Important: This article was originally written and published in 2014. It has been republished here for historical and testing purposes
Captain a steampunk airship and fly with your friends in this thrilling MMO air combat game set in a post-apocalyptic world. — Guns of Icarus Online Kickstarter
Guns of Icarus Online is a steampunk airship combat game developed by Muse Games. With a small crew and a rusty tub of a ship, grab a wrench and face your foes.
Last year when this game was up on Kickstarter, it caught my attention instantly. Who wouldn’t love to be on-board a ship, fighting with the controls, modifying systems and fighting just as hard with with your own vessel as with the hostility around it? I’ve been subconsciously hunting for a game like this ever since I watched shows such as Battlestar Galactica, Star Trek and even Star Wars although to a lesser extent.
Now this game was actually released back in October of 2012, so why am I waiting so long to review it? Well because quite frankly the original release was a buggy mess. Lag, hit-detection and overall poor performance really detracted from what was even then an amazing experience. With some regret, I dismissed it.
Thankfully, rather than pretend the problems didn’t exist, Muse engaged their community and actually worked hard to resolve many of these. They’ve still got work to do and there are still issues, however I feel that since Muse Games has proven themselves to be a responsible company, these can be mostly overlooked. I returned to the game just a few days ago and well, I’m not disappointed.
Now the gameplay is pretty straightforward, but has depth that could easily be compared to Counter-Strike. Besides the obvious, You need to take into account ship momentum, gun swivel rates, weapon configurations, boosts and even cloud cover. There’s more enough depth to allow the hardcore players such as myself to dig in and have our fun, but it’s also not done in a way that would prevent a casual player or even myself on a lazy day from enjoying a few ‘relaxing’ games.
When starting a game, you choose one of three classes. Note that any class can do any task if they have the tool, however there are perks for sticking primarily with your class specialty.
- Captain: Tasked with keeping the crew working smoothly, piloting the ship and handling the strategic aspects for the entire crew. this is one of the most demanding yet rewarding classes to choose. If you’ve got a mic and are willing to work with the team, you’ll do great with this class.
- Gunner: Pretty much explains itself to be honest. Your job is to transfer as much ordinance into the enemy ships as possible. While all the crew are important, without actually attacking the enemy it renders other tasks moot.
- Engineer: Backbone of a ship, you need to keep a flying Junker aloft long enough for the rest of your crew to do their job and you will find yourself scuttling around hitting machines with your trusty wrench to keep them repaired, You’ll also chances to fire some shots off between repairs so the a few kills are not beyond your ability.
I really find this difficult to comment on as everything really just fits. Ships look like they were tossed together but solid, weapon effects are wonderful and the character models are wonderfully designed. It’s also worth noting that the UI stays out of the way and never actually intrudes on gameplay.
One of the most beautiful things this game has achieved is how powerful cloud cover can be. Having an enemy rise from the depths of a thick cloud guns blazing is an amazing sight and having the ability to duck into clouds to hide or make a stealthy approach is something I’ve never seen in a game before. While this may seem like a small feature and of little note, I cannot stress how big it is, both aesthetically and tactically.
Firing weapons sound like they should and you’ll quickly cringe in fear as your ships hull takes damage. The crackling of fire after an enemy flamer pass will quickly send you scurrying to put them out and the drum beats guiding you into battle will prepare you for the fury to come. All I can really say is it all works great.
It’s impossible to accurately review a games community, but I feel this deserves special note. I’ve only been playing solid for a couple days, however I’ve already added around ten players to my friends list after a few hours of battle. Once you start playing, you will find the solid players who work with players, crack jokes, tell stores and laugh (or cry) at the situation regardless of the situation.
I have found the Guns of Icarus Online community to be one of the most welcoming I’ve seen and the solid in-game voice chat allows great teamwork to take place. Working out crew positions, devising battle plans and reporting enemy locations are all easy to do. Sharing a victory or even a defeat with a team that fought hard to the end is simply exhilarating and there are few games that can provide such close teamwork. Every single crewman is vital and each player knows this after a game.
There are few better feelings then finally taking down an enemy after a long struggle at the helm and I cannot think of another game that comes even close to Guns of Icarus Online. Everything comes together to create an intense, fun game that really makes you feel important to your crew. If you’d like to see a video of one of the worst (and yet awesome) games I’ve yet played that I did for a recording quality test, you can do so here.
With a great community, amazing dev support, cross-platform capability and continued development coming, I strongly recommend you grab a mic and then get a copy of this game. You can do so over on Steam.
Also, should you enjoy this game, check out their Kickstarter for the new Adventure mode. They’ve reached their goal but I’d love to see them reach those “Econo-Political System” and “World-Building Tools” stretch goals.