Directing armies in battles can be such a chore—'go here,' 'kill that', 'retreat there'—when sometimes I just want to see a big daft rumble. That's Totally Accurate Battle Simulator, the game about building armies and just seeing what happens. It gets a touch silly, between the ragdoll physics and a roster of units which includes vikings, cavemen, Roman legionaries, pirates, wooly mammoths, tanks, dragons, skeletons, and angels. After a few years in early access, TABS has finally hit version 1.0, and has added multiplayer too.
The way it goes: you see an enemy army, you build an army by picking units that might counter them, you lay out your forces, then you watch the battle unfold as the AI and ragdoll physics take over. Or you can take to the battlefield yourself in control of a unit. It's undoubtedly silly, but strategy can be quite important. Or you can just watch a big stupid fight, as big and as stupid as your computer can handle.
"Slow fights down by holding the left mouse button and you can really savour the technical detail – and begin to appreciate why armies of more than a few hundred units can make a dusty GPU start to wheeze. Swarms of projectiles trace elegant arcs across the battlefield, landing with a satisfying thud in wooden shields where they wobble with perfect accuracy. Soldiers' desperately flailing legs clamber believably over piles of ragdoll corpses. Sword tips connect with torsos and send fighters tumbling arseways. There's a new Da Vinci tank unit – a kind of merry-go-round armed with a ring of cannons – which if you zoom right into it, reveals there’s a tiny Da Vinci hurtling around inside. What a treat."
The Mechanic talked with developers Landfall about the physics powering the game too.
Since then, Landfall have added newness including a unit creator and, now, local and online multiplayer. The launch announcement on Friday (yes, it left early access on April Fool's Day, ho ho) also notes that the launch update added two new factions, two new maps, two new campaigns, achievements, Twitch intergration.
Landfall have also made Totally Accurate Battlegrounds, their silly battle royale game, free-to-play. That's on Steam too. It had launched free, then cost £4, and now is free again. It'll be supported by a cosmetic store launching later this month, and folks who had the game before the switch will get some cosmetics, plus virtuabucks if they paid for it.