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Servo – Early Access First Impressions

By on September 4th, 2015 11:43 am

Servo | A real-time Sci-fi Strategy Game by BonusXP and Stardock Entertainment

Servo, a giant humanoid shaped robots (named Servos) themed RTS by BonusXP and published by Stardock Entertainment hit Steam’s Early Access on May 28, 2015. The game is still in Alpha (and is actually called an Alpha by the developers), and seems to be far from being finished. No official release date has been announced and the developers have been taking their time to implement features, which is always a better strategy than to rush and release a buggy project. This does mean the game might still be a little feature-light for many players at the moment.

Servo is an RTS in the traditional sense where you have small combat-driven skirmishes. You can pause the game in single-player but you can’t issue commands (you can change the game speed though in the pause menu). This said, the game does try to take a different approach from your classical Command&Conquer school of RTS design or from the RTT approach we see in titles like Company of Heroes. The difference are the RPG like mechanics of your Servos and the fact the Servos play a significant role in the game.

Servos are customisable mechs that you can configure as you want. You even gain a selection of pilots to choose from, each with their own innate special ability. The player will gain upgrades from missions and by completing challenges, and they can also purchase upgrades with cash earned ingame. This way the player will configure their Servos the way they want. You can only have three that you can call down in a given match; these become important units which have a wide selection of special abilities.

Servo

This said, the traditional trappings of the genre are not lost; you will still need to capture resource nodes, build factories and labs, research tech improvements, and build units. These elements seem to be less detailed than in a typical RTS, but are not any less important as they’re the cornerstone of your economy, improvements, and the drones you produce can play a significant role in combat.

State of the Game

As said before, the game is still in Alpha. The campaign only seems to contain three missions (1 tutorial mission and 2 get-your-feet-wet on the mechanics missions), additional factions have not been fully implemented in Skirmish yet, and many of the maps still seem to have place-holder art assets. The game still has some UI artifacts, like icons popping out of the borders. Aside from the rough around the edges issues, the game was stable for the most part. I encountered no game breaking bugs or crashes.

The short version, the game does feel far from being complete and the tag of it being in Alpha is indeed correct. Fortunately, the game does seem to still be in development with each patch adding-in new features or changing existing features. This does mean the game is still in a high state of flux.

Servo

A Quick List of Features

  • The game will contain a single-player story campaign that will explore the mysteries of the setting. As usual these missions can be replayed (only the initial tutorial missions are in the game now).
  • The game will feature several factions (it is not known the impact this will have on gameplay)
  • There will be skirmish mode, against AI opponents or human opponents.
  • Skirmish maps will offer special challenges or conditions that are unique to each map.
  • The game will also have Co-Op battles for players that like that.
  • Gain loot and currency which can be used to buy equipment to outfit your Servos.
  • Unlock new pilots that define the basic ability of your Servo.
  • Customisable Servos, letting the player choose the abilities and weapons they have in combat.

Naturally, as the game progresses through development more gear and maps will be added. As stated, the single-player campaign only contains the tutorial missions now.

Servo

First Impressions

It is indeed difficult to have a full opinion on the game this early in Alpha, as some features are in a state of flux. This said, I was still able to get an impression of what the game is going for. Servo seems to aim to be a “romp-and-stomp” RTS, an informal term for an informal game. The game is very fast to get into and has a skip-able tutorial that is pretty friendly for new players.

The action is fast but not overwhelming. The slow wind-up of the early game that we tend to see in other RTS’s is not present, as proper engagements can happen relatively early. However, despite this faster early game, the game has less macro and micro than your typical RTS. The drones you produce and the techs you research are straight-forward. Base-building is simple and is more about placing defensive turrets strategically. The Servos will be the main units in the fights with their unique abilities, many of which are active abilities which will be the only real source of micromanagement in the game.

The game also seems to have unique elements on each of its skirmish maps like having generators spread across the map giving your home beacon a shield or being able to spawn creatures to harass the enemy’s base (and the enemy can do the same to you). This makes each map a little more interesting than just having a different layout. I actually liked this feature.

Loot and Servo customisation reminded me a lot of RPG’s in the sense that you consider what load-out you would have. Do you go range or melee, duel-wield, have a shield, or have a two-hander? Which special defense do you want on your armour? What bonuses and special properties you rather have equipped? You can also decide what special attacks you will have by choosing which module you will have equipped. Abilities such as frost or acid grenades or missile pod launchers and the like. There is a lot of options and variety; I can see this appeal to those who enjoy more RPG’s or Mech customisation options.

Servo

Overall, the game seems fun; a light-weight, inexpensive, and quick to play RTS. However, it is far from being complete and is hard to determine if the finished product will maintain this impression as the game still feels a little bare at the moment.

However, as mentioned several times the game is still far from completion. As usual, Early Access carries a huge risk and players should exercise caution. The program is for the truly dedicated who wish to support a developer or the entrepreneurial individual who wants a chance to give direct feedback.

Servo is available on Steam Early Access for $19.99 USD. SpaceSector will continue to follow this title and will offer more updates if they are pertinent as the game nears completion, and naturally our review afterwards when the game is officially released.

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8 Comments


  1. Jeff P says:

    Hmm… RTS, giant robots, and early access. Sounds like the triumvirate of things-I-try-to-avoid.

    Thanks for the info on the title, but I’ll be looking elsewhere.

  2. alienjd says:

    I’ve been playing RTS games again (currently Universe at War and the Tiberium games) so I’ll keep an eye on this. It’s too early in development to say if it is the sort of game I’ll be interested in.

    From watching a couple videos it looks more like its a tower defense game/moba hybrid with minimal base building. That doesn’t really interest me but the company keeps insisting it’s focus is RTS so who knows.

  3. SQW says:

    Another MOBA with a ‘twist’! Yay!!!

    I like how even MOBA devs are starting to avoid calling their sh*t MOBAs.

    Is it me or after the last year and a half of having absolutely underwhelming drivels shoved in front of us, this latest great ‘space genre revival’ kinda died off with a sad whimper. I honestly can’t be excited with anything that’s in the pipeline for the next six months or so; the only thing even worth mentioning are just reboots trying to cash in on a new paint job. =(

    • Mark says:

      I’m not sure the “space genre revival” has quite ended yet (at least I hope it hasn’t). But I’d agree that it has been extremely disappointing and anticlimactic, almost to the point where if it never happened we would have been no worse off.

    • SQW says:

      Sadly, this latest golden age of space game peaked with FTL for me. Where are the Homeworld, TIE fighter, I-War, The Jupiter Incident or Sword of the Stars of this generation? Okay, we got an Elite but that game is still so feature-bare and expensive I’d rather play Euro Truck.

      Heck, at this rate, I’m willing to give proper space moba a shot (that Battlefleet Gothic could be the ticket) just so I don’t have to read a preview of another ‘inspired by MOO’ clone.

  4. DrManhatten says:

    I guess if you’re looking for a classic RTS you’ll better have a look at Act of Aggression which is out now since a week!

  5. Alex Gorobets says:

    From an outside glance, it seems like they got some inspiration from Space Rangers 2’s ground combat module.


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Post category: Early Access, Game First Impressions, Game Previews