Red Solstice 2: Survivors is the sequel to The Red Solstice, “a tactical, squad-based survival game set in the distant future on Mars”, as it’s described. Developed by Ironward and published by 505 Games, we received access to the alpha ahead of the game’s planned launch on 17 June 2021. As with the first game, you’ll be able to lead a squad of AI teammates, or bring along up to seven others to join you for the ride. For completion’s sake, here’s the overview for Red Solstice 2: Survivors, as seen on its Steam store page:
Plan your strategy and undertake real-time combat missions, in this sequel to the best-selling tactical game Red Solstice!
It’s the year 117 After Earth and you have a very important mission. You were awakened to lead the Cell, a secret taskforce that was assembled to counter the threat of the STROL mutant invasion. Take command of your squad to fight the mutants and find a cure to the virus that threatens to end mankind.
Across both a deep strategy layer and engaging real time combat missions, you’ll need to make decisions quickly to survive in this hostile world and determine the fate of the planet. Choose your mission, select your loadout, take to the battlefield, and lead your squad to victory.
Playable in single-player or co-op with up to seven friends, Red Solstice 2: Survivors combines tense claustrophobic action with careful strategic planning to create a sci-fi experience like no other.
- Survival Strategy: Red Solstice 2: Survivors combines tactical missions with ongoing survival against the STROL virus. Explore the entire planet in a campaign that expands over time with a single goal – survival of humanity.
- Research technologies: Research and upgrade new technologies and use them on the battlefield.
- Real Time Tactical Battlefield: Fight in an open battlefield in real time, while adapting and making plans on the move.
- Combat Missions: Deploy alone or with other players into combat missions to contain the spreading biomass infection. Manage your resources, explore an open map and secure areas in order to save humanity.
- Three Mission Types: Over 15 main missions and more than 20 side missions, with each having a different mission type (exploration, stealth and survival).
- Unique Classes: Choose between 6 classes, each with a unique gameplay experience – Assault, Demolition, Heavy Support, Marksman, Medic and Recon.
- 8 Player Co-op: Join campaigns and combat missions from other players – or let them join yours. Play together and work towards the survival of the planet.
- Powerful Weapons: Cause mass destruction, wipe out battlefields and decimate entire colonies.
- Biomass Infestation: Fight the spreading threat which changes the environment and adapts to your actions.
With that, let’s see what the Alpha has in store for us.
Graphics wise, the scale they use run from Low to Cinematic. I played it on Medium, which is serviceable. I don’t see the need to crank up the graphics any higher.
For gameplay options, there’s a bunch of things you can toggle, like damage numbers, interactable items, hints, level of gore, overwatch options and automatic weapon switching. The hotkeys are rebindable for keyboard, though without a compatible controller, I couldn’t check if it’s supported or if keys can be rebound as well.
It being a top-down game, I suppose you don’t really need that many bells and whistles.
“Is that Master Chief?”
Jokes aside, the aesthetics for Red Solstice 2: Survivors is highly reminiscent of titles like Starcraft, or X-COM. Your map is by default at the top left with map objectives right under it, and any communications / dialog from characters on the top right, with speakers indicated by name and icon. The top right will also be where you can check your squad’s status, which is a bit too small for my tastes by default. Enemy names and health are displayed at the top. The bottom half of the screen will have you, your inventory, your skills and health / energy bars, and your weapons / ammo.
Main Objectives are marked with a gold exclamation point, with a gold arrow pointing you in its direction. You can hover over interactable items which will be highlighted with a blue line, and will provide also provide a description.
When you start up a campaign, you can choose from Easy to Nightmare difficulty, with the option to turn on Ironman mode. You only need to control your one character, the Executor, then you’ll be able to pick up AI squaddies once you’re on the ground. You can give them commands to the squad as a whole, or individually as needed. You’ll be able to tweak your class and your loadout, but I must confess I don’t really have a clue to how. There’s options for your primary and secondary weapons, your armour components, and the skill tree of sorts for your other talents that apply to either you or your AI squaddies for the campaign. The multiplayer tree is different, and both don’t share skill points.
There’s manual aiming, but I absolutely love the fact that there’s the Overwatch mode. Sure, manual aiming will mean greater firepower, if you know where to point that muzzle. Here I am, slowly walking around in Overwatch mode – a circle indicating its active radius will show up around you – and my Executor automatically fires with 100% accuracy at any nasty beasts. Getting surrounded is pretty no bueno in this mode whereupon you’d want to use manual active skills. Overwatch is also only applicable to your primary weapon; it’s manual or bust for your secondary. Last but not least is that your bullets have ammo, and reloading early will make you lose bullets in the old clip. You can get quite a few consumables out in the wild, though I didn’t play around with them much. The certified RPG Hoarding TM kicks in, because old habits die hard.
Missions will typically see you move across the map from objective point to objective point, with plenty of stuff along the way to ransack. You can take advantage of cover / terrain for some boosts, which can sometimes make or break things: multiplayer difficulty curves higher than single player. You can respawn in single player should you go down after some point, though if your squaddies all die then that’d be game over.
Once you’re done with a mission, you can queue up research, much like how it works X-COM, utilizing resources and completing when enough in-game time passes. You’ll be able to scan areas for missions to do at nodes that pop up that also takes in-game days. If you delay in doing combat missions, the STROL infection level increases, gradually affecting game difficulty, and at 100%, that’s also game over. Balancing exploration and combat will be key, which I’m sure sounds familiar to a lot of you by now.
I’d say Red Solstice 2: Survivors is a game that’s easy to get into, with the hard part coming from optimizations. With the currently limited options, Skirmish is a tough cookie, but when the game actually launches and there’ll be more classes for the rest of us, it should be quite a jolly ol’ time with you and the besties (and the aliens). I’ll wait till I get to play a turret master, then I’ll give my full thoughts on it. If you liked the first game, there’s no reason for you not to get this one.