It’s surprising that there aren’t more RTS games on console but it does mean that when one does come along it’s certainly welcome.
8-Bit Armies has been available on Steam and mobile but now finally makes its debut on Xbox One and PS4 . It’s an obvious homage to the original Command & Conquer, meaning that it’s a fairly simple Realtime Strategy games where you need to balance resource gathering with building fortifications and sending your army off to complete whatever task the current level asks of you,
Rather than go for the gritty war look or set the game in some sci-fi far future, you may have guessed from the title that 8-bit Armies takes the pixel-art approach. It works surprisingly well, thanks to the great detailing which actually looks far less pixelated than other games, it’s an interesting mix that is perfect fo this game.
Typical of most RTS games, the aim here is to build refineries that send out harvesting trucks to gather resources. These can then be ploughed back in to building new buildings, vehicles or training troops. Power levels need to be adhered to, so power stations need to be built as your base expands and you’ll need to balance keeping the fort on your own base with sending enough troops out to the enemy to destroy them. Boxes are dotted around the play area to gather even more resources, often giving you more troops or money instantly, but this takes time and a bit of scouting around the map, all while the enemy is building up their own resources.
Groups of troops and vehicles can be assigned to one of three buttons and moved around accordingly, meaning that you can quickly assign a group to attack an enemy while leaving others to patrol and protect your base. Sometimes there are issues where groups get stuck in scenery, but this was rare during my time with the game.
For those new to the genre or who need a little help, there’s a good starting skill level that gives you a helping hand but takes away the bonus objectives that are available on the medium and above skill levels. While the initial objective is usually straight forward, the bonus objectives, each of which earns you a possible star out of the three available on each level, are trickier. This helps with longevity in an otherwise fairly short game.
The simple, fast gameplay is a great boon to the first hour or so with 8-bit Armies but it’s also the games weakness overall. The small number of levels (even though you get to play as both sides with their own set of levels) can be completed fairly quickly and only co-op play and multiplayer is there to bolster the game’s run time. It looks as though 8-Bit Hordes and 8-Bit Invaders, the two companion games which can provide mixed battles between their three armies and worlds, will be part of this package, so at least they will provide more content once released.
As an entry point into the RTS genre, 8-bit Armies is a good place to start and the action is frantic and enjoyable, but the lack of content so far does count against it.