TPG Command Peformance: Confrontation Preview

By – Mike Andre

What would happen if you put science fiction, fantasy, strategy and RPG elements in a blender? The bittersweet juice that is Confrontation, of course.  For whoever doesn’t know, Confrontation was originally a tabletop game published by Rackham, a now defunct company dedicated to miniature wargaming. Developer Cyanide Studio, of Cycling Manager and Blood Bowl (also based on a tabletop game) fame, decided to take on the Warhammer 40K: Dawn of War II formula and create their own rendition of the Confrontation universe in glorious 3D.  Whether or not they will succeed remains to be seen, but while you wait for the 5th April, here are my impressions.

Fascinating Universe, Mediocre Story

Confrontation is a squad-based strategy game with RPG elements, very much like Relic’s own take on the Warhammer 40K universe. Surely, both are based on tabletop wargames and in a way I applaud the decision to avoid the temptation of making yet another bog standard RTS but thorough my trip on Aarklash I couldn’t help but feel I had a weaker game on my hands. It’s not a bad game by any means, but it’s not a particularly great one either as it lacks the production values of the aforementioned title and fails in some other aspects I’m going to talk about in this preview.

For one, the universe is certainly fascinating. It’s hard not to make comparisons with Warhammer again as both are set on a fantasy world with very strong science fiction elements but Confrontation feels…different. It’s a shame the setting isn’t put to better use though, as the story feels rather weak. Basically there are 4 factions, both hate each other and fight for the supremacy of the continent. And…that’s about it.  There’s a chance things can pick up later on, since the preview was rather short but I’m not too optimistic in this regard.

The cutscenes look pretty good and the voice acting is decent, but if you are not familiar with the universe you might as well skip them altogether as you probably won’t understand much of what’s going on.

An Orc Faction? Who Would Have Guessed?

The factions don’t scream originality, though each has a rather interesting background. The Griffin faction is made of those ape-like creatures we call humans; the Scorpion faction is made of some badass looking cyborgs of sorts; the Wolf faction is made of, you guessed it, wolf-like creatures; and orcs comprise most of the Jackal faction.

Disappointingly though, and from what I could understand from the preview version I had access to and the info available so far, you are forced to play with the Griffin faction for the entire game. Even such a generic story could have been rather interesting and add a few interesting gameplay twists along the way if you could play with the other factions but apparently we’re out of luck.  In Confrontation you’ll be leading your squad through Aarklash, first with only a few units, but as you progress more people will join you, each with different stats and skills.

Murdering Other Tiny Men Is Fun

The combat feels satisfying enough and forces the player to make good use of each soldier’s special abilities and characteristics. In case things get too hectic, you can also pause the game to carefully manage your units and plan your strategy, a design decision I must applaud. The squad AI still needs some work though, it forces the player to constantly operate each soldier and switch between them or there’s a chance one or more of them will throw themselves to certain death.

Cosmetically speaking, it’s also hard to differentiate between different types of units but I guess this was a limitation hard to circumvent, considering the units design are based on the miniatures.  Graphically the game looks rather dated with lots of low resolution textures and blocky models. The maps, however, are varied and look good overall. The game seems to be rather demanding GPU-wise though, requiring a mid-to high range PC to be played in the highest settings, which is odd considering the graphics aren’t exactly state of art. This can be improved before the release date so fingers crossed.


Conclusion

Confrontation is shaping up to be an interesting game. There are some issues to be sorted, in particular when it comes to performance, but it might be a good alternative to the fans of the Confrontation while they wait for the tabletop game.  Even though it probably won’t be a groundbreaking game or a game of the year candidate, it surely piqued my interest.

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