Blizzard Entertainment put itself on the map with fantastic real-time strategy (RTS) games like Warcraft III and Starcraft. Blizzard moved away from making RTS games, and many developers who worked on those classics left the company during its past few tumultuous years. Frost Giant Studios is one of the teams that subsequently banded together and is made up of alumni from titles like Warcraft III, Starcraft, and Starcraft II. Frost Giant finally revealed its first game, a free-to-play sci-fi RTS game called Stormgate, during Summer Game Fest’s kickoff showcase.
Ahead of its official reveal, I attended an event for Stormgate, where I learned more about Frost Giant’s vision for the title. While Frost Giant didn’t show gameplay, it talked up its bold vision for a revolutionary RTS title that makes the core formula Blizzard helped establish more approachable. It’s certainly very ambitious for a game that’s several years out and doesn’t have a large community just yet.
Stormgate is a postapocalyptic sci-fi RTS game set in a world where demons called the Infernal invaded the earth and humanity’s Resistance fights to survive in high-tech mech suits that look suspiciously like D.Va’s armor. While Frost Giant isn’t ready to show gameplay in action just yet, it promises a traditional RTS experience that should please the old-school genre’s fans. Players face off against each other with large armies and harvest resources, upgrade units, and build bases along the way. It will feature a campaign, 1v1 and 3v3 competitive modes, and a cooperative mode that will support up to three players. Tools for player-created content are also in development, as Frost Giant acknowledged that custom games are a big part of the genre’s success.
Frost Giant also discussed how the developers want the game to be much more accessible than many games in the genre. The main way Frost Giant will make the RTS more approachable is by simplifying the UI. In Stormgate, players don’t have to memorize complicated series of button presses if they want to do things like select a whole group of units, use multiple unit abilities at once, train units, or upgrade buildings. These moves or functions will usually be one button press away on the keyboard or in Stormgate’s menus, which Frost Giant hopes will make more casual players try competitive games or esports. That mention of esports speaks to Frost Giant’s bold ambitions for this title.
Stormgate is still years away from a 1.0 release, but Frost Giant already has bold expectations for its community, reception, and esports scene. Namely, Frost Giant CEO and Production Director Tim Morten wants Stormgate to be the next Elden Ring.
“A big part of Elden Ring’s success was that core players of the original Dark Souls helped spread the word that Elden Ring was more approachable than the Dark Souls games that came before it,” he explained. “At the same time, it kept the core elements of gameplay that many Dark Souls players had come to love. What we’re trying to do with Stormgate is build a game that is true to the legacy of RTS, but provides more approachable ways for players to get into the game, and it’s our hope that the RTS community will embrace it and create an Elden Ring moment for RTS.”
Frost Giant already has ambitious esports plans for Stormgate, too, as tools to make competitive tournaments and spectating matches are features built right into the game. It even plans to kick-start the esports scene during beta testing. Considering Elden Ring is one of the most successfully and critically acclaimed games of 2022 and that it will be competing with big esports games like League of Legends, those are high bars for Frost Giant to set for itself when the game isn’t even in the hands of players yet.
Still, esports and critical acclaim tend to come when games focus on the fundamentals to make a good product and don’t overzealously promise a genre-changing release before gameplay has been shown. Frost Giant has the talent to pull a game like that off, but it’s too early for me to buy into that “Elden Ring moment” mentality for Stormgate just yet. Stormgate won’t begin beta testing until mid-to-late 2023, so it will be a while before we’ll know if any of these lofty claims will pay off. If it is a rousing success like Frost Giant hopes, the studio teased in our meeting that it has ideas for updates through 2027.
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