetics for instance;
An area tarnished and under a constant rain of Ash, that spreads across the plains and leaves everything dead and grey.
Remnants of cities are visible as you pass through the map, the odd car and tall building in a state of decay.
The area where you start is all rolling hills and broken down towns and ambushes around every corner.
There are some reservations I have with the game play. As mentioned at the beginning of this piece this is a work in progress and that any of the things I mention can and maybe even will be sorted before this makes air.
Being shot through walls and full cover is not fun, especially when as you go to shoot through cover it rarely works and if it does work it will likely miss.
Whilst I understand being able to shoot at enemies and they being able to shoot at you at angles and such makes the game and the battles progress but when hiding in the middle of a building cover with no way of being seen, and you take a 4 hit point shot and left with bleeding, well that sucks, lol.
Then there was the point where I was in cover with overwatch on and an enemy player being 2 squares away from you and you miss, then to engage them in melee the next turn and you miss, Twice, AGAIN!
This was slightly enfuriating, but, I mean… I’m over it now… obviously.
I get that there is a chance mechanic but seriously I missed soooo much (still not as much or as badly as I did in Xcom but that’s a story for another day).
When in the barracks in your hideout and you are looking to level up your team, I was unable to easily move from one team member to the next, meaning that when I had multiple team members with possible upgrades I had to use the barracks system, choose upgrade and instead of being able to push the arrow button to move across to the next team member whom had the level up, it sent me to the team menu and I had to leave that and re enter the barracks and press the next character with the upgrade, this would need to be done every time, if you were able to move through the characters with upgrades that would be, if at all possible, a small change that would make in game life easier.
When looking to use the medical centre in the hideout, when I pressed the arrow to move to the next page of my team so I could allocate medical treatment it would throw me out of the medic centre menu, this meant there were only 4 members of my team that could receive medical treatment and the others just had to deal with it hahaha.
I hope this was a glitch and even though small, meant a lot in game.
An addition, what would be helpful is when you are going through the squad in battle and assigning them tasks, when you have exhausted options on a character a little tick goes at the end of their life bar on the left of the screen, when you put a character in to overwatch to keep an area locked down and under fire, there isn’t a diagram for that (like the tick next the characters name when they have used all their turns), if you could have an eye at the end of the life bar when a character is on over watch. Instead of having to check that all characters have completed their actions.
Even with these items , which by the way are nothing serious, the game is wonderful and I can not wait to see it as a finished and polished product that’s not to say that its noticeably a beta, that’s far from the truth.
If you like your RTS, Xcom, borderlands or if you are just looking for new game that will keep you entertained then this is most certainly a game I would recommend.
Launch-Test – EGX Preview
Hamster Playground – EGX Preview
Beyond the Long Night – GDL Preview