As if flying too close to the sun wasn’t enough to worry about, players of Muse Games’ Guns of Icarus Online now must also be concerned about flying too close to opposing dirigibles. In this Steampunk-inspired airship-to-airship combat game, it’s up to a team of four to take down opposing vessels using a combination of skill, time-management, and most importantly, true cooperation. After getting the chance to take a look at the game, and chatting with Muse Games CEO Howard Tsao, I walked away much more than intrigued about where the game is headed.
What originally began as what is now known as Guns of Icarus Classic, the series has since bloomed into the near-fully realized Guns of Icarus Online. Adding a 4v4 PvP co-op option, with an additional co-op expansion where players can face off against the AI and battle waves of opponents on the way (as demoed at PAX East), Guns of Icarus Online is hoping to offer the complete package. Taking visual inspiration from the 1800’s late-Victorian era, mixed with influences from the Qing Dynasty and blended with a Steampunk style, the game certainly has a unique aesthetic that most will find appealing.
What also sets the game apart is the heavy influence on teamwork. As a team of four, players will have to work together if they want any chance of surviving a play session. To that end, the game has built-in voice chat, which is essential to planning and executing strategies. The ship’s captain chooses both the airship and custom loadout, from a choice of 7 player ships that each have different statistical and tactical advantages. From there, the team is made up of an additional three character classes, each needing representation on the ship, so no two players can share a class. Those classes are: Engineer, Gunner, and Pilot. These characters are physically customizable thanks to the inclusion of bonus costumes, hats, and goggles, all of which can be unlocked through gameplay progression. The standard PvP mode has two teams face off against one another, each with the singular objective of bringing down the enemy team’s ship by destroying ship components, disabling turrets, etc.
While teamwork was always the focus of the game, there is also a lot of individual moment-to-moment decision-making that happens during each match. While the captain usually oversees the ship and coordinates the actions of teammates, each individual player must assess how to best complete their tasks during combat. In the Engineer’s case, who is tasked with repairing the ship, there will be a lot of tactical risk-assessment in the form of prioritizing what repairs will be made in what order. If guns are disabled, taking out your primary method of attack, yet the ship is also losing altitude quickly, a split-second decision to repair one over the other will either result in failure, or victory.
Features-wise, Guns of Icarus Online includes a number of different game modes. In addition to the standard deathmatch-style PvP, and the aforementioned co-op expansion that allows players to team up and face off against waves of AI ships – including a Boss-esque flying fortress – the team is also implementing a VIP Escort game mode sometime soon. On top of the 20+ maps available to play on, one of the finer details that’s worth noting is that weather plays a significant role in the game, in terms of both tactics and strategy. Heavy fog can be used for cover, while hiding inside a storm cloud can be potentially harmful to the crew and ship. Having weather become an active part of the game’s battle landscape adds an extra dimension of excitement to matches, adding to both the challenge and replayability of maps.
Those interested in checking out Guns of Icarus Online can visit the official website for additional details and purchase options. (The game is available on PC, Mac, and Linux.) To stay in the loop about project updates, be sure to follow the game on Twitter and Facebook. I’m admittedly not a big fan of playing games online – I much prefer to do my multiplayer gaming while sitting next to some friends – but if you’ve got a group of three pals you trust enough to share a ship with, I’d say Guns of Icarus Online is a wonderful-looking title that’s certainly worth checking out.