Tuesday, March 6

Review: World Conqueror X [Nintendo Switch eShop]

While there have been a variety of strategy games on the Switch they’ve tended to be relegated to tactical RPGs and turn-based strategy in the vein of a series like X-Com. Probably my favorite strategic series of all-time, Civilization, hasn’t yet had anything on the console tackle its more broad form of world domination. That is, until now. World Conqueror X is named appropriately, as it will put you in the driver’s seat on both sides of major World War 2 theaters of battle.

While a comparison to Civilization isn’t entirely accurate, X plays out more along the lines of it’s military scenarios and not its exploration and world building, the combat is similar and generally satisfying. The world is overlaid with a hexmap that defines where you can move to and the range from which you’ll be trying to attack. You’re then able to deploy a variety of units, whether on land or on water (aerial units are more deployed for single attacks), to try to outmaneuver, flank, and destroy those of your enemies and then take their cities. A nice mechanic that’s included is that when you’re able to place your troops on either side of an enemy unit their morale takes a hit, which opens you up to doing more damage. As you’re able to take cities you can then make use of their factories of facilities to produce more units. What’s interesting is that in Scenario missions you’ll generally only control a subset of the units for your side while the CPU controls some others. You’ll want to keep an eye on your objective and your turn limit though because each mission tends to revolve around taking specific strategic cities, not necessarily conquering everything. Being aggressive but smart to use your ranged weapons and flanking enemy units effectively is key.

The key to sustained success is most definitely filling out a line-up of generals to assign to specific units who will help bolster and improve your troops’ strength. While you start out with a limited pool and budget you can use to pick up a few as you complete Scenarios or have success in the Campaign mode you’ll accumulate points that you can use to either get new generals or promote existing ones to be more effective. You can use these generals to either reinforce your strengths, compensate for your weaknesses, or take a balanced approach. Take care to see what areas each general is most effective in so you can choose the ones that will work best for your strategy. As a note most of the European front scenarios will be fought on land, but over time it begins to diversify a bit. You’re also able to level up base attributes of your various unit types using currency, further allowing you to customize to your strengths and weaknesses.

Once you’re either done with the scenarios or looking for a broader challenge you can take on the plain insanity of Campaign mode, which essentially stages the entirety of World War 2 and includes pretty well every country involved in the conflict. A single turn can take a while if you watch it all unfold. You can speed it up but that can also mean you’ll miss what a particular country may be doing to mount an offensive against you. Choose small countries at your own peril, the Axis countries are generally very aggressive and have a formidable force at their disposal.

As much as I enjoy the strategic combat in X that isn’t to say the game doesn’t have its shortcomings. As I noted before this isn’t a world-building game so there are hard limits on what you’re able to do with cities, something the game actually doesn’t do a very effective job of conveying. You’re able to open the city screen to look to build them up but while you can sometimes place a special structure there or create an upgrade when the option isn’t available there’s no real explanation. Fortunately as long as you’re able to construct new units and make use of the resources they already have in place this doesn’t make much difference but it does demonstrate that the cities and their control is more of an afterthought. One surprise is that if you replay scenarios the AI doesn’t necessarily behave consistently though I don’t know if I made all of my moves the same precise way either. Whether this works out to be good or bad may depend on the scenario but it was worth noting since so many units are controlled by the AI.

All said I was very pleasantly surprised by World Conqueror X and even impressed. While it isn’t everything this age-old Civilization fan was hoping for I realize that’s an extremely high bar for anyone to even attempt to reach. While its city management and world building are lacking it does a very respectable job of playing as a strategic World War 2 sim and is absolutely the only game in town if that sort of thing appeals to you. Add in the layer with leveling up your base units and managing various generals from throughout history and it is a pretty polished product strategy fans should check out.

Score: 8

  • Coordinating your attacks with friendly AI units generally works quite well
  • Campaign Mode is utterly fascinating and massive in scope
  • Generals add a layer of customization and supplemental strategy to the mix

  • For the most part this is strictly a combat strategy game, not world or even city-building
  • Scenarios are very focused in purpose, generally not lending to much strategic variety overall

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