Real-time strategies used to be pretty straight forward – collect resources, construct buildings and units, advance your technology and dominate the opponent(s). There have been various experiments with that formula though, for example removing the resource gathering aspect and concentrating solely on good tactical skills and unit micromanagement. This is what WorldShift was designed in mind, and managed to achieve almost perfectly.
You control a handful of units in a setting that takes place thousands of years after the near-extinction of the human race. The world is now separated in five huge mega-cities, and the outside areas are populated by various tribes and groups of refugees. The primary focus is multiplayer, with the game offering various ways to defeat your enemy, be it through tactical excellence or sheer brutal force – anyone can find their style here.
The idea of complicated technology trees has been scrapped as well, with each unit providing its own set of abilities that can be upgraded. You need to explore the maps and find specific items which can improve your units’ performance, making them stronger and more powerful in combat.
Those items can be attained through exploration or direct combat, and it’s up to the player to tweak his playstyle until they find a suitable solution. There’s certainly lots of room for exploring different ways of becoming victorious, and the game delivers greatly in that aspect.
There’s some beautiful artwork employed for WorldShift – the environments are truly captivating and immersive, making the world feel really alive and believable. The races are stylized and unique enough, each can be instantly recognized by their units, which is always an important factor in real-time strategy games.
It’s slightly less optimized than you’d expect, on the other hand, as some modern-day computers can even struggle to handle it in the more heated battles. You can always turn down your resolution, but in games of this type this puts you at a serious disadvantage by limiting your vision more than the enemy’s – so you’ll have to invest in a good computer if you want to be a formidable opponent here, and not just cannon fodder.
There’s a singleplayer campaign present, but it’s somewhat disappointing – it’s not what you would expect from the great gameplay the game offers. The story is not very deep and rather predictable, and there are few cutscenes or special attention to the singleplayer in general. Don’t let that stop you from trying though – it’s still worth a few hours of fun.
WorldShift is another attempt at “shifting” the RTS gameplay in an innovative direction – it’s too early to say if those changes will prevail or if someone else will come up with a better solution, but for the time being, WorldShift offers a great dose of action-packed fun.