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GameWorld Tech has developed one of the most original games I’ve played in a very long time and Reality Gap has been hard at work in promoting BattleSwarm to a wide audience of gamers. The company recently updated the game with a series of new features, items, weapons and playing styles to increase both the intensity and the balance of a genre that doesn't actually exist until now: MMOFPS vs MMORTS. And it's a game for the ages.
The concept of BattleSwarm fits into a category all its own. Imagine taking the hulking, weighted soldiers from Gears of Wear and then tossing them into say…StarCraft II. Now the real gimmick is that players on both sides are playing all the characters. So you have RTS fanatics managing all the strategy aspects and hordes of bugs when playing as a bug, while on the human side you have a hardcore, straight-up third-person shooter (with the option to go first person).
By all means, this RTS versus FPS concept works like no other form of PvP because all the intensity all the excitement and all the engaging action centers around the tactics, strategy and skills of the players, both human and bugs. To add to the unpredictability of the encounters players can upgrade, earn and unlock new equipment that drastically alters their character’s performance…RPG style. Needless to say, the better the gear the higher the advantage a particular player has in either surviving (as a human) or commanding (as a bug) against opponents.
The team has also added some new features to the game’s core that expands on both the PvE and the PvP options, but mainly the PvE. Instead of just jumping right into some bugs versus human bouts like earlier iterations of the game, players are instead encouraged to take part in the tutorial and then join the rookie channel to complete a series of PvE missions. Only a limited number of players on the same team can party up for the newbie missions but they’re basically there to help gamers get acquainted with the modes and gameplay functions. These newbie missions also give players a small taste of what the real encounters will contain and are perfect for setting the stage for the game’s unrivaled PvP bouts.
So far all that’s been talked about is the concept of the game. But there's much more to this action-strategy title than just cool ideas, there's a stable gameplay foundation that lies at the heart of BattleSwarm, too. Humans suit up in awesome gear and go against players who outfit their bug with awesome skills and then they clash in 8 versus 2 matches (eight soldiers for every two bugs). The actual gameplay is a ferocious clash of wits versus twitch, with the bugs requiring constant strategic planning to overcome the soldiers and the soldiers requiring desperate teamwork to outdo the bug swarms.
On the bug side, the gameplay stays quite consistent with a lot of pointing, clicking, dragging and point-to-point destination mapping. If you’ve played a real-time strategy game before you’ll be right at home with the bugs in BattleSwarm. The controls are tight and the bugs can be handled easily enough with a few keyboard hotkeys and the mouse.
Another nice aspect is that players can switch between bugs and humans in between each match. So if you feel like exercising some of those brain cells you can do so in one round, and if you feel like burning a few cells, you can do that in the next round.
To add to the diversity of gameplay there are also a series of PvE boss fights available that not only require good gear but they also drop some pretty good items for players who manage to down the final boss. And you get all this in a free-to-play title!
The look and feel of the game when playing as the humans is almost completely identical to Gears of War; they run the same, they shoot the same they dive the same. If you can play Gears of War, you can play BattleSwarm. The game is much brighter and less gritty than Epic’s visual masterpiece, though, and there’s an almost comic-book feel to the human character designs.
The bugs have a slightly varied visual art style that borrows heavily from Starship Troopers. In fact, when playing (or shooting) the bugs players will notice a lot of textural and aesthetic similarities between Paul Verhoeven’s galactic space movie and Reality Gap's BattleSwarm.
Still, with the effects turned all the way up and the resolution set on high, gamers will certainly not be disappointed with the amazing array of visual effects and high quality model files featured in the game. The game's engine is put to amazing use with the dynamic environments, fitting lighting effects and parallax texturing.
Audibly, I might say the game hits its weak point with the music. Many of the tunes are standard-fare action themes but nothing really stands out quite like a game similar to 2029 Online, Heroes of the Three Kingdoms or Allods Online. Still, where the music lacks the sound effects kick in with higher-than-standard quality that feels dynamic and intense. On the side of the bugs the sound effects aren’t quite as apparent or obvious as when playing the humans, but it all meshes together quite nicely during in-game play…especially the shotgun and assault rifle. The game’s support of in-game voices also makes it convenient to do without additional third-party voice services, giving gamers a simple form of access for team-oriented tactics and commands.
BattleSwarm: Field of Honor is the game no one heard of but should be playing. It’s an immensely action-packed experience with great visuals, tight controls and has continued support that adds a smorgasbord of new content every once in a while. The fact that the game is free-to-play just makes the game that much better. The Gears of War meets Starship Troopers theme works exceptionally well and any gamer even remotely curious about the game should give it a go.
Developer: GameWorld Tech