The PC is no stranger to real-time strategy games with isometric camera angles, parties of robed characters, fantastical enemies, and sorcery. We've seen these elements before, and more often than not, they're the usual tropes of computer RTS games. Keeping that in mind, it should be obvious that whenever a new RTS comes around, the developers should be sure to provide some novel mechanics, a compelling world, an interesting plot, or all three of those attributes.
Confrontation is an upcoming RTS game from developer Cyanide that features plenty of RPG elements. The game is based on the miniature wargame of the same name. Due to the fantasy-themed nature of many tabletop games, Confrontation is an ideal candidate as far as RTS games go, and so far, it has definitely shown a great deal of potential.
Confrontation takes place during Rag'narok (which is also a variation of the tabletop game), a fierce battle in the land of Aarklash where different factions battle amongst one another. It's the typical fantasy RTS setup, and while it isn't exactly deep, it gets the job done in terms of setting up a plot to act as a backdrop for the reasons behind why these factions are warring. It's effective, and because these games are more about the gameplay experience, it's a solid story device.
The initial moments I spent with Confrontation featured basic instructions on how to play the game. It was all easy to grasp RTS knowledge such as planning attacks, controlling units, and making the most out of every battle. Personally, I could have done with less text, because simple instructions that could have been given in a sentence or two were dragged out for entire paragraphs. This is really just a gripe, but a gripe I feel is worth mentioning, especially for RTS aficionados who already know the ins and outs of these types of games.
I started out in a desert-like region. Enemies were sparse, and the area did a good job of easing me into the experience. Battles began simple enough, but as the game progressed, enemies became stronger and smarter, and they were no longer in small groups. The further into the desert my party traveled, the bigger the groups of enemies became. It was never overwhelming, but the increase in difficulty was noticeable, and it was most certainly welcome.
My party grew from a lone character to four combatants, each with their own special abilities and perks. Players will be able to organize their characters in any order they wish, so I made sure to put my two strongest men at the forefront. While this meant one of them would probably get hit by enemies' long-range attacks pretty quickly into battle, it ensured that my weaker characters wouldn't suffer much damage right away. And because my stronger characters had better armor and effective close range weapons, it only made sense putting them at the front.
The second area was a science lab of sorts that featured even more enemies. While the desert area was host to sporadic battles, this stage in the game amped things up considerably, placing enemies in more areas, and putting them in larger groups. This is where long-range attacks came into good use. I constantly resorted to using my two main units for close quarters combat, while my weaker characters fought from a distance, firing pistol rounds and magic. Those two were also reserved for healing--if one of the other two units fell in battle, I made sure to send in one of my long-range characters to bandage him up.
If all of this sounds like standard RTS fare, that's probably because it is. During my time with Confrontation, I didn't feel that the game was exactly revolutionary or evolutionary for its genre, but it did provide a compelling setting with enjoyable gameplay mechanics that are sure to appeal to fans of games like Baldur's Gate, Diablo, and even StarCraft. RPG elements are sprinkled throughout, and the experience points you earn from defeating enemies can be used to upgrade your characters' stats, which will definitely be useful in later areas as enemies get stronger and attempt to overwhelm you in numbers.
I did notice a bit of backtracking during the science lab area. It was never lengthy backtracking, but I was forced to return to areas I had just visited to hit switches that opened up new paths. This was never too problematic, but it is worth noting, especially since RTS games are most successful when they focus more on straightforward combat. I also noticed that my characters got stuck on walls and doorways quite often. There were moments when my two brute characters were reaching the destination I had set while my long-range units stayed behind trying to walk through walls and ultimately giving up and just standing there. It goes without saying that something like this shouldn't be happening, and hopefully the developers will iron out the wrinkles prior to launch, or at the very least with a post-launch patch.
Confrontation is due out for PC on April 5. The game, which you'll be able to download on Steam, will feature a fully realized single-player campaign and online multiplayer that should keep players engaged long after they've battled through the story. I really liked what I played of Confrontation. Yes, there were a few hitches, and no, the game isn't exactly revolutionary. But with that said, there's still a solid RTS title here that fans of the genre can definitely look forward to. I consider myself a fairly casual RTS player, but I can honestly say I was left wanting to see more of Confrontation. If you dig playing strategy games on your PC, keep an eye out for Confrontation, because this one's likely to be a lot of fun come launch.