Rejoice, fans of Field of Glory 2: Medieval! The trumpets have sounded – and all roads now lead to Paris. The Storm of Arrows DLC brings the battlefield to the green fields of France, allowing players to re-fight the Hundred Years War – albeit in tiny pixel form.
For those unaware of the excellent Field of Glory 2 and its medieval cousin (see the prior review on this very website!) FOG2 is a turn-based strategy, bringing tabletop warfare to the computer. It gets rid of all the board game bookkeeping, letting players line up their miniature warriors – and just battle it out. There is single combat, random encounters, historical epics, or even whole campaigns to fight through. The game boasts an enormous variety of armies and units, and has the classic “easy to learn – difficult to master” feel to it.
At the heart of FOG2’s system are Points of Advantage, referred to, in-game, as POA. These determine which units have the edge – taking into account things like facing direction, armor, fatigue, morale and weapons. It’s a remarkably clean and elegant system. It’ll allow you to instantly get a feel for how different units work, and compare against each other. All units have a points value, and each one has its purpose on the battlefield. Even the elite heavy cavalry isn’t indestructible, and can be swarmed and cut down by lower tier units.
Field of Glory 2: Medieval is more than just a reskin of the original – which only focused on ancient warfare, up to the end of the dark ages. Along with the improvements to the UI and the overall graphics package, it also changes how most units handle. More of them now lack the slick maneuverability of the ancient battlefield. Now they have to spend movement even to change the facing direction.
Although heavy cavalry was becoming increasingly important at the time, medieval battlefields aren’t a one-size-fits-all environment. The scope of FOG2 includes armies as different as Scots and Irish – and all the way to Berbers and Tartars. As such, there’s a wide variety of unit and formation types. Add to that the option to tailor your unit selection and set-up, and you’ve got a near-infinite variety of combinations.
Increasing that variety even further and expanding the armies’ roster, Storm of Arrows adds (deep breath): Anglo-Irish, Aragonese, Austrian, Berber (Hafsid), Berber(Marinid), Bohemian, Breton, Burgundian, Castilian, Danish, English, Florentine, Free Canton, Free Company, French, German (in three flavors), Granadine, Hungarian, Irish, Italian (both Guelph and Ghibelline), Lithuanian, Low Countries, Milanese, Navarrese, Neapolitan, Papal, Polish, Portuguese, Rus, Scots, Swedisn, Swiss, Tartar, Teutonic Order, Venetian and Welsh! With all of them having their own army lists (with variants) and their own historical banner.
With the above, you can play a hundred battles against historically appropriate enemies using the Quick Battle option. Or, you can just throw the history books out (or at least place them to the side) and fight a “what if” match between the Teutonic Order and the Anglo-Irish. Keep in mind, though, that the balance can go out the window a bit sometimes!
The Great Campaigns
The game features eight major historical contests to fight in. Among these are Crecy and Agincourt – showing the might of the English and Welsh longbow on full display. All those battles are larger than the standard ones and have pre-set army composition, map and objectives. With that, you can really put yourself in the shoes of a historical monarch or general and see if you can beat their record. The battles can be quite long, but they do make for quite the spectacle.
For those in the mood for the long haul, FOG2 doesn’t disappoint, offering five new campaigns. The Hundred Years War is, of course, a major backdrop – being playable from the French or English point of view.
Especially great is the POV campaign of the legendary mercenary captain Sir John Hawkwood. It’s truly an incredible military adventure and an opportunity to manage an amazing variety of units, during the mercenary career.
For those who want to blaze their own trail, there’s an option to play a sandbox campaign. This allows the player to pick any nation and fight against the appropriate enemies. It’ll also require making strategic decisions, like dealing with persistent units and random events. The choices may result in a variety of effects. Those include unis left behind as garrisons, being saddled with useless leaders, or getting much-needed reinforcements.
Hours of Content
As ever, FOG2 lends itself really well to multiplayer. That’s especially so for the competitive head-to-head with its great points system. It allows combat to be finely balanced, and will often result in see-sawing momentum between players in a major battle. There’s no single tactic that’ll always work, and the RNG too is just right. Of course, you can mostly count on your elite units to hold the line, or light infantry and archers to break under pressure. However, every now and again, something unexpected may happen: A killed general can swing the balance by quite a lot; Or a random unit breaking under pressure can cause a whole flank to collapse with cascading routs!
It’s easy to recommend this DLC to a dedicated FOG2 player. Despite an £11.99 (UK) price-point, there’s an awful lot of content here. You’re sure to get hours and hours of fun out of it – even if you only play quick battles, or random match-ups. Another great thing about FOG2 is that you needn’t get all the DLC if you don’t want to. Instead, you can just go for the settings and the army lists that interest you. Although, for my own sins, I do like to have all the DLC!
It’s hard to offer a real comparison to the other expansions available, however. The choice of which one to pick up (or pick up first for the completionist) has more to do with personal preference, regarding both geography and time-frame.
Compared to the Original
With all that, the DLC doesn’t really effect any of the good or bad points of the base version. Therefore, if you’re a fan, you may have already wishlisted it. While, if you didn’t care for FOG2, or know it’s not your bag, then you can safely ignore it. It isn’t likely to change your mind – unless these battles, in particular, are a game-changer for you.
So, as it doesn’t introduce any major graphical, UI or sound changes, all the original game’s quibbles are still present. This includes the utilitarian sound design, as well as the graphical quirks: The strange scale of the buildings and lots of text. This also means that localization may be a factor as well. However, these are very minor issues, and the base-game is as excellent as the original Field of Glory 2, while offering a very different set of rosters, units, battles – and even gameplay.
Keep in mind, though, that this DLC isn’t absolutely required. It doesn’t really add any new mechanics, or changes any of the base-rules. Therefore, if you’re happy enough with the base-game, you can just play that out of the box. It is a truly optional purchase.
Storm of Arrows opens up new campaigns, new armies and new units – making a great game even better. It’s not required, but the added variety and a decent price means that, for a fan of the original, this purchase is something of a no-brainer.
“Cheerly to sea; the signs of war advance:
No king of England, if not king of France.”