For a year and a half, Daedalic has been working on an old-school real-time strategy game called A Year Of Rain. The change of genre is a big step for a German studio best known for its point and click adventures. Its new game was introduced as a co-op title for two heroes and, at first glance, it has a lot in common with Warcraft III.
Besides the obvious similarity given the fantasy setting, A Year Of Rain also shares some of the same gameplay foundations. Two resources (gold and wood) are needed for buildings and research, while a high unit count increases the upkeep costs of our empire (which should, in theory, be used as a comeback mechanic on larger maps). A unit limit is there for balance and you can find neutral camps on the map and collect gold and experience. However, there are no artefacts for our heroes to pick up, although people who are skilled at micromanagement will be able to master the different special abilities of every unit.
The story campaign is intended to be played cooperatively because teamwork is the key to success, according to Daedalic (although if you insist on playing alone, the AI will help you out some way or another). Classic multiplayer skirmishes are available too and we played two matches during the hands-on event. There's a game mode called Against All Odds which represents the third pillar and it was described as an "asymmetrical multiplayer" variant, which sends out two heroes against two entire armies. Sounds intriguing, but we don't know much more about the mode right now.
Heroes are a big focus in A Year Of Rain because their four skills have a great impact on the course of battle. We already know three of the factions and each one comes with their own set of champions. In addition to an alliance of humans and dwarves (which are already playable) and the so-called outcasts (lizardmen and other less civilized races), Daedalic showed us concept art for an undead faction. The studio is using unconventional designs to alter existing themes for their creatures. We've yet to see if this approach will succeed or not, but it does pique our interest.
Before the match starts, players pick their faction and decide on a hero. After this, they have to choose a specific role for their character (tank, support, damage dealer). The heroes are added to our army after a short warm-up phase and if they fall in battle they automatically respawn after some time has passed. Similar to Warcraft, it is of utmost importance for these powerful units to gain experience in battle, as raising their level increases base stats and also their corresponding skills.
Most standard and special units have their own set of skills that can be expanded and refined in certain production facilities. Buildings aren't locked behind any kind of global tech level requirement, which might be the reason behind the manageable number of available improvements. You should have explored most (if not all) of the buildings and unit expansions after about twenty minutes of a match - many of our entry-level matches we're beginning to wrap up around this time.
After completing a match there is a wealth of information, showing our performance in various categories. The game rewards our efforts with experience points and other perks, which ultimately feeds into our private profile, which should offer further incentive for those who like that sort of progression. Daedalic was confident of the esports potential of the game, too, but they realise that they need to have a solid, functioning backbone first and foremost before any such ambitious plans can be realised.
For this reason, and in order not to make too many compromises during the initial development phase, the German developer is currently focusing exclusively on the PC version of A Year Of Rain. There are currently no plans for console ports, according to CEO Carsten Fichtelmann, but based on what the company has done in the past we know that they could port it over should the need arise. In its current state, A Year Of Rain is quite limited overall, but the game's base is looking solid. We're interested in seeing how the other factions play, but we'll have to wait and see on that front. As for release plans, there are none to speak of right now. Daedalic seems willing to enter open development sooner rather than later, which seems to suggest some sort of Early Access approach might be in mind.
For more about the games we saw during Daedalic Days, head this way.