Review: Warparty11 Apr 2019 0
Released 28 Mar 2019
Ever since Age of Empires and Starcraft set the gold standard for RTS games, there has been an army of copycats, inspired-bys, and general mimics. Similar to how Quake and later Call of Duty switched up how the FPS genre worked; these games have become the defacto templates. The defaults. If you want to make an RTS and don’t want “fancy mechanics” you copy Age of Empires or Starcraft. Might be you’re even calling it a homage to the classics and that’s alright. Most of these homages are functional but the trouble is, they’re forgettable.
Warparty is a Warcraft/Age of Empires style RTS that mimics the core gameplay down to the letter. You start with a settlement and a handful of villagers which can be tasked with gathering food and crystals to build various buildings. Even the unit types are just the usual RTS fare with basic melee, basic ranged, mounted melee and ranged, healer, area of effect, and a big tanky boy at the end.
Anyone familiar with Warcraft will immediately understand Warparty’s UI. Beyond the inclusion of wild dinos that can be killed by soldiers to collect meat and the G’on ruins that can be held for a constant stream of power, Warparty feels almost identical. Sadly though, with all the Warcraft inspiration, the heroes are much simpler than in Warcraft III. With no levelling or items to collect, and only one or two abilities, they feel rather shallow. Which is a mixed bag as it means, hopefully, Warparty won’t be tempted to follow the lure of the MOBA.
The Wildlanders and the Necromas are the two “main” factions with the former playing like Greece from Age of Mythology and the latter also like Greece but with the ability to summon zombies. The Vithara have the more novel playstyle with their ability to tame the wild dinos for use as military units or to convert them to sprites in lieu of villagers. But even with the small differences between factions, they ultimately play the same as any other WC/AoE inspired game.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed Warparty. The post-magic stone age world is a cool setting, even more so that it has dinosaurs, because who doesn’t love dinosaurs? The animations are polished even if the pathfinding can be a bit wonky. The exaggerated cartoony physiques and colour palettes put me in mind of Warcraft in the best possible way while still keeping a strong visual distinction. Even the voice acting (outside of the Sage) is funny and has that nostalgic dumb humour. The Necromas Witch Doctor references the “ooh ee ooh ah ah ting tang, wallawalla bing bang” from the Witchdoctor song. A reference I never expected to hear again.
For a small studio, Warcave have managed to polish Warparty quite well except for some issues in the campaign. The campaign AI is heavily stacked against the player in that it doesn’t appear to need resources and will just spawn units as it sees fit. So much so that on the second level of the Necromas campaign, any time I took one of the shrines that I was tasked with taking, the AI would roll out a constant stream of soldiers. Even the immortal zombie unit, which was able to stomp around their base dealing massive area of effect damage, was unable to slow them. I spent an hour on level god-damn two before giving up and playing a different faction. Only to run into quite frequent falls through the world during which I could just see the silhouette of the Sage sitting at the bottom of the map repeating his lines in that god-awful strained stoner voice.
Which is a damn shame because that just left me with; survival, which I eventually threw in the towel at after an hour out of sheer boredom. Skirmish, which is the same as any WC/AoE flavoured RTS in that “don’t fix what isn’t broken” kind of design. And multiplayer which… well, is a mixed bag. Usually I spent more time waiting to find a game than I did in one. Other times I was loading in without even realising it. Most times though I was getting Warparty’s equivalent of the zerg rush by the 4 minute mark.
Like all its spiritual siblings, Warparty has the same strategies, the same tricks as the games on which its modelled itself. Spam villagers, get your resource production up quickly, send your hero to kill creeps, build a bunch of barracks, find your enemy, rush! Which bothers me because, as I’ve said on here before, I suck at APM strategy. I like it slow and tactical. I don’t want to have to memorise the keyboard bindings and play it like the keytar player from Dragonforce.
While writing this I did come across another game mode that I wasn’t aware of: King of the Hill. A specific map available through the custom game that has you fighting over a shrine at the centre of the map. Hold onto it until you reach the point limit and take home the prize. Just a shame that there’s only one map for it and no other game modes beyond deathmatch.
I want to like Warparty and I do enjoy it in the same way that I enjoy most others like it. As I said above, visually its attractive and I really like the fantasy dinosaur world. I love that the ankylosaur is getting some representation as it’s my favourite dinosaur and I haven’t really seen it since Jurassic Park: Warpath. But sadly, it’s like vanilla ice cream. It’s good but forgettable on its own and unfortunately that’s likely Warparty’s fate. With nothing to really set it apart from the crowd it will serve as a nice change for a while but like own-brand ice cream, it just leaves you craving the good stuff.