Wot I Think: Planetary Annihilation

Planetary Annihilation is best enjoyed if you are a robot. A cold, cybernetically enhanced supercomputer capable of thousands of thoughts per nanosecond. No emotion, no mercy. Just a deathly, speedy logic and a finger that clicks like a woodpecker’s beak. It is a brilliant, ludicrous RTS and I will probably never try to play it again. Because I am a frail, fleshy human being whose idea of multi-tasking is using a fork AND a knife at the dinner table. But you may not be like me. You may be one of the Machines.

The year is 2014. StarCraft 2 bestrides the world like an esports colossus, with one foot in Townsville, America and the other in the Cybertopian Republic of South Korea. Along comes Planetary Annihilation, fresh out of Kickstarter, looking to get a piece of the action. It is purpose-built for Twitch (the game has keyboard shortcuts to begin broadcasting) and the main menu is a hub of popular YouTube videos related to the game. Stuff like “Tips to become a better PA player” and so on. The ‘Chrono Cam’ allows you to play back your match from any perspective and there are servers full of recordings of multiplayer skirmishes. You get a sense, as you fire up another doomed match, that the developers aren’t just making a game, they’re creating a spectator sport.

The game itself has some wonderful gimmickry. Each match is played in a solar system, often containing more than one planet. These are planets in the Super Mario Galaxy sense, where it only takes a few minutes to circumnavigate the world. The camera zooms out smoothly to take in the whole picture and transferring focus between planets is a cinch. It has to be, for the speed you will be playing at. Anyway, you have landed. Now, use your Commander to build up your forces and economy in the traditional RTS fashion. At all costs, you must keep your Commander alive. When he dies (in a spectacular nuclear blast caused by his damaged core) you will lose.

The single-player Galactic Campaign sees you bouncing from one system to another, collecting tech upgrades (advanced units, increased damage, etc) and fighting through strongholds of enemies. But this game mode is almost an afterthought. In essence, it is only a randomised set of fights on a ‘world map’ that can be uncovered as you go. There is no overarching strategy. It’s just a list of battles with a lucky dip thrown in. After a go at the Galactic Campaign I just went straight to Skirmish Mode if I wanted to fight against the computer. This, at least, gave me some choice over which planet I was murdered on.

The joy of having a whole solar system to skirmish in is clear. It adds another level of warfare to the fight. As well as building an army of troops, tanks, planes and boats, you also have to consider the orbital theatre. Satellites can scout huge areas of land, orbital fighters can protect your geostationary factory and an orbital laser platform can pour hot lasery death on anything below. The orbital launcher (a cute rocket platform that fires your first satellites into space) is also required to move units from one planet to another. Each orbital transport can only carry one unit, so getting an actual foothold on an enemy-occupied orb is a hugely tricky operation. I was only once successful. I planted a fabricator (builder dude) down on my opponent’s homeworld and instantly built a teleporter. Dozens of my boys swarmed through the machine — a full on interplanetary invasion. Then I found the enemy commander.

He had glitched. He was sitting on his robo-laurels, doing sweet F. A.

This was an unusual case, the game is not so buggy. There were a couple of instances of units getting trapped but not enough to break the flow of battle. Most of the time the AI enemy was murderous, lethally quick, and nigh unbeatable (even on Normal setting). The enemy commander will send constant raids of tanks and war-bots against your base as well as attacking any vulnerable metal extractors you have set up. Often these war parties will circle your HQ like salivating hyenas, nipping in to destroy a power plant or a radar dish, before falling back to continue their campaign of harassment around the globe.

The wider manoeuvres of the AI are, likewise, intelligent and adaptive. In one battle, my base was located beside an expanse of water that I foolishly neglected. Realising that my AI foe had built his entire campaign on the back of a naval fleet, I built a battery of huge artillery cannons that would sink anything within range. The computer’s first wave of strike ships was folly, as my artillery bombarded them to bits and my bombers finished off the stragglers. But within ten or fifteen minutes, he had returned. This time with enough anti-air ships to devastate my patrolling bombers along with his own (scarily powerful) artillery vessels. By the time I struggled to frighten off this wave, I had lost half a dozen buildings. That was okay. At least I still had my — oh no. My metal fields. I had been so absorbed in the naval battle that I hadn’t even noticed the land-based attack on my precious resources, on the other side of my base. Now, my HQ was decimated, my air units were obsolete and my economy was screwed.

And all the while those hit-and-run raids keep pecking at your sides, then melting back into the fog of war when you send a response team to get them. It’s that guerilla regard for warfare that makes me think the AI is actually intelligent, and not just a computer racing to produce the most units (although, at the rate they do this, I can see why people would get that impression). During raids, the computer won’t even engage you if he thinks he won’t win. You’re not just fighting AI here, you’re fighting robo-Sun Tzu.

So the computer is bewilderingly smart, quick-witted and aggressive, sometimes to the point of frustration. Like I say, I am a fleshy human. I need someone with flaws like my own to play against, so I went online to find some other meatbags to cavort with. But it turns out that the playerbase of Planetary Annihilation are AIs as well. They masquerade as human, yes, but it is clear that they see nothing but the clear red polygons of a war machine. Look at this graph of a match. It shows the amount of commands given by me (in red) and the amount given by my, allegedly human, opponent (purple). There can be no doubt. He is a robot.

Like I’ve said, invasions are tricky. There’s a lot of micro-management when it comes to moving your troops. Often I would set certain troops to patrol automatically (my fighters and bombers would circle my homelands like flies round a carcass) but when it comes to going on the offensive, having a strong combo of troops in high enough numbers is a difficult task. It is hard to predict exactly what you may need and get those war-rats out in sufficient quantity, even with scouts keeping an eye on the make-up of your enemy’s army. There’s nothing available like the huge assault bots and flying saucers of the Supreme Commander series, so total devastation often relies on swamping the other team with masses of units from as many directions as possible. It’s very satisfying but also, like anything in this game, insanely hard to pull off because of the pressure put on you by the enemy. If you want to pump out enough troops to match the murderbots of Planetary Annihilation, your economy is the key to success.

Your resources are metal (gathered from deposits by stationary extractors) and energy (produced by power plants). It’s a rolling economy, which means you’ll be building as you collect, producing things faster or slower depending on your income and output. This means you have to play a terse economic balancing act amid all the military posturing, always glancing up at your efficiency rating when the going gets tough. Somewhat counter-intuitively, ‘100%’ efficiency is a bad thing because it means you are wasting metal and energy that could be used RIGHT NOW. But obviously, an efficiency rating too low means you’re not collecting enough to replace your dwindling stash of metal bits and, I don’t know, energons?

This would be bad. You’re going to need those energons later on because Planetary Annihilation’s endgame is ridiculous, excellent stuff. Whole wars can be won or lost in an interplanetary nuclear exchange. The nuke silos and anti-nuke defence systems are the first thing I would build if my enemy and I became entrenched on our own planets. But they take a long time to arm and are very costly. More than once I was the victim of a preemptive strike. One well-placed nuke destroyed three of my silos. It was heart-breaking. Chalk up another victory for the automatons.

The most gobsmacking route to victory, however, is the one shown off in a lot of the game’s advertisements. It involves sending a team of builder dudes to a far-flung planetoid, building a huge thruster, igniting said thruster, and steering the planetoid itself into your enemy’s homeworld. The destruction is immense, unavoidable and hilarious. I was the victim of this planet-smashing technique, though not in the way intended.

During one team match I was forced to retreat my commander offworld. I (perhaps unwisely) chose to set up shop on a distant, rocky world. When some fabricators controlled by my ally turned up, I was ecstatic. Back-up! Good stuff. It was only when my comrade fired up the engines on what I thought was just a big factory, that I began to regret my strategy. In the end, we won. But only because my ally had used my planetoid in a giant game of marbles. My entire army perished on impact. But the enemy was destroyed. A noble sacrifice? No. A calculated tactic. To this cold, robotic mind I was literally less useful to my team than the land I stood on.

Machines.

Planetary Annihilation is a slick, modernised RTS, engineered from the ground up to appeal to the fast-paced, competitive, hotkey-loving esports crowd. For people like me, it is a bruising gauntlet of defeat. But even I can see the appeal. Putting aside the fact that to play online you need a quad-core processor instead of a brain, the game itself has a huge amont of character. Even if it doesn’t supplant StarCraft as the RTS du jour, I’m confident it’ll attract a sizeable following. The ‘story’ of Planetary Annihilation’s universe is that humans have gone extinct and self-replicating robots have woken up to carry on their endless war against one another. Judging from the multiplayer servers, that seems about right.

105 Comments

  1. kipcasper says:

    My favorite WIT to date. Kept me laughing all the way.

    • Sc0r says:

      I also love it. Still miss massive units like from Supreme Commander though.

  2. Jim Rossignol says:

    Just as a second opinion: I’ve played a tonne of this over the year. It’s incredible. Even if it doesn’t quite address your RTS needs, it’s one of those landmarks you need to play, if just to experience it and have the reference.

    • kipcasper says:

      Oh I will certainly be playing it, although against as easy an AI as I can find. I loved SupCom, but more than that I loved TA and the community driven TA Spring that this game succeeds. I just find this review hilariously accurate.

      • jeeger says:

        I love TA Spring as well, but playing against any AI leaves me with the same feeling as our poor reviewer here. Haven’t tried to play online yet due to terrible noobage.

        • P.Funk says:

          Worst excuse ever. You learn better by being beaten by humans. AIs play different games than humans so whatever skill you think you’re learning with Ai is just a trick.

          The fear of being soundly beaten online is silly silly. Just go get humiliated by a person rather than some AI routine thats living in one of your cores. You might be surprised that he can actually make mistakes and so you might suddenly find a moment of enjoyment where a consistent AI will never surprise you.

          • Stellar Duck says:

            For me, the reason I rarely or never play multiplayer is not the fear of being beaten.

            It’s disgust at the colossal arseholes on the other end of the game. I simply have no interest in being shouted at or insulted in my spare time. I have zero tolerance for it and that’s why I keep the hell away from playing anything with anyone I don’t know.

            And no, it’s not just ‘trash talk’ as so many claim. It’s just obnoxious and makes me cross and annoyed.

          • LionsPhil says:

            And on the other end of the scale, sometimes I need to pause mid-game and go off for half an hour sorting out cat problems, making toast, degaussing the heisenburg compensator, or who knows what else. The AI doesn’t care, sitting there waiting for me. A person would be quite rightly put out.

            Plus a lot of RTSes are really shitty at saving and resuming multiplayer games. Hours of economy-building only to end in an anticlimatic damp squib of a crash or network desync (even on a chuffing LAN) kind of killed multiplayer SupComm for me, even though that was compstomping (which, again, requires a fun AI to fight—harassing omnipotence doesn’t tend to be).

          • P.Funk says:

            Well Stellar I’ve yet to find an RTS that contains VOIP and I’ve never seen trash talk in RTS games be an issue like it is in CoD or Halo. To me thats just a reflexive refrain spoken generically and without thought. I think its an aversion thats just as silly as avoiding online play until you feel confident. I mean really, trolls are bad but they never ever make up the majority of people you play, unless we’re talking about Halo multiplayer, then yes its mostly idiot 12 year olds.

            However, both the replies to my statement appear to have missed the point that the guy I was replying to said he didn’t think he should play online because he wasn’t good enough, not that he didn’t want to play online for trolls or because he didn’t have the spare time to play uninterrupted.

          • LionsPhil says:

            Perhaps you should look at yourself for trash-talking RTS players, since you’re quick to belittle people in these comments.

          • Stellar Duck says:

            Well, the Wargame community is pretty shite as I found out the last time I decided to not heed my own advice and have a go at it. I’ve not heard anything good about the Dota and LoL crowd either.

            I’m sure there are perfectly decent people out there but I’m simply not interested in rolling that dice.

            Right now I play Ultimate General but I suspect I shall stop that if they add chat. As it is I can pretend it’s a more competent AI (though usually an AI that plays very boring and turtle in order to get all brigades on field for a meelee spam).

            As for not playing when you’re not very good, why on earth would I want to learn in an environment where losing is a way to get insulted some more and getting called a little bitch for not being good?

            I do play EVE though. At least there people seem to actually want new players to learn and back when I started I got a lot of help from old players which I appreciated greatly. Got killed a lot but was never insulted for it. Mostly just got advice and often a refund of my ship.

          • subedii says:

            Funny, EVE’s reputation as a dog-eat-dog kind of game always scared me away from playing it. It always sounded interesting as a concept but the stories always made it sound like a haven for jerks to frustrate attempts to build anything, purely for the sake of it.

          • P.Funk says:

            “As for not playing when you’re not very good, why on earth would I want to learn in an environment where losing is a way to get insulted some more and getting called a little bitch for not being good?”

            Kind of proves my point that its reflexive assumption that is self serving, ie. the moment you see chat you bow out, the moment someone is a dick you flip table and determine its not worth it.

            I will admit that multiplayer gaming demands a certain measure of callousness against the inevitable BS someone says but its rarely every person every game every time. I find it kind of amusing to see this kind of generalization. I’ve played multiplayer in many many different games and its never been full on non stop douche bag trash talk.

            As for why would I play against people who might talk shit? Because despite that if they’re better than me I learned something. You say you play Ultimate Genearl, but honestly the AI plays nothing like the people, so you learn nothing except how to roll the AI endlessly by playing AI games. It makes me think of Ender’s Game, with how he observed the older kids imitate the AI rather than learn to play beyond that. The first game of UG I lost in months was the first time I went and played mutliplayer. I actually learned something new.

            As for LOL and DOTA yes they are full of enormous douche bags, but they aren’t RTS games.

          • FriendlyFire says:

            You may be missing the point here: not everyone cares about learning how to beat people at RTS games. Maybe they just want to have fun playing an RTS game? Playing against the AI is one way, and it’s not inherently worse, nor something to correct or to change. Different strokes for different folks.

          • thebigJ_A says:

            He said he plays Ultimate General *multiplayer*. You can tell from the words he used.

            And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with what he’s doing, and nothing inherently right about what you’re doing so stop acting superior and let people have fun, yeah?

          • Neutrino says:

            @subedii. I played Eve for years. The playerbase seems to be much worse on the forums than they are in game. The Eve forums are a cesspool just like the Dota forums, but in game most folks are decent enough, and sometimes downright helpful.

          • P.Funk says:

            I think people here are really missing the point that I was replying to someone who was saying that he is reluctant to play online because he didn’t think he was good enough, then a couple other people started giving reasons why someone would never want to or be able to play online which is kinda… not what was being discussed.

            And for what its worth its not superiority, its observation. If someone says with authority something that I think is a bit silly and not really grounded in reality but is instead the result of someone’s own prejudices or biases (like being really sensitive to trash talk so they blow it out of proportion) then how am I being superior? Stellar Duck’s attitudes about the proliferation of vulgar RTS gamers seems a bit extreme neh? “I might just stop playing that if they add a chat function” I mean, that seems pretty worthy of a heavy eye rolling.

          • Goodtwist says:

            I feel ya, Stellar Duck!

            The shite Wargame community made me quit the game. It would be great if one could disable the chat in-game.

            Then again, I bought Red Dragon two weeks ago in the hope that the occasional harassment wouldn’t bother me. I still didn’t fire up the game…

          • derbefrier says:

            I hear ya P.Funk. I got friends like that guy, who refuse to play online if they think they will get stomped. I have been playing Star Citizen and playing against AI and other people is a completely different expirience. You can be a pretty bad pilot and make decent progress against AI but in a multiplayer match takes a different set of skills. Hell I played my first one since the changes to targeting and Didn’t get a single kill. Hell I barely even hit anyone and spent most of the match running away. Was I embarrased? Nah its all a part of learning you have to be bad before you get gud.

          • ThinkMcFlyThink says:

            To me games are puzzles, and playing against the AI is figuring out the puzzle. I don’t have the time or singular-game focus to get satisfactorily good at most multiplayer games before something else captures my attention, so I generally don’t pay it any bother. I don’t mind losing, but I’m not invested enough in the long haul to learn to consistently win.

          • Volcanu says:

            I think the two arguments are somewhat linked though P. Funk.

            Stellar Ducks point is that the online environment isn’t on the whole, a particularly pleasant place to try and learn an RTS – and this probably contributes to the reluctance of people like jeeger to get stuck in. I do feel this is one of the reasons why multiplayer RTS communities tend to be quite small, compared to some other genres.

            FPS games are easier to dip a toe into because even if you suck, you generally get killed, quickly respawn and have another go- maybe even killing a few people along the way. With an RTS you can easily spend upwards of 30 mins+ in a game without realising you’ve already lost, or have been doing the wrong things – and you wont necessarily have that slight payoff along the way that games with a shorter loop might give a newbie. I actually find it’s often ‘allies’ who are the most unpleasant in RTS matches, rather than opponents- with many of them choosing to rudely berate teammates rather than attempting to suggest, guide or assist newer players.

            So I think Stellar Duck’s point is not about the fear of being beaten -like derbefrier is suggesting, more that if you have limited time for gaming, why would you want to spend that precious time, getting not only mercilessly beaten, but abused for your troubles as well. I think that’s the reason many people are reluctant to give online a try. If you are going to have to invest 10’s of hours in getting up to the required standard, it would be nice if there was less hostility about something as ridiculous as being new to a game.

  3. subedii says:

    There was a really awesome game at PAX that I felt does a good job of illustrating PA in a nutshell:

    I can’t seem to post Youtube videos (comments section keeps deleting my posts if they have links?), but just hit up youtube, and search for “ZaphodX 353”

    Minor explanation: They were playing Team Armies. So whilst there were 3 commanders per side, anyone on your team can control any units / structures, even if they lose their commander. So even if a player loses their commander, they’re still able to assist in the game.

    Also, you can find some good tutorials over at pamatches.com

  4. Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

    Oh Brendan, you rascal. Brendy-words are good words.

  5. Clavus says:

    Another notable Early Access success story. Still have to give the newer version a go.

    • subedii says:

      Unfortunately I’ll have to say that I don’t believe it’s been the launch it should have been.

      For all the typing I’ve been doing here, I feel that the game “released” too early. It’s lacking several key features that I feel should have been in 1.0. The game really needs a tutorial, Galactic War is still far to underdeveloped at this stage, and offline mode really ought to have been in on launch. Matchmaking is important to allow new players to get to grips with the game. Plus a few other things.

      It’s got the core of the game it wants to be. But it doesn’t have everything it should (and needed to) have for launch.

  6. Gilead says:

    It’s a shame the game still requires an internet connection to play — I was planning to get it when it came out of early access, but apparently the possibility of a fully functioning offline version at release was withdrawn a couple of months ago.

    • subedii says:

      Yeah that was annoying. I’d have liked it if the stand-alone client was up for launch.

      However, there have been some shots from PAX of the stand-alone client being used, so hopefully it’ll be ready “soon”.

    • Danny252 says:

      So they’ve called it a “full release” whilst it’s still unplayable for anyone with a shitty internet connection (read: a lot of people)? Oh well, perhaps in a few years I’ll actually be able to have a proper go at it.

      • Cinek says:

        They are already testing an offline version. So it won’t be years. 2-3 months at most, few weeks in a best case.

  7. Koozer says:

    The two biggest flaws in the game right now are a weak single player, and a lack of invasion options. Right now you either load up a billionty transports with one tank each, or build a teleporter on their planet and hope it doesn’t instantly blow up. That aside it is glorious.

    • killias2 says:

      I guess you can select a fleet of transporters and issue an AoE load command or something? I haven’t done it yet, but apparently that’s a thing that can happen.

    • P.Funk says:

      To be honest I don’t think single player was ever really considered a big part of the original pitch. I’m pretty sure what we’ve got right now is mostly due to a stretch goal I think.

      Basically from naissance this was meant to be an online game. Sorry wallflowers.

    • Leb says:

      This. When 2 players are planet locked the game loses its charm quite a bit for me. I prefer playing solar systems with only one planet as this is when the game shines and there are many decisions to be made.

      When you get to intergallactic war its basically as you said, transports or teleporter. If they have Anti-orbital defenses both of these become near impossible. So then nukes. But if they have a well layered anti-nuke system…

      The original trailers on kickstarter showed an “M80 unit cannon” that would shoot units between planets. Apparently it is not in the game because it was too hard to balance. Quite frankly I don’t know how they consider the game’s current inter-plannetary play balanced..

      • subedii says:

        It’s not if we’re honest. Or rather, the balance lends itself a bit too much to stalemate at the moment. I feel they definitely need to work on this

        There are ways to crack a planet, but a well fortified one is very difficult to do for the aforementioned reasons. It’s easy to keep pumping out orbital fighters on infinite patrol queues and anything that tries for a landing is going to have a really hard time of it.

        Although I’m not sure that the unit cannon isn’t in because they said it would be bad for balance, just that they didn’t consider it a priority. Personally I think that something like that would be really useful to solve the problem of planetary stalemates. That and / or maybe some kind of advanced inter-planetary transport.

        • Cinek says:

          Stalemate? You play it wrong if you have a stalemate. I never got one in any of my games.

          • Leb says:

            I don’t know how you could play out random spawns in a free for all wrong.

            Played a game recently where 4 players spawned on planet A and 1 player on planet B. Planet B player decided to be a dick and turtle up using aforementioned tactics. Dominating players on planet A defended from space invasion. Game never ended. There is literally nothing to do when you have 2 planet locked players

  8. subedii says:

    One other things I want to add: As an RTS this feels far more suited to “multiple player” teams than most of the others I typically play.

    Games like Starcraft heavily emphasise 1v1 because the way in which units scale when blobbed can seriously re-work the balance as it was originally designed. In games like Dawn of War or CoH, blobs of units can basically insta-kill entire squads, again, breaking balance.

    There’s something in the design of PA that makes it inherently suited to allow team games. The gameplay is ALL about massed units from the start, and there aren’t really what you’d call “spell effects” or other things that act as major force multipliers like in other RTS’s. Instead it becomes a lot about building up a massive war machine churning out your units, with the massive economy to keep it running.

    Another really good feature related to this is Team Armies. Which when selected, means that anyone can control any units from your side. So even if you lose your commander, as long as there is at least one commander left on the team you’re all still playing together, and you can still contribute.

    It shifts the emphasis so that even when people have lost their own armies, they can still play, and help out commanding other attacks, defences, or even just in building up Eco. Multiple participants can really help with those large multi-planet games.

    The 3 general rules of PA that the community seems to have come up with are:

    – Never Stop Expanding
    – Never Stop Scouting
    – Never Stop Attacking

    If you think you’ve done enough of anyone of those, you can do more.

    • FriendlyFire says:

      Yeah, team armies should be in every RTS ever. It means multiple players can split tasks depending on what they like best or what they’re most competent at. It feels an awful lot more like team play instead of just different groups deciding their goals align and choosing not to shoot one another for a while.

    • Quitch says:

      Team armies, split across multiple planets, is a beautiful thing to behold. Certainly the best games to watch are those of organised teams in team army mode, like those from Clan Wars. On the other hand there’s nothing more frustrating than team armies with people you don’t know :)

  9. Moraven says:

    Is there any space combat?

    Or is this like Sins of the Solar Empire, but combat is on the planets instead of space around a planet?

    • hotmaildidntwork says:

      There’s an orbital layer, where satellites and space fighters duke it out, but the combat is primarily planet centric.

  10. LionsPhil says:

    So, the Starcraft click-frenzy claims the Total Annihilation lineage at last. Shame.

    • subedii says:

      I’d actually have to disagree with that on both points.

      For one, TA was actually a fairly fast paced game.

      But more importantly, PA is very definitively a Macro game, and it doesn’t require ANYTHING like Starcraft’s obsessive clicking.

      I’ll be blunt, I’ve always felt that Starcraft’s UI was built around forcing the player to do a ridiculous amount of additional micromanagement busy-work. The deliberate design of factories to only have a 5 unit queue, the way that funds are subtracted immediately upon ordering a unit / structure (meaning that in fact, you are literally NEVER supposed to queue anything if you can help it). Mechanics like Larval inject and chrono-boost (which are literally, click this button each time, every time, at 20-30 second intervals). Supply and the very idea of being “supply blocked” (one more deliberate design decision, one more thing to juggle). And then you get to the unit micromanagement, spell casting, ‘stutter-step’, it’s endless.

      PA on the other hand has a UI evolved to allow you to implement your plans as easily as possible. Streaming economy puts the emphasis on constant production. Which factories oblige by having infinite-repeat build queues with easy one-off “priority” inserts into the queue with a simple ctrl-click.

      Producing buildings or facilities en-mass is quite literally click-and-drag to queue. Want to build on all metal spots in an area (or the whole planet)? Click, drag. Want to have your units scout the entire planet? Click-drag. Want to give an area-attack command? You get the idea.

      Without spell casting units, army attacks focus far less on individual unit micro, and instead on supply of units and composition, and attacking from the best front. Attacks tend to happen in large swathes as opposed to a back-and-forth of spell and ability slinging.

      In SC2, I feel like if you’re clicking a lot it’s because you’re having to take care of a ridiculous amount of minutiae. In PA, I feel like it’s because the scope of the game has expanded. it’s because you’re trying to control large scale battles across different fronts on several different planets at the same time. And even then, I’ve never felt like I need the kind of crazy APM that a game of SC2 constantly tasks me with.

      Basically I don’t need to click my command centre every 30 seconds on-the-dot to make one more worker. And that’s something I’m happy about. I realise there’s a whole argument to be had for SC2’s style of gameplay design, but I don’t think that school of thought has ever really appealed to me.

      • FriendlyFire says:

        This. While I’ll admit I’m often overwhelmed by the amount of stuff you need to do (and perhaps the AI could use another low difficulty level for newbies), I never find that it’s because the game is a clickfest or designed to tie APM to competency. It’s just that you’re doing so many things at in so many places at once that it’s just inherently complex. PA’s tried to mitigate this best as possible (their replacement for the minimap is a marvel), but you can’t completely remove it without also removing the “RTS” bit.

      • SPCTRE says:

        subedii, your description actually makes me want to check this game out. Incredible, I haven’t played an RTS since Warcraft 3.

    • Melody says:

      Yeah, the amount of micromanagement, clicks and hotkeys always kept me from being able to enjoy what would otherwise be really interesting strategy games. I like the strategies, the crazy plans and the outthinking parts, but if mechanics are so hard and matter so much that I’m never going to enjoy the strategy unless I turn it the game into my oen and only life, it’s pointless. (To a lesser extent I have the same problem with CS:GO)

    • P.Funk says:

      To be fair you’re judging that based on the analysis of someone who appears to be utter shite at RTS games and is overwhelmed by the scope of what he has to manage rather than the actual breadth of commands he needs to issue. I’m fairly certain even at this scale PA creates far less micro than Starcraft2. The only way that its actually comparable is that the scale is so much bigger you have to issue more commands than you would in a previous iteration, but if Starcraft were to be on a similar scale its required APM would still be infinitely higher.

      Back in the earlier development period for PA I remember watching the live streams and they focused on explaining how they were doing a lot of work to make micro as minimal as possible because they knew the scale of what they were doing was going to be complex enough.

      In many ways the larger APM of PA is still maintaining that quintessential TA lineage because its taking the sheer volume of APM that a Starcraft player might use but putting it to more efficient use.

      So, yea, I don’t think your analysis is anything but adorable if misleading and basically unfounded.

      • Batolemaeus says:

        No, he is exactly correct. PA plays more like the Starcraftian lineage of RTS that violently eschew the features other games adopted to make the micromanagement bearable. PA doesn’t feature many of the nice features of Supcom, and in fact its devs have been very vocal in leaving all the good things (ferries, shields etc.) behind. The planets are tiny and with almost no interesting geography whatsoever, so it just devolves into lots and lots of unit spam.

        I, for one, am back to playing SC:FA, because ti is by far the superior game.

        • P.Funk says:

          That sir, sounds like a matter of opinion.

        • subedii says:

          I… I’m not sure any of the stuff you’ve mentioned has anything to do with micromanagement or APM. Certainly not in the Starcraft sense of the term. The things you point out are design decisions.

          Leaving even that aside, PA was always more of a spiritual successor to Total Annihilation than SupCom. PA goes more for TA’s faster style of play to begin with, and that partly defines the design decisions in play as well. What UI features that SupCom pioneered are still pretty much in play.

          Shields aren’t in the game largely because shield wars (at least in vanilla SupCom, not so much in FA:F) tended to be their own kind of dragged out stalemate.

          Planets are “Mario” sized (as the review puts it) because larger maps would take forever to traverse and seriously drag the games out. In real terms, planet maps are on a rough par with the flat maps from TA and co. (of course, both have their own variances).

          About the only thing I’m missing from the UI perspective are the aforementioned ferry points, but realistically ferry routes seem to have been largely supplanted by teleporters now. I’d definitely like to see them come back (for the inter-planet stuff), but I also feel that so far I’ve been using the teleporter systems WAY more than I ever did ferry points.

          • Cinek says:

            Also note that maps appear small because they are spheres. In terms of surface area they’re as large as maps in most of the RTS games.

    • Xocrates says:

      I never quite got the accusation that Starcraft is a click-fest. Not because I disagree you need an high APM to be competitive, you certainly do, but because at an entry level the game actually requires less micromanagement than most other RTS I’ve played.

      You can play Starcraft by building one barracks and queuing marines – it’s not good play, but it can be satisfying play at low level. Compare with games like company of heroes or, yes, PA, which require you to juggle loads of stuff even at the lowest level of play and the accusation of Starcraft being a clickfest sounds weird. It’s judging the whole game on the high skill minority.

  11. jack4cc says:

    My primary issue is that Zero-K still offers far more variety than this due to the incredible amount of unique units, compared to PA’s samey units that all feel kinda flimsy.
    Oh yeah, and the fact that it’s been “released”, but all you need to do to crash important parts of the game is press f5 a couple of times.

    • Cinek says:

      PA went towards delivering essential, optimal units instead of spamming player with dozens of different kinds that are extremely situational.
      It’s a concious design choice.
      Either you spend time working on 200 units, 150 of which are never used in competitive gameplay, or you make 50 units but good and well-balanced.

      • BlueTemplar says:

        That’s just not true about Zero-K. Most units are being used, in team games at least (the overwhelming majority of games), due to each player concentrating on one of the 11 factories, each of which with their strengths and balances in terms of available units.

        It looks like to me that you’ve never played Zero-K, and don’t know what you’re talking about. Unless you’re willing to list those 3/4 of units that are never used?
        link to zero-k.info

    • KDR_11k says:

      Reminds me, has RPS covered any flavor of Spring RTS in its free game columns yet? Maybe an in-depth look at it would be warranted after slamming PA.

      • BlueTemplar says:

        Nope. 14 articles about PA, 0 about Spring games and 0 about SupCom : Forged Alliance Forever.

  12. Rensdyr says:

    Great write.

  13. hotmaildidntwork says:

    How are the automation tools? Supreme Commander did a fine job of using queued commands and interlinked standing orders to allow you to build a war machine that made the incredible scale more manageable. When I backed PA I was banking on Uber getting that despite some concerning commentary, but I haven’t had time to actually fire the thing up and check.

    • FriendlyFire says:

      I’ve not played in a while but there were an awful lot of tools, particularly to quickly build and mass units and buildings. The patrol system feels a bit more awkward (or I haven’t figured out how to use it properly) than SupCom’s, but the controls are solid. I also believe that’s one area that can be modded, so you might see even more fancy stuff in the future.

    • subedii says:

      I’ll try to be brief:

      – Same streaming economy (so everything is only subtracted as it’s being built, not before).
      – Same queuing system (you can tell your constructors to build however much stuff you want and they’ll just get on with it).
      – Same assist mechanic (so fabricators can assist each other and factories still)

      In addition there’s the following

      – Area commands. These are the major addition. If you want to say, build on all the metal spots in an area, simply select your engineer, select the metal extractor, and click-drag a circle to encompass all the metal spots you want (this can even be the entire planet). The Engineer will then set out the quickest path to do them all. Works similar for other structures, so click drag to build factories in a line etc.
      – Area commands work for all sorts of things. Attack commands (very useful for air units to prevent overkill), scouting (click drag the entire planet, and your units will randomly patrol the entire area), transports etc.

      – Factories can now be set to infinite queue. So if you select 3 of X, and 2 of Y, it’ll churn out units in that proportion for as long as the factory is operating.

      – If you want to “priority” build a unit not in the queue (like you need a new Engineer right now), you don’t need to cancel the queue, you simply ctrl-click the unit you want and it’ll be the next to be produced (as a one off), before production continues as normal.

      – Missing the “Ferry” system for transports, which makes me sad. :(

      – However, that is also largely made up for by the awesome teleporters. There’s nothing quite like setting one down and see entire armies come. And yes, you can set your factories to rally straight for it (you’ll probably be doing this a lot).

      • LionsPhil says:

        OK, that’s somewhat more promising. (Infinite factory queuing was also in SupComm, BTW, or at least Forged Alliance.)

        • subedii says:

          Aye, I forgot that got added in. I guess it was force of habit on my part that I used to just spam shift-click about a hundred times. I still see people do that even in PA shoutcasts. :P

          • hotmaildidntwork says:

            Ah, the loss of the ferry system is indeed a sad thing. It’s not even that transports were all that effective, it was just fun. I’m getting the sense that PA may not have as much of supcom in it as I’d originally hoped, but I’m still looking forward to checking out what they have built themselves when time allows.

      • kinglog says:

        I’ve read a few reviews for this seemingly neglect the area commands, which apparently make some things, particularly large scale invasions, quite a bit easier.

        I have not played this and have no idea if this is the case here, but have seen it mentioned enough that I thought I’d throw it out there.

        Also heard that the tutorial is bad or non-existent so these area commands are not at all clear.

        • Cinek says:

          PA pulls a lot of inspiration from what TA Spring did.
          Area commands are brilliant for planning and setting up your base. You can basically queue your builders in a few seconds for next 10-15 minutes of a game and just leave them do their job while you focus on more urgent matters than building walls / defence lines / power generators.

        • Koozer says:

          It launched way too early, with various features either barebones (single player) or just not there (offline mode, tutorials) and it’s damaging the reviews.

      • yusefsmith says:

        So basically, a poorer copy of the automation tools in AI War, a years-old game

  14. killias2 says:

    PA has a lot of potential, but there really isn’t a good on-ramp for new players. The single-player is pretty much just a series of random skirmishes, and.. well.. that’s the entire game except for multiplayer. I’ve enjoyed playing with it to an extent, but I haven’t gotten into it enough to seriously consider MP. As a big fan of Starcraft 2 and the Dawn of War games (and.. older RTSs, obviously), I’m just not getting into this the same way at all.

    • P.Funk says:

      I think PA was created for people who don’t need an onramp to convince them to try multiplayer. I’ve always felt like playing singleplayer to build up your confidence in an RTS is silly and a waste of time. You almost always learn faster playing with people, and whats more if you’re lucky enough to make a good friend online shortly after taking the plunge you can end up getting taught more in one afternoon on teamspeak or in chat than you would learn in weeks of fumbling about in a skirmish.

      Besides, who learns anything about how to play an RTS from single player campaigns? That stuff is NEVER representative of how the game flows at all. The economy doesn’t work the same, the enemy is always scripted to all hell and the tech tree is always held in stasis for whole missions at a time. Its fun for sure, but its not really any good at teaching you how to play online at all.

      I think the single player confidence boost is just a delusion. Mostly its just that people need to suck it up and start losing to better players a lot. If you were to try and learn to do something in real life, like say shoot pool or whatever, you’re not going to spend hours and hours alone on a table when you know nothing about how to play the game properly, you’re gonna go get your ass handed to you by real people. Gamers are so weird because they seem to want to avoid that perfectly natural experience that pervades all real life competitive play.

      • subedii says:

        Whilst it’s true that for most RTS games the only way to learn to play online is to just go and do it, I do feel this game could have really used a tutorial.

        There’s a lot in here that’s VERY different to most conventional RTS’s, from the streaming economy to all the little features of the UI that can make your life a lot easier. And most simply aren’t explained. There’s some good youtube tutorials out there from the community, but I think the game could have used its own.

        Even complete novices can play against each other and have fun, but I do feel that the game could have done a much better job of explaining the core working principles and UI features. Someone coming off of the Starcraft or C&C school of RTS is going to hit PA and remain confused for much longer than they needed to.

        • P.Funk says:

          You’ve probably got a point, though I’m of the Total Annihilation lineage so I know this by heart anyway. I also pretty much ignore in game tutorials since they’re always boring. I guess I’m just one of those people who doesn’t mind the confusion. Even so, in the age of a bajillion lets play youtubers it should be pretty easy to find out whats happening, especially now since web browsing is accessible via things like the steam overlay.

          I tend to find watching someone play the game unfiltered more instructive than a focused and meandering tutorial.

      • killias2 says:

        It’s not just about learning a game. It’s about getting into a game. Starcraft had a brilliant campaign, which made me appreciate and want to learn the multiplayer that much more. That’s just me, of course. YMMV

        • Cinek says:

          Each on his own. I never went past the 2nd mission in SC multiplayer. Waste of time.

      • malkav11 says:

        I think the idea that an RTS singleplayer experience can or should be about prepping one for playing the multiplayer is pernicious and wrongheaded. I was so glad when Relic and Blizzard introduced radically different singleplayer and in the former case, left you to your own devices on whether you wanted a multiplayer experience (hint: I don’t), and in the latter case did eventually add (in Heart of the Swarm) a mode that is explicitly and actually about teaching you multiplayer tactics. Personally I don’t give a crap about multiplayer, and I probably won’t ever pick up PA, or if I do only after they implement a genuine singleplayer, but I do enjoy good scripted RTS missions if my inability to multitask and general lack of micromanagement chops don’t do me in too badly. But yes, of course they don’t teach you how to play against humans. Even with an amazingly talented AI (which is a tall enough order by itself), you’re unlikely to get the flexibility and shifting metagame of actual PvP, and there’s no practical way to get any sort of worthwhile narrative or macro-level variety out of the plain skirmish that constitutes most multiplayer modes, so you’re sabotaging the solo experience for the sake of inadequate training. Nuts to that.

        • Cinek says:

          Well, there are different types of RTS games, just like there are different types of shooters. Some are build around multiplayer expirience, some are build around singleplayer, some try to get both right. PA is certainly MP-centric and a single player experience gets boring relatively quick, however this game really does shine in MP or e-sports.

          • malkav11 says:

            Sure. I don’t begrudge anyone a fully multi-centric RTS, I just won’t buy it. I even don’t necessarily begrudge trying to do both singleplayer and multiplayer right in the same title, as long as the singleplayer end is robust enough to justify the price tag by itself. I just object to the very common idea in RTS that the singleplayer exists in order to prep people for multiplayer. It doesn’t work and it’s super limiting in ways that make the singleplayer experience so much less enjoyable.

    • Smoky_the_Bear says:

      The single player is stupid. The handful of maps I’ve played so far resulted in me finding an AI enemy huddled around a handful of resource buildings and absolutely nothing else. Literally zero challenge. Not sure what their idea was with it but Galactic War is in no way ready for full release. It feels completely Alpha and should not have been released in it’s current state, just really bad.

  15. Paul.Power says:

    It’s cool and all, but how can they call it finished when they haven’t added +sing yet?

  16. NotToBeLiked says:

    Been playing this game since it ‘came out’. It’s a horrible, unenjoyable hot pile of excrement. The AI gettin stuck is pretty common. Crashes are very common. The camera getting stuck in the middle of nowhere is another regular complaint. Being completely outplayed by an AI at every difficulty level is the opposite of fun because a normal player will not be able to multitask well enough.

    I also completely fail to understand how you write an opinion about this game and not even MENTION the fact that the game has always online DRM, can not save a game and slows down to a complete crawl because the server-based AI can’t handle the load and slows the game down EVE-style so every ingame second takes 10+ realtime seconds. There is absolutely no tutorial (apart from a link to youtube movies made by fans) and not even a manual.

    I don’t like publishers and feel they are mostly a blight on gaming, but not even the most desperate publisher would release this excuse for a game. This is barely out of the proof-of-concept stage.
    Fortunately they didn’t need a publisher to already start selling extra commanders as DLC for 10-15$! And to reply to the people defending this game already: I know how to play, I’ve played Supreme Commander 1 & 2 for ages. If there is some secret to playing this game properly, I haven’t found it despite trying very hard. If I need to watch dozens of hours of YouTube videos to play a game somewhat properly, the game has failed in explaining itself. At least complex games without tutorials back in the day gave you a manual to learn from. And no, ‘Verify your game cache’ will not solve anything, because it never does.

    • tormos says:

      can’t speak to the rest of your commentary but can personally list at least 3 games that verifying the game cache has been just the thing to fix

    • Smoky_the_Bear says:

      I agree with a lot of this, the game just is not finished. Honestly this “review” is by far the most favourable thing I’ve read about the game, the common consensus is that it just isn’t very good, lacks depth and lacks polish. Things such as in-game links to Youtube videos as a “tutorial” just serve to emphasise the fact that the developers are taking the piss with it.
      Also the game lacks variety. A fairly small number of available units and no different factions severely limits the gameplay in my opinion. Also the fact that you can attack from anywhere on the map by circumnavigating a “planet” in 2 minutes is gimmicky and rubbish compared to traditional RTS maps.

  17. InfamousPotato says:

    Thanks for the review, it was quite enjoyable to read.

  18. karazjo says:

    The last remark about the multiplayer lobby is just mean. Very funny WIT! Thanks!

  19. Quiffle says:

    Note that this is only a very shallow observation, since I was waiting to play this until it was fully released. I’ve only played about an hour or two of this, and I already found the deviation from its TA and SupCom roots to be incredibly disappointing. It played very much like Starcraft, and was often kept wondering whether formations and coverage truly mattered, or whether this would be yet another A-move fest. The removal of one vital strategic layer found in the old Cavedog-like games, wrecks and salvaging, was truly surprising – as I saw all my kbots explode like popcorn, only leaving what appeared to wisps of pine scent.

    tl;dr – I’m not entirely sure that the old TA pedigree is to be found here. But hopefully once I can get over that perhaps I’ll find that maybe perhaps PA has merits that make it stand on its own as a much needed injection into the somewhat stagnate world of RTS games.

    On a random note – honestly, what’s with the random people coming to complain about player etiquette for games clearly tailored towards competitive folk? It’s one thing to be a complete knob online…and another to be a trash talker on some video game.

    • Premium User Badge

      Harlander says:

      It’s because there’s a difference between those things, and too many people do the former and try and pass it off as “trash talk”.

    • Cinek says:

      “deviation from its TA and SupCom roots to be incredibly disappointing.” – care to elaborate?
      I don’t know SupCom – played only SubCom 2 and it was an utter shit – but I can see TA roots in PA perfectly clear. Heck: some units are direct copies of those from TA.

      • jack4cc says:

        TA, Supcom (1), and Spring are all about reclaiming the wrecks on your front lines to fuel your economy, while PA is just spam, there is no need to worry that your pointless attack will fuel the enemies economy instead of hurting it.

  20. JendrykGaming says:

    How did you fail to mention the truly glaring issues with PA?

    Time dilation, extreme lag in long games caused by the simulation/AI being run server-side, lack of offline and DRM free?

    Most glaring is the absence of offline mode and the presence of DRM. On the Kickstarter description two years ago, and until recently on the game’s main page (and steam page), the developers promised that the game would NOT require you to be always online for single player, would support LAN games, and would be DRM-free. Quietly, all of these features were edited out AFTER Kickstarter funding had been secure, and AFTER thousands bought into Early Access on Steam (when it still advertised offline mode and DRM free on Steam page, Home page, and Kickstarter page).

    The best answer that users could get were vague quotes on the forums from developers that gave little indication as to when these critical features would be included. Finally, after forum users ceaselessly demanded answers about offline mode, and with official launch finally announced (just days away), the lead developer responded to a forum post and gave a one line answer- that offline would be included “soon after launch.” It’s been three weeks since then, there’s still no offline.

    Why does this matter? Uber doesn’t have enough servers, or powerful enough servers, to adequately handle the stresses of essentially running the game on its end, especially during primetime when the most players are online. In a game lasting more than 30-40 minutes with multiple planets and players (games in PA can easily last hours), the simulation slows to a crawl, time dilation kicks in, and you’re stuck staring at a slideshow where nothing happens. You stare at your units as they seemingly don’t respond to commands, or the game responds so slowly that it’s hard to tell anything is happening at all.

    I really don’t understand how this was overlooked.

    • Cinek says:

      Give it few weeks and you’ll see offline DRM free patch.
      They’re already testing it.

    • Smoky_the_Bear says:

      You are complaining that 3 weeks is too long to be considered “soon” . Only children are so impatient. The game shouldn’t have been released yet, it is not finished. I just don’t see where the lack of offline mode is so important that it deserves a rant like this when compared to all the other glaring issues that plague the game. I can only assume that if the servers are struggling to run it, running locally may also bring about the slowdown/time dilation issues that people are complaining about.
      This game just shouldn’t have been properly released yet, full stop. I reckon that their early access money started to dry up so they decided to “launch” the game in order to generate more money.

  21. Nameless_Terror says:

    You have me laughing uncontrollably reading this. I trust that you will find it amusing that my buddy and I will sometimes compete by fighting the highest difficulty of ai in a 3v1 to see who can kill them all the fastest. I hold the record with 26:40 between us. That is killing 3 absurd ai in a 3v1 XD

    Though when playing a team game with the above mentioned buddy, my wife asked me if I could speak in anymore of a robotic monotone voice. Maybe there is something to your theory….

  22. RanDomino says:

    I always felt that Total Annihilation was a fine symphony unfairly overshadowed by StarCraft’s douchey butt-rock, so I find something fitting in this article comparing Planetary Annihilation to StarCraft 2 ~15 years later.

  23. sophof says:

    Wow, this sounds much more appealing than I expected. I’ve always loved TA, but I felt this was a pointless ‘sequel’, since it would just make controlling everything even more impossible (or so I thought).
    If the AI is truly that magnificent though, I will definitely give this a go (MP RTS is not my thing, I’m not interested in micro-skills). Also, the lack of super-units actually sounds quite good, if only they improved the AI of your own units so you don’t have to micro them. In my opinion, if there’s a singular optimal solution, the computer should do it for you automatically in RTS games, so you can focus on ‘bigger’ strategy like your economy and unit balance.

    • Crafter says:

      your mileage may vary.
      Sometimes the AI is cunning and does things like building artillery at the perfect distance from my base in order to counter my defenses.
      Often it is entirely stupid though and either does not build anything after the first buildings (I think there is an issue with the algorithm that manages its economy, on low resources planets, it just get stuck) or build hundreds of planes and only plane and let them all wait in the same place while I am invading their planet and murdering their commander.

  24. SophiaButler says:

    Pet peeve of applying male pronounz to AI/robotz/the playerz own commander aside (even the game doez this. Male iz the default, amirite?), have they patched out the need to have a functioning mouse-wheel?

    Mine doezn’t work so I have to rely on key-binding instead, which I had to do when playing Supreme Commander: Forged Alliance (shocked the article didn’t mention that game too, and instead went with mentioning SC2).
    In the optionz menu my last check showed they didn’t let you rebind any scrolling functionz like SC:FA let me.

  25. Crafter says:

    I have been playing PA for several months and it awakened an itch for RTS that I had forgetten.
    First, there is one major issue : the game is server based. I understand that it is necessary to deliver the devs ample vision in terms of number of units (the number of units/player is at the moment fairly conservative, but they are aiming at very large battles in the future). This has two consequences :
    -if Uber closes the servers, the game is dead.
    -Even if you play in solo, you need a connection. Also, each time there is a connection issue you get disconnected and lose all your progress in the current battle, including the shape of the planets (they are generated dynamically at the start of the match). During the beta, this happened all the time, to the point that 4 commanders battles (in solo, I am not even talking multi) were basically un-winnable. In the release, it is no longer omnipresent (I guess they upgraded their servers) but it still happen a lot.

    That being out, the game is fun but I can’t help but see it as an inferior clone of Forged Alliance.
    It shares many things with his pseudo-ancestor but lacks some of its important features : for example managing your troups is way more tedious since you can’t create ferry routes for your transporters and you can’t ask a factory to assist another one.
    The solo campaing seems to be only here because they promised it in the Kickstarter. It is badly designed and ultra repetitive. You start with very few units and gain more entirely randomly after each battle. You don’t apply any strategy. Since you lack many units, you are also severely limited in what you can do and can be blocked since the game have been balanced with a full palette of units in mind.

    The game with all units available has some issues too. Bots feel mostly useless with the current balance. The developers have decided that unlike Supreme Commander, PA would treat bots via entirely different factories. The problem is that so far their use is at best dubious and discourage you from wasting resources in their dedicated factory.

    You have got an atmospheric level, which is a neat idea. but since planets are minuscule, satellites float not that far from the ground and polute the far away view that would be used for strategic maneuveurs in forged alliance.
    The planet to planet transport would need a total revamp in my opinion.
    You need to build a satellite and make it travel to another planet. This creates a couple of big issues :
    -you may have to wait for a relatively long time for your satellite to arrive and you don’t ever get an alert when it happens.
    -Then, you can build a teleport gate, which allows you to move an invading army very rapidly. The issue with that is that you don’t get any alert when one of your radars detect a transport or engineering satellite arriving on the planet, even with full coverage. So unless you spend all your time observing all your planets surface each 30 seconds, you can very easily get overwhelmed without any chance to counter.
    Both of these issues are more in the information delivery/display, but they seriously weaken this part of the game

    The game does not have experimentals, and has instead game enders : metal planet that can shoot lasers, you can build huge rockets on small planets that will allow to make them collide with another one.
    It is a nice idea, but in the end I think that it is sadly way more limited than Forged Alliance experimentals. An experimental is relatively complex to use and there are several ways to counter it. So you need to make decisions : to you try to directly chase the commander with it ? or maybe try to destroy as much factory or maybe resource productions infrastructure with it ? Not to mention that if it is destroyed it leaves a lot of metal behind that the enemy might use. Or maybe you will use it for smaller engagements in order to let it gain a couple of veterancy rank, making it that much deadlier.

    Planetary Annihilation might become a great game some day but in my opinion it needs a LOT of work and new units. Quickly after being disconnected one time too many, I reinstalled Forged Alliance instead and had a ton of fun with it.

  26. Chuckleluck says:

    I tried to get into this. The general bugginess of the game (one of my friends can’t even play it because it’ll crash in the setup lobby) and the economy are my two big complaints. I didn’t like it in Supreme Commander and I don’t like it here. It feels too abstract to me.

  27. Xain says:

    Having played it a bit, i can say that I admire the ambition behind the game. Sure, it’s missing a few things here and there, but we’re talking about a RTS ON MULTIPLE PLANETS where you can SMASH THEM AGAINST EACH OTHER and where you can build a DEATH STAR. My 10 years-old self would have salivated just at the thought of all this.

    That being said, I was a bit frustrated with myself to have paid the full 90$ when I finally got around to playing it. I had such high hopes that I overlooked the fact that the actual gameplay would be probably managing a bunch of stuff as fast as you can – like what most RTS are at the end of the day. In my head I thought all that would flow naturally but alas it doesn’t. Sure, between two players of the same caliber – mechanically I mean – strategy plays a big role but at the end of the day mechanics are what counts mostly. And that’s ok, a lot of people like it, I just find RTS games tedious and that’s why I normally play turn-based strategy games. I guess I hoped this one wouldn’t be, given so much of it is downright inspiring.

  28. Stinkfinger75 says:

    So Uber, now that you’ve released PA, any chance of you revisiting Super Monday Night Combat? You had an awesome MOBA on your hands before MOBAs were cool. Get on that would you please?

  29. Continuity says:

    “To this cold, robotic mind I was literally less useful to my team than the land I stood on. ”

    Hilarious.

  30. BlueTemplar says:

    So, how does PA compare to Zero-K and Forged Alliance Forever?