You know, I thought the complaints of the campaign were overblown and likely from people who just had too high of an expectation of what an RTS campaign looks like…but after playing the first 5-6 missions I can say that the campaign legit sucks.
Pixel hunting missions, missions impossible to win unless you die multiple times to memorize map layouts, arbitrary blocks to upgrade paths to make the game even grindier - it has it all.
the difficulty is overblown. I am watching a lets play with Cristopher Odd and he got 100 pts. even before they made the missions a bit easier. He played the EA a lot, so I think for a experienced player, it is OK. But usually the campaign is easy to newcomers. I like it so far and sometimes I know what I am doing.
I’d suggest at least one test game at lower difficulty. This game is not forgiving, which is awesome, but it is nice to make it some distance through the tech tree before you master it. I’d also skip the campaign.
I found it’s first handfull of missions very generic - last so long, produce X, etc, with a limited tech tree - to be pretty lame compared to sandbox mode, which also is a tower defense but with the whole tech tree. There wasn’t a compelling plot any of the missions, as in the better RTS campaigns like StarCraft or the Homeworld series.
Maybe I quit too early, but it also had the inklings of being an incredibly long campaign. If I’m going to invest 50 hours in this game I’d rather do it in sand box mode, and eventually just watch the stitched together cut scenes.
The campaign features a large, interesting strategic layer tech tree, branching mission choices (at times), some interesting mission objectives (at times; at other times, not so much), and some interesting mechanics not found in the base game. On paper, that sounds amazing.
In execution, not so much.
The campaign locks about 90% of the stuff you could build in the regular game behind the strategic layer tech tree. This makes early missions bland, and also early tech decisions revolve around making the missions less bland. Teching up gets expensive quickly, but you get tech points from 2 of the 3 available type sof missions. Which are: “typical TAB stuff”, “horde defense missions”, and “hero infiltrate facility missions”. Also, you need to be very deliberate in how you spend points. The campaign can become impossible if you aren’t ready for certain missions at certain points (with the right techs). You don’t get tech points from horde defense missions, but you get a shitload from the hero missions. This is great except that it’s not because. . .
The Hero Missions are tedious. They might have been fun in other circumstances.The two heroes each have their own tech trees (you get 1 point per hero mission completed). But the game balance is such that again there’s a lot of wrong choices and you will get frustrated if you find yourself incapable of killing a Chubby or a Banshee before they close on your hero. Further, the missions randomize the location of the tech points/empire points (these are used in the horde missions, representing your maximum deployed stuff). Finding these things is behind tedious, it’s obnoxious. The devs added this little glow that pulses periodically when you are in a room with them. It will catch your eye at times. You will still be wandering around going “Fuck I need the last 20 tech points whedre the hell are they”.
Also, several of the hero missions are just. . . ugh.
The horde missions, wherein you deploy a limited amount of troops and possibly also certain structures (based on unlocked tech in the strategic tree as well as empire points) just aren’t that interesting and eventually become boring. Or occasionally rarely laughably hard no matter what.
This is all deeply unfortunate. There are positives:
The other parts of the strategic tree are fun. You can get extra starting units (and occasionally certain structures), powerful upgrades to units and buildings not normally available (only partly covered by the standbox games’ mayor system), and do some fun stuff. The campaign “TAB” maps involve a train that brings colonists once a day. You can upgrade it to bring other materials and gold and it’s awesome.
There are some challenging but legitimately fun missions.
I have a mostly 300% campaign I have going that I will probably win (if I finish it), but I had to drop to 200% a couple of times )you can change difficutly before each mission, it only affects score).
I think you’ll want to give the campaign a try. That said, the early missions are not indicative of the base game or the rest of the campaign. And they are on the boring side.
You’ll want to start in standox anyway. There’s a lot to learn in this game beyond “here’s the techs and units and here’s whats good/etc”. learning to defend colonies from various threats - hordes, soft hordes, isolated zombies, your own aggro mistakes - is crucially important and you won’t get all of those skills even in the first third of the campaign. Sandbox is the place to start. The Campaign will always be there if you want to check it out later.
FWIw, I got a couple of hundred hours playing sandbox mode when the game was in Early Access. I do think it’s terrific.
I have been trying to beat the lowlands level at 100% over and over again. My best run i survived until the final swarm but then got annihilated because they came from all sides. I just can’t figure out how to survive and get my population to 1200 before the final swarm. If I work on population I usually end up with a breach, otherwise working on defense I end up out of time.
What are you doing for defenses? One of the things you learn to do in the game is do both of these things simultaneously. But a big factor there is learning how to defend. Not every front needs a major defensive emplacement. Also, what are the specifics on Lowlands 100% (I can’t recall sadly), in terms of # of days and population size.