War Selection – An Early Access Review
In the beginning, the universe was created.
War Selection, by developer Glyph Worlds, is a new take on an old medium of videogame. It’s an old school RTS with a new enough twist that it got me wanting to play more of it already. If you, the reader, ever played such classics as Age Of Empires 1 to 3, Empires: Dawn of the Modern World or Empire Earth, then you will enjoy this new game.
Just like a few of the previously mentioned, this game starts in the stone age, you get given a random plot of land, an altar and some workers. Pretty standard for an RTS game, especially as you have to collect resources from nearby, and of course with those resources you build buildings and units in order to grow and expand.
Establishment, and expansion.
Once a foothold has been achieved, the next thing is to go find another opponent and quite frankly, wreck their shit. However, this is where the first of War Selection’s USP’s come into play. As what was available in this beta mode wasn’t a setup screen. There was no choice in map type. What nation to play as nor even which player colour to be. You simply press play, stare at a loading screen and then you’re going, with a random colour assigned to you.
Exploring and expansion revealed a couple of things pretty quickly. One, the maps, are huge. Bigger than any RTS I’ve ever played before, and with a huge map something else was made apparent. The game never told you how many opponents there were, so very quickly another nation was found, and then destroyed. Glory to, whoever the hell we are as the red team! Yay! Another thing that was promising, and sparked that nostalgia of RTS games of old, was the hostile wildlife I came across while exploring, from alligators to wild boars to tigers and even elephants and mammoths. All of which were territorial and took swipes at my troops when they walked past.
You may be wondering, if there’s no setup screen, then how can each opponent be any different from each other? This is where this games major USP comes into play and is something quite original coming from past gaming experiences. Instead of, as previously mentioned, the player choosing a nation to play as in a setup screen, the player picks at first a continent, so from Stone Age to Iron Age, at the time there was only a choice between Europe or Asia, however I’m led to believe there will be Native American and African options as well. From the Iron Age to the Middle Ages, you diversify again; if for example Europe is picked, you then have a choice of East or West Europe, then from there the next choices were specific nations, so for example east Asia had the choices of India, Japan, Korea and China. Eastern Europe then became a decision between Poland, Ukraine, Russia and Germany.
This means every time a new game is started, you can be someone very different and your neighbours, those that survive, will also be different every time. Sadly however, in early access this was where the choices stopped for me at least, as all the nation options were greyed out and my only choice was “Abstract Nation”, which also propelled me into the Industrial Revolution. I can only hope that there will be a Renaissance and an Imperial Age to go through first before hitting the more modern eras. But with the Industrial Revolution comes new toys to play with. The previously built barracks and stables both just became barracks. Now with the option to build a factory, from which tanks, armoured cars and howitzers roll out from. Now you shall fear the abstract Eastern European red nation!
This is fun! But where’s the rest of it?
The version I got to play with was a beta version, in early access. This was made very clear when looking through the main menu, where several of the options were not accessible and had a note attached saying “under development” still. This gives me hope, that what was, to me, missing from this game will show up in the full release version. Such as a renaissance and imperial age. The industrial age and later shipyards and boats. (It didn’t feel right having tanks on land, but sailing ships on the sea still). Even down to different tank and equipment models based upon which nation is being played as, ergo, I’d like to see a Russian tank look different to a UK one, a Japanese cavalry unit different to a French one etc. Also some streamlining mechanics, there is currently, a select all button for all land units and all sea units. It would be very nice if this could be expanded upon, to the level of for example: “Select all infantry units”, “Select all cavalry units”, “Select all artillery units”.
Wishlist aside, going back to what was there for me to get my hands on, there were two modes in single-player that were available. Sandbox, and Survival. Both of these game modes started the same way, however, sandbox was far more of a ‘no challenge, do as you like’ mode with a button to gain enough resources to do as you please. In sandbox the AI opponents do very little. Their workers follow their automatic commands to gather resources, but nothing is built, nothing is made, so it is so easy to remove them from the map. This naturally, can get a little dull but is a good mode to learn the game in.
On to Survival… even on its easiest mode, I found survival to be near impossible. The AI comes at you with a sizable enough force in the very beginning Stone Age before I’d even gained a foothold. The best I did was four houses, two guard towers and ten warriors before the waves of enemies hit me, needless to say, I didn’t survive the survival. I’m sure some balancing will take place to provide a survivable yet meaty challenge.
War Selection – I Choose You!
This game has managed to fill a void I didn’t know existed. But not having that AOE style RTS in my life has no become very apparent, and while yes I could go and get the remastered version on steam, or look for the other games on GOG, War Selection I think will be my new go to, as it is new, and does bring new ideas to the table. Add on to the fact the fantastic little details in the game, from the expansive list of upgrades (Although again, these were missing in the industrial revolution era), to other details such as you’re ranged units can miss their target, and friendly fire is a thing. I saw my siege ship, kill one of my galleys due to a misplaced catapult boulder.
Assuming content is added by the time release date rolls around, and it proves to be as immersive, big and detailed as it looks like it’s going to be, I’m going to enjoy this game a lot, seeing what the campaign modes are, what content will be in them. Seeing what skirmish mode is like, and how that balances between sandbox and survival. Learning if and what each nation does differently compared to others (Hopefully it is more than just slightly different aesthetics on what would otherwise be the same buildings and units from each other). Exploring potential different map types, and what the other ages will add into the game, including atomic and modern eras, and even how far will it go? Empire Earth was the big boy when it came to that, starting from prehistoric era all the way up to sci-fi and future eras, so cavemen with clubs and giant mechs in the same army if you really wanted. Will War Selection manage to combine all these elements of old RTS games, add in its new features for a full gaming experience? I certainly hope so. The intention definitely feels like its there for it, and this excites me to see what I can do with this game once it’s fully out.