Ever since I was introduced to the world of gaming at an early age, I’ve been spending most of my time trying various games. However, the current gaming scene has left me feeling a little disappointed and jaded, or maybe I’m just getting old.
But to be more specific, I’m talking about games from Triple-A developers who continuously release games that feel the same, retelling and rehashing stories as old as time. For those unfamiliar with gaming lingo: Triple-A is a term coined by the community, referring to developers with a large budget for marketing and development.
So, I began finding more enjoyment in indie games, made by smaller teams with smaller budgets. Phasmophobia, a game about ghost hunting, is a stellar example of an indie one. At one point, the game peaked at over 112k players too. It was made by a single developer and I’ve invested over 87 hours into the game (and I’m not planning to stop yet).
The point is, while Triple-A games push out repetitive games, indie developers set out to break the mould. And that is what I believe Ammobox Studios, a Malaysian game studio, wanted to do with Eximius: Seize The Frontline.
The same cake with a new ingredient
While the full name of Eximius might be a mouthful, the gameplay is pretty straightforward.
You play as a soldier in one of two opposing army factions in the game who are fighting to be the dominating military power in the game’s universe. And that’s about it for the story.
But, what makes the game interesting to me is its choice of genre. Instead of going for the standard-fare FPS shooting game, the devs opted to create a multi-genre game, by adding RTS into the mix.
The More You Know: FPS stands for First Person Shooter. FPS games are gun-based combat simulators from a first-person perspective. Games such as Call of Duty, Valorant and Counter-Strike are popular examples of FPS games.
Meanwhile, RTS stands for Real-Time Strategy. RTS games usually require the player to manage resources in real-time and command armies to win battles. Games like Starcraft, Command & Conquer and Age of Empires are examples of RTS games.
Basically, the gameplay of Eximius is separated into two different genres. When getting into a game, be it with real players or AI, you get a choice between playing as an Officer or a Commander in a 5V5 PVP (player VS player) mode. 4 players from each team will play as an Officer, and 1 player will be nominated as the Commander.
Not just a soldier on the battlefield
Both roles play the game a little differently. As an Officer, your task is to shoot enemies and hold objective spots. Holding more spots will give your team more points and the team with the most points at the end of the game wins.
You have access to a variety of guns and weaponry that might skew the battle in your favour. But even if you’re the best gunner in the world, if you don’t have the proper backup, you might find yourself surrounded during a firefight. This is where the Commander comes in to save the day.
As the Commander, only you can assign AI-controlled soldiers to Officers on the ground. Officers can then command these AI soldiers to hold a spot or storm the enemy’s base together. Aside from assigning soldiers to Officers, the Commander also has access to the RTS elements of the game in base building, calling in air support and so on, while juggling resources.
For example, if you expend all your resources on building a Barrack for foot soldiers to take an objective, you might lack the firepower to take out tanks that the opponent Commander might have called in.
The game won’t let you build in peace either. You have to make decisions quickly, debating between building a barracks or a power generator while your Officers are being shot at. But when you’re not building up the base, you double up as an Officer on the ground.
Like other Officers, you can command your own soldiers, upgrade your guns and take objective spots. But with just a click of a button (Q), you can transition into RTS mode to build up the base whenever.
So this makes playing the Commander a stressful job. Will you storm in with your Officers, or stay back to build a proper base to support them?
Far from being the best shooter out there, but it has its appeal
When it comes to gunplay which makes up 90% of the game, the guns sadly felt a little lacking. There are not many gun varieties and the guns lack that extra oomph that makes shooting fun and impactful, the way other FPS games out there do.
Not to mention, at the moment of writing, the game lacks a proper player base that’ll help it prosper. But to be fair to the developers, they’re making a game of a highly competitive genre, vying for the attention usually given to the big boys in the FPS scene.
If you can’t find actual players to play with, the game will fill the slots with enemy AI, which can be tough to beat on higher difficulties.
On the brighter side of things, the game can be beautiful at times too. If you take a look at the behind-the-scenes posts by the devs, you can see that they’ve poured a lot of effort into their designs.
If you’re a fan of both genres and have a penchant for trying new games, Eximius: Seize The Frontline can be a fun game to play with friends. And its price tag of RM50 isn’t too much to ask for, particularly if it goes to supporting local devs who can continuously upskill.
For a game that’s made in Malaysia, I’m glad that our gaming dev scene can push out a game something as polished as this (despite its minor flaws), and I look forward to Ammobox Studios’ next game, hopefully with improved gunplay.
Featured Image Credit: Vulcan Post