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A Year Of Rain Early Access Preview

Posted by GG Goblin On November - 19 - 2019

Early Access real-time strategy with an eye on co-op.

 
Whenever a new RTS game is announced, my ears prick up. While I will happily play pretty much any genre of game, the RTS genre is probably my favourite and so any new game will at least get me interested. The thing is though, I have played so many over the years that the experiences start to blend into one another. For this reason, when I saw screenshots of Daedalic’s new RTS title A Year of Rain, I felt disappointed, convinced that the game was just a retro styled rehash of games that had come and gone. However, A Year of Rain is now on Steam Early Access and while it is still far from finished and has some real problems to address (where are you going little soldier?), I must admit that the game pulled in far quicker than I expected.

 


 
A Year of Rain is an RTS with a twist in that the game is built entirely around a co-op model. The friendless need not panic as the game includes AI allies for those that need them. But more on the co-op aspect in a moment, as A Year of Rain has another important appeal. Can anyone say Warcraft III?

 
The Warcraft III formula has appeared in so many games since Blizzard originally launched the game, but this far down the evolutionary trail it is quite surprising to see something so familiar. This is not a bad thing by any means, but I think it was the slightly old-school visuals that originally put me off the game. It turns out, once I actually played the game, the bright and easily distinguishable are actually quite welcome.

 
A year of Rain has three factions, made up of a coalition of the nice fantasy races, an undead faction and the local savages. Eventually there will hopefully be campaigns for all three factions, but as of right now in Early Access on Steam there is only the beginning of the House Rupah campaign, featuring that coalition of the good guys. The factions are distinctive and have their own units and buildings, marking them out from the rest.

 


 
Set in a world where war seems to be the only constant, the House Rupah campaign takes the player across the sea to a wild new land where the hope is that a single ruler can unite the land and bring about peace. Well, that is obviously not going to happen, but even the journey to this new land goes a bit wrong and ends with ship wrecks. The campaign is divided into chapters and the great things is that while the story moves along, and even throws in some twists and turns to keep the player guessing, each chapter offers something a little bit different for the player. As with all other aspects of the game, the campaign is designed to be played in co-op, and can honestly be a little tricky playing alone. With that said, it still proves to be great fun and an introduction to how to play the game.

 
The reality is that the gameplay will be familiar to any long time RTS players. There is the usual sending workers to gather resources that will allow the player to start putting down important buildings that can spawn various units, such as soldiers or archers, and buildings that offer upgrades. Build up an army and then send them across the map to harass the enemy units. In this respect it is all fairly standard.

 
However, A Year of Rain is a hero-based RTS and alongside the players little army they will have a hero unit. These units are varied but generally come in three different types, being either melee, ranged or magic. There has been a lot of work gone into making the hero units unique and giving them personalities and such, which is a nice touch. The heroes are able to pick up equipment and the like as they battle enemy units, or at least they are supposed to as I spent an entire chapter being unable to pick up anything, but they also unlock abilities that make them that bit more powerful on the battlefield. These abilities are used according to a countdown timer, and so can be used as often as the timer permits.

 


 
A Year of Rain is being developed as an esports title, and as such will have a mighty suite of multiplayer options once the game fully launches. The 2v2 skirmish mode is the highlight, but will obviously be entirely dependant on who the player is teamed up with as to whether or not they have fun. Again, an AI partner is available and while not being a strategic genius, it doesn’t do a bad job. Players are encouraged to take on specific roles in the multiplayer game, being able to choose from tank, damage or support to receive bonuses based on that role.

 
There is still a lot to come with A Year of Rain. This is Early Access and the game currently doesn’t have a huge amount of content, which includes maps. What does look to be interesting is the “Against All Odds” multiplayer mode that will be coming during Early Access, in which two players control heroes and face off against two other player who have entire armies. Of course, the continuation of the campaign will also be something to look forward to.

 
And of course general polish and bug fixing is sorely needed. Right now the path-finding is just horrible, with units squeezing in together so much that most of them cannot attack an enemy, or individual units deciding they know a shortcut to the destination and just wandering off alone, and the standard getting stuck on a bush type problem. This needs to be addressed as quickly as possible.

 


 
But Early Access is exactly the time to find these problems and fix them. A Year of Rain is surprisingly compelling and seems to have some great ideas, even this early in its Early Access phase. The content will undoubtedly build up and the problems will be addressed as time goes on. For RTS fans, especially those of Warcraft III, who are looking for something new, A Year of Rain is one to watch. Check out the Steam page now.

 

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