Now you can choose from two difficulty levels in the campaign! Hard mode is the same old evil Konkr AI you know and love to hate, while the new Normal mode makes your rivals quite a bit less ruthless and backstabby. You will also find some brand new tutorial levels at the start of the campaign!

Continue reading here for more details including how this applies to Conquest mode.

The Normal difficulty and Conquest mode

The maps in conquest mode now have four instead of three difficulty levels:

  • Casual - same as before, except now it also uses the “Normal” rival difficulty.
  • Normal (new) - same as “Challenging”, except it uses the “Normal” rival difficulty
  • Challenging - unchanged
  • Unfair - unchanged

So what exactly is the difference between Normal and Hard?

I may tweak this more based on feedback, but for now the Normal mode differs from the Hard mode in just two ways:

  1. Rivals are much less likely to go for elaborate attack moves against you (sending a train of units half across the map to snipe your towns etc.).
  2. Rivals will not conspire against you just because you’ve grown too large.

Especially the second point is a big change, as it makes allies more reliable and everyone much less envious of your succesful expansion.

I think this might be all that is needed for a less stressful but still somewhat challenging experience. Even though this won’t be a mode for the hardcore strategists, I like how it makes picking who to fight and who to avoid pissing off even more important, as the utility of having good relations with rival factions increases.

Winning a map on Normal difficulty will give you a new silver trophy, which is technically more shiny than gold!

We’ll see how this new mode turns out in practice! I’ll be monitoring the gameplay statistics and feedback as closely as ever.

New tutorial levels

You may also notice that the first three campaign levels were redesigned and enriched with a helpful tutorial advisor, and even sprinkled with a little bit of story!

You also get introduced to the first distinct AI ruler character - Godfrey the Goose, your intellectually challenged tutorial nemesis!

Regarding the User Interface for selecting difficulty

The integration of the difficulty level selection with both the campaign and the conquest UI is admittedly a bit messy.

My plan was originally to add the difficulty selection only as part of the next big content and UI overhaul, since it really doesn’t fit that well into the current UI design. But since that overhaul will still take weeks if not months to finish, I decided to just add it now even if it may feel a little awkward. And in the end it is less problematic than I expected!

Coming up next

I have a few more items on my “new player experience” to-do list:

  • Based on early feedback it seems like one more tutorial level between #2 and #3 would be helpful. Something half-way between the completely straightforward first two levels and the large and challenging third one.
  • It’s time to upgrade and expand the “How to play” section, which I didn’t touch in probably more than a year!

After that we’ll see, I might go all in on the UI and content overhaul implementation, or take care of some other smaller issues first.