Spin-offs are an interesting beast. If you have a hugely successful franchise, there’s always the temptation to try and milk it dry by chucking your characters into a completely different genre and seeing if they gain traction.
A lot of the time, they fall flat (like Dizzy’s foray into Tetris territory in Panic Dizzy, the light gun-directed point-and-click of Pac Man 2…). Sometimes, they work incredibly well (Mario Kart, Mario Tennis, Mario & Luigi — yeah, Mario seems to have this covered).
However, the crossover from action game to real-time strategy is an interesting beast, which studios seem averse to exploring. Halo Wars demonstrated that you could take a straightforward FPS and turn it into a polished and surprisingly accessible RTS, but there has been a dearth of similar titles since.
That absence is all the more intriguing, since many action games appear to be perfect candidates for the RTS spin-off treatment. Whether that’s due to their existing lore, predesigned units, or perceived ease at which a crossover could take place, it’s time someone made the case for new strategy franchises.
In that respect, fear not — we’ve thought about it long and hard, so you don’t have to.
World war is making a comeback in gaming (must…avoid…real world commentary…), so what better way to ride the tide of interest than with an RTS based on the latest revered installment of DICE’s franchise?
If you consider it for a moment, all of the pieces are already in place. The classes all translate perfectly into selectable and upgradeable units, meaning that your play area can be littered with tanks, medics, pilots and…um… horses.
The missions can be ripped directly from the FPS campaign’s individual War Stories and adapted for strategy purposes. And when the new Battlefield 1 DLC drops this year, there’ll be even more meat to pick apart for potential missions.
All told, this could be a killer addition to the franchise. Sure, Company of Heroes may have done something similar. But did it have horses?
No, it did not.
Vigil Games’ apocalyptic hack ‘n’ slash has all the elements needed for a real-time strategy. Think about it. On one side, you have War, Samael, Azrael and Vulgrim. On the other, Abaddon, Uriel, Straga and the Charred Council.
There are angels and demons aplenty, which would make superb ground units. What’s more, they’re all wildly different — from massive Gholen through to the smaller Swarm. The individual characters from both sides could act as commanding units, leading the assault and unleashing their supernatural abilities to wreak havoc.
Drawing on its mythic lore, the environments could be pulled from Heaven, Hell and Earth, allowing for a robust and varied series of campaign battles. And persuading Mark Hamill back to voice The Watcher would be a timely move, given his resurgence on the big screen. This one’s a definite winner.
It’s perhaps not a natural candidate for an RTS, but DOOM certainly has potential. Pretty much all of the enemy classes could be ported into varied and interesting units, whilst setting the game in Hell would certainly be a unique locale for a strategy game.
The multiplayer aspect of id Software’s reboot is where the most exciting ideas could be culled, however. Hack modules such as “Scout” would work perfectly in giving you a brief overview of where your enemy is located on the battlefield, while “Power Seeker” could be adapted to point players to resources to help tip the campaign in their favour.
Of course, what we’d really want to see is the good guys upgrading their units to allow them to morph into demons, before sending a swarm of Mancubi at the incoming hellspawn army.
That would be lovely.
If there’s one game ripe with RTS booty for plundering, it’s Titanfall. The huge variety of mega-mechs with varying powers would mesh particularly well with the tactical abilities of the game’s pilots. It would allow for a playing field filled with cloaked infantry, an exhausting array of weaponry and a lot of explosions.
Better still, the multiplayer maps would make the perfect foundation for a strategic campaign, and the franchise’s rather flimsy storyline can be easily manipulated into something far more digestible over a series of missions.
The crossover would need to be careful not to edge too far into Dawn of War‘s territory, but if the development team stuck to what they were good at — massive, interesting units battering the living heck out of each other — then this could make a surprisingly good RTS.
God of War
Go along with us here. There’s an opening for a Kratos-driven RTS that you probably haven’t considered. Far from the series being just one man against the entire pantheon of Gods, you may recall that Kratos has had his share of help along the way.
The enemy faction would obviously be overseen by Zeus. There is no shortage of fantastic gods and beasts that could make up the opposing ranks. Medusa, Poseidon, the Kraken? All viable choices. Splendid, that’s one side locked down.
The allied faction could be made up of the huge array of characters who stood with Kratos and aided him throughout his entire journey. Cronos would be a great addition to begin with. Hold on, scratch that — Kratos sliced him open. Hades seemed like a stellar chap, yeah? Well, up until the point where he tried to rip out Kratos’ soul, that is. How about Gaia? Nope, that alliance didn’t end too well, either. Aphrodite? She’d be good at..erm… Right.
So, it seems that the allied faction would be Kratos and Deimos.
And Deimos is dead.
Look, not every idea is a gold-plated winner, OK?
What action games would you love to see spun off into an RTS? Give us your best suggestions in the comments below!