Immortal Realms: Vampire Wars is a dark Xbox strategy game worth watching
Have you ever wanted to grow a vampiric empire, enslaving peasants for their blood while violently upending the established human order? This might be the game for you.
Immortal Realms: Vampire Wars is currently in Game Preview on Xbox One, and it's already showing a lot of promise. Set in the middle ages, Immortal Realms is a strategy game that carries vague similarities to games like Civilization with deckbuilding elements, allowing you to develop your very own vampiric empire, enslaving and sanguinating humans along the way.
The game has a campaign mode alongside sandbox modes, as the developers gradually iterate and build up the game in the Preview program on Xbox One.
If you're a strategy game fan, here's why it's worth keeping an eye on.
A unique strategy setting
Although I'm sure they exist somewhere, I'm not sure I've ever played a strategy game that revolved around werewolves and vampires, and it serves to give the game a unique setting.
The campaign is set in the fictional realm of Warmont; different vampire clans vie for power while also battling off encroaching humans, some of whom have built up a militia to try and fight against the dark forces in the land. The game has some rudimentary cutscenes which add some immersion and additional context, but we'll have to wait and see how the campaign unfolds with future updates. It is in preview, after all.
The meat of the game is in its gameplay, for sure, but the environmental detail and atmospherics are suitably on-point for a medieval vampire-styled game. Gothic buildings, haunted forests, and cultist sites of worship dot the land, each with strategic relevance to the core gameplay loop. If you're a fan of vampire-style media, Immortal Realms nails the genre with confidence.
Satisfying strategy combat
Immortal Realms: Vampire Wars takes place on a province-based overworld, where you can move your units and construct and upgrade structures. The campaign mode is a bit more restrictive, giving you a set amount of access to a pre-existing world, but the skirmish and sandbox modes afford more freedom.
The economy revolves around blood, which you harvest from captured villages and cities. The human populations need time to replenish their "stocks," so to speak, so the usage of blood is a tactical consideration worth paying attention to. Blood can be used to purchase RPG-style equipment upgrades for your hero units, which lead the charge in battle. They can also be spent on recruiting new vampires into your army, as well as turning feral beasts like wolves and bats from nearby forests.
Performing actions in Immortal Realms is generally done via cards, which can be won at random in various ways. They can be accrued from library buildings, and in the campaign from completing specific objectives. You can drop a recruitment card on a forest, for example, to turn the local beasts into your loyal servants. Some cards are more active and can be used in the game's grid-based battle system when your army occupies the same tile as a hostile enemy.
The battle system can be resolved automatically if the fights are trivial, but for the most part, you'll want to commit the time to participating directly. You can cast a range of vampiric blood magic to aid you in combat, such as stealing life from enemies, while granting buffs to your armies.
Positioning plays a large part in combat, as you'll want to position your squishy units like archers and healers on grids that are less accessible to enemy warriors. Surrounding your dark healing acolytes by shield-bearers, for example, is a smart play to keep them alive long enough to actually casts those heals.
Each battle area presents unique positioning challenges, with areas blocked off by trees and buildings, allowing you to plan out how you want to move your units to defend against enemy attacks. Pulling off a strategy feels fun and rewarding, and the spell effects are fun as well.
Immortal Realms: Vampire Wars is still in active development, and sure, it has a few rough edges being an early access title, but it's already proving promising. I would definitely like to see them tidy up some of the controls on console, selecting where to attack can be a bit of a chore at times, with units moving without you intending for them to do so, but I'd say the game is off to a good start.
If you're a strategy game fan, and a vampire fan, this is one game you should keep an eye on.
A strategy game for vampire fans
Ever fancied yourself the medieval ruler of a vampiric empire? This might be the game for you.
Get the Windows Central Newsletter
All the latest news, reviews, and guides for Windows and Xbox diehards.
Jez Corden a Managing Editor at Windows Central, focusing primarily on all things Xbox and gaming. Jez is known for breaking exclusive news and analysis as relates to the Microsoft ecosystem while being powered by caffeine. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his Xbox Two podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!