With E3 2016 a mere day away i’d like to talk about certain video game franchises that i am a fan of and are long overdue for either a follow-up or a complete reboot. If those two options cannot be afforded, i may settle for a HD rerelease for some of them. Some of the games on this list may be considered obscure by some and if you had asked me just a few months ago if i thought it was possible to see some of these brought back into the light, i would have told you to make an appointment with your local mental health physician because there is no way. But if my favorite game of all time “Battlezone” from 1998 could get an HD rerelease, a door has opened and i now have much more hope in seeing any of the following receiving a spotlight.
Before Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos, i knew Warlords Battlecry introducing its Hero system and being called a roleplaying strategy game. The franchise has seen 3 releases so far under various development studios, but always helmed by lead designer Steve Fawkner. The studio that released the third iteration of Warlords Battlecry, Infinite Interactive, are still in business. However they seem to have shifted their focus on developing games for the more casual market in recent years. On the website’s forums, Steve Fawkner himself started a thread “If we were making Warlords Battlecry 4…” asking users what they would like to see in the fourth release. He posted this on the 23rd of September 2012. (3 days after my birthday, almost like he knew) The thread has garnered 86 pages of discussion with the 8th of march 2016 seeing the last user posting as of this writing. Albeit with much less hope in their hearts.
My first experience with the Warlords Battlecry franchise came from a demo disc i received with an issue of PC Gamer Magazine. The disc contained a demo for Warlords Battlecry 2. Due to my living situation back then there was no way for me to get my hands on the full game. But that changed when Warlords Battlecry 3 was released. Which I also experienced it first from a PC Gamer magazine demo disc. I went to every gaming shop i could until i found one place that seemingly had one box.
This game has a big and rich fantasy universe containing tons of lore that it shares with the game designers turn-based strategy franchise “Warlords”. It has what you would expect from an RTS; collect resources, build a base, attack. But it is everything that surrounds the hero system that can turn all that on it’s head. With 16 different playable races, you can mix and match by having a hero that is a different race than the one you’re building a base from. Hero customisation is deeper than most modern RPG’s. With 28 different classes to choose from, 16 different races each with their own strengths and weaknesses, 13 spell classes a hero could learn from, coupled with allocating attribute points to stats and having a retinue of “general” units who also level up and become stronger, and a seemingly endless collection of items to be found and equipped to your custom hero; no two players could ever have the same hero unit. This makes multiplayer skirmishes highly unpredictable.
For example, i love necromancy. Yes i know what that sounds like but hear me out. I still play Warlords Battlecry 3 today from time to time. My favorite hero is an undead summoner, that way he’s a mage who can learn from both the necromancy and the summon spell books, allowing him to summon both undead and demon units. At high levels and specialized equipment i can raise an army in very little time. Summoning a powerful melee unit like a Doom Knight becomes child’s play as i can summon 2 at the very start of a game. But i also summon vampires who can also summon bats, or i can summon a daemon who can summon imps, or i can summon liches who can turn the corpses of my enemies into living skeletons, coupled with technology I can research with the undead faction, can be upgraded into stronger units at the press of a button. While my cousin on the other hand built a minotaur hero that he claims could one-hit kill anything. We never did get around to find out who would win in a fight though. His brute force or my endless waves of units.
Not nearly as obscure as the Warlords Battlecry franchise, yet it only received one sequel. Sled Storm was a snowmobile racing game published and developed by electronic arts. The game featured a career mode where you race to earn money in order to buy upgrades for your snowmobile. The game also featured an extensive set of tricks that your character can perform for points. But every once in awhile, a fearless bunny rabbit can be seen quickly running through the track as a voice yells out “Tally-ho!” only to be trampled by a racer for a big increase in points.
Under the heavy hand of EA i doubt this franchise will ever see the light of day again. If Black Rock Studio was still around I’d say give it to them since they did such a good job on Pure, a game very similar to Sled Storm in ways but with ATV’s instead of snowmobiles.
Yes, i have considerably less to say about Sled Storm. It was just a really fun racing game that I picked out almost at random to receive as a birthday gift. If it does come back than I think it should just get wackier. Take the bunny rabbit idea and run with that. It doesn’t have to a wacky races video game though.
With FromSoftware announcing that Dark Souls 3 is the final installment in the franchise, I’d say it’s time for a little foray back into the game that placed them on the map. Now that they’re a city on the map, we need highly customizable giant robots. They can take all that they have learned from the Souls series and implement some of it into Armored Core. Just don’t make Dark Souls with robots, that’s not what i’m saying.
Armored Core has always been that series i was a fan of but i could kinda see why it didn’t have a larger following. FromSoftware has never been big into the whole storytelling thing for one and secondly the difficulty has always been on the hard side and “Git Gud” never developed very much under AC. Regardless, Armored Core to me has always been the “Gran Turismo” of giant robots. Building and tweaking an AC to your prefered playstyle and taking it into battle is exquisite. Armored Core 5 was a letdown for me, especially after how great Armored Core: For Answer was. Gimme some more of that fast paced, high flying, gargantuan behemoth weapon platform assaults we got in For Answer. Furthermore, PC release? Pretty please?. This series cannot go out with Armored Core 5 and Verdict Day. Not like this. Notlikethis.gif
Many might see this and say: “Why not a new mechwarrior or mechassault?” I hear you but, hear me out first. Like Armored Core there are giant robots involved, but they aren’t quite as nimble. You don’t build them from the ground up. You buy and sell different units, along with weapons that you can equip them with. Then you pick a couple of pilots and go out on a mission to earn more credits.
I can already imagine a Mechcommander with a much deeper customization system for both the mechs and the pilots. Luckily something of the sort is already in the works. With FASA Corporation pushing daisies, Jordan Weisman and Mitch Gitelman rose from the ashes and founded Harebrained Schemes. After successfully crowdfunding and delivering with Shadowrun Returns, they aim to bring the battletech universe back to life kicking and screaming with the aptly named “Battletech”. With a $250,000 goal, the campaign finished with $2,785,537, and that’s including some of my own money.
I believe that we can get more Mechcommander, Mechwarrior, Mechassault, Mechpicnics, etc etc etc. But i think it all hinges on how successful this turn-based Battletech game ends up being. Based on the success of shadowrun and the amount of money raised from the Battletech kickstarter campaign, i’d say that Harebrained Schemes is only going one way and that way is up.
It behooves me to add that all Warlords Battlecry games are on GOG.com. Hopefully mechcommander will one day get the same treatment.
Lastly, what do all of these have in common?