Important note: This game is still well into it’s development cycle and the Beta I played had some bugs to address and gameplay features mentioned here could be subject to change.
Between the 15th and 17th of May I was lucky enough to receive a key, including myself in the Act of Aggression VIP Beta. (AoA for further reference) Developed by Eugen Systems, best known for their work on the real time strategy game, Wargame. AoA aims to hark back to the glory days of the base building RTS games similar to the previous title, Act of War, and the more widely known, Command & Conquer.
In the full game there will be 3 factions. The US army, A United Nations force known as the Chimera and the mysterious criminals known as the Cartel. Each has it’s own strengths and weaknesses, the usual jazz. However in the VIP Beta we only got access to the US Army and the multiplayer mode.
Right so into the gameplay itself. From the time I got to play in multiplayer mode a lot of promise was evident but also areas that fall somewhere between personal gripes and potentially poor gameplay mechanics. We’ll look at those first.
First up, the user interface, in particular when building bases.The games base building UI has a “DEFCON system”. DEFCON 3 being buildings like Barracks and light factories while DEFCON 1 has more heavier factories and nuclear silos. Explained that way it seems easy and I do have to take into account that it is early stages, but at first glance it can be slightly confusing to new players why buildings that are listed in a simple “3” icon go first, since naturally you would think of the number one coming first.
Secondly the map, dots representing your units and resources are far too small. Almost to the point where a white dot supposed to be a group of tanks looks like a pixel. This combined with my third grip, adds to the small bit of frustration.
Thirdly, the level of zoom is far too minimal. This could be more of a personal issue from coming of the back of 3 years of Eugen Systems last series, Wargame, but it feels almost claustrophobic. Combined with the map issues, moving between multiple groups of units and your bases can be a chore.
Again though, it’s early days and this could all change. So onto the good areas.
Pacing, overall the games pace is nicely done. Early on you’ll have time to build up your factories and refineries. So far I have found that any competent player should have time to build up enough units as not to get ROFLstomped early on, though it can happen if you’re not careful.
Unit selection and combat. Obviously since we’ve only seen the US Army so far I can’t speak overall but going by what I’ve read the factions will have comparative units, possibly with different strengths etc. But the unit selection for vehicles is straightforward enough and their damage to each other is again straightforward. Heavy tank beats light tank, attack helicopter beats heavy tank, mobile AA beats attack helicopter, and so on. It’s easy to understand and helps with the pacing of the game.
Lastly, the in game music and sounds fit very nicely. The music is mainly rock-esque guitar riffs and drums and while units do say some cheesy dialogue when you select them, given the style of the game is fits well. The music might be a more personal aspect but good background noise is always a plus.
To conclude. Since the game is in it’s early stages still, I won’t knock it for any of the bugs that came up during my time playing it. However ,AoA does have some areas the developers could address before launch, while some of them you could potentially live with or might not bug you at all, it’s something worth noting. Having said all that. AoA does have a lot of potential to be a very good and solid RTS game.
If you’re a fan of Act of War, Command & Conquer or any other similar games. Act of Aggression is certainly one to keep a close eye on. As of writing there’s no release date however it should be expected to drop sometime this summer.