Muse Games describe this game as “the ultimate player-vs-player/player-vs-environment, steampunk airship combat game.” Calling your own games ‘ultimate’ anything is a daring brag, but after playing for just a short while, the potential is clear for GoIA to be an epic game in the (cross-platform) online genre.
The lore behind the game begins in the Great War of 1917 – a 50 year conflict between nations who craved more power and became so greedy they left the world in ruins and wiped out humanity as we know it. However, there were still a few tribes which survived the war but their battle was far from over – battling dust storms and global warming, and if that didn’t finish them off a wave of a disease known as ‘The Red Death’ might. After what became known as ‘The Age of Dust’ humanity began to rebuild itself and for the first time since the war, airships took to the sky once more. 87 years later, with the skies dominated by airships and humans doing what they do best (we do seem to love war) six different factions are battling to rule the battered lands.
I don’t like to look too much into a game before I get it to review in case I form an opinion before I begin playing so when I loaded up Icarus I was pleasantly surprised to see it was an online multi-player game. I’ve played a few in my past (Smite, Fortnite, FFXV:Comrades, Paragon (RIP), etc…) but this one is something with a bit of a twist. Don’t expect to pick a character and go into an arena to just bash away at the buttons and hope your healer reaches you before the enemy team takes out your last remaining tower. In this game you’ll have to take on one of three roles and work together with other players (or AI) to become the greatest steampunk sky pirates the world has ever seen.
On start up, you’ll have a menu consisting of “Co-Op”: work with your teammates against an AI which will learn your playing habits and adapt itself to challenge you each time, “PVP”: Get into a map with 32 other players (16-a-side, 4 per ship) and blow the hell out of them, “Tutorials”: trust me, you’ll probably need this – there is a tutorial for each role. Engineer – take care of the ships’ parts, repairs and buffs, put out fires and try not to let down your companions, and Engineer is also usually a Gunner operating the heavy weaponry on board to make sure the enemy’s ship goes boom before yours. The final role is the Pilot – we all know pilots are the ones who move the ship. Up/down/left/right/forward/back… simple, right? As if it would be that easy. The pilot must work with his team too, listening to commands and requests on which way to turn so the Gunners can get a good shot.
Once you’ve learnt the ropes it’s time to get stuck in. Get into a PVP/PVE match and you’ll find the lobby screen. Here you can join one of the six Factions where you can deploy units into battles and missions on the World map where your resources gained from PVP/PVE battles can be donated to the war efforts and boost your Factions’ rule. There’s also a “Profile” tab for you to customise your character, weapons, tools and, obviously, choose a ship (oh yes, there’s quite a few to choose from – nobody wants to fly around in a ship that looks awful, but take note of the “difficulty” level as it does make a match much harder if the ship’s layout isn’t familiar.) Aside from the Factions, you can also join online clans so you and your BFF’s can enter with a BANG! There’s also access to the PS Store where you can purchase additional items/DLC – to be honest, I’m only guessing at what you can buy because the store isn’t opening until the game launches but I’m sure there’ll be all kinds of awesomeness to take your gold.
After all that chit-chat, I suppose it’s about time I actually talk about the game. Jump into a match and you’re up-up-up and away! Whichever role you choose, choose wisely and for the sake of your team, make sure you do your job – nobody likes a lazy colleague especially when your soaring through the clouds.
The maps are colourful, creative and interestingly dynamic. A lot of games can switch from map to map and still feel like you’re just repeating the last one. However, Icarus will have you shielding your eyes from dusty wrecks in a dessert at sunrise to manoeuvring around mountains in the dead of night whilst enemy pilots dive bomb from the darkness. Different maps can host different modes (2v2, 3v3, 4v4) so make sure you check them all out for different experiences.
Controls are simple enough and the tutorials will make sure you know what buttons to press to mount the turrets, gain speed or whack an engine with a wrench… If I knew it was that simple my career choices would be much different.
At first, the game left me wondering what I should be doing, until I got into a match with one of the developers who guided me through the fight and was so quick at barking commands and letting me know whether the bad guys were port or starboard that I ended up loving every second. It made me realise that no matter what you think you should be doing, the main thing this game requires is communication!! If you don’t own a headset (get one, it’ll make things much smoother) there’s an in-game “command” function if you want to shout out what you need your teammates to repair or which way you need your pilot to turn. I cannot emphasise enough how much this game relies on TEAMWORK and communication. Don’t be shy! If there are four players all trying to do their own thing and not bothering with their buddies, your ship is going south –fast!
After a few games when things began to run smoothly (I eventually found out where the engine was – don’t judge) I found that this game was actually a great contender in this modern generation where online multiplayers are smashing into our lives. If you fancy something a little different from the usual MOBA’s and repetitive PVP’s I’d say that GoIA is something you should check out. As the game had not been released yet, I found that a lot of my time was spent waiting for someone else to log on and create/join a match but I feel that if it gets the marketing it deserves then the servers will be filled with airships and become the M25 of the sky.
Karl Rating 7/10