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Stormgate is the StarCraft 3 you’ve been waiting for

Celestial units in Stormgate.
Frost Giant Studios
Summer Gaming Marathon Feature Image
This story is part of our Summer Gaming Marathon series.

Starcraft was once the king of the real-time strategy (RTS) genre, but as Activision Blizzard has made a move away from that genre and Starcraft as a whole, a massive vacuum has been left if you don’t enjoy multiplayer online battle arenas like League of Legends. That’s where Stormgate comes in.

Made by former Blizzard developers at Frost Giant Studios, Stormgate is going for the RTS throne by delivering a worthy successor to Starcraft 2 and an RTS that isn’t afraid to experiment with new ideas and be much more accessible to novice players. After getting a look at the most recent playtest build of Stormgate and getting a guided demo from its developers and professional RTS players, I think Stormgate has a good chance of becoming a hit.

A true RTS

If you’re even a little bit familiar with RTS games, the core gameplay loop of Stormgate will be instantly recognizable to you: gather enough resources to create buildings and units so you can ultimately create the better army and defeat your opponent. Players will be able to do that across single-player campaigns that evolve over time, a co-op mode, and multiplayer matches. When demoing the game, I played a 1v1 multiplayer match to get a feel for what makes Stormgate stand out.

As someone who occasionally dabbles in RTS games like Starcraft 2, Age of Empires 2, and Pikmin, but isn’t into it hardcore, I found Stormgate to be approachable and really fun. Frost Giant recognizes that the core gameplay loop of RTS games, where you watch your army and power grow over time, is really satisfying, so it didn’t mess with it that much.

The Vanguard fight in Stormgate.
Frost Giant Studios

Instead, its focus clearly was on ensuring Stormgate was approachable and that the playable factions were all interesting in unique ways. Rather than staying strictly sci-fi like Starcraft, only the Vanguard faction fits that look exactly. The aggressive Infernals faction feels right out of Diablo, while the newly revealed Celestials look and play differently than any faction I’ve seen in an RTS before. Celestials essentially have the ability to move their buildings around like they are units, which can open up some clever strategic opportunities for smart players.

These factions will even feature Hero units with special abilities in certain game modes. For RTS purists who don’t like the idea of that, Stormgate’s 1v1 mode won’t feature them. I’ll likely need to spend a lot more time with the game before I find which faction suits my playstyle the best, but they all felt intuitive and gratifying to play, which is a good sign.

Not simplified, but more intuitive

If you’re well-versed in RTS games, everything I’ve discussed so far is probably more than enough to let you make an informed decision about whether or not you want to play Stormgate. For those less familiar with the genre, the prospects of getting into a new RTS might seem extremely daunting. Thankfully, my playtime with Stormgate indicates that it will be very approachable. It doesn’t do this by removing features or shortening game length; instead, it accomplishes this through user interface improvements and an optional BuddyBot gameplay system.

There are keyboard shortcuts to activate every single thing during a match, and that’s all clearly laid out in Stormgate’s UI. Whether I was building a unit or purchasing an upgrade, it was always extremely clear what I was doing within the game’s menus. For players who find learning those shortcuts to be all-consuming initially, a BuddyBot system is here to help. The BuddyBot has a lot of settings that can be toggled and can do things like build units and buildings for players automatically.

Gameplay from Stormgate.
The UI of Stormgate, which you can see in this screenshot, is more readable than most RTS games. Frost Giant Studios

Personally, I am someone who tends to play more aggressively and wants to follow the action more than worry about constantly checking on my bases to ensure things are flowing smoothly. In a match I played with BuddyBot, I was able to just focus on that without having to worry about falling behind in my resource-gathering and base-building. These steppingstones to approachability are ultimately what I think will be key to Stormgate’s success. Frost Giant hasn’t dumbed the RTS genre down for players — it just made Stormgate more intuitive to play.

It’s a full-fledged RTS, but one that’s also designed so new players can learn the ropes with training wheels before they memorize the best strategies to success. Based on the opinions of the professional RTS players I tried Stormgate with, more hardcore RTS players seem to be enjoying the core gameplay and creative factions, too. It’s still unclear which game will take the crown as spiritual Starcraft successor in lieu of a Starcraft 3 in the RTS space right now, but if I was a betting man, I’d put my money on Stormgate.

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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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