Guns of Icarus Online is one of the most unique games I’ve played – a team-based dieselpunk airship game, in which rival crews try to shoot each other out of the sky. When it launched in 2012, it was strictly PvP. The following year, developer Muse Games launched a Kickstarter campaign to add PvE (“Adventure mode”), and it seems to be coming along nicely.
Read on for my follow-up email interview with Howard Tsao, CEO of Muse Games, about Adventure mode:
Peter Sahui: Hello, and welcome to the site!
When I last spoke to Muse Games in 2013, you were running a Kickstarter campaign for “Adventure mode” — a large expansion pack that would add PvE and co-op to the game. How is that coming along?
Howard Tsao: It’s been a long journey, with the scope of the expansion arguably larger than the original game, but we’re constantly making progress. Right now, in addition to iterating on some of the game modes and honing AI director as well as AI enemy movement and behaviour, we’re also doing work on player, faction, and world progressions. A lot of the in mission or in match feedback and progression are being designed and worked on as well. We’re creating factional airships, boss ships, and wardrobe as well, and we’ll soon move into designing more maps and game modes as well.
Last year, I wrote about Guns of Icarus Online, an interesting, atmospheric shooter set on board opposing steam/dieselpunk airships. Since then, developer Muse Games has unveiled a Kickstarter campaign for the long-awaited paid expansion, Adventure mode. Muse’s stated plan for Adventure includes three key elements:
1. PVE and co-op gameplay, unlocked at the Kickstarter’s threshold of $100,000;
2. An in-game economy and faction system, flagged as Muse’s first major stretch goal ($350,000)
3. Worldbuilding tools, flagged as the second stretch goal ($500,000).
Muse has stated that, should it secure more than $100,000 but less than the full $500,000, all Kickstarter backers will receive a “season pass” that will entitle them to future elements of Adventure Mode as and when they are released.
Read on for my email Q&A with Jess Haskins, Designer and Chief Nomenclator at Muse:
Now that Muse Games has announced Adventure Mode, the long-awaited expansion for last year’s airship shooterGuns of Icarus Online, the time seemed ripe to highlight my two favourite tracks from the base game’s soundtrack:
1. The game’s main menu theme, “Adventure”, composed by Zain Effendi — a short, sweet, mellow piece that goes beautifully with the game’s steampunk setting.
2. An more stirring in-game piece, “Crimson Sky”, composed by Gimmen Gong.
Enjoy, and stay tuned for my upcoming email interview with Muse!
It seems all over for the crew of the airship Babbling Goldfish. On one side – the enemy, two airships bigger and heavier than ours. On the other – the ruins of a vast, ancient airship, still lodged vertically in the desert sand. Our hull and engines are being ripped to shreds, and the airship wreck blocks the most direct escape. Over voice chat, the consensus sounds in my ears: we’re going down. But manning the helm, I see one last chance. I steer us between towering pieces of wreckage – bare planks to our left, a piece of red-plated debris to our right. And the incoming barrage dies down. Did the wreck hide us from our pursuers? Or did they simply get bored and drift off? Whatever it is, we’re safe for now. Safe to make repairs, and safe to eventually rejoin the fight…
That is one of the stories I have accumulated in my last couple of weeks playing Guns of Icarus Online, a team-based airship combat title from indie studio Muse Games. (You might remember my very brief mention of the game last year, when it was just a trailer and a cool concept.) In Icarus, players take on the roles of airship crew – gunners, engineers, or pilots, with four crew members to one airship. (Note that the game is strictly PVP; while most unoccupied crew slots are filled by bots, each airship must be skippered by a human player.) Matches involve two teams (2-4 airships per side, depending on the map) either trying to score a set number of kills, or hold objective locations long enough to win. Each ship’s captain can choose between six available ship types, each of which can be further customised via choice of weapons – for instance, do I mount a flak cannon (long-ranged and best against the enemy hull), a carronade firing grapeshot (close-ranged balloon-popper), or a Manticore rocket launcher (long-ranged disabler) in my main gun slot? And depending on their class, crew members can choose which repair/buff items, ammo types, and piloting boosts to take into battle. Once in the game, the slow, deliberate combat feels closer to MechWarrior than to the typical FPS – ships take a while to reach their destination, and guns don’t fire that quickly. This changes once the ship takes damage – then it becomes a frantic game of ohnotheengineisred, and Someone fix the hull before we all die!
Sometimes, sequels and remakes are exactly what the doctor ordered. In recent weeks, two upcoming air combat-themed indie games have caught my attention: AirMech and Guns of Icarus Online.
The further advanced of the two is Carbon Games’ AirMech. This is basically a modern remake of one of my childhood favourites, Herzog Zwei:
Never played Herzog Zwei or Brutal Legend, another game it inspired? AirMech is an action/RTS hybrid where you fly about in your plane, purchase units and then transport them to the front, and drop down into robot mode to engage enemies on the ground. But watch out for surface-to-air missiles! Up to four humans or AIs can play at a time, and victory goes to the player whose army can destroy the others’ starting strongholds.
I’ve spent about an hour with various alpha builds of the game, and from a presentation standpoint, it’s already impressively polished. I particularly like its bright, colourful and slightly stylised art – this is how an updated Herzog should look! The gameplay and interface are still being tweaked – the latest build plays very differently to the one I tried just a couple of weeks ago – but based on what the developers have achieved so far, I’m optimistic that the game can reach its potential. This just cries out for a Stompers of Comps multiplayer AAR, so stay tuned post-release…
Guns of Icarus Online
The other title to catch my eye is Muse Games’ Guns of Icarus Online, a steampunk airship MMO shooter. No actual gameplay in the following trailer, but it does look cool:
Critics were unimpressed with the original Guns of Icarus (which I never played), but the developers have acknowledged that “our ambition outstripped our schedule” for the original game; for the sequel, Muse is apparently better resourced and has benefited from its experience developing other games. While there will be PVP, I’m more interested in the “exploration” promised for the cooperative mode. At this stage there isn’t enough information to judge whether the developers can execute on this vision, but if they can, this could just turn out to be the steampunk airship Pirates! that I’ve been calling for. Worth keeping an eye on.