RTS games come in all shapes and sizes, which appeal to gamers of all creeds. Some focus on beautiful visuals and engaging gameplay, while others aim for a more nostalgic feel. One series that fits the latter is the 8 Bit series. Last year I reviewed 8 Bit Armies, which was the first port of the series to the PS4. Now we’re being given a more medieval take on blocky RTS combat in the form of 8 Bit Hordes. Fantasy fans rejoice, as this may be up your alley.
8 Bit Hordes is like most RTS games where you’re controlling hordes of warriors to accomplish your goals. Each mission starts the player with a few select units already created and a main base already built. You need to start by building the barracks in order to create more units. To do so, you need to hold down L1, select the barracks, and then choose where you want to place it. It takes a short time to build, so you must use that time to manage other aspects of your forces. Once you’re able to train units, you must hold down R1, hover over the unit you want, and then press either square, triangle, or circle. Each of these shapes controls a different section of your forces. Press the buttons as many times as you want to decide how many units you want for each group. To control each group, you click the corresponding button once, and then click X on the spot you want them to head to or attack. This allows you to control each group separately.
After the groundwork has been laid, you’ll plan your moves based on the situations you’re in and what you have available. For example, you need gold in order to build structures, and there are special minecart units that gather gold for you. There’s also a population cap that can be raised by building farms. You’ll need to build farms quickly if you want to amass a large horde of warriors. As you play through the missions, more structures and units will be unlocked. These include ranger stations and sorcerer’s towers you can build and units like dwarves, treants, and water spirits to train. The more of a specific structure that you have built, the faster units from those structures will be trained. So if you can afford to do so, I’d highly recommend stacking up on the buildings that create your favorite units.
The campaign is broken up into two factions, each containing twelve missions. Every mission has three difficulties represented by stars. Completing higher difficulties gives better rewards, but you’ll be in for much more of a challenge. You can play as the Lightbringers or the Deathsworn. They both play essentially the same, except they have different names and aesthetics for their structures, along with different units. For example, the Lightbringers have pikemen and treants, while the Deathsworn have warriors and dragons. Both campaigns are enjoyable, although I liked the Lightbringers side more.
Missions boil down to completing objectives such as destroying all of a specific type of structure on the map, collecting special crates scattered around the map, or eliminating your enemies entirely. They have a fairly repetitive layout, but the level designs and varying situational aspects provide enough to keep you interested. Resource management is incredibly important if you want to succeed, so watch your unit numbers, gold stockpile, and enemy movements. On that note, be careful because the enemies seem to build their forces very quickly and that can ruin you if you aren’t careful.
8 Bit Hordes is a fun, colorful RTS with a nostalgic blocky aesthetic. It isn’t the most visually pleasing game, but that is part of the charm. I personally liked the switch to a more medieval theme here compared to the army layout of 8 Bit Armies. The gameplay is easy to learn but hard to master, especially the resource management, but that challenge is fun. That being said, there’s no time to waste: set up your base, build up your horde, and march forward to strike down all that oppose you.
8 Bit Hordes
8 Bit Hordes is a nice addition to the 8 Bit series, especially with the fantasy centered theme. The gameplay is essentially the same, which is great for fans of the previous game. For RTS fans, you'll appreciate the ability to control three different groups while managing your resources.