This means war!
As of writing this, the AI has not received too many improvements from the original Elemental. It will be added in later builds and, of course, the full release. Nevertheless, the AI is already significantly improved and does its best to utilize whatever is at their disposal. Your difficulty setting will adjust their behavior and sadly, like almost every game, you canít mix-and-match specific features so youíre left with enduring something too easy or too hard. Weíll see if this is addressed in the future.
Like in most 4X games, the AIís attitude towards you is influenced by a multitude of factors ranging from military strength and diplomacy to general likeability, such as helping them out when they ask it from you and being a good neighbor. The AI is pretty intelligent about common stratagems before going to war, such as placing units just outside of their border, building cities next to theirs, and crossing said borders. They will very quickly be wary of your actions and do something about it. Theyíre also intelligent about hoarding resources and trying to beat you to certain areas that are loaded with valuable goodies.
Another element done away with in Fallen Enchantress
is the oft-misunderstood dynasty system. You can no longer marry Champions and your Sovereign, arrange marriages between states, or build up a family. Itís sad to see it go, but I never did get it working right in the original game. Perhaps itíll be re-added at a later date. Also removed from the game are two tech trees Ė or rather, theyíve been merged into the other trees. Originally you researched between Civilization, Warfare, Adventure, Diplomacy, and Magic, but now itís consolidated into Civilization, Warfare, and Magic. Some research options have been removed and others added, but of course itís all subject to change.
When your units engage in combat you have the option to auto-resolve or go straight into tactical play. Auto-resolve works better than it did in the original Elemental
; thereís a good mix of probability so youíre never always dying or always winning. However, tactical play is actually worthwhile now. Stardock must have hired someone who worked on turn-based tactics games, as the interface looks like it was lifted wholesale from popular titles in that genre. This is a good thing, as you can now tell which unit is going to attack and when, stats and powers are properly arrayed, and the pop-up tooltips do a good job of educating you as to whatís going on and what you can do about it.
All units have premade perks and special abilities, making for fun and varied combat instances. That little bear cub youíre picking on? It can maul your units, meaning it will keep attacking until that unit dodges. This means Smokeyís baby can quickly murder you if youíre not careful... Spell-casting has also been vastly improved. Spells now carry an element of surprise to them and powerful spells require multiple turns to cast, during which time they can be catastrophically disrupted with counter-spells. Like before, mana is a universal resource shared by all mage units, so you have to be very cautious with what spells you cast and when. Champions are somewhat invulnerable now and death no longer means spawning at the nearest city. Instead, when a hero character dies it gets a negative perk, such as double damage from cold attacks or 25% less hit points. Itís all random and provides an interesting twist on your tactics every time. It also means you can keep fighting with and leveling your champions instead of being overly protective for fear of them being defeated in battle.