Early Access arrival They Are Billions Steam page describes the game with tags like ‘survival’, ‘strategy’ and ‘base building’ and while these are certainly aspects of the gameplay my first impressions of it remind me more of a mix between RTS (real time strategy) and tower defence. As a long time RTS fan the initial moments feel very familiar. Locating resources, creating basic buildings, managing population and setting up basic defences. By mid game you are certainly base building with solid walls, advanced defences and armies but the lead up to that is more a hodgepodge of trying to become efficient and defending the small hordes that attack you, often with many automated towers.
In fact there’s a lot of automation going on and it seems to me developers Numatian Games are trying to focus the player more on the combat and less on the minor details of being the best possible base you can. For example, when a you place a building it is auto-built (as long as you have available population) and if placed next to a resource that resource is auto-collected. Some resources are collected over time and some are auto-generated as soon as you place a specific building. Towers also auto-attack enemies within their available range. This isn’t a bad thing though as on higher difficulties things can become quite hectic and this allows you to focus on enemy encounters and how best to tighten up your defences before the next wave hits.
There’s no tutorial in They Are Billions as of yet so I found enjoyment in my initial game discovering how everything worked and pieced together with each other. During my second playthrough I was disappointed to notice that I had completely explored the depth of the games base building and unit creation the first time around. It seems that at this stage of Early Access there isn’t a whole lot of depth to the game, but maybe that’s just my mind subconsciously comparing to other RTS games as the gameplay feels quite similar at times. There are no multiple development trees, no factions with alternate technology and no unique units. Everything felt the same from one game to the next apart from the difficulty which I increased after my first game. Explore the map, collect resources, expand, defend, attack, repeat. I think They Are Billions would really benefit from a bit of tactical depth, but who knows what is to be added in the future of this games Early Access phase.
I feel like I’m being unfairly critical as They Are Billions is a good game at heart. If you are used to the RTS genre then getting into this game will be fairly straightforward. You start with a fairly small area of available land on which to build, but can expand this area over time. Expanding too far to fast can leave you open to attack, but not expanding quick enough can leave you lacking on resources and stunt your recovery in between defending waves of zombie hordes. Building placement is key to success mostly because there is not a lot of time to recover on the hardest difficulties and having to rebuild and use resources which should be spend on units will most likely mean you get overwhelmed the next time around. This can be somewhat averted by using some smart tactics like funnelling the undead waves down a walled off corridor lined with turrets.
As this is essentially a game about managing units and resources it seems to be missing key management fine tuning like selecting idol units or keyboard shortcuts to make things easier. Of course you can pause the game to sort these things out too. Units also get stuck on each other quite easily which is frustrating at times. I get an overall good feeling about They Are Billions and enjoyed my time with the game but as this is early in EA there is still much that can be improved upon at least in my mind.
ARK: Survival Of The Fittest – Early Access First Impressions
I’m sure many of you have already played ARK: Survival Evolved the largely popular open world survival game with dinosaurs taming abilities. Well either way you’re in for a treat with ARK: Survival of the Fittest as it includes almost everything from the main game but in a much shorter more confined time frame. If there’s one thing that I don’t like about these new wave of survival games, it’s that it always seems to take forever to establish yourself on a server and get to the good part of the game where you’re defensible and not being picked on by every player you come across. ARK: SotF immediately blows that out the water with game tending to last between 45 minutes to 2 hours, yet still contain most of the good parts of these longer survival games.
If you have ever seen the film Battle Royale (or The Hunger Games) you will have a good idea of what to expect here. Every player essentially starts with nothing, but can craft weapons and armour and tame dinosaurs just like in the main ARK game. It’s then a battle between all the players on the server to take each other out until there is only one left (or one team left, depending on the game type). The video below should give you a better idea of what to expect.
ARK: Survival of the Fittest is free-to-play and has only just made it’s way to Early Access on Steam a few days ago so expect there to be plenty of updates and changes before the game is fully released.
Deliver Us The Moon is fresh out of a successful Kickstarter funding campaign and after having seen a trailer or two I decided this sci-fi survival/adventure game was due a deeper look. Upon first booting up the game I noticed that for a small indie team based out of Holland, developers Keoken Interactive have done a brilliant job with the visuals. Sure there are the odd optimisation needed here or there but for a demo this rates up there with the standard of many AAA demo’s I have played in the past. Solid mechanically, responsive and easy to control, not glitchy, interesting level design and probably the stand out thing for me in this demo is the lack of hand holding. There are a few pointers here and there but in most cases it’s up to you to figure out how to use equipment and decide what direction you should be heading in.
The demo is a short one lasting about 15-25 minutes and you can find my gameplay/commentary of the demo below.
The Kickstarter campaign might well be over but Deliver Us The Moon is still available to back on the official website and the first episode (of five) is due for release August 2016.
The Evil Within Gets New Trailer At Tokyo Game Show
Horror games. You either love them, or you hate them. Me, personally I love them. That intense feeling you get that at any moment something… anything could happen, it really makes my arms tingle with adrenaline. Undoubtedly I will jump out my seat at any slight sign of movement, any noise, or even at my own shadow, but that’s what makes horror games fun. The Evil Within looks like a horror game that I would enjoy a lot.
Here’s a new trailer for The Evil Within, fresh from The Tokyo Game Show.
The Last of Usmay be a good game. Many have declared it the greatest game ever, others have commented on its setting, its superb voice acting and the brutality that drives the plot ever onwards. And, as is becoming a frequent occurrence these days, I have an opinion on it. This is not a review however, I have not finished the game and I quite possibly never will. But I want to at least throw my grain of salt onto the scales of greatness and have my voice counted, even though it’s clearly attempting to swim against the current…