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Offworld Trading Company, The Fighting-Free* RTS

Soren Johnson's latest in action

It's impossible not to be interested in whatever Civ IV designer Soren Johnson is up to, despite a disconcerting dalliance with wait/pay/spam social games at EA a while back, but even so his next project, Offworld Trading Company, is pressing even more of my buttons than I'd already expected. A real-time strategy game which isn't at all militaristic, but instead focused on colony expansion and economy, and the Machiavellian manipulation thereof? Gimme! While a prototype has been available since July to anyone who feels comfortable throwing $80 at speculative projects, Mohawk have just now broken cover with first footage for everyone. It looks out of this world no no no I'm so sorry, I mean it looks like a very interesting and attractive game from this world.

Lots to talk about here, but one thing I'll say straight off is that it's full of UI porn. Since Endless Legend, I'm mad keen for strategy games with designer interfaces.

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No fightin', see? There's not even any unit building - just bases, and market manipulation. What a great concept, in theory. Of course, the great test is to then making money-juggling and corporate espionage as exciting as blowing up tanks, but if this is quick and punchy enough about that stuff I daresay it can pull it off.

I'm relieved to hear that the spread of resources will be random each game, so it won't be a matter of rote-learning a precise strategy that you have to enact within the first minute of a match or it's all over. Instead, according to this elaboration on Polygon, you'll need to assess the lie of the land and work out what you're going to focus on.

Not long to wait to find out whether this new frontier for build'n'bash is a safe one to settle on. It's due on Steam Early Access (I KNOW I KNOW but come on it's a mainstay of PC gaming now, we can't just will it out of existence) on February 12th. I'm going to be all over it as soon as I possibly can.

* Though you can hire pirates to go indirectly mess up your opponents' stuff for you

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