My first real-time strategy game was Age of Mythology on the PC, followed shortly by Starcraft and then the Command & Conquer series. Needless to say, I was a fan, but as I transitioned over to console gaming, it became incredibly hard to find these titles on a PlayStation system.
Thanks to War Party, the PS4 has another RTS ready and willing to bring back those memories of classic strategy titles. Does this prehistoric title offer a great console RTS, or is it doomed to extinction? Let’s find out.
Stepping into The Past in More Ways Than One
War Party makes a strong first impression with its narrated cutscene that establishes the game’s world and lore. It’s a nice mixture of fantasy and science fiction, with talks of ancient artifacts and dinosaurs that roam the land.
The three races you can choose from also offer distinct flavors. There’s the tribal Wildlanders than can tame dinosaurs (which is as awesome as it sounds), the Vithara who are in touch with the nature of the game’s world, and the Necromas, which hail from the desert and summon the dead.
From a gameplay perspective, these three races don’t have a ton of differences, but their design and units do feel interesting when compared to other factions. The campaign itself offers three branches for each faction, but what’s interesting is how they play out simultaneously.
In one mission you may be assaulting another faction, and in that faction’s campaign you will be the one defending. The big picture approach to the story makes the world feel nice and cohesive, while also allowing the developer to reuse maps in a way that makes sense.
While I’m used to campaigns in RTS titles being separate or perhaps continuations of one another, this approach felt unique from a storytelling perspective. Unfortunately, the campaign is not without its flaws.
While it didn’t encounter some of the bugs other players have reported, I did notice pretty quickly that I couldn’t save during a campaign mission. Instead, I have to finish the entire mission in one sitting or start from scratch the next time I played.
I struggle to think of a specific reason why this would be the case, other than perhaps a design oversight. This hurt the pacing a lot for me, because I rarely felt the desire to finish an entire mission in one sitting, as many of them involve starting again from scratch after building up your base in the prior mission.
That being said, there’s a nice variety in the abilities and mission types across the campaigns. Gathering resources like crystals and food is easy enough, especially when you build farms that offer an unlimited source of food.
There’s a sense of satisfaction as you build up your base and amass an army. The implementation of radial menus on PS4 also makes it easy to access buildings, set rally points, and utilize your abilities.
Selecting units works well, but as always, it’s not quite as accurate as a mouse and keyboard. Even so, War Party borrows all the right mechanics from other console RTS titles to make the game easy to navigate.
Despite having difficulty settings, the intensity of mission can swing wildly, especially in the final missions of each campaign. Even on the lowest difficulty, War Party may put up a lot more of a fight than you expected. Casual players should keep this in mind before they dive in. This difficulty, combined with the lack of saving mid-mission can be a bad combination indeed.
Overall, War Party’s gameplay and controls check most of the boxes you would expect from an RTS. The unit types ranging between medics, melee, and ranged options are all there. Unique abilities for each faction add some spice, but the lack of mid-mission saves really hurts the campaign experience.
Survival, skirmish, and multiplayer modes are all here as well, but your enjoyment of them will depend on how you like the gameplay. In my opinion it all works well and plays fine for the most part, but it lacks a certain spark or unique element that would help it stand out from other options.
A Few Stone Age Flaws
War Party has a nice color palette and decent character designs, but the voice acting leaves a lot to be desired. Main characters sound pretty good, but side characters and units are much less believable, which makes it hard to get invested in the story and the world.
I noticed some odd graphics as well in specific maps. For example, in one of the early Wildlander missions, the ground in my base area was bland and blurry, as if the textures were not displaying properly. The area surrounding my base, however, had perfectly fine snow textures on the ground.
With the ability to save during missions and some polish on the graphics, War Party could be a really solid RTS. A more balanced difficulty and some bug fixes would also go a long way towards ensuring this capable RTS doesn’t fade into the folds of history.
Final Score: 7.5/10
A copy of War Party was provided to PS4 Experts for review purposes
Article by - Bradley Ramsey
Insert date - 4/3/19