Iron Harvest is a return to the traditional, competitive style real-time strategy genre. Set in a fictional alternate timeline after the Great War (World War I), Iron Harvest offers numerous sets of options to play, including a massive three-part campaign and competitive multiplayer. The open beta is well underway, giving players an unprecedented amount of content for a beta/demo including multiple campaign missions and competitive multiplayer options.
War Still Reigns in This Alternate Reality
A big appeal playing Iron Harvest is this surreal setting, based on the alternate world created by the board game Scythe. Mechs, rather than tanks, are the newest military technology to emerge after the Great War. Use them wisely, as they are costly and sometimes bulky, but they are absolutely the star of the show for Iron Harvest. Each can earn unique abilities when ranking them up, which creates a reward for performing well with them and keeping them alive long enough to take advantage of their abilities. Likewise, each faction in the game: Polania, Rusviet, and Saxony each have vastly different styles of mechs, which make them all feel completely unique.
Iron Harvest certainly does feel somewhat like Company of Heroes, it’s war real-time strategy counterpart. Infantry units can take cover, positioning of mechanized units is crucial to avoiding rear armor hits, and the pace of the game is eerily similar. Likewise, the visuals certainly seem more akin to an older strategy game like Company of Heroes rather than a more modern game. The art style is an entirely different matter though, as Iron Harvest is truly unique with each faction having their own style and presentation.
A Massive Campaign Ahead
Thinking back, It’s difficult to think of a true competitive real-time strategy game that’s had a substantial campaign to play through. Starcraft II’s epic three-part campaign is the most memorable in my mind, but that was almost ten years ago. Iron Harvest boasts its own three-part campaign as well, which looks quite substantial. In the preview builds, I was able to play a good chunk of the Polania campaign and a few levels of the Saxony campaign. Cut scenes were aplenty, so plan for a healthy indulgence of a story in what is a rare sight these days for real-time strategy games.
My only real concern in Iron Harvest is the sometimes clunky combat, which can feel cumbersome when compared to other real-time strategy games, but the slow pacing makes sense considering it’s a post-World War I. This slow pace was noticeable particularly in the campaign when comparing the mobile Polania to the bulky but powerful Saxony. I felt it weighty playing the slower Saxony units. On top of that, sometimes units won’t engage properly, or the anti-tank gun might prioritize infantry units instead of the line of mechs steaming toward your base without significant micromanagement.
Factions A Plenty
Your choice of faction is pretty critical to the experience of Iron Harvest, and playing the campaign will be a good way to get a feel for each. While infantry combat plays out pretty much the same, the real difference-maker is the mechs. Polania’s mechs are quick and nimble, but Saxony’s mechs are absolute behemoths that pack incredible firepower. The drawback? They’re slow and cumbersome. These different styles should cater to players’ personal preferences and allow for more varied gameplay styles, especially in the multiplayer.
An area where Iron Harvest really shines and takes on its own identity is through the play of faction heroes. Each faction has its own set of heroes, and I love that they all feel unique. Anna Kos, a Polanian leader, is a long-distance sniper capable of using her unique abilities to pick off infantry at considerable distances. I’m excited to see how these characters develop over the course of competitive multiplayer and to see how professional players utilize each skill set differently over the course of a match.
Admittedly, I haven’t been this excited to play a true real-time strategy game campaign since the aforementioned Starcraft II and its expansions. Getting a chance to experience the first several missions of Polania and Saxony was a breath of fresh air in the real-time strategy genre. I can’t think of a modern RTS that was as ambitious in the size and scope with a massive campaign, significant competitive multiplayer, and a plethora of other modes to play around in. The setting and time period are just the icing on the cake, which gives Iron Harvest its own unique feel. For the first time in a while, I’m excited to dip back into a competitive multiplayer real-time strategy game, especially since Iron Harvest just has such a darn charm to it with its steampunk-style mechs.
TechRaptor previewed Iron Harvest on PC using a copy provided by the publisher. The full game launches on September 1st.