Several years ago, I drifted away from Games Workshop’s Warhammer and Warhammer 40k miniatures games and started looking for an alternative. There were a few miniatures games available to fill the void, but it was Rackham Games and their game Confrontation that grabbed my interest. Rackham being a French company, the aesthetic of Confrontation‘s setting, Aarklash, is very different from that of the very English Games Workshop. The goblins are more deranged, the dwarves are more alien, and there are snake-like humanoids with guns slithering about. There is a very surreal tone to Confrontation that makes it stand out from every other miniatures line on the market. Coupled with a fast-paced, card-based ruleset, Confrontation, along with its sister games, was a true original.
When I heard that an RTS based on Confrontation was on the way, I was pretty thrilled. While Games Workshop games feel overly familiar, Confrontation still feels fresh and new. The four factions represented in Confrontation are a good cross-section of the weirdness of Aarklash. There are Jackal worshipping orcs, fire god worshipping humans, alchemical monsters, and the iconic Wolfen. While I would have liked to see the Ophidians or Dwarves of Mid-Nor, I am pretty happy with the factions chosen. In the demo build I was provided, only the noble human faction known as the Griffons are available for play.
While Confrontation is technically an RTS, it is not of the base-building ilk. Instead, Confrontation is centered on controlling small squads of statistically complex units. In this regard, Confrontation feels more like an RPG than an RTS. Each unit has their own skills, weapons, stats, and development tree to wrestle with. This hybrid approach reminds me of the Confrontation spinoff game Cadwallon more than it does Confrontation proper. Cadwallon was a fantastic game in its own right, so I feel this is a good thing.
The preview was fun and violent, as a Confrontation game should be. There is a baseline of gore that Confrontation requires and I was very pleased to see Confrontation was able to tread the line between taste and the source material. I dreaded that the blood would flow at Clive Barker levels, but I was pleasantly surprised.
The graphics of Confrontation really capture the look of Confrontation the tabletop game. The Cyclopean architecture and baroque meets manga flash of the game world comes shining through in the PC iteration. I wanted to really see the beauty of Aarklash, but my laptop was sadly not up to task. Even at the lowest graphics setting, the game world is beautiful and the character models unique. The animations weren’t particularly interesting, but that is an inherent issue in the RTS genre. I was never blown away graphically, but that was mostly my own fault.
I was a bit put off by the imposition of the standard MMORPG roles of tank, artillery, leader, and berserker. I have despised this sort of narrow class definition since it was introduced in a Dragon article (for the Marvel Superheroes game) in the early 90′s. Being a fan of customizing and strategizing, I sincerely hope the finished game is more flexible in this regard. Coming up with my own team compositions is much more interesting than recreating the Fantastic Four with wolf people. Scratch that, a werewolf Fantastic Four sounds kind of awesome.
Honestly, as fun as the preview has been, I am more tantalized by what wasn’t ready yet. The single-player campaign ended right when it was getting interesting, and I suspect there will be some brutal challenges in the final release. While multiplayer was unavailable in the preview build, I look forward to seeing how it shakes out. It looks like you will be able to use all four factions in multiplayer, making for some interesting matchups. Really, though, I just want to play as the Wolfen and rip off some heads. If Confrontation supplies the visceral challenge of the tabletop game, it will be amazing.