Songs of Contest - Early Access Starts Tomorrow

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Songs of Contest - Early Access Starts Tomorrow

Postby {CH}ArticleBot » May 9 2022, 19:20

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Songs of Conquest - Early Access starts tomorrow: 10th May 17:00 UTC. Wishlist now, try the next day and share the impressions with us! Image

FAQ

Why Early Access?
“Songs of Conquest is nearly finished. All the key features are in place and the core game loop has been evaluated by Alpha testers since the summer of 2021. But there are still a lot of things we want to improve and we want to cooperate with the community when doing so. We, as developers, see a huge benefit of involving the players in the development as we go forward. There are always tough decisions to make in game development. Having an active user base, who play the game on a regular basis, allows us to make better decisions. But, anyone buying the game during Early Access should be able to enjoy it as it is, even without committing to a community aspect or closely following development updates.”

Approximately how long will this game be in Early Access?
“We anticipate the game being in Early Access for about one year. But this might change depending on player feedback.”

How is the full version planned to differ from the Early Access version?
“First and foremost we want to figure out, together with the community, what features we should prioritize. We have lots of ideas for the finished game, but since we have already been in development for over five years, we need a reality check. It comes down to what you, the player asks us for and what you enjoy in the game. We see no point in painting a grand roadmap of features that might change as soon as people get access to the game. Instead we intend to be humble and open to the requests of the community. But of course, we anticipate a lot of general quality of life improvements.”

What is the current state of the Early Access version?
“All major gameplay features are implemented. Two campaigns are finished and four factions are fully playable. Online and local multiplayer is working as intended. The level editor needs more polish, but is fully functional. There might be UI-elements, translations and overall user experience details that needs improvements.”


Will the game be priced differently during and after Early Access?
“We are not sure. We might raise the price once the game leaves Early Access as it will have more features and content.”

How are you planning on involving the Community in your development process?
“We already have a great community on Discord that are actively helping us shape the game. We enjoy collaborating with the players and have no intentions of stopping that. We will extend the discussions to the Steam forums as well, to make sure that we don’t exclude input from users who aren’t active on Discord.”

About SoC

Songs of Conquest is a turn-based strategy game inspired by 90s classics. Lead powerful magicians called Wielders and venture to lands unknown. Wage battle against armies that dare oppose you and hunt for powerful artifacts. The world is ripe for the taking - seize it!

Adventure Awaits

Explore a wide variety of maps with diverse enemies and valuable loot. Venture into contrasting biomes with unique enemy factions, environments and battlefields.

Build an Empire

Manage resources, research new advancements and expand your kingdom. Plan your towns to match your playstyle - will you utilise brute force, magic or a mix of both? There are many paths to world domination.

Wage War

Dive into a deep combat system utilizing troop abilities and powerful magic. Combine troops to maximize available spells and damage potential. Use the battlefield to your advantage by claiming high ground and protecting bottlenecks.

Alone or Together

Immerse yourself in epic single player adventure or challenge your friends to an honourable duel, online or local!

In-game Level Editor

The in-game level editor allows you to create your own adventures using the same tools the developers use to create campaign and skirmish maps. Script in-game events, control the soundtrack, write dialogue and share your creations with others!

Four Factions

Four factions are locked in an epic conflict. Arleon, knights of old battling each other for dominance. Rana, ancient tribes fighting for survival in the swamp. Loth, necromancers raising the dead to create a glorious future. Barya, bold mercenaries and inventors dedicated to coin, gunpowder and independence.

A Choral Campaign

Listen to the bards as they celebrate your path to victory. Each of the two campaigns comes with a unique song that tells the tale of your rise and ruin. Unlock new verses as you complete missions, enjoying the full track at the end of the journey.

MATURE CONTENT DESCRIPTION:

There is combat and physical violence in the game. One cutscenes contain suggestions of (but do not actually show) a medieval execution.

 

SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS:

 

MINIMUM:

  • OS: Windows 7
  • Processor: i5 Dual Core or Ryzen 5
  • Memory: 8 GB RAM
  • Graphics: Integrated graphics card
  • DirectX: Version 10
  • Storage: 4 GB available space
  • Additional Notes: Requirements are temporary and will most likely change up until launch (for the better)
RECOMMENDED:

  • Graphics: GTX 970, RX 570 or similar

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Re: Songs of Contest - Early Access Starts Tomorrow

Postby Pol » May 10 2022, 16:06

It's up, you can download it, see the news! :-D
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Re: Songs of Contest - Early Access Starts Tomorrow

Postby JSE » May 10 2022, 18:34

I've played a bit of SoC. My first impression is that while it offers more strategic and tactical options and considerations than Heroes, it's also a lot more fiddly and cumbersome to play. Gameplay is *clearly* slower and interface and controls are definitely worse than in the NWC Heroes games. The added layers of strategy and tactics (like realm-wide research and terrain benefits in combat) are in part nice innovations but often involve small percentage bonuses whose influence sometimes seems very difficult or even impossible to assess.

Certain individual ideas are great (like greatly limiting the amount of heroes/wielders you can control or having no "dead" locations on the adventure map), but overall neither gameplay nor setting have convinced me. I will definitely continue exploring the game. Right now my overall verdict is that it's a mediocre attempt and that I would prefer to (re)play any Heroes game (including the UbiSoft titles) instead.

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Re: Songs of Contest - Early Access Starts Tomorrow

Postby Angelspit » May 11 2022, 18:21

Thanks for the honest report JSE, that's very interesting. I want to have a look myself at some point.
I'm on Steam and Xbox Live.

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Re: Songs of Contest - Early Access Starts Tomorrow

Postby JSE » May 11 2022, 20:23

My pleasure. ;) I really wish I could say that SoC is the modern reimagination of Heroes we've all been waiting for. It clearly is not. While it definitely has its enjoyable sides and some cool ideas, it lacks the focus and excitement of Heroes.

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Re: Songs of Contest - Early Access Starts Tomorrow

Postby Pol » May 12 2022, 14:21

"We made it!"
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Re: Songs of Contest - Early Access Starts Tomorrow

Postby Lomedae » May 12 2022, 22:50

13 hours in and I am impressed. There's many quality of life improvements over the 90s games, and compared to the godawful re-imaginings of the VI and VII kind this, in spirit, is a very worthy new title. I had to get used to the, by now overused in Indy games and a constant source of bemusement why people would want to use that style as a Gen X er, retro graphics but after playing a while I got used to it. Actually, there's a lot of nice little touches in the graphics and animations that really work and endear the game to me.

The relative disposability of troups is something I needed to get used to, and someone used to lean back and let their archers do all the work needs to revise their tactics quickly as there's much more of a balance here.
The campaigns are well written with effective use of storytelling framing and progression. The skirmish maps need more variety but that's the easiest thing to arrange given some times, especially as a very robust map making tool is included.

I am excited to see where this leads but the game experience is already very well rounded and absolutely worth the money for anyone dedicated enough to (still) be on this site.

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Re: Songs of Contest - Early Access Starts Tomorrow

Postby JSE » May 13 2022, 2:01

Thanks for sharing your view!

There is definitely a good share of enjoyment in SoC. And for its price it's definitely not a bad deal.

With regard to writing/storytelling and "quality of life" improvements I have to disagree, though. I find the (campaign) writing rather tedious, uninspired, and consisting of far too much name-dropping. An example of greating writing from the same game genre would be the H3 Armageddon's Blade campaign. That one had just the right balance between world lore and actual plot development, while SoC seems to be too heavy on the lore side.

In terms of usability and controls, I would also clearly rate SoC below H3. Especially town management is a lot more laborious, and the overall GUI is less convenient (in my opinion).

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Re: Songs of Contest - Early Access Starts Tomorrow

Postby Groovy » May 13 2022, 6:42

My initial impression of the game is mixed. While clearly inspired by the Heroes games, I like that the developers have tinkered with the formula in an effort to alleviate the shortcomings of the earlier designs, but I think that their solutions are hit-and-miss.

There’s a spreadsheety feel to the game, with its focus on percentage modifiers, especially with global research. I was hoping for a more situational design, where what I find on the map drives my strategy, but that hasn’t happened yet. Looking through the spells and abilities that are available in the game, I don’t think it will.

I got really excited when I saw that towns were spread out over the map. I thought that it would be possible to capture the buildings individually and so weaken the town in preparation for the final assault, but this doesn’t seem to be the case, and is more of an interface change than anything else.

I’d be curious to see what the game developers were going for with combat design. The focus seems to have been on preventing the more creative and unbalanced tricks available in Heroes and King’s Bounty games rather than on providing exciting alternatives. The best strategy I’ve found so far is the frontal assault of my army line, which remains largely static as it slugs it out with the enemy line, until only one is left standing.

Spellcasting has been seriously toned down. Most battles are over before spells can influence them, due to a combination of slow mana build-up, high unit movement, and high damage dealing.

I’ve really struggled to prevent my towns from being captured and razed, thanks to a combination of lack of heroes, fog of war and building destruction. I don’t know what the thinking was here, but it makes for a very frustrating gaming experience.

Seeing the overwhelmingly positive reviews of the game, my impression is that this has more to do with the hunger for this kind of game than the merits of the game itself. Comments tend to point out what bad things you can’t do in this game compared to the older titles rather than the exciting new mechanics that it introduces.

Anyway, these are my early impressions. They’ll probably change as I get more familiar with the game (if I continue playing).

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Re: Songs of Contest - Early Access Starts Tomorrow

Postby Lomedae » May 13 2022, 20:25

JSE wrote: May 13 2022, 2:01 Thanks for sharing your view!

There is definitely a good share of enjoyment in SoC. And for its price it's definitely not a bad deal.

With regard to writing/storytelling and "quality of life" improvements I have to disagree, though. I find the (campaign) writing rather tedious, uninspired, and consisting of far too much name-dropping. An example of greating writing from the same game genre would be the H3 Armageddon's Blade campaign. That one had just the right balance between world lore and actual plot development, while SoC seems to be too heavy on the lore side.

In terms of usability and controls, I would also clearly rate SoC below H3. Especially town management is a lot more laborious, and the overall GUI is less convenient (in my opinion).
It is totally unfair to compare SoC with H3 Armageddon's Blade.You should compare it to King's Bounty, Heroes VI and heroes VII. And it compares favourably in feel, features, concept and writing to all of them.

There will never be a game as good as H3 or H5, unless it's a full shameless copy. But SoC is certainly scratching the itch, and with a full year of improvements and innovations planned I am truly excited.

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Re: Songs of Contest - Early Access Starts Tomorrow

Postby JSE » May 15 2022, 0:05

Lomedae wrote: May 13 2022, 20:25It is totally unfair to compare SoC with H3 Armageddon's Blade.You should compare it to King's Bounty, Heroes VI and heroes VII. And it compares favourably in feel, features, concept and writing to all of them.
Maybe I misunderstand, but I don't see why a comparison with H3 AB would be unfair. Even though it's an expansion pack, it still features the same gameplay. Also, I wouldn't have expected the SoC story to be as good as the AB story (which is great in my opinion), but to feature a similar style of storytelling. I mention the AB story because it's what I consider the gold standard of strategy game storytelling.

It's true that SoC's style of storytelling is similar to that of the UbiSoft era M&M games. But therein lies the crux: In my opinion, these games are examples of how not to tell a story. Instead of concentrating on plot development, they overwhelm us with lore trivia. SoC does the same.
Lomedae wrote: May 13 2022, 20:25There will never be a game as good as H3 or H5, unless it's a full shameless copy. But SoC is certainly scratching the itch, and with a full year of improvements and innovations planned I am truly excited.
You may be right that we might never see a better Heroes-style game than H3 (personally I don't think H5 is as good, but I would have mentioned H2 instead). Then again, even the fantastic H3 clearly has potential for improvement -- like factions that play more differently, a reconsideration of the overused upgrade mechanic, more skill and spell balancing, little things like a search function for the adventure map (similar to what Civ has)...

I wouldn't have a problem with what you call a "shameless copy". I would call it "strongly inspired". :) SoC definitely is "strongly inspired" by Heroes in all the important areas. I would even go as far as to say that all the fun things in SoC are the ones directly adopted from the Heroes series. It has two really good innovations: limiting stack size and limiting the amounts of wielders (a potential new Heroes should "borrow" both). Beyond that, I would argue that H3 does most things better -- including magic.

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Re: Songs of Contest - Early Access Starts Tomorrow

Postby Pentagruel » May 15 2022, 22:22

JSE wrote: May 10 2022, 18:34 I've played a bit of SoC. My first impression is that while it offers more strategic and tactical options and considerations than Heroes, it's also a lot more fiddly and cumbersome to play. Gameplay is *clearly* slower and interface and controls are definitely worse than in the NWC Heroes games. The added layers of strategy and tactics (like realm-wide research and terrain benefits in combat) are in part nice innovations but often involve small percentage bonuses whose influence sometimes seems very difficult or even impossible to assess.

Certain individual ideas are great (like greatly limiting the amount of heroes/wielders you can control or having no "dead" locations on the adventure map), but overall neither gameplay nor setting have convinced me. I will definitely continue exploring the game. Right now my overall verdict is that it's a mediocre attempt and that I would prefer to (re)play any Heroes game (including the UbiSoft titles) instead.
I initially had a mixed feeling of the game but after putting in a few more hours I think it’s a pretty worthy game. The meat and potatoes of SoC are rock solid. Kingdom building is more interesting then any HoMM game with more choices to make due to building slots and it allows for a little more agility because you can remove buildings as well when you no longer require them. Wielder progression is pretty good as well, much better then say HoMM3 but not as impactful as HoMM5. The combat is also very sound in my opinion. I very much appreciate the stack limits which encourage exploration and aggression over just sitting around doing nothing. I like zones of opportunity and the changes to ranged units. All in all I think these core aspects of the game are good, even excellent.

Some things I think are weaker in SoC are the campaign story and dialogue which is run of the mill, even laughable at times but I guess the Ubisoft HoMM installments are just about the same (I really miss the NWC installments). Hopefully if the game flourishes that is something that can be improved upon. Secondly, I think the UI and overall pacing of the game could use some help too. Things don’t feel that intuitive, I have no idea how to gauge what +10 defense really does in the grand scheme of things, the casting system although pretty interesting, is just totally not explained in the game and confused me on the first campaign to where I just largely ignored it. These are issues though, that can all be improved upon.

My initial verdict on the game is that I really enjoy it and think the core gameplay aspects are very well done. It falls short on some of the artistic qualities, namely story and dialogue in the campaigns and some questionable UI. Maybe I’ve just been starved of this type of game for so long but I think they did a good job.

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Re: Songs of Contest - Early Access Starts Tomorrow

Postby Bugle » May 17 2022, 18:35

I got SoC as soon as Early access started, and played it a fair bit the first two days, and then more or less stopped. I keep thinking "Oh, I should go back to it", but then hovering over its play button on Steam, I always seem to find a reason not to. Considering how excited I was for this, and the desire for a new Heroes-esque experience, I'm beginning to think the issue isn't entirely my fault at this point.

I have, admittedly, not actually played that much yet, just the first 2 campaign missions and a little bit more of the 3rd mission (I've captured my second settlement). There's a lot of things I think are actually very neat! I like the bard unit global buffs. I like height mattering (not an innovation unique to SoC I know, but it's still nice). I like the customizability of towns and having to choose what goes where. I like the flavour of the non-gold resources (Magical thread? Fantastic!). I even really like the unit caps, both in size of stack and number of stacks. And a few other things I could mention.

But I absolutely hate the controls. Right clicking to select everything is so counter intuitive to me when left clicking is select more or less universally elsewhere (maybe this is a regional thing I'm unaware of? But It's so bizarre to me). It's especially awkward as I've been primarily playing on my macbook, which allows for right clicking, but repeated and constant rightclicking is prone to mistakes.

I'm also not a fan of the spell system. I thought it'd be interesting, but too often I'm forgetting to cast spells, or can't tell the impact of my spells because they're so minor, or the battle's over before a meaningful spell even could be cast. It feels like a lot of refining needs to go into these before they're at a good state, honestly.

I also feel the research system is flawed at best and obnoxious at worst. Three tiers of stat increases for each unit? Yawn. It just feels so uninspired. And then there's another building with more research that's... also just stat increases. But this time it's racial instead of specific to units! The non-unit stuff kind of works fine, but that's probably because it's just income stuff.

I dunno, I just... am not feeling this game. Maybe I just need to wait for some refinements and come back to it, but as is, it's not holding my interest nearly as much as I feel it should. And I'm also pretty sick of fighting with the controls.

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Re: Songs of Contest - Early Access Starts Tomorrow

Postby Pol » May 19 2022, 14:43

What I have read on czech sites, it's mostly praized. There are limitations in number of wielders or stack size, so you need to choose wisely. Also in mana accumulating and type, so again you need to nurture your sources and weigh up the desired spells. And in battles, terrain advantages works as well.

Add to that, that price is affordable. And HoMM3 was not having much successfully inspired followers and many are happy. Four campaigns are here too, even map editor. Custom maps are distributed within the game - via in-game lounge, stored in cloud -, probably also ranked.

Max is having one key himself, so he will tell us more.

So far, so good. :-D

BTW There will be cz translation soon, this is WIP. And the game works well under Linux or SteamDeck, this is also huge plus.


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Re: Songs of Contest - Early Access Starts Tomorrow

Postby Pentagruel » May 20 2022, 0:35

Bugle wrote: May 17 2022, 18:35 I got SoC as soon as Early access started, and played it a fair bit the first two days, and then more or less stopped. I keep thinking "Oh, I should go back to it", but then hovering over its play button on Steam, I always seem to find a reason not to. Considering how excited I was for this, and the desire for a new Heroes-esque experience, I'm beginning to think the issue isn't entirely my fault at this point.

I have, admittedly, not actually played that much yet, just the first 2 campaign missions and a little bit more of the 3rd mission (I've captured my second settlement). There's a lot of things I think are actually very neat! I like the bard unit global buffs. I like height mattering (not an innovation unique to SoC I know, but it's still nice). I like the customizability of towns and having to choose what goes where. I like the flavour of the non-gold resources (Magical thread? Fantastic!). I even really like the unit caps, both in size of stack and number of stacks. And a few other things I could mention.

But I absolutely hate the controls. Right clicking to select everything is so counter intuitive to me when left clicking is select more or less universally elsewhere (maybe this is a regional thing I'm unaware of? But It's so bizarre to me). It's especially awkward as I've been primarily playing on my macbook, which allows for right clicking, but repeated and constant rightclicking is prone to mistakes.

I'm also not a fan of the spell system. I thought it'd be interesting, but too often I'm forgetting to cast spells, or can't tell the impact of my spells because they're so minor, or the battle's over before a meaningful spell even could be cast. It feels like a lot of refining needs to go into these before they're at a good state, honestly.

I also feel the research system is flawed at best and obnoxious at worst. Three tiers of stat increases for each unit? Yawn. It just feels so uninspired. And then there's another building with more research that's... also just stat increases. But this time it's racial instead of specific to units! The non-unit stuff kind of works fine, but that's probably because it's just income stuff.

I dunno, I just... am not feeling this game. Maybe I just need to wait for some refinements and come back to it, but as is, it's not holding my interest nearly as much as I feel it should. And I'm also pretty sick of fighting with the controls.
I agree with some of the things you mentioned like the upgrade system being lackluster right now (they could add cool unit abilities for example which are a bit lacking right now), but the magic system is actually awesome although very overturned right now. The first campaign’s main hero is more might oriented and not a strong caster but spells are incredibly strong and satisfying to use, especially the utility spells. I can recommend playing around with it some more. It’s important to have some magic skills and artifacts/towers to help essence generation (also ability called essence burst helps a lot) and you will find you can fire off 3-4 spells every round to really turn the tides of battle.

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Re: Songs of Contest - Early Access Starts Tomorrow

Postby Groovy » May 20 2022, 3:50

After taking a break from the game, I switched from campaign to skirmish maps. This helped revitalise the game for me because, on skirmish maps, the AI actually plays the game instead of simply spawning heroes with armies at the edge of the map. Skirmish maps play quite differently from the campaign, and I think are more indicative of what the gameplay experience was intended to be.

I would say that, hands down, the best design feature introduced by SoC is town construction. This aspect of Heroes design has always been lacklustre, and SoC shows that.

Another good addition is the town-capturing options. I’ve always felt that being able to capture a town, defeat any heroes sitting nearby, and then start to capture the mines - all in a day’s work - was a bit much. On the other hand, after trying out all three options, razing the town emerged as the clear favourite.

My biggest fear from the campaigns – that fog of war was a broken mechanic in this kind of game – was unfounded. There are enough flagable structures on the map to provide scouting. I just wish it were easier to see what enemy heroes did in the areas that are visible.

Initially I thought that spells were too weak. Now I see that a magic-oriented hero progresses from barely being able to cast any spells to a spell-casting monster who can cast several top-tier spells every turn. Strange to see a system that’s both overpowered and underpowered.

All that said, there’s definitely a grindy, work-like feel to SoC’s gameplay, but I’m not sure how much of it is due to the design itself rather than some clunkiness of the controls and the slowness of the game.

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Re: Songs of Contest - Early Access Starts Tomorrow

Postby Groovy » May 20 2022, 7:26

By the way, why is this thread called Songs of Contest and not Songs of Conquest?


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