SpellForce III Reforced Review thumbnail

SpellForce III Reforced Review

A look at single player

Alex Legard

Reviewed by playing a PS4 on

SpellForce III Reforced is also available for PS5, Xbox Series X, and Xbox One

SpellForce III Reforced is rated Mature by the ESRB

SpellForce III Reforced is an RTS/CRPG fusion and what we have here is the console version of SpellForce III's 2021 Reforced update. It's a unique formula that I haven't seen in any other game I've played so it can be quite a learning experience.

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When I started playing SpellForce III Reforced, the first thing I thought of was: will it become a slog to play through like Baldur's Gate 1 & 2? Also, will it be a hard game to play just like pretty much every other RTS on console? Let's find out. v1d30chumz 3-239-112-140

SpellForce III Reforced screenshot 1
There's nothing like a good old human sacrifice to stop a monster from summoning

To answer my second question right away, playing SpellForce III Reforced felt surprisingly smoother than other console RTS games. For one, holding down X creates a selection bubble that expands extremely quickly so you can select all nearby units at any time. Another convenient point is that you can double-tap X to select all of the units that you control. Taking your whole army with you everywhere isn't great in every situation but it's certainly the easiest way to launch an attack. Also, pressing the right stick selects your hero party with one button. Of course, you need your heroes to talk to people, interact with the environment, and do tons of other stuff, too.

It can still be a slog to play the RTS missions where you have to build up your economy and command an army. I believe it's an inherent flaw of console RTS games. For instance, moving your camera around the map takes a little too long even though you can increase your scroll speed by quickly hitting the same direction with the left stick. All 4 shoulder buttons bring up different menus and it's sometimes difficult to remember which button corresponds to which menu. When casting hero abilities, you do so from the R2 menu and it's a radial menu with 12 slots. When you're in this menu, time slows down to a crawl and the abilities don't trigger right away. Some abilities are also self-targeted and won't activate unless you put your cursor over a certain hero which makes things a little more confusing.

When starting SpellForce III Reforced, you choose from 4 difficulties that range from super-easy to very challenging. That should be enough to please everyone whether you've never played an RTS or you're a fanatic of the genre. When starting out, you play through a couple of tutorial missions while controlling 4 heroes including Sentenza Noria and 3 other characters who I can't remember their names. Anyway, you get a warrior, mage, and an archer so you can get used to these characters' different play styles then you put an end to the rebellion which is spearheaded by a powerful mage named Isamo Tahar (sick name, by the way). Unfortunately, Isamo gets away after he jumps through a portal. However, Sentenza Noria then finds Isamo's son.

Fast-forward to SpellForce III Reforced's character creation screen because Isamo's son is actually the player character! Of course, you can't change your last name which is Tahar but I named my character Rasha Tahar because that's a pretty cool name. Tahar has 6 skill trees that you can choose from and you can pick 3 of them. You also get a 4th skill tree (Leadership) for free. I wanted to make an archer build but it took me a while to decide which other 2 skill trees to use. In the end, I picked Archery, Discipline, and Brutality. Archery is my main skill tree, discipline has solid passives that increase my maximum health, and brutality has good passives, too, that increase damage. I chose not to use magic skill trees because I didn't want to invest in intelligence or wisdom.

When it comes to character types, melee characters have access to powerful swordplay abilities, rangers have high-damage ranged abilities, white mages are focused on healing and defending the party, black mages are focused on cursing their enemies and summoning the undead, and elementalism damages enemies using powerful elemental spells. Meanwhile, the Leadership tree has an economic focus and also provides powerful auras for your army. Finally, Discipline is the least exciting as it's simply focused on not dying. All of the other companions also have character-specific skill trees. For example, Yria gets Arcane Archery which has a nice ring to it, don't you think?

SpellForce III Reforced screenshot 2
It's the heart of the nexus in Mulandir; how awe-inspiring

I quite enjoyed SpellForce III Reforced's story as it's quite involving and there are 9 playable characters; each with their own history. Well, except for the characters that are only playable in the prologue. There are plenty of interesting minor characters and villains as well.

Once you've completed several missions, you'll suddenly be able to fast-travel to plenty of different places across the world. This is how you'll get to new missions and go back to your home city of Mulandir. I also enjoyed visiting the metropolis, Everlight, which is a huge city with many different things to do and explore. For instance, just south of the city is a guild of mages on an island called the Creators Guild. What will you find in the Creators Guild? Who knows? Anyway, like a proper RPG, there's a major tragedy that happens around the middle of the game. No spoilers but suddenly, your quest takes a completely different turn and I found that extremely cool.

During the story, there are 3 races that you can unlock and then use their armies during missions: humans, elves, and orcs. Humans are the most similar to the Terrans in StarCraft. Anyway, you build resource gathering buildings then you build billets to increase your population limit and unit production buildings to produce your army. I actually found the elves to be the easiest to play because you can upgrade their outposts so that each one has a lot of workers then you'll easily end up with a load of income. Finally, the orcs seem to have the least workers per outpost so I find them to be the most annoying to play. However, you can research the ability to make different units and once you do, you can make them at any outpost which is kind of like Zerg in StarCraft.

If you don't know how to set up a proper economy, your progress will slow down to a standstill and you won't be able to make an army. On the other hand, if you get a strong economy, you'll be able to make a very large army very quickly. In my case, the early missions were painful because I had no idea what I was doing, especially that dreaded Barga Gor mission when I had to play the orcs for the first time.

SpellForce III Reforced screenshot 3
In the city of Mulandir, you can have long conversations with all of your companions

For a while, your hero party travels from one zone to the next, completing missions along the way. Hero combat is very similar to Baldur's Gate as you allocate skill and attribute points to your heroes, equip powerful gear, and battle enemies. You can use your heroes' skills in battle by assigning them to a radial menu with 12 skill slots. Since you have up to 4 heroes in your party and each one boasts many skills, you'll want to use all 12 of those slots. You'll probably want a good balance of magical and physical abilities.

SpellForce III Reforced is exceptionally dialogue-heavy as well. If you want to experience everything, you will spend many hours listening to all the various dialogue options. Of course, I can't resist listening to a good story. If you really don't want to, though, you can also just skip the dialogue by pressing X a bunch of times. You can also spend a lot of time running around maps looking for gold and stuff that you can sell for gold and if you're lucky, you can find components of legendary weapons that can only be created through crafting.

SpellForce III Reforced screenshot 4
We need to unleash a Medusa infestation on this uncharted island

SpellForce III Reforced is a very ambitious RPG that I'm sure you'll enjoy if you're a fan of classic CRPGs like Baldur's Gate. However, learning how to manage an economy in this RTS game has a fairly steep learning curve. Then again, maybe you want this because you're an experienced RTS player and you've never played Baldur's Gate; I won't judge.

  • + Great story and world-building with an awesome plot twist midway
  • + Deep character customization
  • + Fun RTS missions throughout
  • - Number of menus can be confusing while playing on console
  • - Camera movement is annoying
  • - Difficult-to-cast hero abilities
8.0 out of 10
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Watch Alex play SpellForce III Reforced
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