Elven Legacy: Ranger, published by Paradox Interactive and developed by 1C Company, is the first of three expansions to the self-titled turn-based strategy game Elven Legacy. With the addition of new units, new spells and abilities, a new storyline, and three new heroes, the expansion adds significant improvements while maintaining much of the splendor of its precursor.
In addition to the new features, Elven Legacy: Ranger tones down the difficulty a bit, opening its appeal to a larger audience. While there are evident flaws to its presentation, the overall experience is positive, and will begin to grow on you as you delve deeper into the game. As a result, many will see this as an effective boost to the up-and-coming series.
The game begins in the land of Illis, but this time it centers on the human race rather than the elves. Tensions between Derrick Pfeil and Duke Alivarez begin to intensify as both sides prepare to go to war with each other. On the brink of destruction, the Order of Ticsus, an exiled alliance to Pfeil, seizes the moment to send their best ranger, Cornelius, to survey the map so that they may join the war against Duke Alivarez, and take over his land in Mirralia. Through Cornelius’ expedition he comes across two heroes, Captain Lucius and Sir Alberte, who are loyal to the Order of Ticsus, and ultimately aid the ranger in his mission.
What’s unique about Elven Legacy: Ranger is that the developers are able to infuse an engrossing storyline with a fun game – an element that really stood out in the debut title. Players are presented with characters who possess rich personalities that are important to the story progression. Likewise, there are moments of internal conflict that raise suspicion in the player, which makes you question who the “bad guy” really is in the game. Essentially, it makes you wonder why Cornelius and the Order of Ticsus were exiled in the first place.
On the other hand, the drawback to such an engaging story is the presentation. Unlike the original, there aren’t any actors; the whole storyline is told through readable text. While I don’t miss the overly dramatic dialogue and the constant voice jumping, I wish the developers could have considered improvements in the voice acting, instead of deleting it all. Similarly, there aren’t any cut-scenes that highlight specific conversations or events in the game, which shows that maybe the developers were under a bit of a budget, or time crunch.
All things aside, the gameplay has made significant leaps and bounds. While the general mechanics still operate the same, fighting against a 2:1 enemy ratio and being restricted to a set amount of turns isn’t nearly as infuriating as before. The game allows a bit more room for tactical creativity, and it’s not as difficult to accumulate an excessive amount of money for unit reserves and upgrades.
A noticeable difference that may not be as evident is that Paradox Interactive and 1C Company took the time to concentrate on the ranger by making it the focal hero class. In the previous title, the two heroes were an archer and mage whose strengths and abilities were more evident than any other character. While success is usually dependent on the strength of your infantry, the highlighted heroes shed light on the other classes, which opens up a world of strategic variations. Thus, it makes the game much more enjoyable.
Hopefully in the next expansion they’ll make the hero a cavalry unit, because I seriously cannot figure out how to use them effectively.
With the addition of new heroes and a new storyline comes the added bonus of an artifact attachment system. Whether it be heroes or units, players have the ability to attach up to three artifacts to any one unit during battle setup. The attachments grant special abilities to players that add an increase in damage, summoning special units, casting particular spells, and granting bonuses to nearby friendly units. Although the artifacts don’t significantly change the way the game is played, it is a nice addition to the expansion.
While changes in gameplay have seen an overhaul, the absence of a recovery system for dead units is still non-existent. Through experience, some of your units will garner stronger abilities and skills, only to die in a sacrificial situation. Although not being able to recover dead units brings out the inner tactician in the player, it is a bit infuriating when you lose highly skilled forces. This was a problem in the original game, and by the looks of it, it doesn’t seem as though the developers have any intention to change this with their next expansion.
In conclusion, Elven Legacy: Ranger builds upon the self-titled original by balancing out some of the flaws, and enhancing some of the mechanics. While the game has its share of set backs, it does begin to grow on the player as s/he becomes more familiar with each of the different classes. Coupled with an engaging and original story, EL:R actually makes the original title more appealing, and, undoubtedly, makes me excited to play the next expansion. As a result, if you’re into turn-based strategy games, you ought to give the Elven Legacy series a try; you won’t be disappointed.
Although the game has an incredibly interesting story line, players will find that the translation will sometimes confuse characters with one another. Similarly, the character names don't match the spelling on the website, along with other things.
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Initially, players will be heavily reliant on the infantry and archer combo, but as you begin to familiarize yourself with the mechanics, a world of strategies will begin to open up.
The music and sound effects aren't outstanding, but nonetheless, they serve there purpose. On the other hand, the game lacks any voice actors, which were present in the original.
The expansion will take roughly five to eight hours for one play through, but once you're done, you'll want to play it a second and third time around to understand the depth of the story and obtain a gold ranking on each mission.
While there are some significant draw backs to the game, Elven Legacy: Ranger ultimately does what it's suppose to do: make the original title more appealing while getting players excited for the next installment in the series.