More High Seas Conquest


I really liked East India Company. It wasn’t the most visceral of experiences, but it was easily one of the last year’s more complex and strategically satisfying experiences. Later this year, Nitro Games is applying East India Company’s unique strategic elements to 1500's America with Commander: Conquest of the Americas.

One of the bigger changes coming to Commander is expanded management aspects. By the time I was able to sit down with the demo, a number of colonies had already been established from Canada down to the South America. Commander presents a slightly larger scope than East India, yet the management options remain just as simple to use. The interface looks like a complex series of menus, though everything has its own place and makes logical sense. The computer will also offer feedback if you’re doing something wrong. At one point in the demo, the amounts of trade goods and people coming in and off of a trade route presented a problem, prompting the game to let us know something was wrong before allowing the ship to leave port.

After establishing a colony, you can choose from several building types to expand its influence and wealth. Buildings are split into different categories: Government, Production and Morale. Government structures serve as your main infrastructure, while Production facilities allow the colony to produce trade goods, powering your economy. Morale structures include churches, which help keep your colonists' spirits up during harsh times. As you develop your empire, you’ll need to keep an eye on what each colony needs.

As colonies get bigger, their sphere of influence will grow. Any resources in your colony’s sphere of influence are automatically collected. You’ll also unlock new resources, like rare metals or coffee, which you can use to create new buildings, or trade to other colonies.

Commander will take place over a set period of time and what you do in the time is really up to you. Your only main guidance comes from four advisors – Royal, Trade, Military and Religious – who have their own vested interests in the New World. Each will offer advice based on their personal interests and, if you please them, will offer new missions. You won’t be able to please every advisor, every time; sometimes their goals will contradict each other. If you tick off one advisor, you can still progress through the game, but repeatedly making all four angry will likely lead to revocation of your contract.

Commander also carries over East India’s naval combat options. Battles are now large-scale affairs, expanding from six ships to a full 15 per armada. Combat looks relatively unchanged from East India. You can command your fleet using a traditional RTS command setup, or individually guide ships through battle. When in an RTS setup, you can guide your flotilla as one group, or break them up into smaller, easy-to-manage groups. If you choose to command ships in real-time, other ships will still fire on enemies if they have a clear shot. In addition to cannons, you can also swap out alternate weapons like sail-tearing chained balls.

Commander: Conquest of the Americas looks to deliver everything East India Company did, but on a larger scale. We’ll have more when the game releases this July.

Commander: Conquest of the Americas