EA SCOUT the last line of defense for buying on Steam's Early Access
by Johnathan Irwin
previewed on PC
They Are Legion
Zombies. Are we tired of zombies yet? I think we’re all getting a bit weary. As much fun as the undead can provide, the last decade or so has sure seen zombie games pour out one after one in every genre, much like a freshly infected body added to the zombie hordes they portray. I’ve gone from having to get my hands on every single one, to only some of the best such as Dying Light. But, I was recently clued into a new RTS called They Are Billions and I had to give it a look because I just happened to be getting the zombie itch again (if only slightly) and wanted to try something new.
They Are Hungry, And So Am I
They Are Billions is an RTS game with long term survival elements. Players have to find a fine line between expanding their last bastions of civilization and keeping prepared for the ever rising number of undead beyond the relative safety of society. Eventually there are plans to add in a campaign with an actual plot, but even with just the survival mode They Are Billions is something special already.
In Survival Mode, you’re dropped into a randomly generated world which dictates everything from the layout, to the weather and events, and then even as far as the initial infected population (and how close they spawn to you). You can also pick the amount of time in which you have to prepare before the main hordes hit. 150 days giving you the most prep time, and 80 for the least, with a couple others in between.
My approach early on was a bit more proactive than some might take. I organized a small force first to patrol the outlying areas from the starting zone, chiseling away at groups of undead and securing a larger safe zone while I began to progressively expand my colony outward. Along the way I made sure to secure all the resources I could find, as I would in any strategy game, and before long I had a bustling steampunk metropolis that was now to be surrounded by walls and to churn out a massive fighting force for when the inevitable would come.
They Are Billions
And indeed, they did come. My attempt to keep undead numbers in check was not the greatest idea, as my outer patrols were soon overwhelmed before they could return to the settlement and I was left to wait. What was first a trickle, over time became an impressive mass of bodies hurling themselves at my defenses. An ocean made of undead, it’s one of the most intense displays of zombies in a videogame I’ve ever seen. If you remember the feeling you first got when a horde was generated and ambushed you in Left 4 Dead, or when you bit off more than you can chew in Dying Light, imagine that feeling as an unaccountable horde is threatening to decimate the burgeoning metropolis you’ve made for yourself.
But that feeling quickly dissipated as the horde is actually rather easy to deal with if you’re an RTS veteran. You have to manipulate the map geography, and pile down on the most effective units available and that’s exactly what I did. My settlement’s defenses were a mix of massive towers, walls, and brutal defensive cannons along with my troops and then icing on the cake, we were positioned in such a way that the hordes had to be funneled towards me. Game over for the undead hordes. Although to the credit of the zombies they did come close to making a breakthrough on one wall where I didn’t apply the same amount of reinforcements.
But the game may not have been as generous in another map generation, perhaps I just got really lucky and had the edge I needed. But the most important thing is, I had a blast. They Are Billions is off to a great start, I find myself ready to play more and I’m eagerly looking forward to what the story based campaign has to offer when it releases. It’s not often I’ll sign off on an Early Access title so soon, but it’s easy for me to suggest this to fans of RTS games and zombies alike.
There are no guarantees - but we'd bet our own money on this one. If you're going to take a chance with yours, odds are good this one will deliver.