Cossacks 3 is a game we have come to love and respect, not only because of the fact that RTS games are becoming rare these days, but also because GSC has been giving the new DLCs for free for buyers of the Deluxe Edition.
Scotland has many new unique units, buildings and game mechanics. They can build 2 barracks, one each for the highlanders and lowlanders. Scottish peasants cannot be captured but you can still get them by capturing the town center or occupied mines.
The biggest drawback is that Scotland is stuck in the 17th century, i.e., you cannot advance to the 18th century or gain from its units or buildings. Covenant pikemen are unarmored which means they are vulnerable to ranged attacks, but they have higher attacks, better upgrades and more health than regular pikes. Scottish unique officers have high health too. Covenant musketeers have more health, and can also shoot further than the average muskets.
Sword clansmen are the basic infantry armed with a broadsword and shield. They move faster and have the highest health among foot soldiers, and can be upgraded with extremely strong attacks. But they cannot stand toe to toe against ranged attacks against 18th century weapons. Bow clansman have high health and carry long ranged bows, which can be used to set alight buildings, which is crucial as the Scots have no grenadiers. Lancers are unarmored cavalry units with pikes. They have a lot of health but their damage is not good. The light cavalry Raiders make up for this with their broadsword which does high damage, and they have high health. The only con is that they take a while to build.
The Scottish campaign will see the players fighting as Gaelic warriors in the battle of Marston Moor to the famous Jacobite rising. There is a traditional Scottish tune which plays in the background to add for a more immersive experience. The new mini-expansion also adds an AI which will serve as an assistant to the player, and suggest what buildings to build, and also automatically manage idle workers, etc.
Cossacks 3 Guardians of the Highlands is available for Rs 359 from Steam ($7.99)
GSC promised free DLCs, but Guardians of the Highlands is paid. Why?
While we like GSC for making brilliant games such as Cossacks and of course S.T.A.L.K.E.R. We are in a neutral stance towards the new "mini-expansion" concept.
When questioned by a user, about why this is a paid DLC, the reply from GSC's Bass_Control, explained as follows:
Deluxe Edition includes 4 add-ons. 2 have already been released, and 2 more will appear very soon: one in May, and one in August. This mini add-on is a separate add-on.
Now, there has been a lot of user backlash for this new paid content. Some of it is correct, and we stand by them. But we should explain our neutral stance too.
In our mini review of Cossacks 3 (for which we actually bought the Deluxe Edition), you can clearly see what GSC originally promised:
"As a free DLC all the players will receive 8 additional playable nations with the unique music main themes. 6 single player campaigns". This is also mentioned on the cossacks3 forums.
What everyone (including myself) assumed was the Deluxe Edition will include every aspect of the game till the final content is released, like a Game of the Year Edition does. That is why people shell out money for the extra content, not to see paid additions which you are not going to get. Also, the Deluxe Edition page now reads 12 playable nations and 5 single player campaigns. We are not sure how it dropped from 6 to 5. Perhaps the new Scotland campaign was originally designed to be free?
According to the developer (referenced above), there will be two new DLCs, which will be released for free this year.
And we have seen from the two DLCs released so far, Rise to Glory and Days of Brilliance, have added 4 new nations (Bavaria, Saxony, Denmark, and Netherlands) and 3 new campaigns (Prussian, Swedish and Polish). We still need to get 4 more nations and 2 more campaigns, for which we can expect 2 nations and 1 campaign per DLC. So, yeah that seems fair enough.
Now, is Scotland a free playable nations (non-campaign gameplay) for Deluxe edition owners?
Ferox, one of the developers, responded to this question on the Steam forums by saying,
No, it's exclusive to the mini-expansion owners.
Where we feel GSC has made mistakes
Timing gone wrong. Promising free DLCs for Deluxe Edition buyers, and releasing a paid mini-expansion before fulfilling that promise is the biggest mistake. Nobody would have questioned GSC if they had released this expansion, a year or two after releasing all the 4 free DLCs. But we admit that, the Deluxe Edition page promising new playable nations, and the fact that you cannot play as Scotland, unless you buy the new mini-expansion, is unfair.
Paid add-on bonus?.
This is what confuses us the most. The mini-expansion adds an AI Helper, which is exclusive to those who have the new expansion. This sounds like it will make the AI assisted player vs regular player games, a bit unfair perhaps, as in pay to win, which is what worries us. This depends on whether this AI will work in multiplayer, of course.
Is Cossacks 3 Guardians of the Highlands worth buying?
Cossacks 3 Guardians of the Highlands is the most expensive of the contents released yet. The new mini-expansion only adds just 1 nation and 1 new campaign, so maybe we are not missing out on much. There are no discounts for existing owners of the base game/Deluxe edition either.
Unless you really want to play as the Scots right away, I think there is no need to rush into buying it. My recommendation is to wait for a sale.