We may earn a commission when you buy through links in our articles. Learn more.

Ex Total War dev has a new XCOM style RTS game, playable right now

Created by a former Total War dev, a new RTS game combines XCOM 2 with throwback '00s visuals, and you can try it for yourself right now.

a curious merc looks around cautiously

Built by a former Total War developer, a new RTS game, boasting gorgeous throwback visuals and tense combat, feels like the unofficial XCOM 2 spin-off we’ve always wanted. But while it has a similar top-down look and some RPG mechanics, this isn’t turn based. Instead, you’ve got to react to everything in real time, and after playing the demo I can tell you that’s even harder than it sounds. This is one you’ve got to try for yourself.

Mercs Inc, a beautiful-looking, ultra-stylish new RTS game, is the work of Mathieu Walsh, a former Total War developer with two decades worth of experience in the videogame industry. Like Total War, battlefield awareness is essential. The direction your troops are looking determines which enemies you can see and react to, so having them all bunched up gawking at something is a death sentence.

I was surprised by how tough it is to control three independent characters simultaneously in the demo. Each has two firing modes, automatic and individual, but you have to toggle these every time you move the units. They can strafe so that they’ll shoot and move, but only if you right click. Forget and they can take some slashes from vicious insect enemies.

YouTube Thumbnail

The demo level felt like a cross between XCOM and Aliens. My squad had to enter a dark, old warehouse and rid it of luminous green eggs. The bugs aren’t too happy about the threat to their brood, however, and attack in numbers. Not only do you have to destroy the eggs, you also have to defend from the waves of insects and use grenades to close up the holes they’re entering through, all while keeping an eye on your ammo count.

The difficulty of the gameplay is lightened with the game’s comedic tone. When we reach the eggs, one of the characters gives one a cursory lick, and from the writing in mission briefs you can tell the tone is meant to be slightly sarcastic black comedy.

If you want to check it out for yourself, you can try the free Steam demo. Imagine a cross between XCOM, Commandos, and CGI kids’ TV shows from the early ’00s. It’s a wonderful mix, and when it launches, Mercs Inc will include 25 levels and five different characters to rotate into your squad.

Alternatively, you might want to try some of the other best strategy games, or maybe think a little bigger with the best 4X games on PC.

You can also follow us on Google News for daily PC games news, reviews, and guides, or grab our PCGN deals tracker to net yourself some bargains.