Physics based games always get me excited. As soon as I learned about Forts, a physics-based battle game, I personally volunteered for this one at PAX East 2017 back in March.
In Forts, players build up their fort off of the base that the game starts you on, making walls and structures to support the entire building. The goal of each is match is for the player to be the first to build up their fort and take out the opposing fort with guns and abilities. Each commander has a special ability that helps their player, such as building faster or causing more damage. As far as ways to play there’s a tutorial, campaign story with 28 levels, skirmish, and multiplayer modes (up to 8 people at once), as well as a co-op mode.
Portrayed in a 2D cartoon style similar to games like Worms, players have a base that they can see inside for the player, as well as a fort for the opponent that hides the interior. Each story of the fort itself gives platforms to build weapons, defenses, or utilities. The more players build out or up, the more room they have for things like factories and shields. Machine gunners can be placed to help keep swarm missiles at bay, while the heavy hitters can really cause turmoil on the opposing player. Forts can be built up from the ground most of the time, but on rare occasions, they’re on the side of a wall or even hanging from a ceiling. First player to demolish their opponent’s reactor core wins.
The game is being developed by a small team of three at Earthwork Games. During PAX East, I got to talk to one of three members of the team, Nick Smith, who is the Art Director of Forts and EarthWork Games. He set me up on one of his playthroughs and a pre-made scenario to show how the game works.
The first part was a pre-played scenario “replay”, he explained, between him and another team member. In this demonstration, two bases were on the ground, side by side, similar to the fort mode of the game Worms. He used this as a way to show techniques and tactics on how to take out opponents. As it’s a game of speed, it’s all about keeping your base protected while building it up. Make sure to fortify your walls quickly though, because wood (the starting material) is easy to penetrate with most weaponry. There’s only a handful of weapon options in Forts, so players should familiarize themselves with the guns quickly.
After this replay scenario, he set me up on a crazy option that was made for PAX East, where the bases hung upside-down. He encouraged me to build bigger guns and to go for vulnerabilities in the enemy’s plating. As the forts slightly swung and moved, it made the shots more difficult to get precise aim on the AI opponent. The bigger guns took down armor plating a lot easier than the machine guns. If your opponent gets a direct hit on your fort, players will need to hit the ‘R’ key to extinguish fires and then build more plating and armor. Timing becomes everything when it comes to shots, but once I started getting hits at the base of the fort, I won due to it dropping from the sky. There was no word on if this map will be available in the main release, but I sure hope so.
Nick gave newcomers to the game his best tips at winning, “Triangles are the strongest shapes. Make sure your foundations aren’t folly. Make sure your bottoms are wider than the top. Armor your fort’s exterior. You can build up quick and Zerg Rush, if you so choose, as well.”
Forts is great for tactical players, as well as those that enjoy fast-paced, chaotic games. With several scenarios and a single-player “story” mode, you can easily put dozens of hours into it. I’d love to see where this IP goes in the future. For instance: Since there’s only a small handful of options on what players can build in terms of weapons (a total of ten currently), I’d love to see more options in future releases or updates.
Two months later, Forts is definitely a title that I’ve continued playing at home, even long after PAX East has ended. I find myself drawn to the skirmish mode most of the time, but I’ve made my way through a large portion of the story as well. For anyone that likes real time strategy, Forts is a great long term go-to for a small price.
Forts is out and available now on Steam for $14.99.