What happens when you put zombies into an RTS? The answer almost writes itself. You get a defence based survival game in which instead of a rival army, you face hordes of shambling walkers, something guaranteed to instantly capture the attention of hundreds of thousands of players.
And that’s exactly what the histrionically titled They Are Billions has achieved in its opening weeks in Steam’s Early Access. The game’s great strengths is that it feels utterly familiar to anyone who’s played commanded and conquered. You start the game with a command centre, from where you construct all other buildings.
There are Tesla towers you must power use to expand the map with which allow you to build around them. There are resources scattered around the randomly generated map which you must exploit in order to gather the materials to construct further buildings. Forests and wooded areas provide wood if you build a sawmill next to them. Iron and stone deposited around the map require quarries. You need workers to man each building and provide offensive units, and that means building tents initially and then cottages to house them; they in turn demand food, which you can provide by building hunter and fisherman’s cottages near plains, and later research into farms to provide more food, and then you can invest gold into researching new technologies, which unlock better tiers of structures.
This cascade of resource requirements continually pushes and pulls you to expand your base to produce the stuff you need to build better defences. They are Billions immediate party trick is that it really does throw hordes of undead at the player.
Though single zombies can be picked off in a with few shots from a bow-slinging Ranger, groups of them can reach outer defences surprisingly effortlessly. So also Tower Defence is part of the game where you use your skills to know from where attacks will come, using terrain as natural defences and devising various ways of diverting the hordes into kill-corridors to expose them to Ballista fire, placing stakes to slow and damage them.
Nevertheless, you’ll still be sending troops outside the walls of your settlement to clear areas, particularly Doom Villages, groups of buildings that fill with the infected. They Are Billions’ zombies are attracted to sound, SO these groups of the dead could bring tens of attackers to attack your colony. Higher-level units, such as the flame-throwing Lucifer and melee-specialist Thanatos, are designed specifically for attack rather than defence.
But really, you will be preparing for the ten waves of infected that you’ll face in each game. Rather counter-intuitively, setting yourself a shorter time to survive Increases the challenge, because you’ll have less time to prepare for each wave. Balancing building strong defences with base expansion, all the while reducing the size of the hordes. It is crucial to your success since any undead doing damage to your buildings will infect them, turning their inhabitants into new walkers.
Even a smallest of incursions can lead to the chain reaction which ends in your colony being overrun and destroyed.
As a game which launched late 2017 as a BETA in Early Access on Steam with a single mode. Survival, across four map types and different skill levels, They Are Billions is only just getting started. Developer Numantian Games is promising a forthcoming campaign as the core of the game, promising a 40-hour storyline and various new systems and structures.
See my getting started guide here on Youtube https://youtu.be/TLYDNEWGe4U
Visit the developer’s website here: http://www.numantiangames.com/theyarebillions/