I did not see a topic for this and it deserves one. I was lucky enough to squeeze into the testing for They Are Billions. To be sure, I paid for the privilege but due to overwhelming demand they have told more recent buyers they will not get keys until Steam launch early next year. In case anyone wants to get their hackles up over it, this is disclosed on their website.
They Are Billions is simply a new take on an old formula. The game play is similar to that classic Age of Empires formula with many of the same conventions of the RTS genre. However TAB really takes a specific approach and focuses on it. It is a turtler’s dream. You build up your base against waves of zombies that are ever-increasing in size. It has a Steampunk look and feel which is quite different and interesting, though it can be tough for a newer player to differentiate between the various buildings.
Make no mistake, this game is difficult because any mistake is exploited and magnified. That is the real joy of it. In AoE you could get away with letting a lone swordsman wander loose in your base. Not here. If you miss just one zombie this game turns on you in a heartbeat. That lone zombie will quickly infect a building like a tent and out spills four more zombies. Those four will infect a couple of more buildings and now you are facing 15 zombies. At that point it is probably over for your base. You have failed your people with your carelessness. This ever present danger is what gives the game the tension and energy that is present in all great strategy games.
There is a balance between the need to expand for territory and resources (you claim new lands by building Tesla Coils) and the need to be vigilant about defending what you have already built. There is a nice balance between food, gold, energy and other resources that require you to constantly balance the output of your base. Want to build more soldiers? You need free colonists which means more houses. That means more energy, gold, food, wood and stone so you may need to build one or more other structures first. The resources regenerate very quickly so you are not forced to wait for minutes to build something but you also spend them quickly. Again it seems to be a nice balance of resource scarcity combined with keeping the game moving forward.
Scouting and clearing zombies from unclaimed land can be scary enough. The base attacks however are quite another matter. Dozens, hundreds and even thousands of zombies can descend upon you. You get notified that there is an attack coming from the East. You start scanning the map in a near panic. Which gate? Which wall? Then you see them. Spitters, jumpers, fast ones, slow ones, fat ones and others crashing down on your SE gate like a tsunami. You muster your forces and wonder if they are enough to hold back this tide. It is too late to build new troops for this fight. Your thank the Gods that you have a couple of Lucifer flamethrower units even though they cost 600 gold each. And then the battle commences. Will your colony survive?
That right there is the crux of the game and it is quite the ride. I have played about 10 hours of this so far and I could see myself playing it for many months as the maps are random, much higher difficulty options await me and the game is still being developed.