Warring States: Tactics is a turn-based, hex-based, combat-focused strategy game published and developed by Polynation games and was released on the 30Th of Jan, a bit of googling shows that this game had been in early access for a few years prior. Warring States is set in ancient China during the “Warring States period”. The story involves the player playing as a commander in the army of the state of Qin, set in the west of China. The antagonists of this story are known as the three Jins which is an alliance of 3 separate states to the east of Qin, known as Wei, Han, and Zhao. There is also the addition of other alliances with the three Jins and separate enemies that you have to face along the way.
The story consists of 15 separate missions spread across 4 chapters, each chapter has a different end objective as a whole and each mission adds more depth to the story as you’d expect. Each mission you’re given an objective or task to achieve with 1 or more of the aforementioned antagonists to prevent you from achieving this. These objectives range from defeating your enemies, capturing various points of interest, or just reaching a certain point of the map.
Once you start the game and begin Chapter 1: Mission 1 you’re thrown into the game without a lot of direction. Generally, your first instinct is to look for any tooltips or waypoints that would aid in playing and learning the game. Straight away you notice that none of these things are incorporated and you’re made to examine your screen for what you’re meant to do. One of the first details you notice on your screen is a big bar located in the top centre of the game reading “Deployment Phase” which you can safely assume means you need to deploy some units. You’ll find the classic question mark help icon located on the top right of the window next to the minimap. Once clicked a gameplay help window appears with a list of various aspects of the game that will be explained and you have the option to choose those applicable to your mission, which is a good idea as to not overwhelm players with too much information which can cause confusion or make the game more daunting then it needs to be, but it’s fairly necessary to read all of the gameplay help information in order to grasp everything needed to continue ahead which most people do anyway. The order of the help window is a little questionable because the first thing you need to do at the beginning of the mission is to deploy units and the relevant information to that is located near the bottom. Once you have selected your desired units to be used for the entirety of the mission you can begin. One of the first things you’ll notice is the hex-based map and the art style, both of which are done quite well and make the game look fairly nice. The map itself isn’t overly detailed but there are a few aspects incorporated into the game which may cause you to carefully consider some of your future choices. Most if not all missions require you to tactically move around the map and engage the enemy with the most advantageous positions and timings, whilst also using some of the special abilities certain units possess to further progress toward the mission objective.
As you progress through the game, gradually new units are introduced; these units usually possess an ability that may further devastate your enemies in combat or are relevant to be later utilized in the mission at hand but are not always necessarily needed. The first chapter drags on a little bit utilizing more or less the same kind of strategies with the addition of the new unit(s), my main criticism of this chapter was that it could have been condensed a bit and made a bit shorter because I found that at some points it was a waste of time to just repeat the same thing until the mission was over. As you could expect with most games, as you progress, most missions increase in difficulty or time needed, but not always depending on how you plan to complete the objectives for some missions. In the steam story description of the game, a point is made that this game is purely combat focused and that there is no building aspect in the game. After reading that, there an impression that you’re meant to focus on combat throughout the storyline and defeat all of your enemies along the way, but that isn’t necessarily true with some missions, some missions can be achieved by purely rushing to the objective or tactically choosing particular units that can achieve objectives much easier reducing the need to constantly engage in combat which again could be obvious to some but isn’t always until you progress through the mission and figure it out along the way.
I found as I progressed through the game I started to focus more on achieving the objective as quickly and or easily as possible instead of engaging in unnecessary combat. Which isn’t a bad thing objectively, but for a game that makes of a point of being combat focused I feel that maybe pushing more objective focus on combat would better suit the game, but in that same vain variety is the spice of life and switching up how you play the game keeps it fresh and engaging. Coming into this game I expected a lot more tactical considerations to be made during unit combat, this is present in the game but not too important. Each unit has different stats that make them better against other units but when engaged in combat most the of the time it’s a bit of a cluster of all units fighting each other, but that definitely is a reflection of how you choose to play the game. But due to the movement of a lot of units, you’ll find that it is hard to avoid these clusters of combat e.g. your archers can be engaged by various infantry even if you maintain the maximum amount of space between your units whilst still allowing them to engage from afar.
Coming into this game I expected a lot more tactical considerations to be made during unit combat
As something that has been recently released as a completed game, I found a fair amount of bugs and oversights along the way along with some obvious design flaws that could easily be rectified if the game was looked over entirely once more before release. I tried not to be too critical of some of the bugs and oversights because even the biggest games contain some of these when released. The game is priced at $24.99 USD and depending on your preference and opinion is a little overpriced for what you get. In terms of complexity and engagement, it’s a little lacking. The story didn’t keep me too interested for the most part but it wasn’t bad at all. The lack of tutorial at the beginning of the game caused a tiny bit of confusion. Some of the descriptions of the units when choosing them were a little inconsistent and was more focused on explaining the backstory of the units rather than the stats or maintaining a constant description of uses. Some missions involved a lot of repetitive combat which causes them to be less engaging and in some cases boring.
If you value gameplay time this game has a decent length to it, ranging from 15-30 hours to complete the main story. The storyline was fairly simple which made it easy to follow and can make it more accessible and be engaging for players. The gameplay help for each area of the game was written out quite simply and displayed in an easy to digest manner which allows new players to really take in the necessary information. I definitely look forward to local multiplayer with some friends and imagine that it would be quite fun. It’s fairly easy to pick up and learn so that your friends can be playing with or against you relatively quickly. With a patch or two containing bug fixes and QoL changes, the game can definitely be a bit more polished.
All in all Warring States isn’t my kind of game but people that are into to this kind of genre or similar genres would more than likely enjoy it though. If you want a game that is easy to pick up and can be played at any time while you relax or have some time to kill, with an easy to follow storyline and fairly pleasant looking graphics then this is a game you can enjoy. But if you’re the kind of person after something a bit more complex either in terms of gameplay and/or storyline then you’re better off skipping this one. I probably wouldn’t buy it if given the choice, but that is mainly due to the price point for what I value in a game. If I had to give this a star rating I’d give it a 3 rating out of 10. I had some fun playing this game but I probably won’t play it much in the future. I hope this review was concise and informative so that you may make an informed decision on whether you’ll purchase this game. Thanks for reading.