E3 2019 Hands-on – Iron Harvest
If there’s one thing that was a positive surprise during this E3, it was the sheer amount of brand new RTS games being planned for the next year or so. Between Age of Empires II, A Year of Rain, and Stronghold: Warlords, there’s more than enough to showcase that this genre is definitely not dead. Deep Silver’s Iron Harvest is another example of this growing trend, and I had the chance of testing it during E3 2019.
Iron Harvest is a real-time strategy game clearly inspired by Company of Heroes, with the difference that it has one heck of a unique setting. It is set in an alternative 1920’s that features less periods of economic crisis and more gigantic diesel-punk inspired mechas. Think of them as Metal Gears if Metal Gear was set in 1920’s Poland. It is way more combat-focused than the other main strategy game I tested at E3, Stronghold: Warlords, as it narrows all resources you need to handful of easy obtainable minerals, as long as you conquer their mines/rigs. It’s all about setting up your army, then planning your attack with caution. More on that below.
Two things impressed me the most with the game, besides the obvious cool-as-heck mechas: the visuals and the props. This easily one of the best-looking strategy games I’ve seen in years, with a ton of effort put not only into the mecha models, but the environment as a whole, as well as the lighting and particle effects. Explosions don’t look like cheap bursting effects onscreen. Whenever a building gets damaged, you can see exactly where it got hit.
The props scattered throughout the map were another highlight. Most of the RTS games I play also feature props onscreen, such as walls and barrels, but they don’t do much besides being pieces of pixelated decoration. That wasn’t the case here. If you see a barrel on the map and actually shoot it, it will explode, causing massive damage to nearby units. I actually ended up destroying a few tanks with my little army of scared men this way.
Walls actually have a purpose as well, as your smaller units can actually take cover behind them and protect themselves from enemy fire… until said wall gets destroyed, of course. That added an extra layer of strategy to this, well, strategy game, as I would constantly look for the best locations to engage in a fight, rather than just create a crap ton of units and send them to their impending doom. Granted, I still died regardless of being strategic, but I did so with a smile in my face.
Iron Harvest impressed me with its visuals, insane mech designs, and extra layers of strategy due its destructible environments and chest-high walls. I couldn’t take a look at any of its other modes, and all I got from its campaign was being briefly told about it from the developer, but I could tackle enough of it to assess that its gameplay is top-notch, and not just a generic copycat from the golden years of RTS gaming. The game is set for release later this year.