Even though it didn’t make my “Top Five” list earlier this year, I’ve been really looking forward to Gas Powered Games’ upcoming game Demigod.
It’s a difficult game to describe. The closest thing to Demigod is clearly the Warcraft 3 mod Defense of the Ancients (which, I sadly admit, I have only played a couple times), but even then there are some significant differences. I’m kind of upset it wasn’t on my earlier list, because I really, really like it.
Hit the jump to read the full impressions.
Suddenly and without warning, the All Father has vanished. Eight Demigods are vying to fill his spot and ascend to true godhood, and obviously the only way to do that is to capture flags and murder each other!
Joking aside, the premise is pretty simple — each map has a basic objective, and your goal is to accomplish that objective before your opponents. Most of the maps in the preview code were Conquest mode (and as such, most of this preview will be focused on Conquest), which should be familiar to any Defense of the Ancients fans — destroy your opponents’ citadel before they can destroy yours. Demigod will also feature four other types of gameplay: Dominate, where you try to earn 10,000 points by capturing control points, Slaughter, where you win by killing enough of the opponent’s Demigods, Fortress, where you have to destroy three smaller fortresses in the enemy base, and Capture the Flag, where you have to physically bring a flag from the opponent’s Citadel to your own.
There are two different types of Demigods — assassins, who specialize in direct damage to other units and buildings, and generals, whose strengths lie in the summoning of controllable minions and the use of buffs/debuffs to strengthen their own armies while weakening their opponents. Each is useful in its own way, and teams will likely need a mixture of each in order to be successful.
Conquest itself is fairly similar to DotA. For those not familiar with this kind of gameplay, each side starts on the opposite end of a symmetrical map. You gain gold and experience as you defeat more enemies; the gold can be spent on items or on upgrades, while leveling up your Demigod lets you pick new abilities and powers for them to use. Dying triggers a resurrection timer, and when it’s up, you’re sent back to your starting point.
Your home base contains an item shop, a portal that your reinforcements spawn out of, a healing crystal, and the citadel you have to protect. The item shop is pretty self-explanatory – you buy items, weapons, and armor here for your Demigod. The healing crystal simply heals your Demigod when you’re in range, and often retreating back to the crystal when you’re low on life is a better option than dying and waiting for respawn. The portal spawns reinforcement units in waves; you can’t control or direct them, they just spawn at set intervals and march forward towards the enemy base.
The citadel is a bit special though, and this is where Demigod starts to diverge from DotA. At your citadel, you can buy a series of upgrades for all your forces that at critical to winning the game. While you don’t construct or place any actual buildings, it’s similar to the various upgrades you can buy for your units in most regular RTS games. For example, at your citadel you can boost the health and strength of your reinforcements, build a treasury that gives you more gold, purchase an experience boost for your Demigods, lower your ressurection timer, and, what I think is most important, add new units to your reinforcement waves.
Initially, your reinforcements are just a small group of generic melee units, but by spending money in the citadel you can add healers, long range units, flying units, and huge splash-damage causing giants. Building these units is pretty much necessary to succeed; you’re not going to make it very far without them. However, by themselves they’re not going to do much for you either, and you and the other players on your team have to carefully plan your strategy around your spawn waves if you want to get anywhere. It’s a nice element of strategy that’s not too over the top and arcane — easy to understand, but it’ll probably take a lot of experimentation to find out exactly what works with what Demigods.
Earlier on, I mentioned flags — these are something else that Demigod does that strays a bit from DotA. Scattered around the map are a variety of capture points, each which confer helpful bonuses to the team that controls them. Some give you an experience boost, some will increase the damage and health of your reinforcements by 30%, and there’s even a flag that gives you access to an artifact shop, where you can buy more powerful (and more expensive) equipment that’s generally better than what’s in your item store. The portals your reinforcements spawn out of all have flags as well, and a crafty opponent can actually capture one of your portal flags and take your portal over (although this usually means the game is about to end).
Even if Conquest isn’t your cup of tea, the additional game modes provide a wide variety of options. Additionally, you can alter almost every option in the game in the settings, such as respawn time to what items are and aren’t allowed. You can even set how long it takes flag control points to capture, and how much damage the reinforcement units do. The multiple customization options will allow you to tweak the game as you see fit, so if there’s a part of the game you don’t like there’s a good chance you’ll be able to change it.
One of the really nice things about Demigod is that the games are specifically designed to not last very long — 30-45 minutes is the expected average for a game. I have to admit, the first game I played against CPU opponents, I had no idea what I was doing and ended up in a two hour stalemate with my citadel maxed out and a constant battle in the dead center of the map I couldn’t break. Once I figured out what was going on though, the other games I played pretty squarely fell into the 30-45 minute range.
The game also looks fantastic too, and word is that the system requirements are going to be pretty low; lower than Supreme Commander at least. You won’t need a bleeding-edge rig to run this, so hopefully we can get a decent sized group of Dtoiders playing.
If you couldn’t tell, I’m pretty damn excited for this game to hit final release. It’s in good shape now (although there are some balance issues that are actively being worked on), and I can only imagine that the final product will be even better. If you’re not already excited about this game, you should be — it’s going to be awesome.