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Spellforce III is the third installement in the RTS/RPG Spellforce series and a Prequel to the original game. It was developed by THQ Nordic and Grimlore Games, published by THQ Nordic, and released on PC the 7 December 2017. An expansion named Soul Harvest was released in May, 2019. It features Dark Elves and Dwarves as new playable factions, a revised UI, as well as flying units.


Spellforce III provides examples of:

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  • Abusive Precursors: The more you learn about the Shapers, the gladder you'll be they're no longer around.
  • Achievement Mockery: You can unlock an achievement by getting your avatar killed.
  • Action Bomb: Bloater zombies attack by blowing themselves up near their target. They're a One-Hit-Point Wonder, so they die in one shot from any bow or staff, but they usually come in packs, so it's difficult to get them all before they enter melee range. It doesn't help that your melee fighters have serious Leeroy Jenkins tendencies.
  • Advanced Ancient Acropolis: Mulandir, an ancient Shaper city that was lost and forgotten for millennia until you find it, gain entrance, clean up a bit and turn it into your base of operations. Among the things you need to clean out first are semi-undead protectors and giant Mecha-Mooks unlike anything anyone in this world has ever seen or heard of before. The place bears more than a passing resemblance to Moria in its location and overall makeup, though not in its visual style which is closer to elven than anything else.
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  • The AI Is A Cheating Bastard: Enemy AI in campaign missions does build resource collection buildings but doesn't actually need to collect resources like the player does. It also doesn't require barracks or similar structures to build units, and the large squads it spawns from thin air appear instantaneously instead of being built one after the other.
  • Amazon Brigade: The elves are the only RTS faction to field female troops, and since all units of the same type are 100% identical, they naturally form these. Of particular note are their Protectors, heavily armored Shield-Bearing Elite Mooks armed with lances that can't be knocked down, soak up ludicrous amounts of damage, and project an aura that makes nearby friendly units a lot more resilient as well.
  • A Nazi by Any Other Name: Take the Holocaust, switch out Jews for mages, and you essentially have a carbon copy of what the Purity does to mages, Final Solution included. By the time you stop the lunatics, there are barely any human mages left but for the ones in your army and the Purity's.
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  • Annoying Arrows: Archery is absurdly underpowered in this game. No matter how many ranged units the enemy throws at you, they really are a mere annoyance as long as even a handful of melee units are present at the same time. The reverse is true as well. Your only dedicated archer hero, Yria, practically needs an Infinity +1 Sword-level bow to inflict any damage worth mentioning, and you won't find anything like that for a long time. It's made worse by her bow being a dexterity-based weapon while her best bow-related abilities benefit only from the intelligence stat. Oh, and she's also your primary healer on top of that, so you have even less points to spend on her archery skills.
  • Arbitrary Headcount Limit:
    • Your maximal party size is now limited to four characters at any given time — Pariah plus three companions. The rest of your posse has to stay behind and can only be switched out under specific circumstances.
    • The troop limit is a bit more flexible than in earlier installments and depends mostly on the number and upgrade status of your outposts, which in turn means it also depends on the size of the map. Values of 200-300 are possible on huge maps, but given that even basic units take up at least two slots apiece, raising massive armies like those showcased in the trailers is still damn near impossible. Since basic mooks become obsolete very fast, leaving you stuck with the much more expensive elite troops if you want to remain competitive, your maximum numbers will usually be much smaller than your troop limit suggests.
  • Artificial Stupidity:
    • The game's AI is rather... lacking. Enemy armies are rarely an actual threat until they come in massive numbers, and even then they tend to suffer from bad pathfinding, bad target priorization and general idiocy. Not to be outdone, your own units will happily attack Action Bombs in melee, always choose the shortest path to their given destination regardless of any lethal Geo Effects in the way, and generally require careful micromanagement at all times to survive anything more dangerous than a pack of wolves.
    • Special mention must be made of the resource distribution system. Building resources are delivered to the construction site via horse carts that spawn at wherever the required resource is currently available. The cart will then take the most direct route to its destination even if it means crossing unsecured areas still obscured by the Fog of War, which almost inevitably results in their destruction by random critters or enemy patrols. Does the next cart choose a safer route? Of course not, it proceeds to run into the same ambush. This not only makes setting up remote infrastructure a real chore, it also depletes your finite resources for absolutely no gain. To top it off, you often don't even get a warning message when a cart is under attack, so unless you keep a constant eye on the minimap, you can suddenly find yourself out of resources for the rest of the mission without knowing why.
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: Titans are back in all their glorynote . They're even taller than in previous titles, with the human Paragon actually being somewhere around fifty feet tall. Next in line is the elven Treant, followed by the orcish Flesh Beast. Each one's summoning method is a bit different (the orcs have to sacrifice a whole bunch of their own units to summon theirs), but the result is always the same: a giant, nigh-unstoppable killing machine. And yes, the enemy can summon them, too.
  • Badass Beard: In abundance, as can be expected from the medieval setting alone.
  • Badass Cape: Most high-level armors sport one, and the people wearing them tend to be plenty badass indeed. This even extends to many human(oid) Elite Mooks in the campaign, although sadly only to those of NPC armies; your own versions lack the capes.
  • Badass Gay: Two of your companions, Isgrimm and Ianna, reveal past same-sex relationships if you build up enough rapport with them. Sadly, like so many others in your roster, they're also Heartbroken Badasses by the time you meet them.
  • Belief Makes You Stupid: Listening to many previously reasonable people that fell hook, line and sinker for Lacaine's sermons, one can't help but get this feeling. It doesn't help at all that none of them appear to be victims of his Mind Control powers. They really believe his BS, although some had gone through some serious emotional trauma before they joined him, so their utter refusal to see reason may be chalked up to a desperate I Reject Your Reality mindset.
  • BFS: In fine franchise tradition, greatswords are about as long as their wielder is tall, although they're still fairly tame when compared to the absurdly gigantic two-handed maces and hammers whose massive business ends can be up to twice as large as the wielder's head. A normal person wouldn't even be able to lift any of them, let alone use them in combat.
  • Big Bad: Rondar Lacaine, Harbinger of the Light, leader of the Purity. Even though he heavily supports and occasionally fights alongside you for much of the early game, he's so painfully obviously the story's bad guy that this fact doesn't even deserve a spoiler tag.
  • Bigger Bad: Whatever that thing is that made Lacaine believe it to be Aonir, the god of light. He eventually succeeds in summoning it into Eo (kinda), upon which it becomes the True Final Boss of the campaign.
  • Bling of War: High-level armors and weapons are beautiful, extremely elaborate examples of the warsmith's art, often gilded and covered in intricate engravings and other details.
  • Bloodier and Gorier: The cinematic intro (which also served as one of the trailers) prominently features a mage engulfing two fleeing men in green fire, who then graphically explode in huge showers of blood and hunks of flesh. It does a good job at setting the overall tone of the game.
  • Broken Bridge: Zigzagged. Many maps let you explore the entire area right away. Others lock off certain parts until the current mission has progressed to a specific point. If the latter happens, it's often played straight as an arrow with literal broken bridges that are even called that by the characters. They usually need a bunch of workers and a lot of time to get repaired.
  • But Thou Must!: Lampshaded in the mission to investigate Isamo Tahar's laboratory in the Eye. Lacaine eventually orders you to proceed into the final chamber alone, which of course elicits instant protests from just about everyone else. You have the option to refuse, only for him to browbeat you into it anyway.
    Pariah: So I don't really have a choice, do I?
    Lacaine: No.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: In spades. A single character in SF 3 can drop more profanity than the entire rest of the franchise combined.
  • Cast From Hitpoints: A few abilities - usually of the Blood Knight or Black Magic type - use up health instead of focus.
  • Crapsack World: Less than a decade after the devastating Mage Wars swept through Eo, the world is still reeling from the aftermath. Mages are being captured and killed in violent Witch Hunts left and right while the authorities turn a blind eye, orcs are invading human lands, tensions between elves and humans are mounting, civil wars are raging, refugees are swamping the last remaining safe zones, and above all a plague as deadly as it is mysterious is spreading rapidly. There are still places that seem pretty well off, but the overall setting feels fairly bleak, and that's on top of all the literally world-shattering events that are to come in the future.
  • Darker and Edgier: And how. Bigotry and Fantastic Racism are rampant, a plague is killing people by the truckload all over the world, highwaymen are preying on the streams of desperate refugees, and more. SF III is also much bloodier and more violent, and has a lot more swearing, than any of its predecessors.
  • Dark Messiah: Lacaine checks all the boxes.
  • Defector from Decadence: The Morhir elves are renegade nomads that were cast out from mainstream elven society due to their adherence to outdated religious viewpoints. Unsurprisingly, they consider said mainstream elves decadent, arrogant jerkasses. The Morhir you encounter have been living in limbo for over two decades after negotiations about their own lands with the human queen fell through, and one of their leaders points out the tragic Irony that most of his people have now abandoned the very faith that got them banished in the first place.
  • Dem Bones: Skeletons of all stripes are a fairly common enemy type, which is one of the few things SF III shares with its predecessor titles.
  • Designer Babies: Turns out the Player Character is the offspring of their human father Isamo Tahar and a female Shaper he discovered preserved in stasis for millennia. Tahar was hellbent on acquiring the Shaper's deep connection to the Archfire for himself, and when he realised this was impossible, he did the next best thing and created a child that's half human, half Shaper and all-around awesome. That one did the trick, although he didn't live to reap the rewards.
  • Dismantled MacGuffin: All but a few of the game's artifact items consist of 2-4 exceedingly well-hidden pieces which you must track down, then find a way to reassemble them. That last part is usually the easiest - Isgrimm takes care of most of them - but finding the damn things in the first place is sadistically difficult without a good online guide. Worse, several pieces can become Permanently Missable Content after certain pivotal plot events, making the respective artifacts impossible to complete.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: Angar Arandir is abruptly and unceremoniously killed off in a cutscene during the Final Battle, and for absolutely no conceivable reason other than to make the Final Boss seem more threatening than it actually is. Worse, no-one but his sister Arenor even comments on it neither then nor afterwards, which is extremely grating in light of the crucial role this character played up to this point.
  • Dysfunction Junction: Your Ragtag Bunch of Misfits is practially an ambulatory pile of issues.
  • Easy Logistics: Hell no! Gone are the times of clearly marked resource deposits where you plonk down the appropriate collection building, assign some workers and call it a day. Each map consists of several sectors that need to be secured by your heroes with an outpost building before you can even attempt to collect the local resources. Said resources are now more numerous (about ten instead of three, with some of them requiring others to make), and you only see where and how plentiful they are while trying to build the respective collection building. Collected resources are then gathered by the outpost and distributed from there to wherever they're needed, which is done by horse carts that can be intercepted and destroyed at any time. New buildings under construction actually have to wait for their materials to arrive before they can be completed, and since the game has somewhat obscure prioritizing routines, building more than one building at a time may result in none of them getting finished for quite a while. All buildings also require workers to, well, work, and your outposts can only supply so many of them. The fact that defense towers must be manned to function puts up another hurdle.
  • Effortless Achievement: You get achievements for things like leveling up the first time, getting your avatar killed, or muting the in-game music.
  • Eldritch Abomination: There's a whole family of powerful otherworldly creatures called Abominations terrorizing Eo, but the most outstanding example would be the True Final Boss, a massive monstrosity with huge Combat Tentacles that hijacks Lacaine's corpse after you defeat him. And it's not just some random possession, too. That thing is what Lacaine believed to be Aonir, and what he was trying to summon all along without being aware of it.
  • Emotionless Girl: Companion Ianna and supporting character Lady Myrah Utran. The former became one as a side effect of her particular magic talent, the other as a result of horrific Mind Rape courtesy of the Purity.
  • Experienced Protagonist: Pariah is already an experienced and distinguished corporal in the Royal Army when we take control of them.
  • Face–Heel Turn: Several, in fact, some depending on how you play.
    • The Big Bad pulled one in his backstory, although that's been a long time ago by the time you meet him.
    • Your long-time army comrade Bertrand joins the Purity early into the game, and though he never really does anything evil, he's deluded himself into believing that their atrocities are for the best of mankind to such an extreme degree that he most likely will attack Pariah just before the Final Battle, which predictably gets him killed in seconds.
    • If you're not careful, some of your companions can and will turn against you at crucial points in the story.
  • Fake Difficulty: The Elder Dragon is immune to blunt weapons. The game's most powerful melee weapons are almost exclusively of the blunt type, and ranged weapons like bows and magical staffs deal Scratch Damage at best. You do the math. Completing a minor sidequest before engaging the Elder Dragon can yield two non-blunt weapons with bonus damage against dragons, but both are ridiculously weak even with the buff factored in and will most likely cut your DPS in half, if not less. Hope you picked up some decent sword or spear along the way, although everything that applies the Weakened status to enemies works quite well, too.
  • Fantastic Racism: You do not want to be a known mage in this world, or even be associated with one. There's also a fair amount of the standard racism and prejudice between the Six Races.
  • Fighter, Mage, Thief: Played with. Character creation involves choosing three out of six possible skill trees that run the gamut from melee to archery to magic. All combinations are allowed and get a unique name but can't be changed afterwards. It hits a middle ground between the classic FMT class system and the basically unlimited freedom one had in speccing characters in Spellforce 2.
  • Flunky Boss: Lacaine teleports out of his Boss Room to let summoned minions take over every time he loses another 25% of his health. A few high-level enemy types can also summon reinforcements at will while others (like spiders or roaches) can lay eggs that hatch into many smaller versions of themselves within seconds.
  • Foreshadowing: The Convocation Wars, the creation of the rune-warriors and the shattering of Eo are yet to come, but Spellforce III does a nice job of building towards it. Whether you like them or not, your companions already show the traits that will lead to them breaking the world 500 years from now. Isgrimm's refusal to abandon his research into rune Magic or Rohen's idea of a benevolent ruling circle of mages are notable examples of idealistic visions that in time will become corrupted by a lust for power.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: The first thing people remember about Lacaine is him being one of many random preachers spreading a message of love and acceptance at the local capital. Then the Mage Wars went down and Lacaine realized that messages of hate and intolerance attracted far more followers, so he pulled a Face–Heel Turn and formed the Purity, which within barely a decade became an N.G.O. Superpower fully capable and willing to plunge the world into yet another devastating war.
  • The Fundamentalist: The Purity consist of one half these, one half murderous bastards who're in it For the Evulz, and a very small percentage of decent folks who realized too late what they'd gotten themselves into.
  • Game-Breaking Bug: For about the first year after release, they were pretty much Spellforce III's defining trait, so a comprehensive list would most likely take up half this article's total length. The game went from v1.00 to v1.10 within four days, but about half the quests and game mechanics were still broken, often to the point that quests were impossible to advance or complete, and said mechanics might as well not've been there in the first place. A prime example for the latter was the companion affinity system, which simply didn't work at all. A couple dozen patches eventually fixed most of the worst bugs to finally make the game playable without too many problems.
  • Glowing Eyes of Doom: Dire Wolves are a larger, more powerful species of wolves that have glowy red eyes. Later game stages introduce a whole family of Archfire-infused critters whose eyes glow brightly turquoise instead.
  • Great Offscreen War: The Mage Wars provide the background to just about everything that's happening in the game, and one of the final assaults serves as the prologue mission. They're responsible for the intense hatred towards mages everywhere, and subsequently for the rise of the Purity.
  • Green Thumb: One of Pariah's Leadership skills allows them to instantly regrow a bunch of trees in a deforested area. It's Cool, but Inefficient due to the extremely long cooldown unless the situation is exceedingly dire, but it becomes a lot more useful once upgraded to also refill stone and iron deposits.
  • Guide Dang It!:
    • Some sidequests are failed automatically once certain other quests advance to a certain point, with no warning given in any case. Others continue to stay in your questlog forever despite being impossible to complete because their objective vanished with the conclusion of another quest, also with no warning given.
    • The game really doesn't want you to wield artifact items. All but a handful of them must be assembled from fragments scattered all across the game world, and the corpses/containers they're usually found in are so innocuous that you can run past them a dozen times without noticing. Others require clicking some nondescript statue in the ass-end of nowhere while having specific Vendor Trash items in your inventory, like scrolls for instance. Some of those even require you to have actually read those scrolls beforehand. Other statues/shrines grant their reward only if the active character has sufficiently high stats. A few like the Impervious Protector armor or the Axe of the Mountain can become Permanently Missable Content if you didn't do what's necessary on some of the maps that become inaccessible later. Some fragments are absent during your first visit to their respective map and only appear when you return later. In short, if you manage to find and reforge even three of the about one dozen artifacts available without an online guide, you were either extremely lucky or have a serious case of OCD.
    • The game's resident Bonus Boss is immune to the one damage type that the vast majority of SF 3's most powerful melee weapons use: blunt. Considering how useless ranged combat is in terms of pure damage output, and how friggin' tough said boss is, you're royally screwed if you charge into battle without lugging some very powerful swords or lances around as backup (which is difficult by default because there simply is nothing that can rival hammers and maces in the damage department). There's an NPC in the area who will warn you about this problem, but that won't help you much anyway unless you happen to know exactly where you can purchase some decent equipment off the bat, or have someone who can cast the Weakened debuff on the boss.
  • Heads I Win, Tails You Lose: The first fight against Lacaine plays out like this. If you lose, you're dead and get a Game Over. If you win, the boss invokes Cutscene Power to the Max and leaves you to die in a Collapsing Lair. Cue Time Skip to when you awake from a coma after your buddies pulled you from the wreckage.
  • Heartbroken Badass: The devs really seem to like this trope. More than half of your companions suffered the loss of a loved one in their past, be it relatives, friends or lovers. Some may find a measure of closure with your help; others won't.
  • Here We Go Again!: When entering a new map it's never a bad idea to explore as much of it as possible to lift the Fog of War and scout the area for RTS resources and possible outpost sites. Almost every map in the campaign is revisited at least once as the story progresses, and every time this happens, the area is reset completely - the FoW is back, your tediously upgraded outposts plus your entire military infrastructure are simply gone, all Godstones need to be reactivated from scratch, and hostile critters are crawling around again wherever you go.
  • Human Resources: It's eventually revealed that the Purity's Iron Ones are essentially steel golems given life by infusing them with souls torn from powerful captured mages. At least five souls are required per Iron One, and you'll fight and destroy a lot of them...
  • Humans Are Bastards: The Big Bad and his armies are entirely human, and while there is the occasional dickwad among the other races, none comes even close to the level of genocidal, bigoted hatred and evilness the humans put on display.
  • Hyperspace Arsenal: There's no limit to the number of items your party can carry with them. Considering the sheer amount of stuff there is to pick up at every turn, you'll quickly find yourself forced to dig through a royal armory's worth of weapons and armor every time you open your inventory. Nobody ever alludes to where all that crap is being stored.
  • Hypocrite: The Purity are truly massive ones. While they grudgingly tolerate those who are gifted with magic but don't use it, they mercilessly hunt down and torture every active mage to death because, according to their faith, mortals were never meant to use magic at all, and doing so anyway is the worst kind of heresy against Aonir. Yet, at the same time, they deploy giant Mecha-Mooks in battle that're obviously magical constructs, their priests use various types of magic in combat, and their leader is an immensely powerful and talented mage himself who employs his powers with reckless abandon to further his agenda.
  • Infinity +1 Element: "Pure Damage" seemingly ignores any and all resistances, armor included, and it's almost exclusively used by the most powerful enemies and defence structures, so if you spot something that has a lightning symbol above its attack rating, better take it out fast or run like hell.
  • Infinity +1 Sword: Although no game-breaking item has appeared as of yet, the game's highest equipment tier - the orange-colored Artefacts - generally fit the bill quite well. They're exceedingly rare, tend to have below-average stat requirements coupled with above-average ratings, and usually come with a long list of powerful abilities. Most must be assembled from extremely hard-to-find pieces scattered across various maps, others are quest rewards or boss drops, but a few can also be found in chests hidden in remote corners of the world.
  • Informed Attribute: The Iron Falcons are hailed as the greatest human warriors in existence. You encounter them twice, and both times they're getting their asses kicked and need you to bail them out. This gets lampshaded of course, and by their leader no less. To be fair, once they ally with you, they provide you with the three human elite units plus artillery, so they're not a completely lost cause.
  • In Name Only: If you've played the original Spellforce games, you'll quickly come to realize that SF III has precious little in common with them aside from the name, the RTS/RPG gameplay combo, and the franchise's most basic lore. A lot of aspects or previous events are ignored, others are crudely retconned, and the general feeling and atmosphere is radically different.
    • Than again, it seems that a good number of people somehow completely missed that it's a prequel about stuff that happened hundred years before the first game.
  • Instant Awesome: Just Add Dragons!: Draconoids are a recurring, though rather rare type of creatures, most often of the wyvern type and available in a variety of elemental flavors. There's also an encounter with one of the last remaining Elder Dragons on Eo, a quadrupedal monster the size of two fully upgraded HQ buildings aligned that's suitably difficult to defeatnote .
  • Join or Die: How the Purity operates once they drop their veneer of civility.
  • Just Think of the Potential: Isgrimm says this verbatim at least once, and it soon turns into his Catchphrase of sorts when more and more of the Shaper technology's more unsavory aspects come to light. He eventually goes full-blown Well-Intentioned Extremist over a powerful mind-controlling rune, which he refuses to destroy and wants to use to usher in world peace instead, just like the Shapers did back in their day. When the others predictably balk at the idea, he may attack Pariah and, once beaten into submission, leave the party forever if you did nothing to earn his trust beforehand.
  • Keystone Army: Most campaign battles, even the ones that say "destroy the enemy base", can be won by taking out the HQ building or the hero unit in charge. As soon as either one blows up / drops dead, the rest of the base spontaneously combusts and the remaining troops either flee or drop dead as well.
  • Knight Templar: The Purity of Light - Purity for short - started out as a mage-hating vigilante cult of religious zealots some years before the events of the game, but have now grown into a veritable church with considerable influence on the crown. They have their own armies and a lot of support among the common man, and their more fanatical members don't think anything about attacking and slaughtering whole Royal Army garrisons if they're in their way. At the conclusion of the first larger story chapter, they drop all pretence at peaceful coexistence with anyone, stage a coup against the crown, take over the human realm, start executing everyone who doesn't convert to their faith on the spot, and go to war with just about every other species there is.
  • Lack of Empathy: Undergast, by his own admission, was born so emotionally stunted that he has serious difficulty relating to others. His cold, clinically detached view of things can make him come across as a bit of a Jerkass at times, but all in all he's still a decent guy.
  • Lampshade Hanging: Happens so often that the game veers into Better Than a Bare Bulb territory.
    • Everyone seems put off by dwarf Isgrimm being a magically gifted archaeologist instead of the usual beer-swilling, axe-swinging, heavily armored Proud Warrior Race type.
    • There're a lot of broken-down carriages in the Farlorn's Hope region, and the more of them you inspect with your heroes, the snarkier the game lampshades this very fact, eventually suggesting that whoever builds all these carts should seriously consider a career change.
    • Characters in general love to do this. Whenever some well-known twist or trope is used, at least one person is almost guaranteed to hang a lampshade on it right away.
  • Leave No Survivors: The humans quickly settle on this approach to deal with Bloodburn outbreaks, in order to prevent the plague from spreading. It's useless because the Bloodburn isn't your ordinary, germ-transmitted plague. Pariah learns this right before their general orders them to massacre a whole infected village, leading to them disobeying the order and being put on trial for treason and desertion. The actual plot picks up from there.
  • Leeroy Jenkins:
    • Good luck trying to keep your melee units from making a beeline for anything hostile, including the very powerful Action Bomb creature types, the moment it enters their line of sight.
    • The dragon hunters at the Scorching Desert Oasis are very smug about their immense experience in fighting dragons with cunning and clever tactics. What do they do once you approach the Elder Dragon they've come to slay? Charge straight at it and start hacking away. They even do that after you've decided to talk it out with the dragon peacefully. Cue Curbstomp Battle.
  • The Legions of Hell: The Fial Darg are the Spellforce 'verse version. Their current status is that of a Sealed Evil in a Can, with the Iron Falcons tasked with keeping it that way by making sure they never leave the tombs they were imprisoned in centuries ago. Unsurprisingly, the Fial Darg aren't particularly happy with this situation and use what powers they have to summon endless legions of undead from the desert sand to throw against the Falcons. You get to fight one of the actual demons at the climax of the battle to retake the Falcon's fortress from the undead at Aonir's Blade before the tomb can be resealed. Let's just say the people who know about the monsters are right to fear them.
    • It should be noted that Fial Darg are not said demons but an extremely powerful but small-numbered race that is supposed to bring The End of the World as We Know It. The demons are merely their elite servants.
  • Level Grinding: This is, at least for the moment, the only method to unlock the "Fit for the Circle" achievement that requires you to get your party to the maximum level. Enterprising data miners found out that the max level is 40 whereas most players will top out at somewhere between 25 and 30, depending on their diligence and difficulty setting. Going from 30 to 40 can take several hundred hours of grinding and is completely unnecessary as far as gameplay is concerned, which makes this one of the most annoying achievements to unlock until some huge DLC is released.
  • Light Is Not Good: Don't let the Purity's white robes and use of White Magic fool you. They're a bunch of raving lunatics hellbent on killing anyone and anything that doesn't convert to their religion or fit into their worldview.
  • Loads and Loads of Loading: Whereas previous entries in the series had loading screens only between about a dozen large maps where everything important went down, this game's world is divided into countless sublevels, each with a lengthy loading screen in between. Particularly annoying examples, like one in Greykeep early on, torture the player with 10-30 seconds of loading screen, then let them run to a door opposite the one they entered the area through (takes < 5 seconds), followed by another 10-30 seconds of loading. And of course, leaving the dungeon has you do all of this in reverse.
  • Ludicrous Gibs: In a first for the series, enemies can explode in a messy shower of blood and chunks of flesh. It happens rarely and can only be achieved by a scant few means (most of them being magic abilities), but when it does happen for once, it sure looks impressive.
  • Made of Iron: The Iron Ones, in case the name wasn't obvious enough, are ridiculously tough. They also deal a crapton of damage in melee, which makes them one of the Purity's most dangerous assets whenever they show up.
  • Master of None: Many party members have skill tree combinations that sound great in theory but are nearly impossible to make good use of in practice. Anyone combining magical and fighting skills (Yria is a good example) tends to get the worst of it because half their skills are governed by physical attributes like strength, dexterity and/or constitution, while others rely on willpower and/or intelligence. There are only so many attribute points to spend, and all items have strict attribute requirements, which means these characters either specialize in one or two of their three skill trees at the expense of the others, or they end up with mediocre abilities from all three instead. Pure fighters and pure mages have it far easier to maximize their potential, although it comes at the cost of flexibility.
  • Medium Awareness: Your soldiers and workers can occasionally be heard humming along with the game's ambient music.
  • Mighty Glacier:
    • Low-quality plate armor often reduces the wearer's movement and attack speed by up to 50%, turning them into a very resilient but very slow damage sponge. Higher-tier versions usually lack this restriction and replace it with increasingly more powerful buffs instead.
    • All three RTS factions have at least one type of Elite Mooks that hit like a truck but move slowly due to being clad in heavy armor.
  • Mind Control: Plays an important role in the story. Lacaine makes clever use of it to gain allies and keep them under control, and devising effective countermeasures against it is the subject of several missions.
  • Mordor: Flavor text describes Barga Gor as a blasted wasteland full of unfriendly creatures ranging from undead to demons, and the area certainly lives up to the notion. It shouldn't come as a surprise that the only sentient species there are, you guessed it, orcs.
  • Mutually Exclusive Powerups: Most quests reward you a bunch of items of which you may choose only one. Often becomes a Sadistic Choice when the offer contains, say, a kickass armor for your warrior and a kickass robe for your mage...
  • Nerf:
    • The Sledgehammer's ridiculous damage rating of 70-73 (the most powerful artefacts top out at ~50) was quickly nerfed to 40-43, which was probably the intended value anyway, seeing how all other weapons of this type and tier boast the latter stats, too.
    • Just about everything in the game received multiple rebalances as well over the course of dozens of patches, which naturally included a bunch of nerfs.
  • No-Sell: Resistances can go all the way up to 100%, making the person/creature/whatever in question immune to the corresponding damage type. Combining a complete set of Dragonscale Armor with a high-level Perseverance aura can give the wearer total immunity to magic damage and up to 91% resistance to all types of physical damage, making them practically invincible against anything but Pure Damage. Give this to your tank and enjoy the ensuing hilarity.
  • One-Hit Kill: Fairly difficult to pull off even on basic mooks most of the time, but there is one particular artefact weapon - the Might of the Giants - that kills any golem or Iron One in one hit, which is an invaluable asset in the last couple missions where the Purity's countless Iron Ones are easily the biggest threat on the field.
  • Obvious Beta: So obvious in fact that the main menu has a dedicated "Report Bugs" button. During the game's first year it was most likely in the top three of the most-used buttons, right up there with "Continue Campaign" and "Exit to Desktop". SF III's release version was so buggy it could give any Bethesda game a run for its money. The first patch was auto-installed right after installing the main game, and the next three patches followed within 36 hours. The campaign was still riddled with one devastating Game-Breaking Bug after the other, to the point that it became impossible to continue the story at several branches simultaneously - character abilities disappeared at random, plot-important characters couldn't be talked to, forced conversations never ended, characters glitched into areas they couldn't leave again by any means, the screen turned black during certain events... It took quite a while before the game became an enjoyable experience.
  • Our Dwarves Are Different: Isgrimm, your dwarven party member, is a rabid archaeologist with magical abilities. Pariah immediately points out how far off the norm that is because they thought dwarves did nothing but forge weapons and drink beer. Isgrimm indignantly calls this a petty stereotype... and then admits that it's mostly true, with him being an exception from the rule. He even complains ceaselessly about all the senseless violence every time he gets into a fight.
  • Out of Focus: Of the Spellforce 'verse's established races, dwarves and dark elves are almost completely absent from the story, with both only appearing in the form of one or two characters each, but no playable army units whatsoever. Most of the game is focused on humans, with elves, orcs and their allied races ranking a distant second.
  • Person of Mass Destruction: Any warrior hero with access to the Brutality skill tree can turn into one by maxing out the Raze ability, a skill that deals extremely high damage to buildings in a huge area. One use can and will destroy all but the most heavily armored buildings in a single shot. Two or more warriors with it can annihilate whole late-game bases in seconds.
  • Point-and-Click Map: Standard fare for the franchise, but this one deserves special mention because it is much, much larger than the game actually requires it to be. By the point you tackle the final mission, at least half the map and its very visible locations are still unexplored because the story prefers to revisit dungeons several times over opening up new ones. It can leave players quite surprised and disappointed when the game is suddenly over although the world map suggested you're merely halfway through.
  • Point of No Return: There are multiple points in the campaign that warn you that starting the next mission will lock off certain parts of the world. Unfortunately, the game doesn't tell you what exactly you're about to lose access to, and since the choice appears to be largely arbitrary, prepare yourself for a minor tantrum or two when you realize too late that you missed an artifact fragment on one of these maps.
  • Prequel: Spellforce III is set about 500 years before the events of Spellforce, depicting the creation of the circle and the re-invention of rune magic. Remember the circle mages Hokan Ashir resurrected in Shadow of the Phoenix? Many of them will join your party, including Rohen Tahir, who served as both Mentor and Big Bad in the first game.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: Almost all main characters are outcasts from society one way or another, and most carry some serious emotional baggage around, to boot. An elven archer-mage searching for her place in the world, a disgraced dwarven master smith-turned-archeologist looking for an Advanced Ancient Acropolis, a magical assassin who just wants to slake her thirst for blood, a Magic Knight on a quest for redemption, a cynical demonist out for more arcane power... there's something for everyone there.
  • Reality Ensues:
    • Massive plate helmets provide unrivalled protection. They also have tiny eye slits that seriously constrict the wearer's vision, which translates into a decrease in visual range of up to 50%.
    • War has a habit of destroying the environment, which you'll notice very quickly once your lumberjacks go to work. After half an hour of chopping down forests left and right, previously gorgeous landscapes are usually reduced to a pale shadow of their former beauty.
  • The Red Mage: Undergast is a prime example, being proficient in White Magic and Black Magic simultaneously. Dialogue implies that this is virtually unheard of in Eo because the two schools are considered mutually exclusive. It gives him access to the unique Paradox Magic, one of the most useful skill trees in the whole game because its abilities inflict heavy debuffs on the enemy while buffing and healing your own units at the same time. Also leads into a serious case of Gameplay and Story Segregation when Pariah expresses amazement about this skill combination despite having it themselves.
  • Relationship Values: Every companion has a unique skill of varying usefulness that can be unlocked by gaining their loyalty, which requires nothing more than to choose the blue dialogue options when the game prompts you to talk to your buddies. This can result in a couple of Disc One Nukes because these dialogue options are tied to your plot progression and some of the most powerful ones unlock much earlier than less useful ones.
  • Religion of Evil: While the worship of Aonir, the local God of Good, wouldn't be a bad thing per se, the nightmarish cult Lacaine made of it certainly is one. The Purity is convinced that Aonir will return and create paradise on Eo, but only once any and all sinners and defilers (read: mages) have been purged from the world. Since their definition of what constitutes a sinner is ridiculously broad, the world would be largely empty once they're done preparing, which of course they consider a small price to pay.
  • Required Party Member: Some missions force you to take specific companions along for the ride. Case in point: recruiting the elves of Leafshade can't be done without Yria in your party.
  • Retcon: Previous lore established the Iron Ones as having been created by the Circle Mages who turned Eo into the devastated Crapsack World it is now. The SF III campaign introduces them as just another type of Elite Mooks the Purity came up with.
    • A much more serious one with the Shapers' appearance. Spellforce 2 Dragon Storm established that Shapers looked very similar to Elves (with Finon Mir elves being their closest descendants). It was actually an important plot twist - we met the antagonist of the game, the survived Shaper, back when we didn't even knew about his existance. He was there, Hidden in Plain Sight, pretending to be just a random Elf. In Spellforce 3 the Shapers became very tall, bald and blue-skinned humanoids, while Finon Mir Elves still look like pointy-eared humans.
  • Scenery Porn: The game's pretty visuals have been universally praised from the moment the first teasers arrived, and for good reason. Has a sad habit of turning into mild Scenery Gorn once the beautiful forests everywhere have been chopped down to fuel your war effort, leaving only stubby wasteland behind.
  • The Secret of Long Pork Pies: One sidequest in Everlight has you hunt down some bad guy who chops up orcs and sells their flesh as wyvern meat. To make matters worse: he's an orc himself. He does it because he hates the orcish society and wants to get back at them.
  • Sequel Hook: The final cutscene involves Pariah and Yria talking about Isgrimms's mysterious disappearance, his obsession with Shaper Mind Control runes, and the threat his expertise on the matter might pose, setting up the story for future expansion packs.
  • Sequence Breaking:
    • A couple of missions eventually switch to RTS gameplay so you can build up a base and recruit an army to destroy the enemy base. However, if your hero party is powerful enough and/or you're playing on a low difficulty setting, you can just waltz into said base right away and destroy their HQ, circumventing a tedious battle entirely. Pariah will bring up this victory the next time you talk to the NPC in charge of the mission, who will usually react with appropriate amazement at your sheer badassitude.
    • Many main quests involve gathering specific items from all over the map. Said map can usually be explored before you even talked to the quest giver, and the items in question are also already present, so it's entirely possible for someone to send you off to scour every corner of the region for these incredibly rare and mystical artifacts, only for your character to pull them out of their pocket with a nonchalant "I found this junk while I was out and about. That the stuff you were just raving about?". This one also has appropriate reactions coded in.
  • Shoutout:
    • Almost as soon as you take control of Pariah, you're invited to a string of sparring matches by the resident Drill Sergeant Nasty. The quest descriptions are full of Fight Club references, with the first objective (which you'll inevitably fail) being "don't talk about the fight club".
    • The elven Ranger's portrait looks suspiciously like Cara Delevingne.
  • Skippable Boss: The Elder Dragon can be convinced to leave the party alone if a minor sidequest is completed in her favor. It's debatable how smart that is, though. Talking the beast down does reward one of four powerful artefact items, but by the time you can access the battle in the first place, you should have far better gear already anyway. That dragon scale armor on the other hand, well...
  • Soul-Powered Engine: The Purity's Iron Ones, as described under Human Resources, are essentially soul-powered golems.
  • Suicide Mission: Since all you have to do to win almost any RTS battle is to destroy the enemy HQ building, dive-bombing said HQ with your hero party, resurrecting them at the closest Godstone and repeating the whole process until the HQ goes boom is a viable strategy under most circumstances, provided you have the Resurrection Rune charges to spare. Having one or two heroes with the Raze ability maxed out in the party pushes this approach deep into Game-Breaker territory.
  • Tactical Rock–Paper–Scissors:
    • Basic combat involves four physical damage types (blunt, piercing, slash, thrust) and four elemental/magic ones (fire, ice, white, black), each with their own resistance provided by armor and other equipment. RTS unit types aren't excempt from this, either. Heavily armored troops are weak against blunt weapons, riders are weak against pikemen, archers are weak against everything, and so on.
    • Buildings and siege units make use of a fifth physical damage type, siege, which deal merely 25% of it's damage to infantry, although your heroes can learn abilities that allow their attacks to deal siege damage against buildings.
    • Last but not least, a scant few abilities, some rare and powerful enemies, and top-tier defence buildings dish out pure damage, which appears to ignore any and all resistances no questions asked. Since these attacks are usually very powerful even without that buff, they tend to hurt. A lot.
  • Take a Third Option: During the Corrupted Hearts mission, you're eventually given the choice between letting the Corruption spread unopposed or perform a Human Sacrifice to counter it, and since the former isn't a real option story-wise, the game naturally defaults to the latter... unless you finished the Forgotten Knowledge quest beforehand, which allows you to summon a Titan to do what would've required the aforementioned sacrifice instead.
  • Tattooed Crook: The Bane are an entire army of them. They claim to be part of the Purity's armies in service to Aonir, which Lacaine officially denies. Both claims are lies. The Bane are little more than a huge band of hateful murderers who gleefully use the chaos of war to Rape, Pillage, and Burn everyone and everything they come across For the Evulz, with only a handful of them actually sharing Lacaine's vision. Lacaine himself is aware of that, but it doesn't stop him from deploying the Bane as his inofficial enforcers that commit the atrocities his own armies mustn't be associated with to keep up appearances.
  • This Cannot Be!: Most Purity bigwigs are absolutely, 100% positive that Aonir won't allow any harm to come to them, which makes it all the more satisfying to hear them invoke this trope with their last gurgling breath once you've beaten the crap out of them.
  • Time Skip: Two, in fact. The narrative skips forward eight years between the Action Prologue and the present-day campaign proper. Much later, another five-week time skip launches the game's last major chapter.
  • Trailers Always Lie: The pre-release trailers loved showing off battles between huge screen-filling armies, supported by cleverly positioned artillery units. You'll never witness something on this scale in the campaign thanks to the Arbitrary Headcount Limit for your troops and the fact that hostile AI players don't amass such numbers, preferring squad-strength raiding parties instead.
  • The Usual Adversaries: Purity and Bane troops, plus the ubiquitous critters on every map. The campaign has you fight elves, orcs and all sorts of humans, but that more or less stops once you've recruited these factions to your cause and they unite against the Purity. Compounded by Bane troops being little more than palette-swapped Purity goons, so most battles past the first major story chapter effectively boil down to "kick the Purity's ass".
  • Utopia Justifies the Means: Crops up at least twice.
    • Lacaine and his Purity believe they can bring about Aonir's return by ridding the world of sinners and mages, which basically amounts to multiple genocides of massive proportions, not least because they consider entire races like the elves and orcs either or both.
    • The Shapers ran on this, too, more specifically on the Brainwashing for the Greater Good variety. Their lost empire might be considered a peaceful, insanely advanced utopia by present-day folks on Eo, but it was maintained by a tiny caste of elites that ruled over everyone else through copious application of Archfire-powered mind control.
  • Vendor Trash: You'll be picking up a huge amount of worthless items in no time, most of them run-of-the-mill weapons and armor that're good for exactly one thing: being sold off for the gold you need to purchase actually useful stuff like upgrade blueprints. Gear that provides an actual improvement to your current stats is extremely rare and most often a quest reward or boss drop.
  • Villain Protagonist: Similar to the famous twist in Assassin's Creed III, the game gives us General Sentenza Noria as the first main character during the prologue. One eight-year Time Skip and a couple real-world hours later, he and at least one other member of his squad turn into antagonists to the actual Protagonist, Pariah, and their party.
  • Violation of Common Sense: You get an achievement for being killed by the tiny spider that pops up while you're in prison very early in the campaign. The only way to find out about this, aside from reading it up online, is to actively try to lose this purposely easy fight against what must be the weakest enemy in the game.
  • Voluntary Shapeshifting: Purity Lightbringers can, for some unexplained reason, transform into a giant reptilian... thing in the midst of combat. In this form they're restricted to melee (which doesn't change much about their overall tactics) and pack an even nastier punch.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: The world is positively crawling with them. Almost every villain you encounter thinks he's acting in the best interests of whoever he's allied with, and even your companions aren't immune to it. Too bad they usually stop at nothing to achieve their goals, forcing you to take them down a notch... or more often by six feet.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Shar, the Arc Villain of the mission to the Unknown Island, is an example of the "weak nerd with a popular jock brother" type. Sure, he eventually abducted his brother and sicced an army of medusae on his village, but considering what he had to endure his whole life, it's hard not to feel at least a little bit of sympathy for him. Plus, if you manage to resolve the conflict peacefully, he appears during the penultimate mission with some helpful support for your army.
  • World of Snark: Even without additional prompting, the Player Character is pretty snarky, and most of their companions will happily join in on the fun whenever an opportunity presents itself. Yria in particular has deadpan snarking as her default mode of communication.
    Isgrimm (talking about a dangerous experiment): This could take a while. Best go up to the Nexus and see if you can't find anything else of use in the meantime.
    Yria: Works for me. At least we'll be out of the blast radius this way.
  • You All Look Familiar: There's only about half a dozen portraits for male and female characters each, and even the ones used by fairly important characters often wind up tacked on minor folks like merchants somewhere else, which may lead to occasional confusion. Becomes especially annoying when some enemy hero uses the same portrait as your Player Character. That blonde chick with the tiara and the silver armor for instance shows up as a Purity Lightbringer on several occasions.
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