My return to RTS games

Games like Silent Storm were always my kind of Strategy
With few exceptions, I've never really enjoyed RTS games. The amount of frantic key pressing and learn by repetition strategy always put me off immediately. The times I did manage to slog through the first half of any RTS game I was rewarded with 2 hour missions where I spent a good portion of my time building up a base. While that seems fun for some, the RPG nerd in me liked my battles a little more confined and slow paced. I liked being attached to my "units" and caring about their deaths rather then pumping a new set out of my barracks. Turn-based strategy like Fallout Tactics, Silent  Storm and X-Com were always more my speed.

Imagine then my surprise that I've been totally addicted to Dawn of War 2 the past week. I had played through the first one and although I loved the setting and the steps they made to make it less twitchy the game was soon easily forgotten in the large pile of games I gave up playing after a week. The recent sequel I haven't put down and it's easy to tell you why.
  1. I have built nary a base in the entire campaign.
  2. I control only 4 units the entire game. Although each unit is made up of several marines, I can only control them together as a group.
  3. I level up these units across the campaign and can tailor them to my playstyle.
  4. I can equip these units with dropped loot, further cementing them into the class of marine I want them to be (melee vs. ranged...etc)
Did I mention I haven't built a base? While some may be thinking... well, it doesn't sound much like an RTS to me, I can only reply... thank you Relic for removing the tedium out of this genre. I start every 20 minute mission with the same troops, who are now slightly stronger from the last mission, and use tactics, cover and the ever rare retreat to beat my enemy instead of amassing troops for 30 minutes so that I feel confident I can take out the other side. Relic didn't stop pleasing me there though, because they added boss fights to almost every mission and alleviated my other harp against the genre -- that defeating the enemy should be more involved then blowing up some buildings after the enemies are dead.

The battles in Dawn of War 2 are intense but confined
I can't tell you how freeing this feels. Finally I can enjoy this genre. While I'm still a little slow when it comes to all the key commands, the focus on tactics over units really has me hooked. So much so that I'm going to give World in Conflict a go, which I hear has a similar quick to fight feel.

Now remember when I said there were a few exceptions to my RTS hate? The exceptions all come from Blizzard, specifically Warcraft III and Starcraft, which I spent many of my younger years wasting my days on. Having played through DoW2 I can now only wonder if my experience with Starcraft II will be sullied by this experience. While I know Blizzard will have a great story waiting for me, I don't know if I can suffer building up a base or dealing with 100 units on the screen again. While I hope that's not the case, I also can't imagine how it could be a Starcraft game without those kinds of amassing of units.

In any case, suddenly I'm really excited by RTS games again. If you have any recommendations leave me a comment. I've got World in Conflict and Company of Heroes all queued up.
33 Comments
34 Comments
Posted by snide
Games like Silent Storm were always my kind of Strategy
With few exceptions, I've never really enjoyed RTS games. The amount of frantic key pressing and learn by repetition strategy always put me off immediately. The times I did manage to slog through the first half of any RTS game I was rewarded with 2 hour missions where I spent a good portion of my time building up a base. While that seems fun for some, the RPG nerd in me liked my battles a little more confined and slow paced. I liked being attached to my "units" and caring about their deaths rather then pumping a new set out of my barracks. Turn-based strategy like Fallout Tactics, Silent  Storm and X-Com were always more my speed.

Imagine then my surprise that I've been totally addicted to Dawn of War 2 the past week. I had played through the first one and although I loved the setting and the steps they made to make it less twitchy the game was soon easily forgotten in the large pile of games I gave up playing after a week. The recent sequel I haven't put down and it's easy to tell you why.
  1. I have built nary a base in the entire campaign.
  2. I control only 4 units the entire game. Although each unit is made up of several marines, I can only control them together as a group.
  3. I level up these units across the campaign and can tailor them to my playstyle.
  4. I can equip these units with dropped loot, further cementing them into the class of marine I want them to be (melee vs. ranged...etc)
Did I mention I haven't built a base? While some may be thinking... well, it doesn't sound much like an RTS to me, I can only reply... thank you Relic for removing the tedium out of this genre. I start every 20 minute mission with the same troops, who are now slightly stronger from the last mission, and use tactics, cover and the ever rare retreat to beat my enemy instead of amassing troops for 30 minutes so that I feel confident I can take out the other side. Relic didn't stop pleasing me there though, because they added boss fights to almost every mission and alleviated my other harp against the genre -- that defeating the enemy should be more involved then blowing up some buildings after the enemies are dead.

The battles in Dawn of War 2 are intense but confined
I can't tell you how freeing this feels. Finally I can enjoy this genre. While I'm still a little slow when it comes to all the key commands, the focus on tactics over units really has me hooked. So much so that I'm going to give World in Conflict a go, which I hear has a similar quick to fight feel.

Now remember when I said there were a few exceptions to my RTS hate? The exceptions all come from Blizzard, specifically Warcraft III and Starcraft, which I spent many of my younger years wasting my days on. Having played through DoW2 I can now only wonder if my experience with Starcraft II will be sullied by this experience. While I know Blizzard will have a great story waiting for me, I don't know if I can suffer building up a base or dealing with 100 units on the screen again. While I hope that's not the case, I also can't imagine how it could be a Starcraft game without those kinds of amassing of units.

In any case, suddenly I'm really excited by RTS games again. If you have any recommendations leave me a comment. I've got World in Conflict and Company of Heroes all queued up.
Posted by Kush

Everything I've heard about DoW2 makes me really want to play it, but I sadly don't have a PC capable of running the game :(

Edited by Gump
Posted by snide

I have played all of the commandos games, which I forgot to mention are some of my favorites for having you rely on small groups of units. I've also played RoS but didn't really enjoy it all that much, same goes for the Total War series which seemed a little too micromanagey for me.

Edited by Gump

mmm... I think you should check the Jagged Alliance franchise, Age of Empires: Mythologies and then Vampire: The Masquerade franchise (those are RPG, but they're not RTS or Turn-Based games).

EDIT: I've heard good things about Odium, Incubation, the Act of War games and the old Might and Magic games. That's all what I have in mind...

Posted by snide

Hehe, this could go on forever Gump


  • Played and loved the old Jagged Alliance games. Hard to play now in low rez though
  • I've played age of Empires games and they all suffer from base building / amass unit style of gameplay
  • 2 of my favorite games of all time came out of Troika, Vampire: The Masquerade is not one of them, though it wasn't a horrible game.
Posted by BiG_Weasel

Snide, you're my kind of gamer. DOW2 is probably the best RTS I've played. You did forget to mention the one thing that most people have forgotten- the tension. You're constantly having to move your troops between the three worlds you're defending against an impossible enemy.  At the very most, the best you can do is slow the tide of Tyranids...you can't stop them (yet).


As for others looking for RTSes, outside of the ones Snide has mentioned try Supreme Commander: Forged Alliance (Stand-alone expansion, better than the original), and Sins of a Solar Empire (more of a 4x, but it's awesome!).
Posted by Dude_What

I hope one of those Troika games is Arcanum.  Damn I love me some Arcanum.  Definitely tempted by DOW2, and I am with you on "the amount of frantic key pressing and learn by repetition strategy always put me off immediately" thing.  Games like Starcraft have always seemed almost ritualistic to me,  I just imagine (wrongly I know) dudes hitting the same key combos over and over again in some kind of trance....

Edited by ColumnBreaker

I can't really say if you'd like them given the problems you have with most RTS games, but I think Homeworld 1 & 2, as well as Sins of a Solar Empire should be experienced by anyone that is a fan of any RTS game. Ground Control 2 to a lesser extent, but if I had to take a guess at which of those 3 you'd enjoy the most, probably GC2. It has absolutely zero base building, and is all about unit strategy.

Posted by gla55jAw

Do you still have your uber-micro skillz?

Posted by snide

Yep, Arcanum is one of them. Troika only made 3 games so that was meant as a bit of a joke. The other two should be easy to figure out :)

Posted by ElectricHaggis

DoW 2 looks like an RTS I could actually enjoy.  I would play it if my PC was capable of running it.

Posted by Blinck

Damn, now I'm definitly gonna buy it :P
Look what you are doing Snide! Making me spend my money :P

Cheers

Edited by Death_Burnout

You either love base building or you don't, when Relic said you don't build bases this time, i was on both sides of that fence. On one hand i was like "Oh so fast action like World in Conflict, awesome" and "Damn, i love base building!"

Nevermind though because the prospect of Loot totally saves it for me.

The sad thing is that with a PC like mine that can run Company of Heroes at the high settings, it can't run DoW II past low settings...What the hell is up with that? that is lunacy, Relic.

World in Conflict i highly reccomend if you like fast RTS action, Company of Heroes i fucking love, it's my favourite RTS...Physiscs!

Posted by Oni

Dude, yes. Also not a huge RTS fan here, aside from the occasional game, but Dawn of War 2 is like crack. It's intense and super addictive. Do check out Company of Heroes as well, I loved that, despire not being a huge RTS guy. It's got a very similar system of cover and supression, unsurprisingly, as both are made by Relic, and a lot of missions have you not building bases, right in the thick of the action.

Posted by Scheds

I think Sins of A Solar Empire would be right up your alley.

Edited by jakob187

Snide, I have to agree with a ton of what you say about DoWII.  The game is a thorough blast.  I like that they've promoted shorter length games by taking out the base building and instead using a semi-phase style of play like the Germans in Company of Heroes...like when you had to go to the Blitzkrieg phase and such to build more unit types and such.


Also, I'm telling you right now:  unless the patches that have come out since the game's release (which seems like a patch everyday) have fixed the Tyranids, using Carnifax units in the multiplayer = OVER-POWERED!!!  That + Thornback upgrades devastate a base.  The only thing that bums me out is that...since there is NO base building, it means the Annihilate setup on the multiplayer is completely useless.

The campaign is really awesome, but to be honest, I had more fun playing it on co-op.  One player will control two of the squads, and the other player controls the other two.  There's a little bit of lag on the in-game VOIP, but it's not so bad that you'll get rocked by the comp AI on lower difficulties.  I like getting gear, though.  Did it make you feel like WoW makes a person feel, going "just one more mission, I've gotta get that chainsword"?  LOL  I know it did it to me.

As for recommendations...if you are looking for a low base-building, high-action RTS, here's a couple for me to recommend:

Rise of Nations: Rise of Legends - there is base-building in the game, but everything is setup on one central location.  Therefore, you don't have to worry about looking forever to find a place to put something.  The unit types are the key focus of the game, and games rarely span past 15-20 minutes.  Once the Hero units come out, all Hell breaks loose.  The campaign is relatively fun also.  It's also a bit more of a high-fantasy concept than the original Rise of Nations games.

World in Conflict - Units are the name of the game, and the game is fucking fun!  Nukes never looked prettier, and modern warfare is only more fun in Call of Duty 4.

Company of Heroes - It's made by Relic as well, and it's fucking outstanding, sir.  There is a little base building, but it's a very minimal amount.  The majority of "base-building" that happens is on the actual field, and it's more along the lines of stuff like turret guns, sandbags, and such.  It gives just enough micro-management to appease the typical RTS fan, but it forces a strong focus on the unit types and the balance of them rather than focusing on what building you have up.  The Germans are especially difficult to master, but once you have it down, the experience is quite rewarding.  Plus...the game is G-O-R-G-E-O-U-S!  It's STILL one of the best-looking games around.

Send a friend request over to jakob0187 on GWL and maybe we'll hit up some co-op campaign sometime for the Hell of it...try out some multiplayer matches.  I'm usually up sometime past midnight CST.  = D

Also, I've got some impressions that I wrote up in one of my blogs.  Check it out, as it might help you know a few things before you hop into the multiplayer stuff heavily.
Edited by Kohe321

Great post.

COH was awesome, I played that for countless hours with a friend of mine online. I loved that you had to be offensive and capture strategic points to get fuel and manpower (was it?) in order to win.

You completely sold me on DOW2 here, I'm downloading it on Steam now. I can't wait to play it!


Online
Posted by Aronto

and that's why i like DOW2 so much, more combat and less managing bases

Posted by IncredibleBulk92

Relic have me convinced that I never really need to spend 10 minutes a match collecting resources or trying to optimise a build order.  Is it crazy that RTS games have become my favorite type of game and I have ZERO interest in Starcraft 2?  I loved CoH, it focuses so much more on the units, in the average multiplayer game I build probably 5 buildings.  It's fucking great.


I can't wait until my friend beefs up his rig so we can play some coop Dawn of War 2
Posted by snide

Beat the game just now. Last couple levels are pretty epic. I'll likely fill in for ryan tomorrow to talk it up a bit.

Posted by Bioderm

I think you would really enjoy World in conflict, you don't controle 200 units you control around 6 max wich is a squad.

Those unit also level and become stonger.
You should really look into it if you are a pc gamer :P
Edited by Kohe321

World in Conflict is awesome as well. It has the same "right into the action" part that I love.

Man, I should install that again. March is going to be a month filled with RTS games for me :D

Online
Posted by BiG_Weasel
snide said:
"Beat the game just now. Last couple levels are pretty epic. I'll likely fill in for ryan tomorrow to talk it up a bit."
Don't ruin it for me, now. I just finished saving Angel Forge...Holy crap, that was the msot fun I've had with my clothes on in quite a while. Fighting to hold the gate...Whoa.  Now that I'm getting my Terminator armor, I'm starting to feel like it's getting close to the end.  If I wasn't already a fan of the 40k universe from being a tabletop player, this game would definitely pique my interest.
Posted by Death_Burnout

As i suspected, i needed service pack 1 installed to up those graphics, don't ask as to why i didn't have it installed already haha...ha.

Posted by AspiringAndy

World In Conflict and Sins Of A Solar Empire are both good.
I also recommend Tom Clancy's EndWar, which is out on steam now.

Posted by jakob187
AspiringAndy said:
"World In Conflict and Sins Of A Solar Empire are both good.I also recommend Tom Clancy's EndWar, which is out on steam now."
Eh.  Endwar was alright, but it has HORRIBLE pathfinding issues that are hard to overlook.
Posted by n00bosaurusRex

Good call dude.  I've been feeling the exact same way.  Dawn of War II has grabbed me in a way that no other RTS has since Mech Commander, which is incredibly similar in game play if you ask me.  It had loot and persistent units.

Posted by Teirdome

I've thought a bunch about the "room for StarCraft" question and was discussing it with a friend on Steam last night.  He's not really interested in DoW2 because there is no base building.  He tried it for a bit, but didn't really get into the tactics-only gameplay.  For him, the fun is in the base building grind, then throwing huge masses of units at the other player.

I think that the end result is going to be a less impactful release of StarCraft 2.  It's going to be huge, don't get me wrong (2+ million first month), but I'm guessing that the review scores won't be that amazing and the playerbase will be smaller than war3.

@n00bosaurusRex - MechCommander 2 was amazing.  I miss BattleTech so badly...

Posted by giyanks22
snide said:
"
Games like Silent Storm were always my kind of Strategy
With few exceptions, I've never really enjoyed RTS games. The amount of frantic key pressing and learn by repetition strategy always put me off immediately. The times I did manage to slog through the first half of any RTS game I was rewarded with 2 hour missions where I spent a good portion of my time building up a base. While that seems fun for some, the RPG nerd in me liked my battles a little more confined and slow paced. I liked being attached to my "units" and caring about their deaths rather then pumping a new set out of my barracks. Turn-based strategy like Fallout Tactics, Silent  Storm and X-Com were always more my speed.

Imagine then my surprise that I've been totally addicted to Dawn of War 2 the past week. I had played through the first one and although I loved the setting and the steps they made to make it less twitchy the game was soon easily forgotten in the large pile of games I gave up playing after a week. The recent sequel I haven't put down and it's easy to tell you why.
  1. I have built nary a base in the entire campaign.
  2. I control only 4 units the entire game. Although each unit is made up of several marines, I can only control them together as a group.
  3. I level up these units across the campaign and can tailor them to my playstyle.
  4. I can equip these units with dropped loot, further cementing them into the class of marine I want them to be (melee vs. ranged...etc)
Did I mention I haven't built a base? While some may be thinking... well, it doesn't sound much like an RTS to me, I can only reply... thank you Relic for removing the tedium out of this genre. I start every 20 minute mission with the same troops, who are now slightly stronger from the last mission, and use tactics, cover and the ever rare retreat to beat my enemy instead of amassing troops for 30 minutes so that I feel confident I can take out the other side. Relic didn't stop pleasing me there though, because they added boss fights to almost every mission and alleviated my other harp against the genre -- that defeating the enemy should be more involved then blowing up some buildings after the enemies are dead.

The battles in Dawn of War 2 are intense but confined
I can't tell you how freeing this feels. Finally I can enjoy this genre. While I'm still a little slow when it comes to all the key commands, the focus on tactics over units really has me hooked. So much so that I'm going to give World in Conflict a go, which I hear has a similar quick to fight feel.

Now remember when I said there were a few exceptions to my RTS hate? The exceptions all come from Blizzard, specifically Warcraft III and Starcraft, which I spent many of my younger years wasting my days on. Having played through DoW2 I can now only wonder if my experience with Starcraft II will be sullied by this experience. While I know Blizzard will have a great story waiting for me, I don't know if I can suffer building up a base or dealing with 100 units on the screen again. While I hope that's not the case, I also can't imagine how it could be a Starcraft game without those kinds of amassing of units.

In any case, suddenly I'm really excited by RTS games again. If you have any recommendations leave me a comment. I've got World in Conflict and Company of Heroes all queued up.
"


I would wake up at four in the morning to play starcraft and Warcraft III....Warcraft III is very underated...that is one of the most adiccting games ever. I was so addicted to that game it was like a drug... Four in the morning till breakfast. Then home from school do my homework...(no studying) and then from Four in the afternoon till six thirty till dinner. Then Dinner till bed. That was pretty much my fifth grade year. My parents did get a little pissed when they saw my grades, and kinda threw it away, and won't let me ever buy it again...(I still play it on an illegal download...hehe). Warcraft III was my favorite game ever...starcrat ain't bad either.

My point is:
Having played only the first few missions of DOWII, I have that same sense of addictiveness.
Posted by kozzy1234

I have enjoyed a few rts games of the years but RPGS and FPS where always my favs.

I loved Dune2, Warcraft1/2, Starcraft, Company Of Heroes and Age Of Empire series, but  i dont play alot of RTS anymore.
But then i picked up Dawn Of War 2 and Empire Total War and im totally addicted to strategy games again!

Cant wait for a DOW2 expansion pack!

Posted by mrhankey

Dude, i totally agree. DoW II is an amazing game, and when my friend and i find time we either play DoW II in Co-op or play some L4D. the advent of RTS games is coming, well the reincarnation. Personally i want to see how Starcraft competes with DoW II.

Posted by Johnny5

Thought I'd drop by and say thanks for introducing me to the silent storm series, I cant believe I had never heard of it. Hugely underappreciated and now one of my all time favorite games.

Posted by Seedofpower

How about playing Dow2 online? There isn't any base building and you keep a few squad of units and its never the same match over and over.