There’s always been something intriguing about airships in games. The majestic feeling of soaring through the skies in an airship has long been a staple in many RPGs (most notably the Final Fantasy series and Skies of Arcadia), but it rarely has ventured far outside that genre for some reason, and never as a weapon of war. The team at Musegames looks to change all that, going for what I can only describe as a cross between Team Fortress 2 and an air combat sim. In short, airships + big explosions. Where do I sign up?
Guns of Icarus Online is the successor to the original Guns of Icarus, which was more of an on-rail shooter. The idea for the game came from player feedback wishing to pilot the ships and fight against other players, and indeed, from the love that the community at large has shown the world of Guns of Icarus. Funded by a combination of family, angel investors and Kickstarter devotees, GIO is truly a great indie success story.
In Guns of Icarus Online players choose from three classes: Captain, Engineer and Gunman. The Captain is responsible for deciding which ship and weapon loadout the crew of four players will utilize in the match. Each team can consist of up to 4 airships with crews of 4, totaling 32 players per match. The game’s built in voice chat has two channels, one for crew chat and a special captain chat channel for communication between airships, leading to a very authentic feel. Each class has three tools of their respective trades to equip but the other two classes can borrow one of these in order to multitask more effectively.
Once the match starts up, you are able to walk around your airship manning different stations depending on your role. You are not restricted to a particular station, as everyone on the ship can do everything including man the guns, fly or repair damages, but each class has specialized abilities for each of their roles. An example is the Gunner’s Incendiary Rounds or the Pilot’s Speed Boost while piloting. You then fly into combat with other airships engaging in dog fights, the pilot steering and the gunman and engineers manning the turrets. However, once your ship starts to take damage, you must split your attention between offense and repairing. A good captain will know when to run and give your crew time to repair, rather than just circling your opponent watching your ship get blown to bits.
Ships range from the diminutive Goldfish to the overbearing (but not able to turn worth a damn) Galleon. The ships differ in size, maneuverability and cannon positioning. For example, the Galleon has two front facing cannons, but the pilot’s nest is at the top of the ship, making it easy prey to ships coming from below, since panning your camera down will just show you that particular ship’s bottom, whereas other ships are able to see better at the exchange of firepower and so on.
The various weapon types in the game range from rocket launchers, harpoons, and machine guns to howitzer sniper rifles and other such long range weapons. The harpoon in particular was fun to use, tethering the airship to another and preventing maneuvering The one thing I was surprised at was the lack of boarding party combat, as in you cannot board other player’s ships, but due to the mechanics of the game it does make sense to some extent.
Currently, Guns of Icarus Online has five different maps, all varying in style and structure and showing off the game's very impressive visuals.
Still in development is the game’s Adventure Mode, which is the game’s MMO-like map, with true ship and character progression that is carried over between Player vs Environment matches. Players will be able to team up with other crews to take on larger enemy ships as well as AI controlled standard sized ships. While this mode does not have a persistent world, the team has discussed implementing towns where players can meet up and walk around.
Guns of Icarus Online has a few weeks left of intensive beta testing but is well on its way to making its August release. So far, things are shaping up nicely. Be sure to keep it locked here to GameZone for new details as the game’s release draws near. You can check out their website to learn more about the game's extensive lore and the other systems not discussed here. The game will cost $20 on Steam. Be sure to check out our gameplay footage from the beta!