Petroglyph’s new early access RTS Forged battalion launched on steam recently and after having a good couple of days of play time I think I can run down what the games is trying to do. It’s trying to mix a couple of genres together into the traditional RTS, traditional being along the lines of Age of empires and Command and conquer.
What we’ve got here is a RTS that is boasting how similar it is to RTS’ of generations past. There is no doubt that games like Age of empires shaped the genre as we know it today but trying to stand out in the current market is tricky. Forged battalion is trying to add that extra spin onto the RTS and hopes to ride that out. In a traditional RTS, you’ll choose a faction and then play that faction without much variation. Starcraft players have been used to this for years as the three primary factions haven’t changed much since release. Forged Battalion is taking that one step in a different direction by doing away with the factions but instead allowing for players to build a faction their way based off of the giant tech tree. Let me explain it like this, when you play an RPG, you build your character the way you want by choosing the armour they wear, the skills they use and the weapons they wield and then you get the feeling of ownership over that character as it’s unique to you, no matter how many other people in the world have done that the same way. It’s your character. Stretch that across a faction of an RTS then you’re looking at what forged battalion is in a nutshell.
From the early access version, you start off with a base set of units with a particular upgrade tree but the more you play that faction, the more research points you get to move up the tech tree and change your units in the way you want to. For example having aircraft that become tank killers because they have lasers or tanks that only shoot toxic waste at units to decimate the front line infantry. This system does allow you to make the faction you want to make. The flaw in this however is similar to other games that allow creation of unique assets that you use to try and win, someone will always have more than you and if you don’t invest the time to get everything you want then you will lag so far behind everyone else that there is no point in carrying on. The build I played made it very slow to get any upgrades and I really hope they lower the amount of time it takes to get at least early level upgrades so most people start on a level playing field.
The other thing that got to me is the pacing of the games that I played was way too slow for a game like this. RTS excel when they are able to have the upward trend of action compared to time. The longer the game the faster it gets but with this, even with the custom factions, the gameplay is very slow and clunky for what it’s trying to promote. The ideas behind the game are sound and are unique for sure however there needs to be a huge amount of balance that needs to take place to give the game a chance at a longer life. Games like starcraft 2 are accessible because everyone has access to the same units, the same upgrades from the start and the only difference is in the skill compared to this where the main difference is that players have the time invested on their side and can use that to create a hierarchy that not many people can get around. I think the game shows promise but it needs to do a lot to give itself the best possible chance.
This is a game to watch, if you’re curious about it and happen to like Real-Time Strategy games then give it a look on steam’s early access program. It’s got a good publisher behind it so I’m hoping they are able to learn a lot from the EA version and will go from there.