Developer Nitro Games took us on a play through of their forthcoming naval strategy game, Commander: Conquest of the Americas, published by Paradox Interactive and arriving July 30th. Offering bigger battles, improved graphics and other enhancements, Commander: Conquest of the Americas is almost guaranteed to please strategy game fans and naval strategists.
You can read our complete review of Commander: Conquest of the Americas here.
Commander: Conquest of the Americas is set during the 16th century, against the backdrop of Europe’s discovery of the new world. As a representative of one of 7 European factions, your job is to establish productive trading colonies so you can send goods and resources back to Europe. (Thankfully, that pesky Revolutionary War is a ways off.)
Commander: Conquest of the Americas is built upon the same engine used in Paradox Interactive’s similar naval strategy title, East India Company, but introduces a number of major improvements and new features.
Everything looks better
The most immediately noticeable improvement in the game are its graphics. Commander: Conquest of the Americas boasts greatly improved graphics over its sibling East India Company.
Not all of the new graphics and visual improvements are purely cosmetic. The frigid waters of the north, for example, now sport snow, icebergs, and floating ice sheets, which may have certain strategic uses in naval combat maneuvering.
The fundamental game play of Commander: Conquest of the Americas is still the same as East India Company: establish colonies, produce and trade goods, and ultimately dominate and control the new world through trade alliances and (when necessary) naval warfare.
A number of new features have been implemented to streamline the game and reduce micromanagement, while others have been introduced to make the game more of an open sandbox than its more objective-based predecessor.
Reign of Influence
Once you establish or take over a city, it will radiate a visual Reign of Influence on the surrounding area. This is essentially a method of measuring your overall political/economic power. As a colony becomes more productive, its Reign of Influence increases.
Improved Trade Route control
Establishing and controlling trade routes has been significantly enhanced, providing much more granular control. Commander: Conquest of the Americas allows you to set up to 5 ports of call in a single route, and you can can set ships to both pick up and drop off goods in each port along the route. This allows you to put more of the trading on autopilot and spend less time micro-managing your fleet.
Collecting resources is easy enough, but after you’ve mined gold or chopped wood, you can build structures to further refine them into more valuable goods. Gold, for example, can be smelted and turned into bars. Or, using the enhanced trade route controls, you could (if you wanted to) mine gold from one port of call and ship it to another to be smelted.
Meet your Advisors
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Commander is designed to be more of a sandbox and less objective-based, and give you the freedom to play the game how you want to play it without putting you into a “meet this objective or it’s Game Over” situation. To that end, four advisors, each representing a different faction of government, help guide you through the game.
Your advisors include the Royal Advisor, the Trade Advisor, a Military advisor, and the Arch-Bishop (funny hat advisor). Each advisor bears an attitude towards you that fluctuates depending on how happy they are with your decisions and governing skills.
Generally, as long as you keep at least one advisor happy, you get to keep your job. The only way to really “lose” the game is to do a catastrophically abysmal job of governing and severely annoy every single advisor, at which point you’re “shown the door ” (or walk the plank).
Ship combat has more balls
Commander features bigger, more massive ship battles than East India Company, allowing up to 15v15 ship battles. In addition, you can now group ships into formations and issue commands squadron-style. There is also a simplified, more arcade-like control mode available if you just want to plow through the water and hurl cannonballs at ships.
However, while the combat is certainly bigger, grander, and more chaotic in scale, it still generally retains the slower, tactical pace found in East India Company, giving you a little more time to appreciate the improved graphics.
Fans of East India Company, historical strategy games, and naval strategists in general should enjoy the improved ship combat, visuals, and other enhancements in Commander: Conquest of the Americas. It offers a deep strategy game experience—it will take some time to learn unless you’re already well-versed in East India Company—and mighty naval battles.
Commander: Conquest of the Americas has gone gold and releases July 30th. In addition, you can pre-order the game ($40) from major digital distributors such as Impulse, and Gamersgate. Pre-order customers also receive bonus content: three extra ships, three new resources, seven new historical Commanders (one for each nation), and three new historical naval battles.