Leading a stone age tribe, training dinosaurs, using your own magical power — all this and more can be found in Warparty.
Since the days of the Super Nintendo and Megadrive, dedicated console fans have repeatedly shown their appreciation for well done conversions of strategy games that belong on “traditional” computers. The likes of Populous and Command & Conquer have all seen play on console, but such conversions are still fairly rare. The latest RTS to receive this treatment is Warparty, a game in which the player leads a stone age tribe to glory by training dinosaurs and harnessing magical power. This review is of the recently released Xbox One version — as we have previously previewed it on PC.
Upon booting Warparty for the first time, the game raises a few alarm bells. The opening menu lacks a multiplayer option and it leads with a skirmish mode, rather than the campaign option which is tucked right down at the bottom of the list of options.
The lack of multiplayer in a console RTS isn’t a surprise. It’s common for smaller studios to make this cut considering the complexity of setting up console netcode, but the fact that Warparty on PC has multiplayer means that such features might appear on console in the future.
Thankfully, when the campaign mode is selected, Warparty begins to show promise. There are three campaigns to choose from — each centred around a different tribe — all of which have their own unique personality and approach. In broad terms, even though all of the tribes are essentially human, the setup here feels a lot like Warcraft in terms of how the story arc pans out.
That is, of course, if you’re actually able to make progress. The first real issue with Warparty is in its difficulty level, which feels incredibly punishing, more or less, from the outset. You won’t fail the Tutorial mission, but you might fail the very first mission that follows it, assuming you leave the difficulty level set to normal.
Thankfully, Warparty does include several difficulty levels — including harder ones — but I’ve got no idea how they could possibly be playable on a console. I’m not sure whether it’s the speed at which a joypad allows the player to make decisions or simply because Warparty is hard anyway (maybe both) but you should come into this game expecting to lose hard and often against the AI.
With that said, there’s still a fair bit of fun to be had here across those three campaigns and via the skirmish mode, which in itself allows for a fair bit of replay value. The campaigns are each of about average length, offering about eighteen to twenty hours of gameplay combined — assuming that you actually complete each level on your first attempt. As I mentioned before though, there’s little chance that will happen. If you like tough games, your replay value will be multiplied as a result.
Once in game, Warparty is actually fairly decent, but aside from the unique cavemen-training-dinosaurs thing, it does little to differentiate itself from the crowd. The controls are adequate but unremarkable, with the A button being used to create an ever larger circle that selects multiple units. There are various hot keys mapped to the worker and other unit types, but I never found a way to create my own groups of units. There are various radial menus for building and so on, all of which are functional enough.
Visually, on the Xbox One X, Warparty is neither amazing nor appalling. A fairly limited ability to zoom in and out shows some of the character detail, and all the warriors, dinosaurs and other features are large and characterful. When zoomed in, players will be able to see the combat in a decent level of detail, but this is by no means Halo Wars and the combat animation is passable rather than engaging.
The different tribes have quite unique personalities, with one essentially being a “classic” hero faction that has no especially great strength or weakness, and the other two specialising in dinosaur based warfare and necromancy respectively. There is room to specialise your style across the three factions, but given that there’s no multiplayer, it’s debatable whether this matters. In each campaign mission, you’ll simply use the tools available to you to meet the current task at hand.
Overall, I felt that Warparty was on the slightly better side of average among other console based real time strategy games. There are still relatively few to choose from, but that doesn’t mean that console gamers should accept less than a decent effort. Thankfully, Warparty has enough solo content and a fair bit of personality to mean that it just about passes the minimum bar for entry. If, in general, you like a tough console strategy game, then Warparty is worth trying.