Early Access Preview: Win That War!31 May 2017 0
One of the stranger recent little trends is the renewed interest in Total Annihilation/Supreme Commander-type games, which are way better than MOBAs (looking at you, Dawn of War III). Planetary Annihilation and Ashes of the Singularity have been the big names in the genre of “industrial warfare TO THE EXTREME”, and Win That War! wants to join them by bringing a multiplayer galactic campaign to the table.
Space is the final business frontier! And it looks just like it was imagined back in the days of streamline modern, with raygun gothic space rockets and robot tanks that would not appear out of place in Fallout. Three corporations -- Atlas, Bloom and Nasca (blue, red and green respectively) -- are at war for the mineral wealth of the galaxy. The Galactic Council limits the extent of the conflict, though this is no War of Assassins. All the gear is provided by Robocorp, and is identical so far, so this war is going to be a very close run thing.
Someday, at least. In this stage of preview, there aren't many players online, so it's highly unlikely to run into active opposition, and I only met an ally once. Currently, the galactic campaign is separated into three systems – America, Europe and Asia – each of which have a single planet to fight over, The planets are separated into many small regions – each faction can have up to three of their players fighting for it. A region that is surrounded by friendly lands from all sides is locked down and safe from attack. However, the planets have so much free space that the territories of corporations spread relatively undisturbed. The goal is to have the most territory under control by the end of campaign season on a planet, but that doesn't seem like such a seriously contested goal at this point.
One other thing that discourages attack is the AI. Each player has a limited pool (two to begin with) of deployable forces – more like immobile HQs than SupCom giant engineer-killer bots. When you land on a territory and develop your base infrastructure, you can, at any time, simply leave the area under AI control or take your forces to start anew somewhere else, with a monetary reward that depends on your resource extraction capacity. If you leave the base be, the AI will use the forces and buildings you left to defend the area from any invaders.
So when you touch down in a contested area, it's a race against the clock to produce enough defenses to ward off the AI that will be coming at you with all the resources of a maximally established (in that the game doesn't even allow placement of more buildings) base. And those waves of completely expendable units will wear you down sooner than later. So that will have to be taken care of before the release, because currently there's no way to bring with you more than ten units.
And that's on a maximally upgraded strike force! Each strike force under your command has to be upgraded and unlocked individually. So if you spend in-game money (generated daily through territory possession, and also through the grind of establishing bases and then pulling out) to unlock machine gun turrets for one force, it won't just become available to the others. You have to unlock slots for the units you'll start the battle with (choosing all engineers is the only answer), and unit types will have upgrades one day, too.
However, there's not much in the variety between units and all the coporations play and look (colors aside) totally the same. You have your unarmed scouts, your super light fast buggies, your tanks, anti-air, guided missile artillery... and it will take you some time to unlock the ability to build the advanced versions of them. There are also two planes to choose from, a fighter and a bomber.
While the creators promise a lot of improvements down the road – the quit game screen says as much, even promising new units – without real differentiation between factions that exists in the likes of Supreme Commander, the game will remain extremely tedious, especially where the economical base expansion is concerned. Once you established one base, you established them all, and it's just throwing half an hour of your life down the drain. If people complained about old RTS campaigns always starting with the need to establish the base, well, now you have and endless campaign of just that. Win That War! tries to spice things up with “quests” in the vein of “build 20 engineers,” but it's an empty attempt.
Technically, the game neither looks, nor sounds impressive. The raygun gothic art is cool, but that is not enough. Plus, you can discover interesting technical quirks by taking a deeper look into the game. Bored of the base building process and having nothing to do until the engineers finish the queued tasks, I started making my units attack one another and eventually discovered that Sentinel (the super-turret equipped HQ crawler) won't fire through other buildings in a bizarre observation of true line of sight. This means that building factories or even AA towers between the Sentinel and the enemy will decrease the efficiency of your defenses.
So even bearing in mind that the game is early in development and the creators have time build up on this foundation, I have some doubts about Win That War! turning out to be a worthwhile game. It doesn't offer anything over Planetary Annihilation and doesn't show anything new, unlike Ashes of Singularity. But only time will tell.
Win That War! launched on Steam's Early Access Program on April 7th, 2017. At the time of writing, the EA period is due to last 4 - 6 months.