The Iron Oath preview
Guild, Pensioners and Dragons.
We play as a group of mercenaries who were betrayed and left to die by their own comrades. Naturally, the poor devils survived and are now eager to find and take revenge. But not all at once. The action takes place in a harsh world where there are many states, cities, factions and other mercenary companies. And this world is changing dynamically: cities can change hands, they are periodically attacked by bandits or demons, some other cataclysms like sandstorms happen - all this has a bad effect, including on trade and leads to an increase in prices in stores.
Conversely, some cities get richer, the rulers put up reliable guards on the roads, which promotes trade. This is important because one of the ways to make money in the game is just to buy goods in one city and sell them profitably in another.
In addition, fairs are held in some places — people walk around the clock, so you can't stay in a hotel there for the night to relieve the fatigue level of our mercenaries. Finally, dragon attacks occur with a certain frequency, which destroys entire cities — it will not be possible to get there until the settlement is rebuilt. Or they won't share important plot information with us until we raise the level of our reputation. And in the game there are five great houses, three large factions and an uncountable number of cities — our reputation is calculated separately for all of them.
We have to hire new fighters in taverns and take up contracts related, as usual, to finding a missing son/husband, dealing with bandits/monsters, collecting rare minerals, escorting merchants, and so on. This brings money, increases reputation and makes it possible to purchase global upgrades for your guild — here is an increase in its maximum number, faster movement on the map, and a reduction in the cost of hiring / maintaining wards, and other useful things.
Yes, after a certain time we have to pay salaries (we conclude contracts for a year or three at once, but at a lower price). Moreover, when we move around the map, time goes on constantly, and every day also costs us a small amount. Plus the payment of rest in taverns and the costs of treating those who have received critical injuries, which constantly reduces certain of their characteristics. We put such people in the hospital, where they can lie for a whole month. And we also buy equipment for all the wards, remembering that over time it becomes unusable and requires replacement.
In any case, all mercenaries will need a replacement sooner or later — they get old, and then even if they don't die, they retire. Therefore, it is necessary to pump young people in advance in easier missions.
We need to monitor not only the physical condition of the mercenaries — there are also such concepts as their attitude to our guild and their relationship with each other. Periodically, we make certain decisions, including during random events. They decided to drive away the bandits robbing travelers, or preferred not to get involved, tried to settle the matter peacefully, killed the thief without a trial or let him go — the wards evaluate these and other actions differently. Globally, this affects the value of their contracts, but it is not very clear in the early version how and on what their relationships are reflected (and how they are formed).
In any case, all this guild macro- and micromanagement only seems boring and cumbersome — in fact, everything is implemented quite conveniently, without tension and therefore is taken for granted. This only adds to the game's fascination and depth.
The Iron Oath - Time is running out
But this is only one layer of The Iron Oath gameplay. The second is the clearing of dungeons, which ends most of the plot and side quests. Before going down there, we choose four fighters, buy them consumables, including potions that increase morale, bandages and tools that allow us to overcome blockages.
The stripping process itself is implemented as follows. In step—by-step mode, we move through sections where it is unknown what awaits us - a battle, a trap, a chance encounter or a chest. They are allowed to set up camp once in order to restore health and get other bonuses like experience or gold at the end of the mission (however, first you need to open such an opportunity on the guild leveling screen). During the rest, there is a certain chance that we will be attacked, so it is better to send some fighters to guard.
Each move devours a unit of time allotted for all this. You can conduct reconnaissance to dispel the fog of war, but this also takes time — as well as clearing rubble or escorting a randomly encountered civilian to the surface (you can throw him). When the time is over, we will get one of the negative effects — we will lose the consumables, the damage from traps will increase or the probability of an attack during the night.
Then the countdown of a new time cycle begins — it will take several such cycles to complete most of the dungeons, which means that fines accumulate, forcing you to plan your movement competently in order to get to the final boss as quickly as possible and finally return to the surface. As a result, we get money and experience, but also fatigue accumulates in the fighters, affecting their effectiveness, and the equipment does not become newer.
Don't stand under the arrow The Iron Oath!
Well, the third layer of gameplay is directly turn—based battles. There are also interesting nuances here. Firstly, character classes are not typical. No, it is clear that the archetypes are guessed — there are conditional magicians, monks who prefer to fight with bare hands and brass knuckles, spearmen, valkyries and guards. But everyone has unusual chips — magicians here specialize in summoning lightning; spearmen are also trained in magic, are able to set fire to enemies and hit several opponents standing in the same row at once; monks are able to kick off several enemies at once, and the guards are not only good with a sword, but also heal allies. We are free to pump these skills and discover new ones, and in each branch there are as many alternative development options.
Secondly, the environment is actively involved in the battles. Pushing enemies away with your feet is useful because there are pits open or closed with flimsy boards on the battlefield, areas with ice where you can fall through, as well as points where something heavy will fall from above on the next move - the game visually tells you exactly where. And you can turn the tide of the battle by pushing opponents to these places.
Accordingly, you also need to be careful yourself — rather withdraw fighters from such dangerous points and not be exposed to blows that can throw someone into a pit. Some enemies love to hit several targets at once, or even represent creeping bombs that explode after a while and injure everyone around. It is also important to properly place the wards before the battle. Sometimes we can get ambushed or, on the contrary, arrange the same monsters — this greatly affects the order of moves.
Thirdly, there are objects on the battlefield that block the view or reduce visibility — this makes attacks impossible or reduces damage. We are free to use these same objects as shelters. As a result, almost all the battles are quite intense — there are practically no boring battles here.
The Iron Oath still leaves a very good impression. The authors have a large and multifaceted game, in which there was a place for playing a role, for tactical battles, and for elements of strategy / management. Some mechanics have not been brought to mind yet, but there is a feeling that everything will work out for the developers — they are clearly in no hurry and are doing everything conscientiously. And, again, it's worth the wait.
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Published contact: The United States of America (USA), 228 Park Ave S, New York, NY 10003-1502, US
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