Demo Forces Us To Accept Meridian: New World Is Real

By Ben Barrett on July 7th, 2014 at 10:00 am.

John and Nathan both exclaimed the seeming impossibility of Meridian: New World, the one-man built fully-featured single-player RTS, last year. I’ve got some unfortunate news for them (which the easiest way to deliver seemed like a post on their website) as not only is it available on Steam, but there’s now a demo. It accompanies the release of the Phase 3 update introducing two new missions and a new level cap on the player character, allowing for more abilities. The demo itself is roughly equal in content to the first Early Access release, containing a few scenarios and the beginnings of the plot. I had a play and you can find what I thought below.

The first thing I noticed was that, for all our bluster about Ede Tarsoly’s solo efforts, he has had some help. Specifically when it came to the cutscenes, GUI and modelling and textures he had some freelancers on hand. Just all the story, music, game design etc. from him then. Easy, really.

Anyway, it starts pretty small scale, simply moving units about as they get to a dropship. Before the first proper mission starts there’s a short interlude aboard the ship, where player character Commander Daniel Hanson can wander around and talk to his crew. It’s still done from an isometric perspective, but with the view centered on this one model. It’s a half-way house between a normal RTS mission and StarCraft II’s briefing segments which were built like simple point and clicks. The freedom to move around and get a feel for the layout of the ship is great, and some of the conversations even have branching paths based on what you choose to say. This may seem a simple thing to praise, but storytelling and character development are rarely the genre’s strengths at the best of times, so it’s very cool to see it here with a smaller dev team.

Once you’re controlling units, building bases and gathering resources it’s all pretty familiar. There’s some nice touches like customisable units, essentially chassis’ that you can strap guns to. Units move around one another smoothly and I encountered no problems with pathfinding or AI. There’s some features I’d expect missing, such as not being able to rally buildings to units and the UI is non-traditional, so I forgot where to look until I’d unlearned some Blizzard muscle memory. It is mightily impressive, considering how few traditional RTS games we get these days and the fact it’s a mostly solo project.

You can grab the demo either on the main site or via Steam.

, .

18 Comments »

Sponsored links by Taboola
  1. Crainey says:

    I’m not sure any singleplayer RTS is going to have a good time unless it has some sort of sandbox style conquest map, like Total War. The only I remember enjoying were Age of Empires back in the day and StarCraft, both of which I bought for the mutiplayer. The gameplay would need to be something special for me to want to buy a singleplayer RTS (Total War is the only I bought for just the singleplayer).

    EDIT: I now see why this game is being made :D

    • Volcanu says:

      I disagree with you there, and I know of many RTS fans who would do too. I absolutely love a good single player RTS campaign and all of my favourite titles have had really good ones. AoE II, StarCraft, Dawn of War 1 & 2 (including the expansions), Warcraft 3, C&C Red Alert 2, Total Annihilation to name but a few. I agree that a more sandbox mode ala Total War or DoW: Dark Crusade gives a good deal of replayability but there is still a place in people’s hearts for a really well put together campaign.

      One of the reasons I havent played many RTS games in recent years (apart from there not being very many of course) is that there has been a focus on competitive multiplyer and e-sports in the design of many of them. With RTS games, far more than other genres, I find that the learning curve to be very, very steep for the multiplayer element. Even if you can ace the computer on hard, you’ll get your ass handed to you until you learn the maps, the right build orders and how to micro like a motherf*cker. And I just dont have the time for that. No to mention the fact that the multiplayer usually requires you to spin so many plates and be so adept at clicks per second that it isnt remotely relaxing. For me a good RTS campaign marries frantic action in bursts, with a more relaxed pace in between.

      As such I love it when I hear a developer is putting some effort in to adding a campaign.

      • Menthalion says:

        I plus you one and raise you Ground Control.

      • InternetBatman says:

        Absolutely. Plus, losing a multiplayer RTS feels bad in a way that losing in other games doesn’t.

        • Crainey says:

          The infamous ladder anxiety. Going into a 1v1 with another human and being dominated can be pretty crushing, throw in ladder points and standings and it becomes a nightmare.

        • Volcanu says:

          Agreed.

          Its possibly even worse when you lose as part of a 2v2+ game where, should you be the weak link in the chain, you can expect to be abused and insulted by your “ally” over chat. Which is always nice.

          I used to love playing AoE II over LAN with my friends when we were teens, and we had some great games. If I could experience that sort of thing again I might like RTS multiplayer once more- but even with ranking systems, matching players of similar skill still seems to be very rare. And it’s much harder to compensate for one weaker player in an RTS than it is in a FPS.

      • Crainey says:

        Fair enough. I suppose it is worth stating that I am of the latter group you speak of, the eSports/competitive kind and much prefer playing with others. Playing a “strategy” game vs a scripted AI sounds pretty horrendous to me, but that’s my opinion.

        • Volcanu says:

          And there’s nowt wrong with that! I think there’s room enough for both types of player/experiences in the RTS genre- it’s just sad for people like me (in the single player camp) that in recent years this side of the fence has been pretty neglected.

          EDIT – I would just add that a good single player campaign allows for more interesting and varied mission types than you tend to get in multiplayer. Added to that you can really build up to some epic missions where huge armies clash or you have to take out multiple objectives and multiple bases over a map that gets progressively larger etc.

          In the multiplayer side of things (at least for many titles) battles are normally decided by much lower tiers of units and battles often lack that epic feel (I’m sure there are exceptions, like if two very good and evenly matched players are competing 1v1).

          Finally I’d just say that I personally prefer RTS titles where the focus is more on variety, character and ‘fun’ over perfect balance. Clearly if developers are hoping for a significant esports or competitive following balance becomes very, very important and often this comes at the expense of having really interesting and asymmetric armies. Blizzard are probably one of the few that managed to please both crowds with the original StarCraft.

    • BobbyDylan says:

      Disagree. I love SP RTS’s. I never MP any of the RTS’s i play.

    • Niko says:

      It’s really different for different people. I’ve played all Warcraft and Starcraft SP campaigns, beginning with the first Warcraft, but spent maybe a dozen hours in multiplayer.

    • 321 says:

      Thank god for NO MULTIPLAYER. Every fucking god damn game today shoves you multiplayer down your throat, doesn’t matter if its good, if its requred, if nobody wants it, you just NEED to have multiplayer in every fucking game. And not only that, but the focus is on multi too, you get a grabage 4 hour single mode and thats it. Praise the sun for single player focused games, praise for this

      • big boy barry says:

        The constant focus on multi player is as cheap a cop out as reality TV in my opinion

    • karthink says:

      Nope. Like other commentators here, I have been waiting for a well put-together singleplayer RTS campaign like Red Alert 2 or Dawn of War for a long time.

      I think there’s a niche waiting to be filled here, though I don’t know if Meridian is going to be filling it.

      • Ben Barrett says:

        *puts on firesuit*

        Have you considered StarCraft 2?

        • fish99 says:

          I enjoyed the SC2 campaign overall. It had some cool stuff, like the research options so two players wouldn’t necessarily have the same units available, and the way the story was told was cool. The only real downside was how many levels had artificial limits on them, like time limits, or keep a particular unit(s) alive which you couldn’t control.

          I perferred RTS campaigns when they just plopped you down on a level, gave you an objective and then let you build your own base and attack in your own time.

          • Ben Barrett says:

            That’s fair enough, I know what you mean. I’d recommend giving HotS (the StarCraft expansion rather than the MOBA) a try if you haven’t – it still has lots of random cool stuff going on in missions, but it’s mostly variations rather than limits.

  2. Premium User Badge

    The Sombrero Kid says:

    I bought it after craving an old single player rts game and It scratches that itch perfectly, I was pretty surprised to find it brought some cool new ideas to the table as well, there isn’t a lot there right now, but was is there is extremely polished and plays really well. If you’re like me and needed this kind of thing now, just get it, it’s good, otherwise you should probably hold off till there’s more there.

  3. Premium User Badge

    Jackablade says:

    I’m still not convinced that this game exists.