Reviews - Updated on April 8, 2022

The text about any modern RTS always wants to start with a remark that the genre is dying. A long tradition – I accidentally stumbled upon a text by Kirill Oreshkin, who wrote about this almost 10 years ago. The genre is dying, but something will not die in any way – strategies continue to appear, but, of course, it is extremely difficult for newcomers to achieve their former popularity. Especially when it comes to classic competitive RTS, among which StarCraft II firmly stands as an unshakable peak, which has long become a thing in itself: they say, there is SCII, but there are other strategies. But the most eloquent thing about the crisis in the genre is how its fans perceived the announcement of Warcraft III: Reforged – 17 years after the release of the original, the re-release becomes one of the most anticipated releases.

A Year Of Rain from Daedalic Entertainment, suspiciously similar to the very same Warcraft, appeared in Steam Early Access right at the height of the Reforged hype. Is it a hastily made clone or something original?

On the way south

Blizzard at one time clearly showed that even in a purely competitive strategy, you can pay enough attention to the plot, turning the single player into a real masterpiece. A Year Of Rain tries to be like its “big sister”. Small at the moment (additives, apparently, should be expected as the strategy leaves early access), the single-player campaign tells about the adventures of representatives of one of the three available factions – the House of Rupa, led by Lord Jaydee Rupa. Jaydee is a born leader, possessing enough charisma to attract a diverse audience under his banner – from ordinary people to gnomes and magicians. Ambition and a thirst for power lead him to Kalimdor, the uncharted southern continent, which is waiting for its owner – if only he had the strength and cunning to take possession of them.

The player will have to deal with the conquest of this terra incognita during the passage of the campaign. Unlike the same Warcraft, in AYOR most of the missions are the adventures of several heroes at the head of a small detachment, and not the traditional RTS process of rebuilding a city and confronting the same enemy bases (although there is such a thing here). And the key feature, according to the developers, is support for the cooperative passage of the campaign.

The strategy is focused specifically on the game together – both in single player and in online battles, where two-on-two battles should become the main format. The idea, perhaps, is interesting, but, unfortunately, I didn’t manage to test the co-op in the campaign on my own: the matchmaking system could not find a second person. Most likely, the reason for this was the extremely low online performance – in prime time, the number of players barely exceeds fifty. No wonder: it is enough to go through the campaign alone and play several games in skirmish mode on the Web or against AI to understand the reasons for such sad statistics.

A Year Of Rain game preview

The rollers on the engine are tightened.

Не Blizzard

It is easy to see that the campaign, like the whole game as a whole, is trying to be similar to Warcraft. If the similarity of the interface and gameplay is immediately evident and copying as a whole can be considered a success, then with the plot everything turned out noticeably worse. Although the writers tried: there are ambiguous actions of the main characters, and epic fights, and strong friendship, coupled with betrayal. Add a similar visual style and you get… no, not a Blizzard masterpiece at all, but just a parody of it. Attention to detail is at zero, the motivation of the characters remains at the level of the most primitive children’s cartoons, and the graphics are hardly better than the picture in them.

A Year Of Rain looks frankly outdated, and attempts to create beautiful cut-scenes using special effects like slowing down time or unexpected camera passes cause only laughter – it looks so ridiculous along with wooden animations and the general poverty of the picture. Well, the coolest videos, like Blizzard, of course, should not be expected.

AYOR literally repeats Warcraft in everything, not embarrassed to copy even the smallest details of the interface. It’s easy to imagine that we have just a graphical mod that changes the look of the game, like the looks of units and buildings from StarCraft II.

A Year Of Rain game preview

The computer enemy does not react in any way to the assault on his base, preferring to engage in “creeping” at the other end of the map.

There is safety in numbers

You can justify the raw state of the game with early access, but what prevented you from fixing such noticeable and annoying bugs as the mini-map that responds to clicks every once in a while or units hiding behind buildings and trees that are not easy to “catch” with the mouse? The algorithm for finding the path of these same units is a separate story. They cling to corners, get stuck in buildings and each other, love to create traffic jams in narrow places on the map, and generally try their best to piss the player off. What kind of fun can we talk about when a bunch of your fighters can’t kill a couple of enemies just because the AI ​​doesn’t know how to bypass obstacles?

Against such a background, the efforts of the developers to bring some kind of innovation and convenience to the game in terms of ordinary battles can hardly be appreciated – although they undoubtedly exist. For example, the emphasis on two-on-two fights is reflected in the choice of a certain role in a duet: defense, attack or support. There is also support for “build orders” in the form of special on-screen tips telling you which unit or building to buy at a certain point in the match. But who needs all this if finding opponents even in prime time is not so easy, and the battles with the computer are boring due to the extreme stupidity of the AI?

Multiplayer is not encouraging, despite AYOR’s attempts to seem like a serious strategy: there is a “ladder”, ratings and calibration, some tournaments were even held during the beta test. But the questions for the developers are the same: what kind of competitive component can we talk about if the number of players online does not exceed a few dozen people?

What an interesting Warcraft mod!

***

If the creators of A Year Of Rain planned to grab a piece of RTS fans’ attention while waiting for Warcraft III: Reforged, then they mediocrely missed this opportunity. And all it cost was not to tell tales about innovative two-on-two gameplay and an exciting cooperative mode, but to achieve an ideal technical implementation from your product – perhaps someone would be interested.

Yes, this is early access, and bugs can be fixed over time, but it seems that if there is even the slightest bit playable alternative from Blizzard, even those few who have heard something about it will quickly forget about AYOR. Did not have time? And no need, be patient until the release of Warcraft III: Reforged.

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