Drone Swarm – 32.000 drones in real-time strategy combat – Review – Test

In the real time strategy game Drone Swarm we send 32,000 drones to fight against our opponents. All info about the game in this Drone Swarm Review – Test

Drone Swarm Review - Test
32000 Drones in Realtime Strategy
Drone Swarm Review – Test
32000 Drones in Realtime Strategy

The real-time strategy game Drone Swarm with 32,000 drones in a test. How do you control thousands of flight units and is it fun? What is the challenge and how extensive is the game? All information about the Drone Swarm PC version with gameplay in 1440p60 in this article. Will Drone Swarm be a hit in the field of real-time strategy 2020?


German Version:

This article is available here as text, but also as a YouTube video (German voice-over, many subtitles). This way you can choose how you would like to enjoy it most.

Video:

German Voice-Over, many subtitles

Drone Swarm – Intro

Hi there, this is the Zap. In this Drone Swarm Review, I explain what this real-time strategy game is all about, how it is played, and if I had fun with it. In the end, there is also a rating from me, but most of all I want to give you all the information, so you can decide for yourself if the game could be something for you.

I got a free trial sample from the publisher, my thanks for that. But this won’t have any influence on my rating, because I always test all games with the thought in mind, how would I feel if I paid the full price?

Drone Swarm – background – developer

Drone Swarm Review
Background - Background
Drone Swarm Review
Background

The game is developed by stillalive Studios from Austria and published by Astragon Entertainment. stillalive has developed among others the Bus Simulator 18 and also the funny police and fire department management game Rescue HQ. If you don’t know the latter, I’ll link my review below.

With Drone Swarm, the studio now ventures into the genre of real-time strategy, which is completely new to them. And unlike previous games, Drone Swarm also tells a coherent story during the extensive campaign. So let’s see how successful this step of the studio into a completely new territory is.


Drone Swarm – Game Type

Drone Swarm Test
Game Type
Drone Swarm Test
Game Type

In Drone Swarm, we are the captain of a huge spaceship, which is surrounded by a swarm of drones. How exactly the 32,000 drones came into existence I will tell you later in the Story section. The only important thing right now is that we can control these drones and send them into battle.

In controlling the swarm, stillalive came up with some very unusual ideas, and it works surprisingly well. We can draw lines and circles in space with the mouse, and our drones then fly along these lines, and if they encounter enemy units during this flight, they cause damage to those enemies.

The length of the lines determines approximately how many drones we send out of our 32,000 supply. So we can send out 10,000 or more at a time with a very long line, but we can also send out different troops with several short lines, and thus attack the enemy from several sides or make sure that he can’t evade so easily.

Then there are different variants and patterns. So we can not only send our drones to attack but if we press the W key before, we can also let them build a protective wall. This shield will remain in place for some time and protect our main ship, or possibly allied units.

Additionally, we can also command a swarm in such a way that it not only attacks enemies but flies a kind of thrust attack. This way, we can force spaceships off their course, increase their distance to the main spaceship, or force them into anomalies, thereby breaking their shields or rechargeable skills or destroying them completely.

In addition, there will be numerous improvements, passive and active skills, weapon upgrades and general improvements for our main spaceship during the campaign.

Drone Swarm Gameplay – Combat and Missions

Drone Swarm Gameplay
 Combat and Missions
Drone Swarm Gameplay
Combat and Missions

The fights always take place in such a way that our main spaceship arrives in the system with a hyperspace jump and then stands more or less in the middle of the map. The big spaceship is not maneuverable. It only travels by hyperspace jump and these are the beginning and end of a mission. The space maps are in the end 2D maps.

Because of the static base, the gameplay of Drone Swarm also goes a little bit in the direction of a tower defense or hold-the-base game. But stillalive took a lot of effort to keep this from becoming monotonous. On the one hand, the mothership is often attacked 360 degrees from all sides.

And in addition, there are three different alien races, which are at war with each other and with us. These aliens all have very different spaceships, with special features and their own behavior patterns. And sometimes we get into fights between the races and defend one side against the other. Here we not only have to protect our main spaceship but also cover one or more allies and destroy the attackers.

Drone Swarm Gameplay – Control

Drone Swarm Review
Control - Steering the Swarm
Drone Swarm Review
Control – Steering the Swarm

32000 Controlling drones is a special task. In many real-time strategy titles, it already goes pretty fast crazy if you only want to position 32 soldiers correctly, and here it’s 1000 times more.

All in all, the control is a bit hectic here as well. You have to make a couple of clicks and mouse movements to keep the swarm of drones fighting. And the precision of the movements is very important. Unfortunately, sometimes the drones only fly roughly where you have drawn a line. So every now and then an attack goes nowhere.

However, this happens often enough anyway, because logically the opponents move fast most of the time. Because of the indirect control of the swarm, you have to foresee, so to speak, where an enemy will be, until the swarm is flying there. Predictive swarming is needed here, and this has to be practiced first.

It’s good that there is a button that calls all drones home, and also one that can be used to remove a protective wall, for example. Because once you have all the drones on the move, you’re a little weak and have to wait until they return to the station, or call back individual swarms or all of them.

Often I wish I could move the base. At least you can turn the camera, but unfortunately not tilt it. But here the game lacks the technical requirements to really show the depth of the space. This would probably be confusing sometimes, but often it would also contribute to the “depth” of the game. So the battlefield remains a bit flatter, in a double sense. In this area, some potential was given away.

Gameplay – Story

Drone Swarm Review - Test
Story
Drone Swarm Review – Test
Story

Drone Swarm takes place in a distant future when an alien race has surprisingly attacked Earth. In desperate defense, mankind has launched all its nuclear missiles. This put the attackers out of action, but at the same time made the earth uninhabitable.

The humanity of the future had partially developed Psyonic Forces. So they can move objects by thought power. A daring psyonic then used his powers to take over the remains of the alien ship.

With some extensions, this became the battleship, Argo. The only hope of mankind to find a replacement planet. Because on the completely contaminated earth the human civilization would soon die out. As reinforcement 32,000 more Psyonics were recruited, each one of them spiritually fused with a combat drone. So on the Argo, there is a small crew and the 32,000 bodies of the Psyonists are in cryogenic sleep.

With this interesting entry, the campaign starts and we steer the Argo and the swarm of drones into unknown star systems in search of a replacement Earth. Thereby we get caught up in an entangled story and a war between two alien races and a third AI-robot faction.

Drone Swarm – Campaign

Drone Swarm Test
Campaign
Drone Swarm Test
Campaign

The campaign is divided into an enormous number of different maps, which are arranged by clusters in chapters. There is really an amazing amount of these missions, I was very surprised. However, the playing time of these maps is usually only between one and five minutes. The level of difficulty can be selected from 3 levels at any time.

Drone Swarm offers short but crisp fights here, and due to the short duration of the maps, you can schedule it very well, even if you don’t have that much time to play in one go. By the way, the missions are not completely linear, often we can choose from several missions, which one we want to do first. And some of the maps are probably optional, even though I have played through all of them because they give experience points and upgrades.

In each mission, small pieces of the story are told by voice output in the map and every few missions more of the story is revealed with fully voiced comic sequences. The drawings of these comics are for my taste on the upper-middle-class level. Nothing that will blow your mind completely, but absolutely acceptable and the story is, with a few small exceptions, plausible and credible.

Tech, Graphics, Sound, Engine, GFX, SFX

Drone Swarm Gameplay
Tech, Graphics, Sound, GFX, SFX, Engine
Drone Swarm Gameplay
Tech, Graphics, Sound, GFX, SFX, Engine

Drone Swarm was developed with the Unity Engine. It offers nice graphics, smooth effects, and a stable base for the game.

The graphic is okay. Here the wheel is not reinvented and only rarely really impressive scenes are created. The animations of the swarm are very well done, so the main actor in the game is definitely the optical highlight.

The space maps are sometimes a bit too repetitive and the enormous number of enemy spaceships is hard to distinguish due to hardly existing graphical differences. Here you can see the probably small budget of the game. They had a lot of ideas, but probably also little funding to provide all of these variants with their own distinguishable graphics.

The setting of the fights is fine, the music as well. Here I never had the feeling that something was missing. But there were also no outstanding moments, where one would have listened spellbound.

The voice-overs of the crew and opposing figures are enormously numerous and of acceptable quality throughout. For a small title they pulled out all the stops here, I was very surprised.

The animations in the cutscenes are actually made of nice hand-drawn comic images. These are moved here and there, faded over, it all fits so far. Unfortunately, they tried to morph the faces with facial animations from two or three different drawings, and these effects look rather disappointing to me. Only with pure still images without these strange facial deformations, the story sequences would have been better for my perception.

Drone Swarm offers Voice-Over in German and English and the texts are available in 13 different languages. The German and English texts are easy to understand and read, but I can’t say anything about the quality of the other languages.

Drone Swarm Gameplay Screenshots

Click or tap on an image for a larger version
In the popup, you can navigate right and left at the border of the screen

Drone Swarm Test – Opinion and Conclusion

Drone Swarm Test
Opinion and Conclusion
Drone Swarm Test
Opinion and Conclusion

Drone Swarm has a very original and unique concept that can be really fun if you like the setting and controls. The drone controls are usually very catchy and the fights are strategically scattered between easy and super tricky. But here you sometimes wonder if you could get some additional explanations.

Because the balancing of some missions is still a bit strange for my taste. Sometimes you jump into a mission and after 60 seconds all the enemies are dead and it moves straight on to the next level. And sometimes you have to solve complex tasks like pushing crates into a target zone and at the same time fending off attacks from all directions and you have to protect both the Argo and the crates. This is quite demanding and a single wrong command can make the difference between victory and defeat.

In other missions you scan satellites, and the scanning process is faster if you send more drones, but suddenly a strange spacecraft appears, which irreparably destroys thousands of drones with one beam. So some of this mission can be seen as a kind of puzzle game. Because they are all solvable, you just have to find the right combination of attack, skill, and flight form, which will crack the nut in the end.

For my taste, I need either a better balancing or at least a clearer explanation. So you could make sure that you can complete such missions without having to test different procedures 10-15 times with Trial&Error. Because it is motivating if you don’t get everything right the first time, but failing again and again and starting the mission from scratch, again and again, is a bit frustrating. Well, at least you can skip the dialogues so that you don’t have to listen to them 10 times. And if necessary, the slider for the difficulty level helps, too.

Probably some missions would be a bit clearer if the skills, upgrades, and extensions were better explained and labeled. A big step forward would be easier comparisons between the weapons. Unfortunately, just fuzzy text is used here, not a single number. So the only thing left to do is to try out which weapon might do more damage or might be better suited for a certain situation. You have a lot of possibilities for adjustments, but unfortunately, the game leaves you a little bit out in the rain to make these decisions.

I really liked the comic stories about the Argo and the fate of the earth. Sometimes the dialogues are a bit clumsy, sometimes the setting is angular, some plot twists have been predictable for a long time, and then you wonder if the crew of the Argo is a bit naive and simple-minded. But on the whole, this part is absolutely okay. Even big games often have somewhat stupid heroes, who grope from one trap to the next.

The team behind Drone Swarm had a lot of great ideas, but they should have had it tested externally from time to time. Because then it would have been noticed that as a new player you stumble into numerous inconsistencies and unknown variables.

And sometimes it is quite nice to have to try something out. But with the many possibilities that Drone Swarm offers, you can easily be overwhelmed. There is simply a lack of reasonable explanations, tips for the player on how to solve the trickier parts, and comparison values for skills and items.

Technically, the game is mostly error-free, so I don’t have much more to complain about here. If the level of difficulty didn’t make me bite the edge of the table, not because of the high fighting challenge, but mainly because of a lack of explanation, then I had a lot of fun in the game.

Drone Swarm Review – Rating

Drone Swarm Review
Rating
Drone Swarm Review
Rating

With a price of 24,99, $ Drone Swarm is rather in the lower-middle-class range. There is also a Deluxe Upgrade DLC with a comic as PDF, soundtrack, and 2 extra weapons, which costs another 5,99 $. This upgrade might be interesting for comic fans. The soundtrack and the two weapons. Well, I honestly wouldn’t spend 6 bucks for it.

For the release, there is a discount on the game, so it currently costs 19,99 $. I assume that this will be the real price in the long run. Taking this price into account and putting it in relation to the offered game content and the original setting, I would like to give Drone Swarm a base score of 80%.

But since the game sometimes puts obstacles in the way of the player due to poor explanations and missing statistics, and since there are also some other shortcomings, such as the lack of depth of space or somewhat spongy controls in some places, I would like to subtract 4% from this figure.

This brings me to a final score of 76 %. If the developers would improve the tooltips and the accuracy of the control after the release, this rating could rise to 80 % again.

Drone Swarm Review
Rating with numbers
Drone Swarm Review
Rating with numbers

Drone Swarm

Zap from ZapZockt.de

Drone Swarm Deutsch - 32000 Drohnen im Echtzeit Strategie Review - Test
In the real-time strategy game Drone Swarm, we send 32,000 drones to fight against our opponents. All info about the game in this Drone Swarm Review – Test
The real-time strategy game Drone Swarm (German) with 32,000 drones in a test. How do you control thousands of flight units and is it fun? What is the challenge and how extensive is the game? All information about the Drone Swarm PC version with gameplay in 1440p60 in this article. Will Drone Swarm be a hit in the field of real-time strategy 2020?
Strategy
Uniqeness
Control
Graphics
Sound
Voice-Over
Price – Performance

Rating

With a price of 24,99 $, Drone Swarm is rather in the lower-middle-class range. There is also a Deluxe Upgrade DLC with a comic as PDF, soundtrack, and 2 extra weapons, which costs another 5,99 $. This upgrade might be interesting for comic fans. The soundtrack and the two weapons. Well, I honestly wouldn’t spend 6 bucks for it.

For the release, there is a discount on the game, so it currently costs 19,99 $. I assume that this will be the real price in the long run. Taking this price into account and putting it in relation to the offered game content and the original setting, I would like to give Drone Swarm a base score of 80%.
But since the game sometimes puts obstacles in the way of the player due to poor explanations and missing statistics, and since there are also some other shortcomings, such as the lack of depth of space or somewhat spongy controls in some places, I would like to subtract 4% from this figure.
This brings me to a final score of 76 %. If the developers would improve the tooltips and the accuracy of the control after the release, this rating could rise to 80 % again.

3.8

Outro

Do you want to lead the 32.000 drone warriors into the battle for the future of mankind, or is the game too hectic, too fiddly, or just not your cup of tea? Write to me with your opinion, let’s talk about it. Of course, I’m also happy about feedback, questions, suggestions, or whatever else is on your mind.

Below you can also find a link to my partner site Gamesplanet, there you can get Drone Swarm as well, and often there are games with a discount. I get a commission from Gamesplanet, so you might be able to save some money and support my work at the same time.

More gaming news and game reviews can be found on the YouTube channel or on https://zapzockt.de – subscribing and keeping your fingers crossed makes me smile, so feel free to click there. I would also be happy if you would share the review with your friends. Then I wish you a great day, have a good time, ciao ciao, your Zap

Buy Drone Swarm cheaper at Gamesplanet (Steam)

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For every purchase through one of these links you get a discount and I get a small commission from Gamesplanet, so you support the channel and the website at the same time, and save money.

As reference to previous games from the developer stillalive:
My Rescue HQ Review
Drone Swarm Steampage
Stillalive Studios Website (Developer)
Astragon Entertainment Website (Publisher)

Reading – recommendations:

A lot of detailed games news and information about games and gaming can always be found here at ZapZockt.de

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Shopping – Tip:

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Zap

Dirk "Zap" von ZapZockt.de, 40+ Gamer, zockt seit 1980 vor allem Strategie Titel, MMOs und Rollenspiele. Schreibt Game Reviews, Gaming News und auch mal über Technik, Hardware und YouTube. Mehr Infos findest Du unter Mehr über Zap lesen ◄----------► Dirk "Zap" from ZapZockt.de, 40+ gamer, has been gaming since 1980, mainly strategy titles, MMOs and RPGs. Writes game reviews, gaming news and also sometimes about technology, hardware and YouTube. Click here, if you want to read more about Zap.

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