'Forged Battalion' for PC preview: A simple, yet deep real-time strategy game

The real-time strategy (RTS) genre has usually been a juggernaut on the PC platform, but recent years have shown an overall decline in its popularity. Aside from the fan-favorite StarCraft II, RTS titles haven't seen much significant success as of late.

Hoping to change that is developer Petroglyph, who, earlier this month, released their new RTS game Forged Battalion to Steam Early Access. After playing it for several hours and learning the ins-and-outs of the title, I can confidently say that this game is one PC gamers will want to keep on their radar.

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Forged Battalion is mainly centered around the production of bases, creation of units, and how you strategize with those units against your opponent in combat. However, a really unique feature of this game is the extensive freedom you have with the types of units you can make.

Instead of choosing from a list of preset troops in-game, Forged Battalion allows you to spend research points before every match to unlock new tech, which then allows you to use that tech to create specific types of units. For example, purchasing an artillery mount for your heavy vehicles will allow you to create artillery; investing in a cannon instead allows you to create tanks.

This is only the tip of the iceberg, of course, and the variety of unlock paths found on the tech tree means you will have dozens of unique units you can make, with each one being strong against certain targets than others. Anti-material infantry will do a flat 50% more damage to all non-infantry units, while anti-tank infantry will specifically do double damage to armored ground vehicles. Again, this is only a small portion of the potential with this system.

Once you finalize the unit types you want to bring into a match, you then enter the map and have to begin building up your base and your resource economy by creating structures and mining units. The miners will do their job automatically, which means you can spend more time scouting the terrain or building up your army.

Unit production in Forged Battalion is quick, so games are usually fast-paced. However, the game is also fairly simple to pick up and play, even if you've never played the RTS genre before. Unlike most other real-time-strategy titles, the task of creating a steady stream of supplies to use is simple, which is often where many newcomers struggle. In this way, Forged Battalion is marketable to new players.

Simplicity is the overall name of the game with Forged Battalion, but that doesn't mean it's easy. The vast amount of different infantry, light vehicles, heavy vehicles, and aircraft that can be designed prior to the game means that every player will have their own way to play. Figuring out how to best use your own army to take down the enemy's composition of units is a great strategic challenge, and has led to some very intense matches during my time with the game.

When it comes to the look, feel, and sound of the game, Forged Battalion succeeds in some areas and misses the mark a bit in others. The visuals have a charming, cartoony look to them that, while pleasing, also make it easy to distinguish units from one another. Also solid is the game's score, which is a badass fusion of hard rock and techno beats.

Forged Battalion starts to see some flaws in the control scheme and performance, however. The controls can feel somewhat awkward, which is a big issue when you need to give units precise commands. In addition, the game has a lot of bugs and glitches that can disrupt the flow of the gameplay.

Given that the title is in Early Access, though, I'm hopeful that these issues will be ironed out as development continues. Whether you're a long time RTS fan or a new player who is considering giving the genre a shot, Forged Battalion is shaping up to be a competent game filled with depth.

Forged Battalion is available now on Steam Early Access for $19.99.

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Brendan Lowry

Brendan Lowry is a Windows Central writer and Oakland University graduate with a burning passion for video games, of which he's been an avid fan since childhood. You'll find him doing reviews, editorials, and general coverage on everything Xbox and PC. Follow him on Twitter.