Iron Harvest Review
Iron Harvest has the most exciting campaign in ages – varied, great staging, full of funny and brute force mechs.
If it weren’t for these Mechs, the real-time strategy game Iron Harvest could also take place between the two world wars. But instead, it takes place in an alternative timeline: The First World War is behind us, it was already waged with the “running machines”. As in the historical model, Germany and Austria have lost the Great War, but not really: In the empire of Saxony, nomen est omen, the emperor is still sitting on the throne, and the Russian Tsar is still alive.
In the campaign, the big heart of Iron Harvest, you play the three factions Polania, Rusviet and the Empire of Saxony one after the other. And what a varied campaign that is! You will go on missions with a handful of infantrymen who have to rescue civilians in the middle of a house-to-house battle. You sneak behind enemy lines with the Rusviet heroine Olga. You conquer (almost) unguarded Mechs, set up bases, sabotage positions or defend newly conquered stations against increasingly powerful enemy waves.
All this often happens during a single mission: When we escort a Polish supply train with its guns, for example, we start with just a handful of troops and two heroes – every single fighter really counts. After a few switched turnouts and skirmishes and a destroyed enemy base, it finally comes to a showdown at a bridge. Behind it, dozens of russian Mechs, guns and infantry troops are lurking.
Fortunately, we can finally build our own base to expand our mini army properly. With bunker-mechs and artillery behind it (including platoon) we advance by the meter, repair machines in the middle of the battle, heal infantrymen, bring half-dead troops to safety. Because the enemy also has a base behind them, more and more units are rushing into battle on both sides. Great mission design that will remain in your memory for a long time!
In terms of campaigning, Iron Harvest can even keep up with the genre greats, but in terms of strategic depth it plays a league lower than Company of Heroes, Dawn of War or Starcraft 2. For example, there are only a few upgrades of units.
They gain experience and climb twice in rank (Heroes three times, but in the campaign they start at level one again with each new mission). However, they are only given a cool-down special ability once, such as a powerful burst of fire at the target area or additional rockets for a heavy mech.
Otherwise only the default values like hitpoints are increased. The Mechs also don’t have hit zones or damage models like the tanks of Company of Heroes, which stay down or lose their cannon after a chain hit. Only the damage of backhits is weighted more heavily in the Iron Harvest Mechs.
The enemy AI is also basically ok, uses cover and sometimes flees when it is about to draw the short straw. Iron Harvest also cheats here occasionally: When we dismantle an enemy base, several infantry troops suddenly warp in to defend it. But that’s not so cheeky that we would devalue because of it – just think of it as a last stand.
Although the tempo in the missions is rather slow, something is constantly happening on the battlefield – yet even in the largest of battles, the overview is rarely lost. By the second attempt at the latest, it is usually clear how we can counter an enemy attack and achieve victory.
For hardcore strategists, there may be minimal lack of tinkering. Everyone else will find a motivating and every moment entertaining challenge in a fresh scenario, in which we hopefully can experience more adventures.
In the battles and missions Iron Harvest reminds you of Company of Heroes and puts a lot of emphasis on cover, whereby the largely destructible environment has to be emphasized – especially since the units can be destroyed/deleted relatively quickly. Pathfinding problems and AI quirks were noticed from time to time. If you’re looking for a more complex basic construction, various upgrades/improvements of the units and more tactical depth in the combat mechanics, Iron Harvest will probably disappoint you. Apart from the fact that there are currently only six maps available for skirmish battles and multiplayer duels, many elements announced in the Kickstarter campaign and mentioned on the Steam product page are still missing, e.g. the two-player co-op mode in the campaign and the codex. These features will be added later. Rankings matches will be available only from mid-September.
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See other New PC Releases in September 2020 in this video: https://youtu.be/AO2B6wcPnCw