Warshift Preview | MOUSE n JOYPAD

Warshift Preview




If there’s one feature I’m sure many RTS gamers have always wanted in their favourite games, then it’s the ability to take control over a single unit mid-combat to watch the chaos unfold in real-time. Imagine playing something like Supreme Commander from the perspective of a low-tier mech. Practical? Hell no. Awesome? Absolutely. Mind you, this has been done numerous times already, in one way or another, but nowadays an FPS/RPG hybrid is an almost wholly forgotten concept. Cyril Megem, the developer of Warshift, presumably felt this draft too, as he soon begun his development of the game in question. Indeed, Warshift is under development by a single person, which is kind of amazing.


No, that’s not an Astartes at all, no sir..

Warshift is a hybrid of multiple genres. The game features elements of RPGs, shooters and, of course – real-time strategy, all huddled together to create a unique and intense experience like no other. The beginning is simple enough – you select a map, define the parameters of this particular upcoming skirmish you’re setting up, choose your faction and, here comes the interesting part, select your own in-game avatar. While there may not be a particular abundance of variety in Warshift’s selection of units just yet, there are three command units available for the human military forces and two for the aliens. Now, the selection of commanders at one’s disposal is affected primarily by the type of skirmish you’re about to play. Warshift supports both orbital and ground assault, so one mission you may be taking down the painfully reddish extraterrestrials in space while in the other you may be ramming your APC down the insurgents’ throats. As limited as the game may be in content right now, there’s a fascinating number of different situations one can find oneself in while playing Warshift.

One thing I appreciate the most about Warshift is just how vastly different each avatar is. The transforming mech employed by humans will no doubt be the most used commander by far, but that doesn’t mean the rest isn’t just as interesting or more. The APC I mentioned earlier is my personal favourite, due to its speed and resilience. It also carries some really destructive weaponry that easily takes care of the usual enemy mooks. The cyborg commando is armed with a laser katana and a bow, making her efficient both at close and long range. She is also the most agile human avatar, and has an extremely useful jetpack at her disposal that makes shifting from one theater of war to another a breeze. On the aliens’ side I only spent a respectable amount of time with the dinosaur-like behemoth, but he’s perhaps the most fun I’ve had in this game all in all. His powers include a flamethrower and devastating claw attacks. Even though this is a slow, lumbering giant most of the time, honking down SHIFT makes the monster sprint forward at high speeds, even though this also comes with a high energy cost.


Playing in first-person mode feels great.

About the energy – as one would expect the avatar units have to be heavily gimped in some regard compared to the usual AI-controlled mobs for the game not to be too easy. This is accomplished through the energy system, which works kind of like Stamina in, say, the TES series. With the only difference being that, should you not stop whatever you are doing as soon as your energy runs out, so as to let the reactor recharge, your avatar will explode. This, combined with the weapon reloads and cooldowns limits a player’s ability to control the battlefield through his/her avatar alone, which is where the RTS mode kicks in. By pressing TAB, you switch from one mode of play to another seamlessly, and this works without a hitch for the most part. I won’t be getting into the balancing issues at this point but I am going to say that the game is perfectly playable and enjoyable both in single player and multiplayer even at this stage of development. Once you’re in RTS mode you can control all of your troops and buildings as is usual for the genre. Maintaining control is not difficult at all with the game’s streamlined gameplay systems, and again, the only thing I’d like more of is the unit variety and number. The aliens also need at least one more avatar also. They’re also completely absent in space mode, with the humans alone being playable there.

As far as visuals go, I’m seriously impressed with the level of graphical fidelity present in Warshift. The textures are of astonishing quality and the visual models all look extremely polished and well-crafted. The atmosphere that is present while playing in first person reminds me personally of the introductory video of Dark Crusade. Especially once the fighting really gets going and all kinds of units clash with one another in close quarters combat. As an added bonus, each upgrade you can buy for your combat avatar is actually visible on the model itself. Really, the amount of attention given to details amazes me to no end. Not to mention the giant Pterodactyls present on some maps. That stuff is brilliant. Some unit animations are a tad stiff, I’ll admit, but this rarely bothered me while playing.

Warshift is great already, but there are certain problems that need to be looked at before the game would be ready for its prime. Balancing, for one, needs to be given a once-over. New units have to be added and avatar controls still feel a tiny bit too sluggish for proper enjoyment. For an Early Access title, however, Warshift already feels more finished than most of its contemporaries are.