The Dungeons & Dragons nerds at the IGN office have been looking forward to Solasta: Crown of the Magister since we first saw it at Gamescom in 2019, and after a few demos, it’s finally entering Early Access on October 20th. We got to see a wide variety of what early access has in store for us during a developer-lead sneak peek and learned a few interesting facts about the upcoming build.
Solasta is a tactical RPG based on the Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition ruleset (licensed SRD 5.1). It has highly customizable parties and a turn-based battle system that will be incredibly familiar to D&D players, but can also be compared to games like Divinity: Original Sin 2.
We’ve already covered how Solasta is similar to Dungeons and Dragons, but here are nine specific things to expect when Solasta: Crown of the Magister arrives in Early Access.
What Early Access Will Get You
Solasta: Crown of the Magister is $35 USD in Early Access which is less than the final price of the full version. And purchasing during Early Access will automatically unlock the full version once it releases sometime in Spring 2021.
Tactical Adventures’ goal is to release the final version around six months after Early Access, so it has enough time to improve the game based on player feedback. But keep in mind, Early Access progress will not carry over to the full version of the game.
How Long is Solasta: Crown of the Magister Early Access?
Creative director and Tactical Adventures founder Mathieu Girard explained the length of Solasta will vary greatly based on an individual player’s play style. He did, however, promise there’d be at least 10 hours of gameplay.
“It’s hard to say because some people are going to spend three hours on the same battle just choosing the best tactic and action to use,” Girard explained.
He’s certainly right about that. My D&D party sometimes spends more time strategizing than actually fighting, and though this may take more time, it also makes the combat that much more efficient. And personally, I can see myself making characters for at least three hours.
Create Your Own Party of Characters
Solasta is a single-player experience, but you will be responsible for creating and controlling four different characters. You won’t be recruiting additional NPCs to your party as you progress, rather, your created party members will be with you and grow from start to finish. But what you choose is up to you. You can adventure with four halfling Rogues if you like, but you will benefit from a balanced team with not only different combat skills, but different abilities, languages, and more, since each class brings something special to a party.
For example, during my demo one of the characters was an Insight Domain Cleric – a custom subclass Tactical Adventures made for Solasta. – which allowed all Insight checks were automatically passed, making negotiations with NPCs much easier.
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For each character’s stats, you can roll for them, use a point-buy system, or even customize them completely to your liking. With that much freedom, adapting your pre-existing pen-and-paper characters to Solasta should be that much easier. Or, you can create a bunch of super-powered heroes, whatever you want.
Because Solasta can only use the base SRD, don’t expect the same subclasses and archetypes you’re used to from D&D. Instead, there are custom subclasses like the aforementioned Insight Domain Cleric created specifically for the Solasta setting.
There’s An Emphasis on Lighting
Lighting, and the lack thereof, has a strong effect on gameplay in Solasta. Characters that can’t see in the dark will attack with lower accuracy without a light source. Some enemies are hurt and shy away from light, while others will be drawn to it and make it easier for your party to be found by malicious entities.
Torches can be used, and objects in the world can be lit with spells, but you can also use spells to light your own equipment like swords or shields. You’ll need to learn the ins and outs of the lighting mechanic to make the most of your abilities in Solasta: Crown of the Magister.
And also… Verticality
The entirety of Solasta’s environments are built with Minecraft-like blocks to create intricate layers of verticality, and then covered with beautiful textures and lighting. You can use these layouts to your advantage to avoid enemies, but enemies can easily do the same against you.
This verticality also means spells like Levitate and Fly are especially useful, as the team planned to place things high out of reach, like treasure and secret passages.
Near the end of the build I saw, one final enemy continued to attack from up high on the ledge. The player chose to sling long-range attacks at it, rather than spend the turns climbing up to reach it. These decision-making events seem to be commonplace in Solasta.
Tutorials for both Solasta and D&D Strategy
The opening of Solasta features the four characters you created in a Tavern telling stories to each other. These stories work as tutorials for different aspects of Solasta – like the aforementioned verticality and lighting – but also teach how to use readied actions, disengage, and more, to your advantage in combat.
On a standard turn, you’ll be able to make an action, move with whatever movement speed you have, and interact with an object. Instead of using your action to attack in the moment, you can instead ready an action to trigger in response to an enemy. This can be used to trigger a melee attack against an enemy that is otherwise unreachable on your turn – like Flying Snakes hovering just out of reach – but you expect to approach during its turn.
You can also use your action to disengage, but that doesn’t mean you have no means of dealing damage. In the tutorial encounter I saw, the character disengaged in order to get away from an enemy without triggering its opportunity attack, but was still able to push a boulder off a ledge onto said enemy.
These tutorials seem to do a decent job at teaching players how to get creative with their turns, which is important if you want to find success in both the Dungeons and Dragons ruleset and Solasta’s unique environmental mechanics.
Updates and Changes Based on Demo Feedback
Tactical Adventures has been hard at work taking feedback from the demos it has offered in the past. Of course, there have been a lot of bugs to fix, but they have also upgraded a few mechanics that players have complained about, like inventory management and weight capacity management. One of the biggest changes in Early Access compared to the demo is the camera. In Early Access, you can manipulate the camera fairly freely, both up close to your character and quite far away.
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Another aspect players were frustrated by was not being able to tell why their attacks missed. Now, before attacking an enemy, if you are attacking at a disadvantage – which reduces your attack accuracy – a menu will tell you exactly why before you make the attack. In one example, a human was attacking with disadvantage because the enemy was in dim light, and humans do not have dark vision – explanations like this are designed to help you learn the system even while playing it.
Plenty of Archives
If you’ve ever played a meaty RPG, coming back after a long while away can be intimidating. Solasta solves this by including a diary system that keeps track of everything you’ve done in the game. Kind of like an automatic archivist. There is also a bestiary that unlocks more and more information on monsters the more that you fight them, and there’s even a class that takes advantage of this.
Like Dungeons and Dragons, Solasta: Crown of the Magister boils down to the dice rolls. Every encounter, attack, ability attempt, enemy discovery, and more are calculated by a combination of dice rolls and stats, which are crunched in real-time. You can see these dice rolls on the bottom of the screen, but if seeing the dice roll doesn’t tickle your fancy, you can turn it off for a more traditional (and mysterious) video game experience.