I feel I should preface this article with my experience with RTS’s in the past, I’m not the best at them. I’m the sort of guy who would send a steady streamline of zerglings into your base and just pray that you weren’t ready for it. Or in the case of Dawn of War amass the biggest deathball possible of a mix mash of units that look cool rather than are decent, and hope to win the fight. So what can I say about 8-Bit Hordes?
It’s a fun little title, created by Petroglyph Games (the same company that brought you 8-Bit Armies) which is more of an homage to the Warcraft series. It features two different factions “Lightbringers” and the “Deathsworn” which are both fancy ways of saying humans and orcs. The game does have the ability to add the two factions from 8-Bit armies in a weird mix-mash of fantasy and war, but the standalone game does only have two factions.
There is a good level of variety though in the unit types, with ten different unit types for both factions which share some similarities but do feel unique enough. One unique feature I noticed is the chance to “crush” units, where units like ogres can simply walk through units killing them instantly. Not all units can be crushed, so there is a small meta game of keeping an eye out for those units in the heat of battle to avoid losing a huge chunk of your army. The same can be said for building types, both factions have different buildings that allow for more advanced units to be created and a main structure that needs to be upgraded over time. The standard tried and tested RTS format.
Now overall as an RTS, for people who are used to Starcraft or Dawn of War, 8-Bit Hordes does feel a little slow in comparison. You can only ever have one building in construction/upgrade at a time, so you have to wait each time you want to craft something new. To get a full base up and running it can begin to feel a little sluggish, but the game does have some interesting ways of handling unit production. If you place multiple production buildings close together, they speed up the time it takes to create a unit. This means towards the late game your base looks like a city with multiple industrial sectors for pumping out units.
One personal favourite moment of mine is when I made an effort to create as many dragons as physically possible to rain fire down on my enemies. The tactic while surprisingly effective did quickly fill my entire screen with dragons. The go to tactic for this game is to amass a bigger ball of death than your opponent, while balancing your own bases defences. Defences which are best summarised as a cubic butt-tonne of towers. 8-Bit Hordes is more of a game where you can enjoy the carnage of watching two huge armies clash, rather than involve high tactical armchair generals.
8-Bit Hordes has two separate campaign modes, one for each faction with 12 different missions that advance the story. There is some implied replay-ability at different difficulties/additional objectives to fully complete each campaign, but each mission slowly introduces a good level of challenge. It does give you the 0/36 indicator for completion percentage, so each mission is expected to be completed three times. There is a good amount of single player content to enjoy.
Other game modes to mention are co-op challenges, which if you’ve got a friend to tag along will allow some more tactical thinking. Multiplayer which at the moment of playing did have a few open lobbies to join but this game doesn’t seem to have quite the competitive player base, so you might struggle on that front. If you are looking for a verses experience, there is the skirmish mode which you can play against multiple difficult AI bots in singles or team matches. 8-Bit Hordes has a nice feature of highlighting community made maps, and the selection of maps it offers have a good amount of variation.
Visually 8-Bit Hordes struck a good chord with me, I really rather like the style of this game. I do obviously have to point out that the games style is not 8-Bit, but that is a really finicky point that doesn’t detract from how the game looks overall. The way buildings are destroyed dynamically or when units pass through terrain, there are a bunch of smaller things that add polish to the game overall. The soundtrack as well is solid, a good mix of chip tune style music to accompany the style of the game.
So, in conclusion what do I think of 8-Bit Hordes? I definably enjoyed the time I spent with the game, while it isn’t the most complex title it has a lot of unique additions to the RTS genre but it does feel like an extension of 8-Bit Armies. The game does offer a lot of content, enough that it could stand on its own but there is a small asterix against it. If you enjoyed 8-Bit Armies than I can strongly recommend this title, however if you are new to either title than 8-Bit Hordes could be a good introduction to the series.
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