Iron Harvest preview

Deep Silver and KING Art’s Iron Harvest is coming out in just under a year, but we’ve already had quite a bit of time with the game – here’s why we’re eagerly anticipating this one.

What we know

A classic real-time strategy game similar to the likes of Company of Heroes, Iron Harvest takes place against an alternate version of the 1920s dubbed 1920+. This allows for the introduction of hulking mechs, though they’re not the sci-fi mechs we’re used to seeing. Instead, somewhat clunky looking heaps of metal traverse the battlefield, bringing immense amounts of firepower with them alongside a tough outer shell.

As with a game like Company of Heroes, making good use of the environment and the cover it provides is a key to success. The game also features destructible buildings, three factions to play with (across a 20+ mission campaign), cooperative and competitive multiplayer, research trees and base building.

The game is due out on September 1, 2020, which cleverly enough is 1.9.20 depending on where you’re from.

iron harvest

What we saw

During Gamescom, we got to play one of the game’s story missions, in which a small squad was given a couple of (optional) objectives with a variety of different ways to approach them. Besides capturing the enemy flag, we also had the option to release prisoners – and doing so pointed us in the direction of a pair of abandoned mechs. Although we failed quickly on our first attempt (running into powerful enemy patrols), our second attempt was successful largely thanks to the aid of the two mechs we captured along the way.

Post-gamescom, we also have access to an early build of the game, allowing us to further experiment with the game’s different mechanics – though our focus was still on single player content.

What we thought

Playing Iron Harvest made us realize it’s been too long since we had a quality RTS of the classic variety, and the setting is excellent. Rather than going full Battletech with a battlefield full of mech troops, the inclusion of mechs in the game often leads to strategic choices. Do you capture a mech? Do you ambush an enemy mech and strike them at their heart, or take a more stealthy approach just so you can avoid their wrath and firepower?

iron harvest3

Certain mech types will also tear your regular units to shreds, whereas others are real dangers to any mechs you might have in your squad. To a degree this translates to the dynamics of many RTS games that came before (but you’d have tanks, cannons or trucks instead of mechs), but Iron Harvest’s blend of dieselpunk technology and 100-year old history is a fascinating one.

The game is also gorgeous to look at, with fully realized 3D environments and highly detailed unit models. Especially impressive are the giant artillery-focused mechs we saw later on, as they visually exude raw power on the battlefield.

While most of the gameplay we’ve experienced so far has been more about tactical choices rather than base-building, evolving our tech tree and pushing out units, it’s looking to be a game with a ton of ways to play rather than offering levels with singular objectives. In many cases, the main objective in a level isn’t one that’s feasible by only focusing on that objective either – you’ll have to strengthen your squad first, or have to nibble away at the enemy’s forces to have a real shot. Even as a single player game, this makes for a game with great replay value on top of some great core dynamics.

Add full support of multiplayer as well, and you’ve got a potential RTS classic in the making.

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