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Preview | Meridian: Squad 22

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Meridian: Squad 22 is the successor game to Meridian New World; and it certainly currently looks to underline the success in successor.

Meridian is an RTS (Real Time Strategy) that has been beautifully crafted by Ede Tarsoly, the mind behind Elder Games, and the man I’m going to buy a beer for should I ever bump into. Now, the RTS genre was completely drowned over the last few decades, and only recently has it begun to start repopulating digital storefronts – with that in mind, and certainly with some of the larger launches recently you might well be reluctant to take a gamble on a title you’ve not heard of – especially one sharing Starcraft’s futuristic, laser pitted backdrop. But, I insist, the game is great, give it your time – have a quick glance. You will likely be as pleasantly surprised as I was.

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I just want to add a little extract about the company. Their words not mine.

“Founded in 2007, Elder Games is an independent game developer with a rather unique way of developing games. Lead developer Ede Tarsoly is collaborating with external freelancers on a project-by-project basis. These external team members usually have 10+ years of experience in their field and have worked on other game titles before. Released in 2014, the critically acclaimed Meridian: New World was the first major title from Elder Games. Now it’s time to return with Meridian: Squad 22.”

Now we know the background to the game, let’s get stuck into Meridian: Squad 22. You’re on earth, it’s the future, and us, as the ever expanding humans have decided it was time to colonise another planet after sucking ours dry. Welcome to Meridian. This new planet was being outfitted with humans but after a while there was no contact, nothing, not even a text saying ‘K’. The Earth council get worried and send forward Squad 22 – an elite unit who have gone to see what mess the colonists have gotten themselves into. Having not even reached landfall the squad are shot down on atmospheric entry by an alien race – very quickly finding the problem they were sent to investigate. So, there you are, you’re on a foreign planet full of hostile enemies – with colonists to track down and protect.

So far there’s only handful of missions available, but they do vary quite a bit, and in the future they will have a direct affect on how the campaign plays out. The campaign of the game, set to be just over ten hours long, is set to be completed over the coming few months, and will be strafed by a Planetary Conquest mode which will feature procedurally generated missions.

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Between the existing missions you control your units in a hybrid of RTS and RPG – which certainly beats the old fashioned cutscenes we would have been saddled with a few years back. Even by the second mission choices are starting to have affects on how the campaign straddling you with a rather simple sounding question of offensive or defensive play. Now this sounds very basic – what effect would that have? – Well it changes how you play, and how the game will play in future missions.This isn’t detrimental, it’s a major perk actually because it gives you more of a choice, and something more to think about than ‘which unit is up next?’

The tech tree is also something of worthy note. While in most games you kill, or just select research, in order to progress your technologies in Meridian: Squad 22 you have 3 different Tech Trees; economy, combat and defense. To progress these trees you have to collect canisters dotted around the map. This is a really cool idea, as it encourages players to explore and use the full extent of the map.

So, that’s the campaign for you. There’s not much more to say on that until more is released. There is actually a further game mode in the works titled ‘Squad Missions’ which we have little information on at the moment. But, to sate us we have Conquest which is a simple concept executed well. You and the AI start on separate parts of Meridian and the map is split up into hexagons, you may only take adjacent hexes and must make your way to the enemy’s base and conquer Meridian. Every hexagon is a new map, a new challenge. You start with nothing but 1 building, 3 builders and 3 units. That’s it! You must build up your base as to destroy the enemies across the map. At the start of your conquest campaign this is relatively easy – but every hex has a different difficulty from easy through to insane. To make your life easier they have included some hexes to have resources or unoccupied so you don’t have to grind through every one of them. Of course you could go for a straight route to the enemy base but that’s just barbaric!

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Finally. in combat there’s lasers and plenty of them. As I mentioned before I love RTS games and Meridian has really turned bad points into good ones as discussed so far. This isn’t to say there aren’t weaknesses though. One thing that did annoy me was unit collision detection, while this is good and makes it realistic I found they wouldn’t move smoothly when shoulder to shoulder and made it hard to move around in a fire fight. Also, when you select your units or buildings you can’t simply click off it, they will always be selected unless you left click and make a box elsewhere. It’s far from ideal, and can lead to confused orders on the battlefield. Also, while the provision for procedural maps appears to be being added fully for conquest, there’s no quick AI skirmish mode. which is a huge off put for any RTS fan since this is where you test everything and learn the game.

Meridian is an RTS (Real Time Strategy) that has been beautifully crafted by Ede Tarsoly, the mind behind Elder Games, and the man I’m going to buy a beer for should I ever bump into.

I could prattle on about the game’s wonderful visuals and it’s amazing music (seriously, check out Hexany Audio if you have a spare five minutes), so instead I’m going to abruptly end and give you some tips should you be reading this but already own the game.

  • Don’t be afraid to create another barracks or factory to produce more units
  • When collecting resources remember the hit collision, keep it at a maximum five drones.
  • Read your units description to see what counters what, the information included already is fantastic.
  • Always collect every canister you can find; you can see how many is left in the tech tree menu. Fall behind in tech and you’re stuffed.
  • Procedural maps mean you can’t get lazy on your unit placement. Micromanage your pockets of units, the AI is trained to know how to adapt to a variety of different map formations.
  • When collecting resources don’t flood it with drones keep it 5 drones maximum

Meridian: Squad 22 is currently in early access on Steam where it’s expected to remain for around 10 weeks – giving it an estimated launch of the first week of August.

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