They Are Billions (Hardcore RTS)

If anyone has been wanting a hardcore RTS (meaning, it’s pretty damn hard until you learn the ropes and even then, it’s still challenging), then I suggest TAB. I played it a fair bit when it was in early access but it recently released the full version which includes a massive campaign and another survival map along with many other things.

I bought the game a year ago when it was still in Early Access and did not have a campaign, only the Survival Mode on randomized maps.

Although it was really, REALLY hard for an RTS noob like myself, I thoroughly enjoyed it! The game engine is excellent, the art style is gorgeous, I really like the steampunk setting.
Back then I would have recommended the game without hesitation. Now that the campaign is out, I wouldn’t do so anymore, at least not without a warning.

The reason is simple, the campaign outright sucks in my opinion. It’s not even a proper campaign. There is no story other than “rebuild civilization”, no characters other than an obnoxious “emperor” and 2 generic heroes who do not contribute anything remotely interesting.
The campaign missions consist of only 3 different map types:

  1. basically Survival mode on hand-made maps instead of random maps
  2. Indoor missions where you control your hero (plus sometimes a few other units) to gather tech points
  3. Swarm missions where you defend a single building in the middle of the map with a set amount of units and barricades

Well on paper that may sound better than just random survival maps, but here are my main gripes with the campaign:

  • Complete lack of story
  • Lack of different mission types
  • Lack of different victory conditions
  • No Mayor characters like in Survival Mode
  • No checkpoints, which means if you fail in the last second you have to restart the whole mission (which may take over an hour) from the beginning, which is totally fine on the random maps of Survival mode but on fixed maps it’s just tedious
  • Your hero is ONLY available in the tech gathering missions, such a waste of potential
  • Hero missions are tedious pixel hunts, and if you chose the male hero movement is painfully slow
  • Some missions have annoying time limits, while others have time wasting victory conditions
  • The tech tree is a total mess. It’s possible to chose the “wrong” tech which makes some missions a lot harder than necessary, and there’s no way to respec your techs. If you’re new to the game you may find yourself in a dead end, forcing you to restart the entire campaign

That being said, the original Survival Mode is still very good and enjoyable. Buy the game if you’re up for a tough challenge and don’t care much for the campaign, but if you want to enjoy an RTS with a story-driven campaign, this isn’t it. The devs promised so much more during EA but sadly failed to deliver. Hopefully they will adress these issues, the game has so much potential!