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June 2021

The Red Solstice 2: Survivors

Platform(s): PC
Genre: RPG/Strategy
Publisher: 505 Games
Developer: Ironward
Release Date: June 17, 2021


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PC Preview - 'Red Solstice 2: Survivors'

by Chris "Atom" DeAngelus on May 13, 2021 @ 12:00 a.m. PDT

The Red Solstice 2: Survivors is built on the themes of the original action strategy game and upping the mood, gameplay, and strategy elements to new levels.

Red Solstice 2: Survivors is set in the year 117 A.E. (After Earth), after a terrifying zombie plague has overtaken Mars and threatens to end humanity. The only one who can stop them is The Executor, an elite soldier who is the master of getting things done.

What does he get done?

Killing a lot of zombies, monsters, and other foul beasts.

At its core, Red Solstice 2 is what you'd get if Diablo and StarCraft had a video game baby. The core gameplay has a lot of similarities to RTS titles, but rather than having a dedicated army, you control a single soldier who plays like a hero unit à la Warcraft III. Players point and click to move and interact, so it's easy to pick up and play. Shooting can be done either via overwatch, which makes your character automatically fire upon nearby enemies with perfect accuracy, or manual aim, where you gain a bonus to your attacks. You also carry a main weapon and a secondary weapon, the latter of which is more powerful but has significantly less ammo. Secondary weapons are things like flamethrowers or shotguns, so using them properly can turn the tide of battle.

Similar to Warcraft III hero units, your character can level up to learn and improve upon a variety of active and passive skills, including powerful attacks that don't require ammunition, healing and buffs, and passive abilities that grant an ability buff at no cost. Learning to use these properly is important, as each has a cooldown and mana cost, so you need to ration them, or you'll be dry when critical moments arrive.

This is extra important because resource management is an important part of Red Solstice 2. Ammunition is limited, and while you can find a reasonable amount, there are going to be more enemies than bullets, so you can't hope to mow down everything and stroll to your objectives. You'll need to be intelligent about gathering and using resources to survive the overwhelming swarms. Knowing when to use a bullet versus when to use a cooldown is a key part of not dying. You have some options, like a close-range punch that can help in a pinch, but as you can imagine, being reduced to your fists against a giant mutant zombie is not particularly good for anyone who's not named The Doomslayer.

The game is designed for up to eight-player co-op, and it's clear that will be a major part of the gameplay. Rather than having one set of skills, there are multiple classes ranging from combat-heavy Assault to the defense-focused Medic, and you'll need to decide which you're going to bring into battle. In single-player mode, you're probably better off with a class that can deal a lot of damage, but in multiplayer, it's easy to see how having a Medic or Heavy Support will do wonders for your survivability.

It addition to the core gameplay, there's also an XCOM-ish strategic layer, but we only saw a little of that. You have a helicarrier-style ship so you can fly to various missions, arm your troops, check injuries, and so on. It's very reminiscent of XCOM 2, but there seem to be some unique elements. For example, the opening mission ends with your characters arming a device that nukes a huge city from orbit, killing everything living or undead within city limits. It's easy to imagine how the gameplay could involve decisions around whether the end justifies the means.

Red Solstice 2: Survivors was shockingly addictive in the short preview build that we played. The core mechanics are easy to pick up but take some effort to master, and tougher stages and modes will only increase the challenge. The RTS/action hybrid gameplay is surprisingly compelling, and even scrounging for ammo feels appropriately tense. Hopefully, the final version will live up to our preview build, but it's clear the game has a solid foundation. We'll find out when Red Solstice 2 comes out on June 17, 2021, exclusively on Steam.

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