A fresh take on a classic genre from the early days of PC gaming. Forts involves deep strategy and won’t disappoint RTS enthusiasts looking to try something different.
Type: Single-player, Multi-player
Genre: RTS, Sandbox
Developer: EarthWork Games
Publisher: EarthWork Games
Release date: 19 Apr, 2017
Forts is a real-time single- and multi-player artillery shooter with greatly emphasised building elements. In this game, you act as one of the many available commanders and take on players online across a variety of maps and modes, or partake in a single-player campaign against the AI. This game heavily draws inspiration from the all-time classic, Worms, but adds base building to the gameplay formula, in addition to making the game real-time for faster-paced matches.
In Forts you have always two main objectives: building and protecting your base, and destroying the enemy base. To protect your buildings, there are a plethora of defensive constructs ranging from simple wooden platforms to high-tech energy shields, with which you can build a true fortress. But mind taking into account the laws of physics, as unstable structures will quickly fall apart. To destroy the enemy base, you’ll have to destroy the core, often making use of those same physical laws.
The building system is simple and immediate: drag and release whole base segments or just single components, and you’ll have your base up in no time. Then place some of the many weapons available. These fire automatically for defence, but rely on you to control them for attacking, by deciding direction, force (if applicable), and trajectory of the projectiles.
To do all of this you’ll also need to manage the resources of energy and metal, produced by from turbines and mines, so some planning is required in order to build a functional fortress to accommodate all this machinery. Being real time and not turn based as are most games of this kind, all these things unfold rather quickly, and you’ll often have to multitask repairs, new structures, attack, and production together.
Overall, the gameplay formula works smoothly, and is not too long thanks to the real-time approach, but still involves considerable tactics and planning, especially in two-on-two and larger matches, where multiple adversaries result in more varied strategic options.
All combat happens in real time. There are two types of armaments: direct fire, such as machine guns, and indirect fire, such as mortars. Each weapon has its own strengths and weaknesses, as does each construction part; some must be unlocked by building specific upgrade structures in the base. Knowing what weapons work best against a given enemy base layout is fundamental to success, as is balancing attack and defense.
Environmental hazards like wood catching fire and gravity must also be considered; damage to your base may cause it to fall apart because of structural strain, while unhindered fire might consume it all in the blink of an eye. Certain structures may provide benefits, but may also set off huge explosions and damage to surrounding areas if destroyed, so you really need to think where to put them.
On top of all this, each commander has his own unique ability, usable multiple times during a match. These can turn the tide of a battle if used effectively.
The highlight of Forts is without a doubt the multiplayer, which can potentially offer endless entertainment, while the single-player campaign has limited duration and serves mostly as a tutorial. If you like the game, being mostly multiplayer-oriented, you can get a lot of content for your money.
Overall there are no major balance issues, apart from maybe sniper turrets being a bit overpowered. These can mostly one-shot any enemy turret at any distance, making them a very powerful weapon in the hands of accurate players.
This game involves a good degree of multi-tasking and planning abilities. The strategic possibilities are many and the more players you add the more things you have to consider. Given the learning curve of the game mechanics and how they are applied to multiplayer gameplay, Forts warrants a high challenge rating.
Graphics are 2D and realised in a simple cartoonish fashion, which is appropriate for the general ambiance of the game. Do not expect to find elaborate, next-gen graphics in this title, because you won’t. The art style is appreciable and there aren’t inconsistencies with the overall quality.
Basic effects and sound tracks, with nothing out of the ordinary.
No particular issues were found. This game should run well even on dated systems.
No issues were found.
Enemy AI during the campaign or skirmish modes will follow a pre-determined building pattern. If a segment is destroyed the AI will rebuild it again. Do not expect adaptability from the AI, as it serves mainly as a tutorial for the players. It is sufficient for this, but nothing more.
Quality of Life
Controls and UI are fine, with nothing bad to report.
Bugs / Issues
I didn’t encounter any severe bugs or issues, though I saw a few minor ones that did not compromise gameplay significantly.