Forts is a 2D real-time physics-based strategy game in which you build impenetrable bases and destroy your enemies’. Is it worth buying?
‘Worms with base building’, I believe the game has been described as, and that’s not too far off. In Forts, you’ll find yourself building stable — and unstable — structures, placing machine guns, laser cannons and missile silos and manually firing them at the weak points of your foes’ bases, then laughing maniacally as their nuclear reactor hits the floor and pops, casting a bright explosion over the mountains and forests.
Diving straight into it, the game currently contains four modes: campaign, sandbox, multiplayer and skirmish.
The campaign depicts a story of commanding and conquering the world’s countries and continents (as well as collecting some of that precious oil on the side), and is done in a walkthrough-like fashion. It is rather easy and most of the levels are dedicated to separate game functions, but there are a few actual levels and challenges later on. Expect a few grammatical errors.
Sandbox is essentially a Forts playground, where you can do whatever you desire, from experimenting with different structure and weapon layouts without competition to making up a turn-based kill-your-enemy-before-they-kill-you game mode and playing it against a friend.
Multiplayer and skirmish are where the true game elements come into play. As you can expect, multiplayer is online or local, where you can battle your friends or random people online. It’s all dedicated servers hosted by other players, and you can host your own public or private one if you wish. Skirmish is a one-vs-one against an AI character with a difficulty of your choosing (they all seem balanced quite well).
Prior to entering the match, if you’re the host or are battling against an AI, you’ll be prompted with a map selection screen. There, you’ll be able to choose from a variety of different terrain layouts, like a cavern with you on one side and your opponent on the other, a field with a giant mountain separating the two of you, a few floating balls in the sky, a bumpy field of sand dunes, and so on. There are also some with pre-built forts, which give you a bit of a head start should you not have much time or need a starting point.
After deciding which map you want to play, you can pick between a collection of commanders, which will give you some nifty passive and active buffs. Take ‘Armourdillo’ for example, who makes armour and doors less costly and can open doors quicker than usual, and whose temporary active ability gives you faster repair time and for half the price. Then you have ‘Firebird’, the commander who ensures incendiary mortars have a larger explosion radius and who makes sure fire doesn’t spread fast on your base, as well as giving all of your weapons a fire starting buff for his active ability. There are a handful of others to decide from, like a spy who hides things and sees things, a guy who upgrades your storage capacity, etc. Then you ready up and start the match, and prepare to obliterate or be obliterated.
Forts’ actual gameplay begins a tad slow, as you need to build your base out to and place mines on ore deposits, as well as plopping down some wind turbines in open areas so you generate power faster. It’s also a good idea to put a decent amount of storage for your resources and power in your base. It’s tedious to start, and with the build times — which can be rather lengthy — it is often a real pain, but once it’s done it’s done and we can get to the exciting fights.
Now for properly building your base and its defences (you should really be doing this while getting resources, but multitasking requires skill, which I do not have). The game has a cool quadrilateral build method, where you extend out walls, ceilings and floors, as well as letting you build directly from corners and free-form to an extent. As there are lots of weapons, you’ll need to have a sturdy base, so you can upgrade the traditional wood to a much stronger metal. There are also plasma shields which block lots of incoming damage, and ropes to help keep your base from collapsing. Also, be ready to spam the ‘R’ key to repair your damaged bracing and extinguish fires!
Since Forts is all about destroying your enemies, and you have read this review up to now, it’s no surprise that there are weapons involved. Lots of weapons. First, we have the standard-issue machine gun, which you can control manually or leave it to shoot at incoming missiles and mortar shots. Then there’s the sniper, which is much more accurate and deals much more damage at the cost of less fire rate. You can also buy an incendiary mortar, which fires in the air and falls down on your enemy’s wooden bracing, setting it ablaze. Swarm missiles are launched from silos that can be placed on solid ground, and once launched deliver a barrage of missiles at your foe’s fort, but require a sniper to target and fire. Next are cannons, which shoot devastating piercing shells, dealing high amounts of damage to bracing and penetrate, pushing through the base a decent amount and dealing damage there too. Last we have the plasma cannons, firing a focused laser at one part of the enemy’s fort, quickly forming a hole to fire your other weapons inside.
Some weapons require a workshop or factory to build, so it’s good to stick them in your base so you’re ready to start using the big guns. Most of them can be improved by using an upgrade centre, which you can also plonk right in your fort. The upgrades do different things, such as giving snipers piercing shots which can go through walls, or turning swarm missiles into powerful warhead launchers.
I’ve played the game for around thirteen hours so far, and the only thing I have had trouble with is a small lack of online servers during the day (Australian time), but I can’t see how that would be a fault of the developers.
In the end it all comes down to one question: does it work?
Yes. It absolutely 100% works, without a doubt. Forts is a strategic game of back-and-forth, and it’s profoundly entertaining. If you are considering paying the $15 and think you would play it, then I couldn’t recommend this game enough.
👍 Forts IS worth the US$15 it is available for.
This review is for the PC version of the game — any other devices may play differently.