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With Stormgate, Frost Giant Studios hopes for strategy games to have an 'Elden Ring moment'

Stormgate pre-alpha gameplay image daylight
(Image credit: Frost Giant Studios)

While many strategy games have been incredibly successful, only a few have hit mainstream levels of renown. Frost Giant Studios is looking to change that with its upcoming title, Stormgate.

Officially revealed during Summer Game Fest 2022, Stormgate is a free-to-play real-time strategy (RTS) PC game being built as "an RTS game for the RTS community," according to the developers. 

The game's premise is simple. When an experiment goes wrong, demonic creatures from another dimension invade the earth. As the apocalypse unfolds, humanity is forced to fight back. The two core factions revealed for the game so far are Humans and these so-called Infernals, though the developers note that other, yet-unrevealed factions will also be present.

(Image credit: Frost Giant Studios)

You wouldn't know things are quite so bleak looking at the pre-alpha screenshots and concept art for the game so far, and Frost Giant indicates that's on purpose. The studio is trying to avoid the dreary tones of something like The Road or the barren wastes of Mad Max. Instead, the team is opting for something that feels hopeful, while still intense where needed.

Stormgate will feature a campaign, co-op experience, classic PvP, and even a comprehensive map editor, all of which is included despite the game being free to play. Game director Tim Campbell tells Windows Central that there won't be any loot boxes or NFTs. Instead, the studio intends to sell different content piecemeal to players. 

"Stormgate players will know what they're purchasing if they choose to pick up any of our optional content," Campbell explains, pointing to the success of optional content that was made available for purchase in StarCraft 2. "We plan to regularly release new story missions (playable solo or cooperatively), introduce new playable leader characters for our open-ended three-player cooperative vs. AI mode, and to also offer army skins of some sort."

(Image credit: Frost Giant Studios)

With this content all available for players to try without buying anything, Frost Giant Studios hopes to create an "Elden Ring moment" for strategy games as a whole. The team points to how while FromSoftware released multiple successful games, it was Elden Ring's approachability, combined with positive word-of-mouth, that finally elevated the studio to something of a household name, as players encouraged friends who usually wouldn't try a game of that type to give it a whirl.

Frost Giant Studios is growing, but Stormgate is still in very early in development. The team is currently composed of 40 full-time staff, including developers who have worked on some of the best PC games at Blizzard Entertainment, such as StarCraft 2 or Warcraft 3. While Frost Giant Studios is based in Irvine, Calif., the team fully supports remote or hybrid work models, with some of the team working out of Texas, Florida, and Hawaii. 

(Image credit: Frost Giant Studios)

Stormgate is being built using Unreal Engine 5, with custom tech called Snowplay to aid in unit pathfinding, while also ensuring that the visuals stay readable. Part of the development is in finding the right balance; since Stormgate is a free-to-play game, Frost Giant Studios wants the hardware requirements to be as low as possible. Anybody can play but people with great PCs will experience more visual flair.

"We are so excited about what Unreal Engine 5 allows our team to create — we're going to have epic battles between hundreds of units, incredible lighting and particle effects, and more," Campbell says. "To balance against the increase in hardware requirements players should expect going from a 12-year-old game like StarCraft 2, we're going to be including a lot of ways for players to customize their visual experience to best fit their personal gaming setups."

Currently, Frost Giant Studios is targeting a closed beta in 2023, though full launch is likely much further off. While Frost Giant Studios isn't ruling out the possibility the game comes to current-generation consoles, the focus is squarely on making a solid experience for PC players. The team is working to be prepared years out, claiming that story beats are planned for release as far as 2027. 

Whenever Stormgate launches, the developers hope it's nothing short of revolutionary, saying the goal is for Stormgate to be "As different from StarCraft 2 as StarCraft 2 was from Warcraft 3."

Samuel Tolbert is a freelance writer covering gaming news, previews, reviews, interviews and different aspects of the gaming industry, specifically focusing on Xbox and PC gaming on Windows Central. You can find him on Twitter @SamuelTolbert.