Free To Play Modern Warfare RTS
You’ll notice a recurring story when I review RTS games. A lot of them come from my search for a Company of Heroes 2 replacement. When I found this game, it had a price tag on it. Back in December of 2016, I was checking out my wishlist and noticed Call to Arms was free to play. A few of my Steam friends wanted it, so I downloaded it to check it out. How does it compare to CoH2? Well, it’s not CoH2. BUT! If you don’t have the cash, or the stomach (like me), then this is a good choice. This is going to be a review of the free version of Call to Arms because, as always, I don’t play games for the solo content.
As the title says, Call to Arms is a Real Time Strategy game. It’s free to play the multiplayer portion of the game, with the single player campaign and certain factions and other DLC available from $14.99 to $39.99 depending on what you want. I’ve played 5+ hours of the multiplayer and haven’t hit a single thing asking for money. The biggest caveat is probably if the faction you want to play costs money or not. The game is in Early Access, so factions are limited now, but will become available as time goes on. Germany, Russia, and the United States are available now. The game is extremely similar to CoH2. You spawn infantry and vehicles, and OMG THE VEHICLES, to do battle across the map. There are cover mechanics involved as well, so you get that extra bit of depth in the game. Speaking of vehicles, there is even an all-vehicle mode for up to 16 players (which is max in the game from what I can tell)! I checked it out on a 2v2 basis and had a great time! The other game modes are pretty standard, capturing control points, complete annihilation, and more. I feel like all the game modes may be a bit overreaching for an EA game, but it gives you a sense of direction for what the devs want for the game. And finally, as you level up, you unlock new units and rewards for the various factions. Pretty standard stuff.
What Makes It Fun
I love the feel of an RTS with no base building in a modern setting. The snap of first-contact gunfire, the tank shells just shredding concrete and steel. It’s just a great environment that I can easily relate to. Probably the best thing about this game is the ability to take control of an individual unit yourself. I think this is the game’s secret weapon. Tired of watching your unit AI do stupid things? Click one of your soldiers and get to work! RTS seamlessly turns into a 3rd person shooter! Take command of soldiers or vehicles! Again, RTS quickly turns into World of Tanks gameplay. You swap in and out of this with the click of a button. What a huge way to immerse yourself in this game, I love it! I do want to give a brief shout-out to the price. While free doesn’t mean good, in this case it’s worth your time to try it out. As I mentioned above, I like RTS games where you are solely focused on the military aspect. There’s no economy management once you get into the game, it’s all focused on the fight. There is also a nice level of detail in the game. From sound effects to gore, there’s just enough in the game to keep it interesting.
What Makes It…Not
There are a few detractors for Call to Arms. Probably the most readily visible is the clunky UI. The start button is actual text, not a button. This happens throughout the game. You can find everything with a little effort, so nothing to panic about. I also feel like the balance isn’t quite right in game. I’ll have a squad behind cover, the enemy has a squad outside of cover, and mine bite the dust. Don’t know why, don’t know how. Finally, the pathing is a medium sized problem in this game. I notice this problem more with the vehicles than infantry. My humvee will back up to go forward, or completely ignore my click if it’s too far away. The more urban the terrain the worse it is. This is easily remedied by taking control of the unit like I mentioned above, but can be annoying and costly if at an inopportune moment.
The Bottom Line
Definitely slapping a thumbs up ‘recommended’ on this game. If you’ll notice, all the dislikes I noted are all common to Early Access games. I feel like this is a good sign for the game’s future. There is a bit of drama surrounding the free to play transition, and this obviously is influencing Steam ratings. It’s a lot of pay to win complaints with no actual explanation of what they consider pay to win. The devs have stated their position, so I recommend you judge for yourself. Regardless, it’s free, so trying it out is risk free. Call to Arms has a solid core to build on for the future: Great mechanics, nice action visuals, and being free makes it readily available to everyone.