Oriental Empires preview (PC)

Oriental Empires has a bold new approach to strategy, combining familiar elements from genre-defining titles and wrapping them together against a backdrop of ancient China.

What we know

Offering a change in scenery compared to most 4X/strategy titles, Oriental Empires takes place in ancient China and sees you progress through the ages as you develop advances in technology and in socio-cultural matters. A mix between grand strategy and micro management, the game offers diplomatic as well as military solutions towards expanding your empire – with 16 different factions to choose from.
Battles take place in 3D and allow you to issue orders and devise strategies, a bit like the Total War games allow you to do. Empire building on economic grounds can be achieved by developing your settlement using natural resources and expansion through building, but eventually you’ll advance to trade – by land as well as water.
The tech tree in the game is, to a degree, tiered. As you progress into a new era, new technologies become available and allow you to steer the game in a different direction again.

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What we saw

We played with the early access version of Oriental Empires, which is already feature complete as far as single player gameplay is concerned. Multiplayer is being worked on right now, and of course the early access period is also being used for bug testing – bugs being something we didn’t encounter a whole lot of. The game is scheduled to come out of early access soon and will be out before 2016 is over.

What we thought

Oriental Empires combines elements of Total War, Civilization and Grand Ages, and it all comes together quite well. Being mostly interested in the single player portion of the game helped, as that’s the part that is already feature complete at this moment.
The game is really scaleable, which translates to how you can zoom all the way from the world map down to close-ups of individual soldiers on the battlefield. This is a setup that’s great for anyone who’s ever played Civilization but wants more control over the battlefield, but it might be a tad too much for others – not everyone wants to do everything at once.

If you like both Civilization and Total War, then this will be right up your alley. It’s not as refined as either one of those titles, but that tends to be the sacrifice you have to make when playing titles that cross the boundaries between two genres. If you like a title like Grand Ages, would enjoy a Chinese setting and feel an itch to have more control over the game’s combat, then Oriental Empires might just scratch that itch. It’s certainly different enough to justify checking this game out, either upon release or during its early access period. The Chinese setting and unique blend of gameplay styles have certainly intrigued me for these past few weeks, and I look forward to the final product.

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