TL;DR: Drone Swarm brings a unique twist to the RTS genre. Unfortunately, a few nagging bugs keep these drones from flying high.
Don’t drone me, bro
Every new real-time strategy game claims to be unique and original boasting all kinds of innovative and fresh ideas. Usually, this type of assertion ends up being more hype than substance, but in the case of Drone Swarm, by developer stillalive studios, there’s actually some truth to the bragging. Apparently, in the distant future, Earth is laid in ruins after being savaged by enemy drones. The few remaining survivors band together and find a way to control the drones and halt the attacks. Now it’s time to eliminate the hostile foe and to build a new more peaceful world.
Yes, the game is billed as another RTS game, strongly resembling trendsetters like Eufloria, but instead of sending out your drones to colonize planets, you use them to attack or to defend your mothership. Drone Swarm is set in a true 3D world, with rotating cameras, zoomable views, great-looking graphics, and awesome physics. There are no resource gathering or checkpoints to control, instead, you hyperjump from one end of the galaxy to the next fighting against a hostile alien race. But don’t despair you won’t be fighting alone – you’ll have the backing of 30,000 plus drones at your beck and call. The good thing about these tin soldiers is that they are relentless and follow your orders without hesitation.
The good thing about these tin soldiers is that they are relentless and follow your orders without hesitation.
At first sight, the game looks rather complicated with all those drones flying around. But the first few levels are more like tutorials aimed at helping you get familiar with the nuances of the game. Each level features a large map to explore plus sub-maps for the obligatory side quest. You take control of the Argo, a very capable mothership that you can upgrade with every successful mission. In the midst of the action, your primary offensive and defensive weapons aren’t your typical lasers or long-range missiles; instead, you’re armed to the teeth with thousands of drones that you command with simple clicks and delicate movements of the mouse.
say hello to my 30,000 friends
Graphically, the first thing you notice about Drone Swarm is how good the game looks. The beautiful textures of the drones, coupled with the lighting effects make it a visual feast on the eyes. But be warned, because such eye candy doesn’t come cheap and we noticed slight hiccups when played on a Geforce RTX 2080. Surprisingly, it played much smoother on an RX 5700 which leads us to believe that it may be a driver issue. But don’t let the pretty visuals lull you into a false sense of safety, because the difficulty ramps up after the first few missions. Fortunately, your drones are particularly well suited to deal with any existential threats.
While each mission has several objectives, the only real goal is to destroy the enemy ships and to hyperjump to the next area. And this is where the game starts to show some weaknesses in its armor. Setting your drones in a defensive formation or having them attack in huge waves is fun for a while, but eventually gets old and repetitive. As creative as the gameplay is, it lacks the immersion you normally feel in other RTS games, which is probably because of its predictability: you always know where the enemy is and where they are attacking from.
Setting your drones in a defensive formation or having them attack in huge waves is fun for a while, but eventually gets old and repetitive.
Despite its redundancy, Drone Swarm is a solid game that offers up a very unique style of play. I have to give credit to the developers for adding a new twist to an otherwise vegetative genre that hasn’t really evolved since the last decade or so. While the battles can get long-winded, the interesting game mechanics definitely adds substance to a surprisingly mature RTS game and should keep players coming back for more.