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Warparty Review - An Endangered Species

Gaming article by Robert N. Adams on Thursday, March 28, 2019 - 10:00
Review
Release Date
March 28, 2019
Platforms
Xbox One, Mac, PC
Monetization
One Time Purchase
Purchase (Some links may be affiliated)
Steam microsoft.com PS Store

Warparty is a real-time strategy game by Warcave and Crazy Monkey Studios. I first checked out the game for Coverage Club and generally enjoyed it. This time around, I was keen at getting into the campaign and seeing what the story was like.

There are three races in Warparty: the Wildlanders, Vithara, and Necromas. The Wildlanders are tribal humans who can ride tamed dinosaurs, the Vithara are spirits of nature somewhat akin to elves, and the Necromas are an evil desert tribe that can summon the dead. One might draw immediate comparisons to Starcraft with three different races in a real-time strategy, but it feels a bit closer to Warcraft 3 in that races are largely similar in many respects.

 

Players typically have to manage three resources: food, crystal, and energy. The first two resources are mainly used for creating units and buildings and the last resource is mainly used for using special powers by the player. There are subtle variations, of course—as an example, the Vithara need power to make some of their buildings, but they can also generate it with more of their buildings than the other races.

warparty review thermopylae
Units automatically arrange in formations which is usually an upside, but it can occasionally make micro difficult.

 

I played a fair few skirmishes in Early Access and the final build, but I mainly focused on the campaign. I was very interested to see how it played out, especially because Warparty is a homage to old-school real-time strategy games like Warcraft.

Each of the three races has its own campaign, just like Starcraft or Warcraft. Each campaign has six missions in total. The first mission in all three campaigns is typically like an installation mission in Starcraft—you're running around without a proper base to complete your objective. Subsequent missions are a little more vanilla, sometimes with limitations on unit creation or other such mechanics.

 

One of the interesting things about the Warparty campaigns is that they all take place simultaneously in terms of the chronology. Some other RTS games will have players go through a sequential story for each race. Warparty instead has you playing different sides of the same mission. For example, one Vithara mission has you defending force field generators for as long as you can before you have to eventually defeat the enemy. The opposing Necromas faction has the same mission from the other side: you must destroy the force field generators and destroy the Vithara. It's a clever reuse of mapping assets and makes for a compelling narrative device that I personally hadn't seen before.

Unfortunately, the campaign had a couple of serious technical and design issues. The major technical issue was that my campaign progress simply wasn't saving properly. The Wildlander campaign started out completely unlocked for some reason and progress didn't save correctly for the Vithara and Necromas campaigns, forcing me to complete all six missions in one session unless I had wanted to start all over again.

warparty review raptors river
There are very few problems that a liberal application of raptors can't solve.

Another minor (but nonetheless aggravating) technical issue was the final mission for all three races. Essentially, you need to capture and hold a shrine at the top of a temple for ten minutes. In all three cases, I had dozens of units on the shrine with the clock going. Even so, I lost the mission with a message that an enemy chieftain had captured it. There were three lesser shrines (that were not stated to be the objective) that surrounded the temple I hadn't bothered with. I imagine that the scripting erroneously counted these lesser shrines as the objective. An enemy faction simply held one of them for the necessary ten minutes. Alternatively, this was the intended objective but it was not communicated correctly. It's not a good look either way.

 

The Warparty campaign also has a substantial design issue—you cannot save your game during the campaign. This seems like an odd oversight and made my review an even more complicated affair. Especially in light of the campaign not saving its progress correctly. Even if it were progressing correctly, the inability to save during campaigns isn't a good thing for players who might need to quit suddenly for real-life reasons.

Outside of the campaign, Warparty has some minor design oversights. For one, certain buildings have firm limits for their construction. You can only build four town centers. You get this information early on, but the UI doesn't indicate how many you've built. I also initially thought that queuing actions with Shift was broken. Instead, I discovered that Warparty only lets you bind one of the two Shift keys for this action. I like to alternate between them depending on where my hands are on the keyboard. Therefore, it would have been nice to have the option to use both Shift keys.

There is one other design issue that I am concerned about, but there are caveats. Part of the general meta of real-time strategy games is the need to expand to new bases to keep up with resource production. Warparty essentially allows for infinite (though likely reduced) resource production through farms and trading posts. I will happily concede that I am not an RTS expert, but I have to wonder if this element of the design would water down the challenge of multiplayer games.

warparty review zombies
The Necromas can build up dozens of zombies for very little cost.

 

Visually, the game's graphics are serviceable. The cutscenes with moving drawings are interesting, making for an acceptable, budget-friendly way for an indie studio to communicate the story outside of gameplay. As for the sound, the music feels very "tribal" and is appropriate for the setting. The voice acting, however, seems very hit-or-miss. The Vithara Sage (that particular race's leader) is particularly bad in terms of both the acting and the audio quality.

I put 14 hours into Warparty. Most of that time went into playing the campaign with a couple of hours spent playing skirmishes against A.I. (Since I was playing prerelease, I was unable to find any multiplayer opponents via matchmaking.) I had more fun than not, although the technical issues were a downside of the experience.

The overall foundation of the game is solid save for one or two concerns I have with the design. I think the devs can probably pull this one out of the fire. For now, I think that Warparty is a firmly middle-of-the-road RTS. I can only recommend it to fans of the genre who are looking for something new to play.


TechRaptor reviewed Warparty on PC via Steam with a code provided by the developer.

Review Summary

5.0

<em>Warparty</em> attempts to honor the glory days of the classic RTS, but various technical and design issues make it a lackluster game.

Pros

  • A Return To Classic RTS Gameplay
  • Subtle But Interesting Racial Variations

Cons

  • Can't Save During Campaign
  • Campaign Progress Is Broken
  • Occasionally Bad Voice-Acting

About the Author

A photograph of Robert N Adams

Robert N. Adams

Senior Writer

I've had a controller in my hand since I was 4 and I haven't stopped gaming since. CCGs, Tabletop Games, Pen & Paper RPGs - I've tried a whole bunch of stuff over the years and I'm always looking to try more!