On Stream:http://store.steampowered.com/app/357310/Oriental_Empires/

About This Game

Step into the world of the ancient Orient. Control a city or tribe from the dawn of Chinese history, and turn it into a great empire. Develop your land, create great cities, raise huge armies and fight epic wars. Advance your technology, culture and religion to create one of mankind’s great civilizations. All the action takes place on one spectacular game map that brings to life the mountains, forests, plains and deserts of China. Zoom in close to review your troops and see your peasants toiling, or zoom out for a strategic overview. Plan your battles, end your turn, and then watch as your armies obey your orders, with hundreds of soldiers battling right on the game map.

FEATURES
  • Start out as a single nation or tribe, starting from humble beginnings with a single settlement and expand your empire and develop your culture with the aim of becoming the universally recognized Son of Heaven and ruler of the world.
  • Persuade the other factions to recognize you as such by either military force, or by diplomatic persuasion.
  • Play as one of 24 different factions each with their own special bonuses or penalties.
  • Vast beautifully rendered map featuring an attractive and authentic depiction of the landscape of China and Mongolia.
  • Large scale battles with hundreds or thousands of soldiers, depicted in detail right on the game map. Watch skilled armies and reinforcements go to battle, according to the battle orders and formations set by the player.
  • Fully animated 3D models, with variations in face and clothing for each model, including infantry, cavalry, chariot and artillery units, as well as naval forces.
  • Long seamless zoom range lets you step right into the game world or zoom out for a strategic overview.
  • Develop your settlements by constructing buildings and developing the landscape around them, build markets and ports to enable trade by land and water.
  • Elaborate research tree including technology as well as cultural, philosophical and religious developments.
  • Many other elements will determine the outcome of you quest for dominance such as Leaders, Sieges, Unrest and Rebellion, and Authority and Culture ratings.
  • As Emperor, set edicts, laws and decrees to balance power and move into a glorious new Era, with new technologies and military units that change the game!
  • Conquer together or betray your allies. Anything goes in multiplayer mode, supporting up to 15 players.
  • Join the official Discord to find new allies for multiplayer, discuss strategies and receive the latest tips & tricks: https://discord.gg/6Kgnk5z
    Minimum:
    • OS: Windows 7 64 bit (32 bit NOT supported)
    • Processor: Intel Core i5-3230M @ 2.60GHz or equivalent AMD processor and above
    • Memory: 4 GB RAM
    • Graphics: 256 MB DX 9 Compliant videocard with pixel shader 3,0
    • DirectX: Version 9.0c
    • Storage: 2 GB available space
    • Sound Card: DirectX 9 Compatible Audio
    • Additional Notes: Minimum Resolution: 1024 x 768
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Jargonaut

Posted: September 15, 2018
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED : Ratings 8/10

Back in 1991, Sid Meier released Civilization 1 and I was hooked. I lost many sleepless night playing that game, and it became one of the most influential and best 4X game of all time. Over the next 28 years, I played every Civ game and expansion that came out, up to Civilization VI. It was really fun, but each game evolution became more complex and more difficult to play. I would still continue playing the civilization series.

However, a few days ago, I came across this wonderful gem of a game, called Oriental Empire. It’s a game that capture my heart, and make it race fast and furious as it reminded me of the days of Civilization 1. It’s another 4X game, with almost the simplicity of Civilization 1. Please note that simplicity DOES NOT mean easy to play. I got my team wiped out by the computer AI even when I played at Easy level, and got to constantly reworked on my game strategy. I restarted the game a few times too, and I still have not got the hang of the game. But it was fun and challenging and new and exciting….

I am an old man, but feel young again, playing Oriental Empire. Rejuvinated perhaps. Although this is a relatively new and unknown game, it already has a great start by releasing modding capabilities and steam workshops. The latest I check, there were like 100+ user created maps and 16 scenarios. Most of them are Chinese maps, but I also saw a Game of Throne map/scenario and also Warcraft. This is awesome and I cannot wait to finish the main campaign and then play all those custom made maps and scenarios.

However, I did find something lacking in the current game. It is still lacking a in-game tutorial. Although I say that I love the game because of its simplicity, yet the learning curve for this simple game is still quite steep. Steep enough for me to stumble without a tutorial. Maybe I am getting old, and my mental capacity is not as strong as it used to 30 years ago. I do not learn a new game as fast as I use to, and without a tutorial I tends to get lost.

However, I will still highly recommend this game.

huminado

Posted: November 23, 2017
The Refund Gods stand before me asking: "Would you like us to take away Oriental Empires? Is it not fun enough for you?"

NO!!

Oriental Empires is a simultaneous TBS with a complex between-turn battle system. That’s right – it’s nothing like Civ or other TBS where battles take place during your turn, or during an enemy’s turn. Everyone plans their next move, and we all hit the "next turn" button at the same time, and if armies run into each other, battles take place that generate an outcome you have no control over, but is extremely entertaining to watch. I don’t know if they are deterministic or rely on RNG. While at least some other TBS offer a default of "battles during my turn" with an option of "simultaneous turns" (I think Civ does), this game only offers simultaneous turns. That means you always have to predict where the opponent might move, and it can sometimes feel like playing whack-a-mole – they might move out from under you and just take a city while they are at it.

Hint: Faster units will outrun a slow army trying to catch up, so hit-and-run tactics are a viable option, but also means you spend more time analyzing the board to see if your cities are within striking distance of enemy armies.

The simultaneous turns are similar to the game Dominions, but here if enemy armies are within 1 tile from you while either armies are moving to a destination, they will fight (they don’t have to have the same tiles in their paths like in Dominions).

The battles that take place, out of your control, are "in real time", which means that units that have been ordered to move may do so unhindered behind other units that are in the heat of battle. It’s really cool to watch, and strategies can be developed related to the timing of when units will show up at a battle to maximize efficiency.

After 2 hours of playing, I’ve noticed that the game offers a new concept I’ve never seen before: authority. This can affect city morale if leaders are percieved as idiots. <I will refrain from making political comments, as tempting as they are to bring up.>

The atmosphere of the game is really dripping, oozing, bleeding richly with gorgeous artwork and cultural background. If you are familiar with China it might resonate really well, and if you’re like me, it’s a really nice introduction, and just alien enough to pique my curiosity. Part of that experience is the seamless map-view-to-ground-level-zoom. This is a gorgeous trick and adds a huge amount of immersion. The other part is that fields and cities have a ground-level view that is about the size of a football field, which adds realism (albeit slightly exaggerated) that I haven’t seen in any other TBS.

The AI (it’s a little early to tell) is relatively intelligent. Or I’m just getting lucky with the board I’m playing. Either way – there are interesting situations to work through.

The UI doesn’t follow the (worn out?) standard "tasks completed in the right column" layout. It does some new things that are intuitive enough that I didn’t bother reading all the manual text – I could figure it out. However, the tutorial help text could do a little more hand-holding for easing the learning curve. In general I absolutely like the UI – it offers no drawbacks, and might be presenting a new standard for the genre.

After over 8 hours of playing (in one sitting), there are rebellions! Cities break off to form their own country, and if you try to fight them, there’s a good chance your own armies will desert to the side of the rebels. There’s this feeling like your whole country is being infected by a virus that spreads out of control. This is insane! It turns out the rebellions can be avoided (in small part) by giving the people a break from building new farms, new buildings, and serving in the military! What? They aren’t just little robots for me to push around forever? There are also nobles who can incite rebellion if they think my authority level isn’t sufficient for the number of cities in the country.

Con:

– The game fails to show a clear supply-chain path of resources. For example, bronze magically is produced by one of the buildings, but this isn’t clearly documented, nor does the game make it clear. You’ll see copper mines, which implies you’d also see a tin mine, and combine those resources to make bronze – but it doesn’t work that way, and this ambiguity can be confusing and increase the learning curve (as if there wasn’t enough to worry about already). [This confusion is because the game doesn’t play like Civ – resources on the map are only catalysts to accelerate production, but any military unit can be built regardless of whether you control resources on the map.]

If you have played Civ, you may be wondering "what else is different?" Well, in battles, units at full health going in almost never die. Most of the time, units abandon a fight to stay alive, which means that you’ll see enemies continue to hound you for a while until you have hit them several times to get rid of them. This can drag things out a bit, but it adds to the immersion too.

I’ve read some negative reviews saying this game is a rip-off of <some ho-hum game that would never get my interest at first glance due to obvious lack of complexity and simplistic interface>. Well if it is, I don’t care. This game stands on its own in its own right, with no need for comparisons. This game brings way more to the table than I was expecting, as it is nothing like Civ, and adds a strange and refreshing new flavor to the genre.

Thanks for a great game!

Anonymous26

Posted: January 19, 2018
This review will start with a disclaimer, then talk about the military, politics, the economy, misc. game quirks, and conclude.
Disclaimer. This is an indie game. This means the development team consists of a guy in Thailand. As a result, certain features which you may expect, like tutorials and documentation of game mechanics, are rather lacking. On the plus side, you pay half as much as you would for civ 6, so it’s not all bad.
Military. I will assume you have played Civ before, since most strategy gamers have. Soldiers consist of noble conscripts, peasant conscripts, and trained soldiers. Conscripting people is cheaper and the only option early in the game, but professionals fight better and won’t anger your population. In addition, if your nobles/peasants rebel, the respective conscripts will mutiny if they think they can (Brendan Caldwell over at RockPaperShotgun fell victim to this).
In the first few turns, you can take cities just by walking into them with a unit (or 2 units if there is a unit there, or 3 if there are 2 units there – pattern holds until you get to 4 defending units, which you never will). As a result the early game is much more warlike than Civ 5 and 6; I have seen players eliminated before turn 10. However, you will soon get walls. Cities with walls are untakable unless you can somehow knock down the wall, e.g. by setting it on fire (wooden walls) or by hitting it with catapults. Generally this requires you to massively outnumber the defenders and expend a lot of resources taking walled cities. (This is consistent with Thucydides Chapter 8, in which the Athenians spend 2,000 talents taking the town of Potidaea, more than thrice the annual Delian League tribute of 600 talents mentioned in Chapter 6). So at this point the game slows down and becomes slower.
Politics consists of keeping your nobles and peasants happy. Nobles are kept in line with authority. You get authority from a combination of global authority, which you get from researching techs, and your leader’s personal authority, which you get from murdering people, razing cities to the ground and other authoritative things. Peasants care about more mundane things, like "do I have enough food" and "how frequently has the Emperor forced me to work on megalomaniacal construction projects". If either your nobles or your peasants rebel, you are toast, so don’t let this happen.
The game’s economic simulation is moderately good. You conscript peasants to build farms, and then the peasants work on those farms. If there is a food surplus, the population will grow. If there isn’t, you should fix that really fast before the peasants rebel. The economic unit is a coin-shaped thing. You get more from taxes and trade. Peasants pay 2 coins per peasant, and more as you figure out how to tax them more. Trade is self-explanatory.
Misc. game quirks. Noble/peasant unrest is affected significantly by random events. (Mr. Caldwell fell victim to one of these too). A locust plague, for instance, will both make everyone angry and quash your food production. If you haven’t build granaries to wait out the famine, your peasants will rebel, screwing you over. (In my case half my cities joined the revolution. Then they raised armies to take the rest. It sucked). Likewise, earthquakes might strike, rivers might flood, or the moon could turn a funky color and convince everyone that the apocalypse is nigh. Research astronomy and prove them wrong!
Conclusion. This game is more relaxed than Civ because everyone moves at the same time, yet at the same time more tense, as there is a nonzero possibility that some military unit will pop out of the fog and take your city. There are notable issues (the Thought tree is a little bland, bandits should die the first time they are defeated rather than running away and living to fight another day dammit). However I expect these will be resolved. In the past, units ran around in circles like headless chickens. Then the developer released an update, and now they behave like the Total War AI. I suspect the remaining issues will be fixed also, if only Total War: Three Kingdoms doesn’t quash OE before it can squeak.

AugusTIN

Posted: December 3, 2017
I RECOMMEND even at full price, and strongly recommend to grab it on sale!

From a good strategy game I expect to just start a game on normal level, and without help from any walkthrough, or forums, or guides, or formulas, to just intuitively play, as if I am truly the future Emperor, immerse in the game, find all the challenges and solutions and the FUN in the game itself – and here Oriental Empires delivered and succeeded my expectations – more than 40 hours in just 4 days, "one more turn" lost night, did NOT happen to me for a looong time.
(2nd game was already on hard, and was FUN and successful as well …without any extra web-searching)

I would NOT compare it as a Chinese child between civilization and Total War series – although this comparison would be a compliment …. but still I feel that the developers of Oriental Empires created a UNIQUE space in the crowded "Historical strategy genre", and succeeded to draw me in this world, so I could already spend very entertained hours of game-play.

Oriental Empires is a mature, very solid beautiful game. It stands proud before us, as IT IS – FAIR and delivers the value for money!!
NO DLC SPAMMING, no "half game now, the rest you have to wait" (and spend extra money) for many more DLC policy, to deliver finally (or never) a solid game.

As I was playing, my wife passed a few times by, sat on the couch near me and just watched me playing commenting how relaxed she feels just listening to the atmospheric MUSIC – "like in the Chinese restaurant" …she said 🙂 … and watching a visually very appealing introduction in the atmosphere and the "world of the East" for us "westeners".

Regarding game-play, there are some unique solutions of presenting information, that we, as future Emperors, need to make our decisions. And first I was Shocked by how different it was presented, and it appeared as too little! This fact, seems to be the main issue in the negative reviews. BUT actually meanwhile I like it very much, because, it invites You to dive into the game intuitively, to BE the emperor You are, and not to be a bureaucrat who searches the net for all the "perfect values". There are no exact formulas and values for the buildings You want to build, BUT before I build routine wise a bazar in every town I own, no matter how small it is and later complain (like many reviews) that they cost more money, than they earn, I build 1 or 2 and observe and compare the values of income and expense and on hand of real observation and intuition I slowly start expanding my trade network ( when the towns already grown a little). Actually in reality an Emperor never knew BEFORE he ordered something the exact consequence. You build this and that and observe, and than plan further moves.
The game has great mechanism to prevent You from routine spamming buildings or units, or new towns (due to the authority system). As buildings cost/per turn, as an Emperor I will think twice before I build in every town a barrack or all buildings. First, there is no room to build all, and You would go bankrupt and loose in a very frustrated way. You have to "specialize".
…so Yes, You have to act carefully and You have plenty of information for reacting. Actually it is an interesting strategy concept, where the emphasis is less on "theoretical detailed planing", but more on intuitively ACTING and observing given information and REACTING … and that’s how an ruler often has to live by.

Last but not least is the very interesting COMBAT phase! First, lets be honest …how often did You have Your "perfect battle" in Total War or Civilization? How often were YOUR battle-skills in commanding every army in every way, crucial in winning a whole Campaign or game?
Most probably You will agree, if I state, that more often it was Your "great campaign" skills of tricking the opponent to fight where You prefer and at the time You prefer, with a bigger army, better equipped, and more advanced units …maybe even add some surprise and trying to have as little casualties and protecting Your income, infrastructure and diplomatic relations.
And this is where Oriental Emires hit it exactly on the point. I sense a lot of strategy experiencing in presenting in the game this concept / battle phase where You DON’T have any direct control of the fight itself, BUT all important decision, between a clear win and a frustrating loss are at Your feet.
You save time by skipping micromanaging every battle, but still You are visually involved, You can jump from battle to battle who are fought simultaneously at different part of Your empires, You can stop, observe and learn, and You can soon move on with the global campaign … and that’s what it is all about … to be able actually to finish a game in a reasonable amount of time if You are a person with real life.

Again, in some reviews I read that there are not enough "before" information and predictions.
I, personally, am tired of the dumbed down "battle prediction percentages" in case of this or that stance in some other games … and don’t tell me that a true SHOGUN needs a computer, or formulas or percentages to issue orders. A true SHOGUN "knows by heart" which units will support, which will harass, which will charge and which will hold positions or flank. A true Emperor will be thankful for some losses in minor battles to learn about his men, about their skills and he WILL KNOW how to plan a battle and trust that further assistance is not necessary once the battle begins.

A true Emperor will not arrive without siege weapons, or at least some archer units in early phase …and then complain that he lost his whole army in an endless and frustrating siege.

If You are still reading … sorry I have to end this … I have some conquering to do 🙂

I RECOMMEND even at full price,

Lancer

Posted: July 20, 2017
Early Access Review

In short, more frustrating than fun.

A single enemy unit can block the advance of an entire army, because the unit ‘retreats’ tactically before it is killed, and then doesn’t move on the strategic map, so you can’t move past it.

Sieges are incredibly time consuming, even when you have several units of artillery and the enemy has literally no defenders. Furthermore, numbers don’t matter in a siege since once you take down walls, troops will only engage in a 1v1. Arrow-fire from the settlement seems to do more damage to the siege engines than the siege engines do to the walls themselves, since I had 10 of the best artillery money could buy and was losing them at 1 every two turns, while every battle I only managed to take down one part of the walls. My troops then calmly walked towards the breach and the battle timed out before they arrived. The walls repaired themselves next turn. This pattern repeated itself with every city i tried to take. And then, when you finally manage to bring some walls down and bring their garrison to 7 men, the battle timer runs out and before you get a chance to make another attack some random spearmen from another faction capture the city.

I wouldn’t mind long sieges if it were possible to easily take undefended towns or there were starvation mechanics, but it seems those mechanics only actually apply to the player.

Beyond my awful, painful, frustrating experiences with sieging, Oriental Empires is fairly standard 4x game, with only its setting to set it apart. I did like the farming/peasant population mechanics, and the peasant rebellions were the first time rebellions had ever posed a challenge in any 4x I’ve played.

But, since combat is like pulling teeth, I have to pass on a recommendation for this. I’ll probably try again in a year or so and see if they’ve made the sieges any more palatable.

Starship_Chris

Posted: April 20
I’m a longtime strategy gamer, since the days of Total Annihilation and Age of Empires. I’m by no means a ‘hardcore’ strategy player, though I wouldn’t say entirely casual either. That said, this is one of the more fascinating strategy games I’ve played in years.

What I like:
-Freedom of settlement. Though I’m an ancient fan of Total War, I’ve wanted a similar game that allows that freedom (a la Civilization).
-Trade. I like that one can’t merely spam trade buildings to get ahead. You must plan your cities well, or your trade won’t flourish, and your income will collapse.
-Recruitment. I like the recruitment pool and the way it interplays with happiness and upkeep. I also like the immediate levying of troops, rather than over a turn or more.
-Also about troops: Peasants will not suppress their own. Nobles will suppress the peasantry, but not themselves. Professionals say, "Ya’ll keep in line" to both, being loyal only to you (if you can afford them). Also, the use of either peasants or nobles in the army increases their respective unhappiness.
-Happiness. As frustrating as happiness can be to manage, it largely makes sense. People react to events they don’t like or understand. Work them too hard, they become rebellious. Understand eclipses to prevent people freaking out. Build granaries to prepare for inevitable crop failure. Be proactive, and you will maintain your empire; put things off, and you could — as I did — have a drought, locust swarm, AND a succession crises destroy your empire in two turns. Irritating? Sure. Believable? Definitely.
-Battles. I actually like the battle system (once a guide explained it to me). Ancient battles, to a large extent, were planned and then went as they did. I love Total War for its battles, but they do tend to be too arcade-y because of immediate reactions. This approach has a charm and realism of its own, where I need to plan well and then roll the dice.

What I dislike:
-Mostly it’s that a lot of concepts are better understood by trial and error, or through the guides of dedicated players. That’s not a bad thing, per se, but can be infuriating if you get derailed without understanding why. Trade is one of my favorite aspects of the game, but also required a guide to better understand. The battle system was a similar experience, though I grasped it more quickly (stances are well-explained).

In sum, I absolutely love this game, especially when I want something less frantic than Total War. Not that I expect it, but this style of game in the Diadochi period would make me very happy.

Lrp35JTderp4123:ddd

Posted: February 9
This game is fun but it is not balanced at all. Specifically, your populace reaches a point where they are always unhappy even with all of the things you can do to keep them well. In addition the AI seem to spam the living bees out of armies but they generally don’t do much at all to conquer. ALSO the biggest problem in this game is that you have a maximum amount of cities you can have until your empire collapses on itself. The point of the game is to create an empire, isn’t it? Can’t do that when you only hold 10% of the map. The game has A LOT of potential, but as it currently sits, i do not recommend buying it until at least these key issues are addressed.

FlikFlekFlak

Posted: September 20, 2016
Early Access Review

Welcome to Umaru’s Opinion

Finally
I’ve been anticipating this game for awhile after i accidentally stumbled upon it a few months back, it promises a 4x strategy game thats focused on the civilization of Ancient China, so, does it delivers?

Oriental Empires
Let’s check it out
This will be my 1st impression of the game

Graphics
~8/10
The 1st impression you get when you jump into the game, is that the main menu is plain, it’s so simple, that it feels like the game doesn’t promise you much, not only that, the option in the menu also doesn’t give you that much option to play with IMO,

BUT

As you jump into the game, you can see how detailed the world they’ve created, as you zoom into the farmlands, you can see how detail they actually created the world, farmers working on the field, not only that, the City is also beautifully created, as you build new building, you can see that the buildings that’s just been build integrated beautifully into the city, now you didn’t see that in CIV V. Though the graphics might not be the best, consider the genre and some of the games like CIV V and Endless Legend, you could say that the grapchis of Oriental Empires is Acceptable.

The Details on the Soldiers, is beautiful though the battle animation get clunky sometimes, and soldiers went out over more than 3 hexes over the enemy in battle, it is acceptable considering it’s a Early access game, i hope this will be patched in the future version of the game.

The UI
~6/10
Well the UI in this game, well, its confusing,
1st of all, there is no minimap in this game, i dunno why they didn’t include minimap, maybe you could unlock it when you discover a new technology (which is great IMO) or maybe its just an error that the developer made, but this might also be patched in the future.
The other thing about the UI is that is quite frustrating to navigate, and also the lack of hovering tool tip is also frustrating, in other words you need to click and icon to actually shows you what’s the effect of the building you wanna build,
But after spending some time adapting to the game, i found out that its not as annoying as it was at the 1st time.
Another thing, even though it’s quite hard to navigate, the tooltip actually gives you the details you need, although some information is still confusing as some details is lacking, but most important information was provided in great details

The the last thing

WHERE IS THE DECONSTRUCT BUTTONNNDAKJfkaDJIOAPREWGAEO??????

Gameplay
~8/10
The 1st thing i wanted to say to 1st timer in this game, PLAY THIS GAME ON EASY DIFFICULTY
It was because a lack of tutorial sytem in the game, though if you are familiar with games such as CIV V or Endless Legend, or Other 4x strategy game, this won’t be a problem,
The game itself, is divided into 2 Phase,
1st its the building and planning phase, where you build, improve, recruit, plan and set strategy
and the 2nd phase is where you watch your action came into play in real time, which is a great addition to the game,
a lot of people say that this game is actually a mixed of Total War and CIV V but it think that this game is more like CIV V + Kessen Series back in PS2 era
It’s also quite boring in the first few turns because there’s not much to do in the game
To be honest i actually restarted my games quite a few times after my city is sacked by bandits and attacked by other clans/nations because my city is too far from my capital to be reinforced,
also because of my inability to find a Deconstruct button, my Empire collapse because of a huge amount of debt it accumulated.
My last game was actually going quite well after i repel the invasion of the Han, though it seems like i will be restarting the game again because i found out that a city could actually use upto 11-hexes of their surroundings
Technically, a lot of planning is needed in order to maintain a stable empire, overstreched and you city will likely be destroyed, building to close to each other will result with inability to expand, and so on though this actually comes with their own pros and cons and also, a city has an ability to dismantle itself, which could help if you are unable to defend the city and want to save a settler.

It’s a Hard Game, but it is a fun game.

Sound/Music
~7/10
For the sound and music, since the game revolve around ancient China, The music is also some of the soothing classic Chinese musis, which will give a relaxing feeling, though a more tense music will pop-out when you enter the second phase, so, so far so good

So, the score for Oriental Empires is

7/10
For now

Since it’s a early access game, i will update the review in the future, so, thanks for reading and i hope everyone is having a great day

~UMARU OUT`~

WangTrain

Posted: April 6, 2017
Early Access Review

Your AI allies actually send you gold when they hear you are at war with neighboring tribes. 10/10 Total War Allies never gave me #@$!

[1n0] Tombot3000

Posted: September 21, 2016
Early Access Review

The tagline you see in most of the reviews here on steam is that this is “CIV + Total War set in China”. I’d say the first part of that tagline is inaccurate – this game does not much resemble Total War. If you really want a Total War style game set in China get Koei’s Romance of the Three Kingdoms series, with the caveat that those games are based on historical fantasy and not actual history. That said, Oriental Empires is a good game with interesting design plus a unique setting.

Gameplay: In the Grand Campaign you explore a semi-random (resources are distributed differently each game but the map is fixed) map of China that starts in 1500BCE. There are many historically-flavored factions but the differences between them are small at the time of this review and each start with the same setup – a capital city in a fixed, historical, location, a settler, a commander and a faction leader who can also command. The biggest difference between factions is starting location.

As you explore you’ll find resource deposits or points of interest your named characters can interact with similar to Elemental or Endless Legend. These points of interest can be positive or negative but at the moment variety seems limited. I’ve only encountered trait increase/decrease, money gain/lose, technology shortcut and map reveal events. I hope they add more variety and take more from Endless Legend/Elemental by including short quests.

You’ll also encounter the other factions (no minor factions are present). After meeting a faction you can enter into diplomacy with them but I find the balance within the system to be poor. It doesn’t feel great when nations you meet quickly declare war, march about for a few turns, then accept peace if you offer them 1 gold. Maybe they just wanted the pride of saying they beat you, but with no buff/debuff apparent based on the outcome of a war it seems more likely that they haven’t finalized the faction relationship system yet. After the initial “we hate all our neighbors” round, it is easy to establish peace with everyone near you, especially if you start by offering to recognize a strong neighbor as Emperor – a decision I hoped would carry stronger penalties than a single point off my “authority”. The peace network seems to endure indefinitely (80+ turns in my second game), leading to a rather slow-paced early-mid game where you simply tech, settle new cities and explore.

As you found new cities and grow your existing ones, you’ll want to balance a few different factors. Expansion is limited by two resources – you have a “recruitment pool” of units that refreshes periodically (Similar to Medieval 2) so you can’t simply spam settlers and you have the previously mentioned “authority” attribute, which must be higher than the number of settlements you own or you will face penalties to unrest. Authority can be increased via the research tree. Unrest is divided into “noble” and “peasant” unrest with the former being influenced mostly by authority and Edicts – special commands you can issue which enact empire-wide policy decisions and advance you into different ages. Peasant unrest is influenced by how many turns you’ve been giving your peasants tasks constructing buildings, farms, etc. and can be reduced by not issuing such orders for a few turns. If unrest gets too high you start to get bandit spawns, and if the unrest continues you may face a rebellion. There are two types, peasant and noble. If you approach a rebellious stack with your own army composed of 50% or more of the same class of unit there is a chance your army will defect! Your faction leader’s army will never defect however. I quite like this mechanic as it gives a strategic factor to what type of army you send rather than simply picking your strongest units.

Cities themselves can be fairly easy to manage– there’s no “upkeep” for the city or population itself so just building farms and growing the population is a decent way to make a profit. Each settlement has a number of slots for buildings (expanding the settlement increases the number of slots) and some of these require upkeep. Don’t build more high-upkeep buildings than you can afford in the early game. There are also tile-based buildings, including mountain shrines, mines and river quays. Production buildings don’t seem to turn a profit until you’re able to integrate them into a trade network and be warned that trade, while profitable, takes a bit of time to build up. Trade is limited by distance but upgraded trade buildings can reach farther. Also, some Edicts have a high maintenance cost while others can introduce new taxes, both significantly affecting your income.

Your cities are precious and can be lost to rebellion fairly easily (cities can rebel) but are generally secure from all but a concerted effort from enemy factions once you build defenses. Walls are very strong in this game and can only be overcome by ranged units and, later on, artillery. This defensive strength does contribute to the mid-game stagnation I’ve noticed – cities rarely change hands and wars are more about pillaging land and defeating armies than capturing territory.

Armies in this game are composed of a few different types of units (no unique units for factions at the moment) basically divided into noble, peasant or trained/professional class infantry, cavalry and archers. Noble and peasant units can be recruited for free from cities and as mentioned there is a replenishing recruitment pool in each city which is influenced by building choices, technology and population. I tend to specialize only a couple of cities in recruitment as it costs a lot to maintain the buildings and units are only equipped with advanced weapons and armor when recruited. Professional units are useful for all purposes though they carry a high cost while peasant units are cheap and plentiful but weak and nobles are strong but limited in number. Units on the map can be stacked up to 8 on one tile and are influenced by the traits of a character if his bodyguard unit is part of the army.

Combat in this is not Total-War style as so many have mentioned. Multiple stacks can participate in a battle, and battles take place on the regular game map (think Endless Legend). Battles are not manually controlled but you can set tactics and army-facing beforehand, giving you some influence over the course of the battle. The system reminds me of Endless Space. I’d like to see more factors come into play like bonuses for professional armies vs. peasants and so on, plus a clearer UI for setting up tactics.

Exploration, City Management and War will take up about 90% of your time, but the other 10% isn’t wasted. Research in this game is conducted simultaneously via 4 mostly-separate research trees. I like the system but most technologies and bonuses are straightforward stat boosts or unit/building unlocks. I’d like to see more gameplay elements tied into research. As a note, unlike many other 4X games a full suite of diplomatic options are available from the start and don’t need to be researched.

Overall Feeling: This is a slower 4X game than many others in the genre. There is a large emphasis on internal city management and minor wars compared to competitor’s emphasis on technology or outright destroying opponents. If you’re looking for an “exciting” 4X or total war style strategy on the battlefield you may find yourself disappointed. If you want a historically flavored nation-building game with diplomatic and military options, focused more on strategy than tactics, you may have a winner on your hands here. I for one have enjoyed my time playing Oriental Empires immensely and would recommended it provided you are 1) interested in the setting 2) looking for a slower-paced, city focused 4X rather than a combat-oriented one.

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