E3 2021 Preview – Toy Soldiers HD
One of the flagship titles of Xbox Live Arcade back in the beginning of the 2010’s was Toy Soldiers: an action/strategy hybrid that received critical acclaim. It also spawned a handful of sequels; one of them being an XBLA exclusive released during one of their Summer of Arcade initiatives and another being War Chest, also known as “that one game with the He-Man toy”. The original team behind Toy Soldiers, Signal Studios, is now developing a remaster of the 2010 classic, published by Accelerate Games. We had the chance to talk with Brett Gow, one of the team’s developers and a seasoned industry veteran, about what we should expect from this improved version of the game.
For the uninitiated, Toy Soldiers is a game where two WWI toy armies fight to the death in playground-like environments, not unlike the Army Men series. The best thing about that title was the fact you could either play it like a strategy game, creating and giving units orders like a commander from above, or simply choosing one unit (be it a soldier, a biplane, a tank, etc) and getting your hands dirty in third-person action while the AI did the RTS thinking for you. It had a ton of units and different playstyles, and that’s all going to be revitalized in Toy Soldiers HD.
Let’s get the most obvious improvement out of the way: as seen in the presentation, Toy Soldiers HD clearly looks better than its eleven year old counterpart. Textures have been revamped, the resolution has been enhanced, and the framerate is more stable. That also applies to the Switch version of the game, which will be released back-to-back with its PS4, PC, and Xbox One counterparts. All DLC are included in the package, some new missions will be added, and brand new multiplayer modes have been included. There’s the possibility to do one-on-one PvP fights with only biplanes, for instance.
Finally, some extra gameplay tweaks have been implemented to improve the base game. In hindsight, one flaw with the original game was the fact you could freely use any unit you wanted without consequences. They’d be automatically available to you no matter how many times you’d die in a mission. That led to me basically spending most of my time playing the original Toy Soldiers with a biplane, barely paying attention to other units. Unit respawns will be limited in Toy Soldiers HD, adding an extra layer of challenge and planning to the gameplay, forcing you to learn how to play with more than one kind of unit. It sounds punishing, but honestly, it’s a welcome addition.
I really liked what I saw from my preview of Toy Soldiers HD. The base game was already pretty good, so a simple remaster would already be fine enough. But the new maps, missions, and gameplay tweaks did impress me. What I liked the most about this entire presentation, however, is the fact that a Switch port will be available alongside other versions. A portable is a perfect fit for an arcadey game like Toy Soldiers, and I can’t wait to get my hands on the final product.
Toy Soldiers HD is scheduled for an August 2021 release for PS4, Xbox One, PC, and Switch.