At the Paradox Interactive preview event I attended during GDC, ZEAL Game Studio showed me an interesting active real-time strategy hybrid game called RED Frontier. It fuses the strategy of RTS games with much more action-oriented combat play
RED Frontier is a multiplayer RTS with a focus on accessibility through drop-in/drop-out online gameplay and a respawn system that lets you continue to battle even if your initial strategy failed. During some hands-on time with the game, I could see how the generally slow pace of RTS games has been slightly evolved to make this particular game feel more engaging and fun to a larger audience.
RED Frontier (PC)
Developer: ZEAL Game Studio
Publisher: Paradox Interactive
Release: TBA 2012
In RED Frontier, you can choose between a variety of different types of Commanders (such as Assault, Engineer, Infiltrator, etc) for different play styles, though you have three main forms of contract choices to use for battle. These choices include Independent, Mox, and, my personal favorite, the insect-like Arachron units. Though each choice has the same basic types of units such as a tank type or smaller and faster attack drones, the art style and way of attacking vastly differs between them.
The game features large maps with up to 12 players simultaneously engaged in combat. During my hands-on time I went up against Rasmus Davidsson, Lead Designer for ZEAL Game studios on a map where the sole objective was to capture points while battling off your enemy by strategically choosing your units every time you respawn.
In terms of strategy, it was a little difficult for me to get a peg on how different gameplay sessions may play out. I generally stuck to surrounding myself with small bee-like drones while sending in a heavy worm-like unit to deal the massive damage against my enemy's tanks. This strategy seemed to work pretty well, after awhile the developer found ways to tear through my defenses and take me down though.
The action did seem generally fast-paced and frenetic, though I couldn't tell if this was necessarily a good thing, as the game was still in a pretty early stage and with only two players on the map it was difficult to tell how changing up my strategy would influence the game at large. Truthfully, I came away from my time with the game really wishing I could see it being played on a much grander scale, as I have a feeling that the faster pace is better suited to a bunch of players battling it out over capture points.
In terms of art style and the general gameplay idea, I found RED Frontier to be interesting, though not entirely innovative. With some polishing and perhaps a bigger pool of players, this title may be great for the RTS fan looking for a game which tries to modernize the genre.