Available on: PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Windows PC
Developer: Numantian Games
Genre: Survival, RTS
Version Tested: PlayStation 4
Official Site: http://www.numantiangames.com/theyarebillions/
Release Date: December 3rd, 2019
When They Are Billions first arrived on the scene back in 2017 I was very excited. I love the RTS genre of games, and They are Billions added a nice touch of Tower Building and Survival elements in it to set it apart from games like Total War and the like. When it released it didn’t disappoint, I’d spend hours glued to my computer screen agonizing over choices I’d make for my next building, what did I want to use as my next upgrade, how many more hunting cottages I needed to keep my growing community fed all the while keeping an eye out for the inevitable undead horde that would come, try to destroy everything I built and feast on my community members brains. The added tension of the horde making its way towards me made every choice that much more important. Do I build more things to keep my members fed? or do I need just one more defensive post? Then when the horde finally came I could see all my planning and strategy play out in front of me and either work like a well-oiled machine or just crumble apart and I’d have to watch in disappointment as my community members got ripped to shreds and I’d have to start from square one again.
As much fun as I was having with the base game I felt there was something missing in my experience. Full disclosure, I always feel like I have more fun with a game if it has a compelling story. A story in any game makes me that much more invested in gameplay, giving me more of a motive to complete that game when I feel like I have a purpose. I’m one of those psychopaths who plays Dark Souls and has to pour through every little bit of equipment to get as much of the lore as I can, along with watching VaatiVidya’s Youtube channel and getting every little bit I can. So when I found out that one of my favorite ways to pass the time is not only getting a campaign but getting a 60-hour story with it I jumped at the chance to get it and review it. The New Empire promised players new content along with a new compelling story where we’ll build up our groups of communities into a big empire and eventually push back and destroy the zombie hordes. But will it live up to the hype? Will it give me that all-important story fix we need or will it fall flat on its face? Let’s take a look!
Something that became almost immediately noticeable after the first few missions is the game seems padded out to make that so important 60-hour playtime. The first few missions are the worst at this, the first is the tutorial, of course, we needed to introduce new players to this game, but it stretched this idea out for 4 more missions that take place in nearly identical areas of the world. We won’t get another area to explore and inhabit until around Mission 6, and when most missions clock in the one and a half to 2-hour mark when it comes to length, this isn’t a small commitment to make to your time. While a bunch of the later survival missions introduces some new ideas and compelling story beats, you have to slog through all these missions where very little happens. We don’t even get to deal with an actual Zombie horde until the 6th mission, instead of having to deal with small groups and building your defenses accordingly. Much of these missions could have been combined into one and it would have been fine, I for one would have rather get a compelling 20-hour game where I am constantly learning something new and being compelled by the story to continue, then one I have to fight myself to get through because maybe there’s something new and exciting I need to learn on the next mission.
Cutting Down Trees
One more big misstep that Empire has, is the removal of the technology tree from the story. They Are Billions Technology tree was one of those great mechanics that made the base game so compelling. It balanced a nice risk/reward system with choice-based technologies in late games taking effect. You could either reap the rewards of a good technology tree build or you could watch in horror as your poor choices ruined the community that you’ve just spent hours building. Empire’s story get’s rid of this, instead, you get tech as the mission and the story needs. This means spending time just spawning low-level buildings to your heart’s desire, I seriously don’t even want to look at another tent as long as I live. I feel like this is another issue that could have easily been fixed by cutting the game down to half. Make research time faster and give the players a sense of urgency as they hammer out all these defenses for their community. But, it just seems like another way to pad out the time and add more hours to the playtime
I know I’ve been kind of down on this game, it does have some good story beats that kept me going until the end. My biggest complaint with the New Empire is that it feels like it doesn’t respect the player’s time. Every mechanic introduced in the story mode seems to pad out the time, and while the tactical missions can be fun and interesting, there isn’t enough of them to make the game a full recommendation from me. They Are Billions and The New Empire are on sale together now for the price of $29.99 and my recommendation is to wait until it’s on sale, it still worth a buy just because of the skirmish and survival modes, and the story can be a good introduction to new players, but the slog and painfully slow pace will scare most players off.
What did you think of The New Empire? Anything I missed in my review? Let me know in the comments below!
- compelling story
- fun gameplay
- great survival mode
- Padding...so much padding
- technology tree removal
- missions too long