Old-school real time strategy seems to be making a comeback lately, what with Age of Empires: Definitive Edition and Slitherine’s Empires Apart both launching less than six months ago. The latest entry in the “new game inspired by old RTS” category is Warparty, launching into Early Access this month.
While the genre is nothing short of milked, developers Warcave and Crazy Monkey Studios choose to theme Warparty around a stylized novel version of the Stone Age. Cities and monks give way to settlements and tribal chiefs, while lions and horses make way for T-Rexes and sabertooths, creating a visually interesting world that is vastly more enticing than pitting Mongols against Aztecs in a vague history-based-but-not-really setting.
At the moment, the game only has two vastly different factions – the benevolent village led by swordswoman Maki, and the necromantic tribe controlled by the shaman Char. Each side has its own buildings, unit roster, and specialities, creating a superficial asymmetry that is mostly kept in check by identical underlying mechanics such as resources and population levels.
The heroes themselves have no special abilities and are little more than super-resilient units, but their team compositions are quite different. While Maki has a more standard theme, with houses, warriors, and tamed dinosaurs, Char has mausoleums, zombies, and harnessed spirits – each faction represents one side of nature, with Maki working alongside it and taming it, while Char tries to corrupt it and control it. It’s an interesting take on prehistory, putting humans and tribal magic side by side with dinosaurs.
The dinos themselves can not only be trained in stables, like the melee triceratops and the sabertooth-mounted archer, but also found in the wild protecting areas of interest. There are control points and crystals scattered throughout the map, and the chokepoint-heavy design fuels confrontation both with other players and wildlife.
At the moment, the game has a bit of a MOBA feel without heroes abilities, as it heavily favours actions per minutes over proper strategy – I got steamrolled by an Easy AI on my first match while trying to learn the game, as the title lacks any sort of tutorial. In less than 12 minutes, I was attacked by a huge force of lowly troops that were able to kill even my Tier 3 dinos in a couple of seconds. Balance seems typical of mindless rush-heavy games like Dawn of War III, with even late-game units dying way too quickly.
On the good side, audio and visual design are extremely good. Warparty feels very polished, with graphics, music, and sound effects way above anything usually found in Early Access. Units’ designs and animations make them lovely to look at, while the tribal soundtrack creates an enjoyable atmosphere during gameplay. Almost nothing in Warparty screams Early Access, and I’ve seen many a released AAA games that weren’t as polished as this.
I’m not a fan of swarmy RTS games, as more tactical and strategic endeavours are where my heart lies on – but If you like old-school RTS and is looking for more of that rush gameplay that Starcraft and Dawn of War III did, definitely give Warparty a chance.