When people see Battle Chasers: Nightwar for the first time, they’ve got a lot of questions. Is it a Diablo-style dungeon crawler? Is it more of a party-based tactical RPG? Is it action or turn-based? The short answer is: all of the above. It’s a bit of a hybrid. But understanding all the nuances of our strange brew, and why we made the choices we made, requires a little more explaining. So, let’s start at the beginning…
In ancient times (nearly 23 ago), I created a comic book called “Battle Chasers.” It was set in a fantasy world where magic and technology co-exist, inspired by JRPGs (Japanese role-playing games) like Final Fantasy and Chronotrigger, which I was completely addicted to at the time (and still am).
It followed the story of a young girl named Gully, who was the daughter of a famous hero. When her father suddenly disappears, she inherits his huge gauntlets, which give her superhuman strength and make her damn near indestructible. Of course, this makes her a target for others who want the power for themselves. A colorful cast of characters join Gully on her quest to find her father, and adventure ensues. The book did really well, but it ended on a cliffhanger when I left comics to pursue a career in games.
Gully and her band of unlikely heroes are all back in Battle Chasers: Nightwar, but I’d like to stress that it’s a brand-new story, and you don’t need to be familiar with the comic series to enjoy it (another question we’re often asked)!
The game itself is a party-based dungeon crawler that mostly takes place in three distinct chunks—the Overworld Map, Dungeon Exploration, and of course, Combat. Let’s look at each of those, and some other fun systems!
The Overworld Map
This map is how you’ll get around the mysterious Crescent Isle, where the game takes place. Dotted across it are nodes that may be empty, or may contain any number of randomly spawning treasures or hazards. You may see monsters on the road ahead and choose to fight, or look for another route to avoid them. A treasure chest may entice you from across the map, or perhaps some valuable crafting resources that are worth going out of your way for. Shrines that buff you, Airships that chase you, and other surprises! Their locations are always changing, which makes exploring the map dynamic and often worthwhile.
The town of Harm’s Way is where you’ll rest, swap out party members (your combat party consists of only three heroes, from a total of six), and deal with the various merchants and NPC’s that are crazy enough to set up shop here. There’s some fun stuff to do here besides shopping though. Spending the night at the Inn will occasionally trigger interactions between party members. The Beastmaster may reveal to you the location of a rare creature or Boss. Some NPC’s may be able to shed light on a current quest, or offer one of their own.
Once your party is geared up and ready, it’s time to tackle the dungeons. You move around the dungeon with the hero you have selected, and you can switch between heroes at any time. You’ll be doing this frequently, as each hero has certain dungeon skills that are useful in different situations like stealth, trap avoidance, or damaging enemies before combat to gain the upper hand.
Creatures have dungeon skills too, so you’ll want to take care and learn their behaviors. Unless they possess stealth, or other surprise attack, you’ll always see them moving around, so you can plan your attack beforehand, or figure out a way to avoid them. If you’re careful you can do things like lure enemies away from a group to fight them one on one, run them into some traps (they take damage) or just chain a bunch of nearby creatures together for a massive combo battle (up to six creatures) for bonus EXP!
Dungeons are randomly generated, so expect a different challenge each time you enter. From room layout, to creature and treasure spawns, to traps, puzzles and story events. There’s a lot to gain from returning to a dungeon more than once. There are also different difficulty levels you can choose when you enter, so if you’re feeling bold, you can risk attempting a dungeon run on Heroic or Legendary, increasing the loot rewards within, but also the danger!
In addition to the critical path story dungeons, which are required to finish the game, there are mini-dungeons or exploration areas. These are often optional adventures you’ll stumble upon, with a self-contained story or purpose. They are hand crafted, not randomly generated, and you can only play through them once. There are quite a few of these to discover!
The Crescent Isle is a dangerous place, and eventually you’re going to get into a fight. The game’s called Battle Chasers after all. Combat plays out in turns, with an initiative bar tracking the order in which selected actions will be performed. Turn order is affected by many factors, such as a hero or creature’s speed, certain buffs or de-buffs like Chill or Haste, getting stunned, or using a powerful ability.
Every hero is loaded with Abilities that are specific to them. They cost mana, and also take some time to perform (you can see where you’ll end up on the Initiative Bar before you commit to your decision).
You may also choose to perform an Action instead. While typically not as powerful as Abilities, Actions fire off immediately, and cost no mana. In addition, Actions generate Overcharge which acts as a temporary mana pool and is lost at the end of battle. Generating Overcharge has tactical advantages, allowing you to use Abilities without spending precious mana, especially useful if you forgot to bring some mana potions along. Some heroes can also use Overcharge to bolster their attacks. For instance, the swordsman Garrison has an attack which converts stored up Overcharge into bonus damage.
Lastly, every hero can unleash powerful Battle Bursts. The Burst meter is shared between all three heroes in your combat party. It slowly fills during combat and stays full until you use it, even when combat has ended. As the bar fills, heroes have access to increasingly powerful Bursts, so you’ll want to decide carefully how and when to use them.
Each hero has a distinct combat role, so you’ll want to experiment with different character combinations. Every creature you defeat is added to your Bestiary, which reveals more and more information about the creatures you encounter, their abilities, items they drop, and other fun things.
Once you’re pretty combat savvy, you may want to try your hand in the Arena, where you battle increasingly difficult waves of enemies for points and rewards. Or, maybe take a break from fighting at one of the many relaxing fishing holes on the island. This is more than a mindless task however, as you can trade in your fish chunks for Shadow Coins, the only currency the mysterious ‘Collector’ in town accepts for his rare specialty items.
Crafting is another important part of the game, and you’ll find that crafting resources are found all over the island—across the map, buried deep within dungeons, and dropping off monsters you defeat. You’ll find plenty of awesome loot of course, but the most powerful items in the game must be crafted. One really cool thing about our crafting system is that you can still attempt to craft an item without all the necessary ingredients, but your chance of success is lower, and you risk losing the ingredients used. On the flip side, if you find that you are carrying around more of an ingredient than you need, you can add extra into the item you’re creating, increasing the chance of crafting a rare or epic version of the item!
So there you have it! Battle Chasers: Nightwar is now available on Xbox One.