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Strategic shooter hybrid Executive Assault 2 enters early access

A risky but tempting investment

My brain is not up to playing Executive Assault 2 today. I could maybe handle a basic RTS, or maybe an FPS but not this complex hybrid of both plus space combat. Making its early access debut yesterday, it's a sequel to Hesketh Studios's 2015 Executive Assault. In the first game, players commanded a robot army RTS-style to take down your corporate rival's CEO, leading from the front in FPS combat. In the sequel, you're juggling all that and the third dimension as the battle moves into space. Below, a little video peek at the game, including some impressive fleet combat.

Right now, Executive Assault 2 has a bit of a learning curve. There's a very limited in-game tutorial, and no campaign mode, just multiplayer and skirmishes against the AI. All of the easy in-roads to the game are planned for the final version, but unless you're familiar with the original game you may want to hold off. In the little bit I've played so far, I spent most of it fumbling around the interface trying to figure out how to add modules to my base. There's also the option to play exclusively as a combat unit, either in the service of an AI commander, or working for another player.

Executive Assault 2 is expected to remain in early access for another 6-12 months, and there's a lot coming to the game in that time. On top of a proper single-player campaign and map editor, there's also plans to let players invade online matches in progress as neutral 'protester' units. There's also plans for a user interface overhaul, and a lot of the current placeholder assets will be replaced with bespoke content by the time the game launches. Right now there's 60 researchable items on the tech tree, with 100 planned by launch, and more units coming.

While my sludgy Friday afternoon brain is preventing me diving any deeper into Executive Assault 2, it seems interesting. The first game was well received, and the sequel already seems decently populated for an indie strategy game. With any luck I'll be able to get a handle on the game over the weekend, but failing that, I'll be keeping a close eye on this one. If nothing else, the idea of invading a competitive RTS match as a neutral jerk unit appeals to me on a deep, fundamental level.

Executive Assault 2 is out now in early access. It's available on Steam for £20/€21/$25, with the developer undecided on whether the price will increase any at launch next year.

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