Spellforce 3: Reforced review

by on June 6, 2022

Spellforce has been around for almost twenty years, first debuting its unique mix or RPG and RTS on PC back in 2003. I say “unique” because to this day it largely is. There are few other mainstream franchises that so seamlessly blend the two genres. It’s something that this series simply does best, juxtaposing large-scale conflict alongside party-based role-playing adventure. Spellforce 3: Reforced is the first foray onto consoles for the franchise, but has it been worth the wait?

In a word: yes. The key here is simplicity. Taken altogether, the mash of styles might feel immediately daunting to newcomers, but the tutorial system does a great job of breaking down the individual elements. The campaign follows the fate of Tahar, a child of fate introduced during the prologue section. In the early hours you play as Sentenza Noria, a legendary general voiced by the excellent Doug Cockle. Tahar, however, is player created.

Spellforce 3: Reforced

Progression through the campaign splits between traditional small-scale RPG adventuring and RTS base-building, resource management, and unit creation. Attempts to transfer the PC controls to a single gamepad have been largely successful. The triggers and bumpers open up wheels to select and build structures, while individual menus on the structures generate units and research projects.

On the other side of the pad, you can select special abilities and actions for units, including the unique heroes you recruit along the way. The closest current example is a game like Pathfinder or Baldur’s Gate 3, where your individual allies have their own stories and motivations that play into the larger plot. While much of the political intrigue in the plot happens elsewhere, the writing is solid. It’s a fantasy world most analogous to Dragon Age’s Thedas, or the Witcher’s Continent, where magic is an intimidating, omnipresent force and the threat of war never fully goes away.

Spellforce 3: Reforced

Campaign missions will often involve creating a base and exploring for resources, before heading off on specific objectives. Some are small in scale and require just your heroes, while others will need a created army to face off against bigger threats. Here it becomes a click-to-fight affair, hampered by the lack of a tactical pause. Trying to organise four heroes with their own skills as well as a larger army becomes a little messy – something that’s less of a problem with a mouse on PC and the precision it affords. On console I found it difficult to keep track of everyone – especially as some enemy units can burn your health down in moments. I resorted to save-scumming a lot of it, which isn’t often a good sign.

That said, building your characters is fun. You can equip them with weapons and gear, and each has a unique skill tree to expand as you earn XP. Losing important characters in a battle hurts, whereas your military units feel expendable. You’ll spam-create them and hurl them at the enemy in waves, which is fun, but I often felt the combat lacked some overall nuance. A tactical pause would help greatly, but without it things can feel a little chaotic.

Spellforce 3: Reforced brings with it the two expansions which add to the story and, on PC, added quality of life improvements which you won’t necessarily spot if this is your first time with the game. More importantly though, it adds the Journey Mode, a completely different way to experience the core gameplay without sacrificing the grand scale.

Spellforce 3: Reforced

In Journey Mode you create a character from scratch, built from any of the races and classes in the main game. As a mercenary leader, you’ll take on Contracts which are individual missions that work towards a large goal of creating a badass hero to rival those seen in the Campaign Mode.

Journey Mode is likely where most people will spend the longest. The linearity of the primary campaign is hardly a hindrance, but being able to forge your own path through the world is simply a more enticing prospect. Of course, you can also engage in the Skirkish mode, which allows you to take your Journey hero online against other players in standalone conflicts much more in the vein of strategy titles like Age of Empires.

Which is not to suggest that Spellforce 3: Reforced hits such lofty heights. What’s here is a solid combination of two very different genres, but part of the reason this franchise has the market pretty much cornered is that to do it well and with the depth it deserves is incredibly hard. Spellforce 3 almost gets it right, but when examined as two separate entities neither genre is fully fleshed out here. The RPG gameplay is enjoyable and the story has flair, but it’s nowhere near the scope of a contemporary like Divinity 2. Likiwise, the RTS side is fun and simple, but lacks the complexity that often brings fans back again and again.

Spellforce 3: Reforced

The result is an engaging experience that you’ll kind of just burn through. Once you get the hang of what to build and latch on to a few key strategies in battle, you may find that the campaign won’t keep your attention over the Journey Mode.

Spellforce 3: Reforced is a good-looking game on PS5 though. The character models are detailed, and the world maintains a compelling and believable atmosphere. The majority of the voice-acting is on point, which makes the narrative work all the better. If anything, the biggest barrier to entry will likely be learning the controls. RTS games on a controller often feel fiddly, and this is no exception. Once you’re passed that though, it’s a well-made adventure that’s unlike anything else you can play on console.


Good story
Journey Mode adds replayability
Looks impressive


Feels a little fiddly
RTS element is simplified

Editor Rating
Our Score


In Short

Spellforce 3: Reforced is a confident mixing of genres that does well with both elements, and brings a ton of content to consoles.