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Battle Aces does for RTS games what Pokémon Unite did for MOBAs

Battle Aces' kraken in the cinematic reveal trailer.
Uncapped Games
Summer Gaming Marathon Feature Image
This story is part of our Summer Gaming Marathon series.

Whether they’re a traditional real-time strategy (RTS) game or a full-on competitive multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) title, these kinds of intense strategy games are often a time commitment. Players can spend hours having to strategically think and constantly ensure that they’re building and investing toward the right things, fighting with the right character or unit matchups, and more.

I find that pretty exhausting, which is why I tend to avoid the most hardcore games in these genres. In 2021, though, The Pokémon Company got me to fall in love with a MOBA by boiling it down to its basics with Pokémon Unite, and now the same is happening with the traditional RTS in 2021 thanks to Uncapped Games’ Battle Aces.

2021’s Pokémon Unite drastically cut down on the fluff surrounding most MOBAs, with quick 10-minute matches that forced players to simplify their decision-making and got them in and out of matches before everything going on got too overwhelming. Battle Aces does a lot of the same things, ensuring matches only last 10 minutes and that players only have to worry about generating buildings and units and commanding them instead of worrying about the minutiae of constantly checking on your buildings as you go on the offensive. Battle Aces is a nice complement to games like Pokémon Unite and Stormgate; they’re all making a pretty hardcore game genre much more accessible.

Gameplay Trailer | Battle Aces

Battle Aces sets itself apart from other RTS games before players even get into a match because it has a deckbuilding element. Players create Unit Decks prior to matches, which determine what units they bring into battle. This means players should always be aware of what they have to build and what positively upgrading and improving throughout a match will look like for them. I tend to play RTS games quite aggressively, so I built a Unit Deck to reflect that and didn’t have to make sure I was choosing the right things to build once I was actually in a match.

Things heated up pretty quickly once I started a 1v1 match against the AI, too. Cores immediately drop down and serve as the main bases for players; no need to worry about placement. From there, players quickly start to accrue resources and can build units and other cores to increase the power of their army. This is all down from two menus — one accessed with the tab key and the other accessed with the ~ key. Ultimately, Battle Aces is a race to see who can build the best army and destroy their opponent’s main core first.

Players will want to keep upgrading their core over time so they can build better units, but it’s also a possible strategy to build as many small units as possible right out of the gate and aggressively go and destroy the enemy core as soon as possible. There are certain unit-type matchups, really powerful units like the Kraken, and special unit abilities that still give Battle Aces a lot of strategic depth, but I was still impressed I managed to get the hang of it within just one match during a busy Summer Game Fest.

Units face off in front of a base in Battle Aces.
Uncapped Games

Matches can only last up to 10 minutes, with the player with the higher army score winning if the timer runs out, but most were over within about seven minutes for me. Battle Aces seems like an RTS where the mid-game will be the most crucially important phase, as it’s entirely possible to be good enough to end the game right then and there. With intuitive and snappy keyboard controls and a focus on aggressive play, I can easily see myself losing hours upon hours to Battle Aces, and not just doing that because matches take forever.

My brief demo of Battle Aces reminded me of the time in 2021 when I was completely enthralled by Pokémon Unite. That game boiled down a complex genre to its basics in short and snappy matches and became my favorite MOBA because of that. Uncapped Games’ Battle Aces appear to be doing all of the same things for the traditional RTS game. While it doesn’t have the strong IP backing of Pokémon or as neat of an aesthetic and world as Stormgate, the approachability of Battle Aces and its free-to-play nature should give this title a bright future.

Battle Aces is in development for PC, with a Closed Beta beginning later this month.

Tomas Franzese
Tomas Franzese is a Staff Writer at Digital Trends, where he reports on and reviews the latest releases and exciting…
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