Will you bring about Ragnarök, or prevent it?
Paradox is looking to make a game so ambitious you'd think they're trying to please Odin himself. Runemaster is an upcoming title from the house that made Crusader Kings, Europa Universalis, and many more hit strategy games from the Sweden-based developers.
Yet Runemaster isn't anything like Paradox has created in the past. It's a role-playing game with JRPG influences based on Norse mythology. It's a game where you'll play on the side of good or evil, preventing or bringing about Ragnarök (the end times). And it's a game that takes place across six procedurally-generated worlds offering emergent storytelling that changes based on what you do in your quests.
The battle of Ragnarök has begun, and you have to decide whether you'll prevent it alongside Thor, or see the destruction of worlds with Loki. Whatever side you end up choosing will see the rival god as the final boss of the game.
Six of the nine Norse worlds will be on offer here, and you'll get to decide what race to play as between humans, trolls, giants, darkelves, lightevles, and dwarves. Whatever race you pick will decide your starting location, so for instance humans will begin on Midgard (Earth).
There's different player classes, and each race gets two of the three options. There's Berserker (melee), Skald (healer), and Runemaster (magic). Furthermore, each race offers male and female playable characters.
Visually the game was looking pretty great, even at the pre-alpha state that Paradox showed us in. Unfortunately we didn't get to see the battle system, but they did tell us enough to paint a picture in our minds at least. Battles transpire JRPG style in that you'll warp into a battlefield when you encounter enemies. The turn-based combat is also based on the hex grid system, and elements on the battlefield can affect fights in different ways.
You start off as a nobody in the beginning of the game, but through your efforts you'll become stronger and amass an army that you take into fights. You'll be upgrading your main character, plus your armies can level up and be customized in a way that was likened to XCOM's character upgrade system.
Four worlds are unlocked at the beginning, and while there's a certain path you should take, you're free to choose the order. That said, some worlds may be too advanced for a freshly-created character to take on. Each new game will also give you procedurally-generated worlds, and coupled with the emergent storytelling, a regular playthrough can take you upwards of 100 hours.
Paradox told me they'll have good mod support here too, and they're "hoping for cool mods" once Runemaster gets in the hands of fans. The game is all about replayability, which is slightly insane given how long an average playthrough can take.
Runemaster is offering quite the amount of content for players. I liked what I saw in my early look at the game, but I'm going to need to see the combat in action before fully getting hyped up. Still, there's a lot of potential here.