BattleForge is an original game that mixes classic PC RTS (real time strategy) gameplay with a TCG (trading card game) concept. To EA and Phenonmic’s credit, the two elements are made to work well, making BattleForge an enjoyable, unique MMO gaming experience. The production value of the game is what you would expect from a premium Western developer – the graphics are bright and vibrant, while the music score and voice acting only enhance the quality. Originally released as retail game with a free demo, BattleForge is now entirely free-to-play, with optional micro transactions for additional booster packs. Spell, building, and unit cards in Battleforge belong to one of four element types, and they are:
Fire - Aggressive cards that deal heavy damage.
Frost – Defensive cards. Frost units absorb damage well and have access to powerful towers.
Nature - Focused on control and creature cards. Nature has powerful siege weapons and units with healing abilities.
Shadow – Necromancy and destruction are the hallmarks of this element. Shadow creatures include the undead and wicked beings like witches.
BattleForge Featured Video
By, Erhan Altay
It appears that Electronic Arts is the first major Western gaming company to embrace the free-to-play concept. First released as a retail game with a free demo available, BattleForge is now a free-to-play game under EA’s “Play 4 Free” label. This announcement was made back in May 2009, making BattleForge EA’s first major F2P title, followed shortly by the official release of Battlefield Heroes a month later. BattleForge has a unique game concept that takes the tried-and-true RTS format, but adds the twist of trading card games to it. The end result is a fast-paced strategy game, complete with single player campaigns and varied multiplayer options.
BattleForge is developed and maintained by Phenomic – a German studio acquired by EA back in 2006. This may explain why one of the servers caters specifically to German gamers. The other is a Global server. The game launcher selects the Global server as the default option, and I recommend players stick with this choice. Players can log using their universal EA account, and, luckily for me, I already had one from my days playing Ultima Online. For those who don’t already have an EA account, sign-up is quick and painless, with your email address serving as the login name. The game client can be obtained right on the official site’s homepage, but at less than 90 mb, it only installs the patcher, which then downloads the rest of the game. After the lengthy patch process, players can jump in and create their SkyLord. Character creation is limited in BattleForge, but this is mainly because players are not directly represented as units during gameplay. Instead, they play the part of SkyLords who command mortal forces from the havens. Besides naming your character, there are a few dozen avatar images to chose from, and the option to skip the tutorial map. New players are advised to play through the introduction map, as it does a great job at explaining the basics and giving players a first glimpse at what BattleForge as to offer.
A single stage serves as the game’s tutorial, and it does a phenomenal job at introducing players to how BattleForge works. A fellow Skylord, Moon, guides players step-by-step starting with unit summoning, movement, COMBAT, and eventually on to capturing Power Wells and Monuments. Voice acting helps keep the tutorial engaging, and the entire introduction stage takes about twenty minutes to complete, with a boss battle awaiting players at the end. Veteran gamers will be able to tell within minutes that BattleForge plays very similarly to a real-time strategy game (RTS), especially Warhammer 40k: Dawn of War. Like Dawn of War, resource production is streamlined with the use of strategic points that generate power automatically for as long as they are under your control (or until they’re depleted.) There are two types of strategic points – Power Wells, which generate points that are required to cast cards, and Monuments, which grant players an orb of one of the four elemental types (Fire, Frost, Shadow, or Nature.) BattleForge takes things a step further, and even streamlines the process of spawning units and structures. Players simply click cards from their deck, displayed on the bottom of the screen, and click somewhere on the screen to summon them. The units show up instantly, but start in a weakened state if summoned too far away from strategic points under your control. After the tutorial, players should have a good sense of how the game works, and will be able to jump into the game’s PvE campaigns or participate in PvP duels.
The Forge acts as a sort of central hub from where players can access other areas of the game. It also serves as a testing ground where players can freely use cards with no cooldowns or power costs. I summoned a ton of units, then sent waves of AI controlled enemies at my army. It reminded me of my days messing around with the map editor in Age of Empires. New players start the game with three premade decks – a Frost/Shadow, Fire/Nature, and the tutorial Frost/Fire decks. Tool-tips in the form of yellow questions will pop up during your time at the Forge, which explain each of the menus. Deck design in BattleForge isn’t too complicated, since the maximum card limit is set at twenty. Repeat cards are encouraged, since it allows multiple uses of the card without having to wait for it to cool down. New cards are rewarded at the end of PvE scenarios, and it’s for this reason that I recommend new players stick with the PvE story mode for their first play session. But, playing story mode doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be playing alone. Many scenarios require multiple participants working cooperatively. In fact, some missions require twelve players to work together, though they are split among three maps taking place simultaneously, since each map only supports up to four players.
In the typical RTS fashion, each scenario begins with a voice-acted piece of game lore. The story of the first campaign follows the adventures of an unlikely hero, who has just returned to his homeland to find it infected by a force known as Twilight. Apparently, this power has driven the inhabitants into violence, along with physically altering their appearance. If you’re a fan of the RTS genre in general, and the single player campaigns they include in particular, then you really won’t mind the rather poorly written story of BattleForge. Sure, each mission is essentially the same as the next (summon units, take control of power wells, summon stronger units, rinse and repeat), but getting all this for free on top of a fast-paced competitive PvP game makes BattleForge all the sweeter. Many larger video game review sites gave BattleForge modest scores, which was understandable (since it was originally a $50 retail game), but now that it’s free, the same content suddenly looks much brighter.
Besides cooperative play in the PvE mode, players can challenge one another to 1v1 or 2v2 duels, which are either ranked or unranked. Unranked duels don’t provide experience but are useful for testing new deck concepts. There are currently over two-hundred cards in BattleForge, which fall into one of three categories. Unit cards are used to summon troops and are the most basic type. Building cards include towers and other supportive structures. Spell cards do not place anything on the map – instead they have some temporary effect. Many spells inflict damage to units in a selected area, while others heal your own forces. Proper use of spell cards is the mark of an experienced Skylord, and can quickly turn a battle in one’s favor. Like Urban Rivals (a browser based TCG), and PoxNora, players in BattleForge can only purchase booster packs using real money. The premium currency (titled BattleForge Points), can be purchased at rates of $9.99 for 1,000 or $19.99 for 2,250. With each booster costing 250 BFP, it comes to about $2.50 for a pack of eight cards. But, paying isn’t the only way to improve your game. Gold, which is earned by completing scenarios, can be used to upgrade your existing cards, improving their attributes. The ability to upgrade cards like this gives free players long-term goals, and, along with keen use of the auction house, allows them some chance at competing with premium players. On a final note, if our overview, screenshots, videos, and this review thus far have failed to properly describe BattleForge, then let me just finish by saying BattleForge is Magic the Gathering meets RTS. As a recovering addict of both, I highly recommend this game.
Final Verdict: Great
BattleForge is a high-quality RTS title with fast-paced gameplay, thanks to the unique trading card system. Very few video games have been able to pull off card based gameplay. Fortunately, BattleForge is one of them. With plenty of single player content (including several full length campaigns), this is a strategy game that all fans of the genre should try. The game itself is incredibly fun, but the game’s community has been in decline.
BattleForge Tutorial Part 1
BattleForge Introduction Map Boss
BattleForge Gameplay Footage Part 1
BattleForge Playing in the Forge
BattleForge Official Trailer
BattleForge System Requirements
OS: Windows XP/Vista
CPU: 1.8GHz AMD64 or Intel Core
RAM: 512 MB
HDD: 10.0 GB
Graphics Card: NVidia GeForce 6000-Series or better, ATI Radeon 9500
OS: Windows Vista / XP
CPU: Pentium 4 2.4 Ghz or better
RAM: 1024 MB (1GB) or more
HDD: 12.0 GB Free
Graphics Card: GeForce 7000 or better