Stormgate looks to bring back the heyday of the best RTS games like StarCraft, Warcraft, and Command and Conquer, but developer Frost Giant Studios wants to go even further beyond inside the universe it’s crafting. Ahead of the recent reveal of the Stormgate Infernal Host faction at Gamescom 2023, PCGamesN spoke to Brett Crawford, assistant game director on Stormgate, about its ongoing development and playtesting.
After having an opportunity to try out Stormgate’s Human Resistance faction during its latest round of closed beta testing, I asked Crawford what surprised the team most from the test feedback. “Perhaps the biggest one has been how quickly the meta is evolving and adapting,” he tells me, “shifting over the course of hours as testers observe each other’s matches and share information.
“We see this as a very healthy indicator of the success of our game from a competitive standpoint,” he remarks, “as things haven’t gotten stale or predictable yet, despite thousands of hours of matches played.” That’s great to hear, as the true lifeblood of any RTS game – or competitive game in general – is in the variety of tactics available. No matter how fun any one matchup meta may be, if you see it every game it’ll quickly grow old.
Part of that variety comes from the camps that are strewn across Stormgate’s maps. Rather than simply being able to claim map tools elements such as watchtowers by walking up to them StarCraft 2 style, you’ll have to fight a set of monsters in the style of creep camps in Warcraft 3. I’m also reminded of Heroes of the Storm, where defeating monsters can reward you with temporary AI allies to fight alongside you, so I ask Crawford if that’s a possibility, and whether the team is generally looking to expand on the mechanic.
“Creep camps like those do a great job of forcing engagements out on the map, while also discouraging players from turtling,” he explains. “We are currently experimenting with their rewards and it might be possible that we create a ‘merc camp’ of sorts that would reward its capture with AI-controlled allies. In fact, we are prototyping one right now!” In my time playing, it certainly encouraged me to push out of my base more actively early on beyond basic scouting, so I’m hopeful for how this system can expand.
Stormgate is a game that proudly wears its influence on its sleeve – not shying away from comparisons to the likes of StarCraft, Warcraft, and Command & Conquer, which it clearly draws plenty of inspiration from. The team has very much embraced this, also recently announcing that composers Tracy W Bush (StarCraft and Warcraft 3) and Frank Klepacki (Command & Conquer and Dune 2) are working on the game’s soundtrack alongside audio director Alexander Brandon (Unreal and Deus Ex).
So are there any other big influences that inspire the team at Frost Giant? “The Marvel Cinematic Universe comes to mind as an inspiration for our new setting,” Crawford says. “We wanted to build a universe that could support all kinds of stories, from fantasy to science fiction and beyond.” That’s certainly a bold target, but I’m already curious to find out more about the roles different factions will play, so I hope the team succeeds in that ambition.
Stormgate still doesn’t have a release date yet – although you can wishlist it on Steam and sign up via the official website for a chance to join future playtests. In the meantime, however, I asked Crawford what other RTS games the team has been playing. “There’s no shortage of cool projects on the horizon,” he replies, “Just look at Homeworld 3, Tempest Rising, and Immortal: Gates of Pyre; each interesting and exciting in their own way.
“Some of our team members have recently been playing Beyond All Reason, a very cool open-source RTS made in the spirit of Total Annihilation,” Crawford notes. That’s certainly one I’ll have to check out, as a huge TA fan growing up. And finally, he concludes, “ZeroSpace is a promising story-driven RTS from a smaller team that just announced via Kickstarter. We’re delighted to be a part of the RTS Renaissance!”
In the meantime, there are plenty more of the best strategy games out there that you won’t want to miss. If you’re looking for more interstellar adventures, take off in search of the best space games to venture into the great unknown.