In March of this year, Electronic Arts released BattleForge, which mixed real-time strategy (RTS) with a card-based gameplay. This unique debut didn’t get the media attention it deserved, but it was well loved by the consumers.
The game, which has been lying in stores for two months, has now been released for free. This might be considered a hit below the belt for early buyers, but is great news for the rest of us and the freeware gaming community in general.
Just last week, we saw THQ’s first person shooter STALKER being released for free. We then wondered if this would be a single occurrence or the start of something beautiful. As things play out, I tend to go for the latter.
Electronic Arts combined several different game genres to forge this title, including real-time strategy, role playing and cardgame elements. Being a ‘special boy’ taking the high road, things were exciting for a moment, but BattleForge managed to pull it off with style.
In BattleForge, you control an army of fantastic beings, represented in your card deck. With BattleForge Play 4 Free, you start out with an already impressive deck of 32 cards, but this isn’t near the limit, with over 200 cards available through micropayments (read below).
Your deck then gets integrated into an online RTS game. Instead of putting down weapon factories and creating construction sites, you throw your cards on the table. Cards can represent creatures, buildings, or even spells.
Deploying these cards requires the use of power and possession of orbs. For this reason, you’ll need to conquer the strategic Power-Wells and Monuments. Fighting a battle is a combination of acquiring these points and confronting your enemy. To win a battle, you’ll need to plan ahead and think fast, because plans only last until the fighting starts.
You can play against other players online, or against the computer. However, it goes without saying that the real fun lies in the online gameplay.
Money is Power
There are two ways to expand your deck, trading cards at the in-game market place, or buying Booster Packs. However, because all free players start with the same two starter decks, the first option is out of the question.
Booster Packs are bought with BattleForge Points, which can be bought for real money. What this means, is that you can only expand your deck beyond the 32 starter cards through micro payments (about half a dollar per card). Simply put, money is power.
Gold, upgrades and XP can be obtained through regular gameplay, so you can still strengthen the deck you’ve got.
Play 4 Free
This free release is a strange, yet very interesting development. There’s doesn’t seem to be any real consistency in the business model, but hell, it gives us an awesome game for free.
The retail box can still be bought in stores, but now performs the role of a point box. You can redeem the code, and claim your 64 cards and 3000 BattleForge Points that came with it originally.
Included in this download are two full decks of 32 cards, and access to all additional content updates since its release. To use some privileges however, like offering a card in the auction house, you first need to train to a certain experience level.
Go to BattleForge.com and start downloading now!
Internet connection: 512kbps
CPU: 1.8GHz AMD64 or Intel Core (or comparable)
RAM: 512MB (XP), 1GB (Vista)
Graphics card with 128MB, NVidia GeForce 6000-Series or better, ATI Radeon 9500 or better
Minimum 10GB hard drive space for Installation
Display: 1024×768 minimum
Wonderful game, or incredible failure? Great opportunity, or too limited by the micropayment system for extra cards? Any reactions you care to share on this or related subjects can be directed to the comments section below!