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SwarmZ beta preview plus developer interview

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swarmz battle

Yesterday, we gave an overview of the new zombie battle builder SwarmZ from Mutiny Software. Today, we’ll take a sneak peek at a sample provided by the man himself, Maximilien Gabillard. I also had a chance to get some burning questions answered. Let’s dive right into the gameplay preview for SwarmZ.

Shameless plug. đŸ˜‰

SwarmZ gameplay preview

*NOTE: This copy of SwarmZ was provided to High Ping Gaming for review by Mutiny Software. No other exchanges, monetary or otherwise, were exchanged. The opinion(s) are of the author.

When I first wrote about SwarmZ, I was immediately reminded of Ultimate Epic Battle Simulator. Although similar in the sandbox concept, I must admit I’m rather partial to the cartoony graphics of SwarmZ. There’s just something charming about the small characters lacking facial features. To me, it helps lend itself well to the mere fact that each zombie slayer is merely a pawn in my Zombie chess game.

The copy I received to review is a beta copy, and the only mode accessible was “Sandbox”. In this mode, you can freely (with unlimited resources) place as many zombies and as many humans as you’d like. But first things first; you must decide where to place your baby crib. That’s the goal in this mode: keep your baby alive. I placed the baby right in the center, then proceeded to layer barricades around my center square in the town.

Unaware of their capabilities, I wanted to make sure I could adequately defend junior. After all, I need him to grow strong to repopulate the Earth with this samurai girl in order to make zombie-killing samurai babies.

Humans VS Zombies

Human combatants include ‘Melee’ and ‘Ranged’. Melee variants include a baseball bat, a machete, and the above-mentioned sword-wielding vixen. Ranged variants include an RPG, a shotgun, and assault rifles. It feels almost like a tower defense game because once you place your human, they won’t be able to move or patrol an area. This, I think, lends itself well to the sort of gameplay Mr. Gabillard is aiming for. Ranged characters are pretty strong, with the sniper being one of the most deadly as his range is great. However, he’s also slow to shoot and can’t really protect himself if swarmed by zombies.

Prepping the battlefield.

The two variants of zombies are ‘Walkers’ and ‘Runners’. They each contain various levels of strength, armor, and speed. My personal favorite zombie was the one wearing the radiation suit since he reminds me of Homer Simpson.

Placing both humans and zombies was easy as well. You can ‘paint’ them on the screen and change which order they’ll start off facing with Q and E. Combatants can be painted with four different brush sizes containing one, 10, 50, and 100 combatants per ‘brushstroke’ respectively.

There’s also a ‘Cinema’ mode that’ll disable the HUD and allow complete viewing freedom of the zombie battle. I did have a bit of difficulty getting control of the camera. It didn’t move as intuitively as I’d have hoped. In the videos, you’ll notice I was a bit jerky with my battle pans and sweeps.

SwarmZ battle

I lost count at the number of zombies I placed, but needless to say, this many on-screen combatants makes for chaos.

I tried various configurations and noticed that too many humans are pretty broken. Especially the RPG and assault rifle humans, they’ll mow down fields of zombies without breaking a sweat. In smaller numbers, however, the zombies will fair a lot better. I assume in the campaign, there’s a cost to each that won’t be as easily attained to maintain some semblance of balance. Still, it was incredibly fun to dictate how successful humans are or aren’t. I can honestly see myself losing a lot of time attempting different configurations. More humans but less barricades, interweaving walkers and runners against pistol humans, etc. The possibilities are virtually endless. If you’ve made too many mistakes you can simply clear a segment of humans or zombies by right-clicking or evaporating either side all at once.

Interview with SwarmZ developer Maximilien Gabillard

Estevan: What was your inspiration for developing SwarmZ?

Maximilien: As a programmer, I wanted to challenge myself and see how many characters a modern PC could handle, by heavily customizing the Unity engine.

I thought zombies would be a perfect match for this massive crowd feeling.

As for game design, I was very inspired by funny sandboxes like Totally Accurate Battle Simulator and Ultimate Epic Battle Simulator. We could describe SwarmZ as a blend between the two.

Estevan: What can we expect from the campaign mode?

Maximilien: The campaign mode will feature six levels with increasing difficulty. It’s very similar to the way T.A.B.S campaign mode works. The baby and zombies are already placed on the map, and you have to put barricades and humans with a limited amount of money, to beat the zombies and unlock the next level.

Estevan: Are there any plans for additional levels and human/zombie characters?

Maximilien: Not at the moment, but if the game is successful and I have the time and resources, I have plenty of ideas, for example including Mod Support (it would be fun to have The Walking Dead characters in there).

Estevan: Anything else in the works that you’d like to share?

Maximilien: I’m also working on a medieval action RTS called Sellswords: Ashen Company. It’s a blend between Total War and Mount and Blade. It’s already on Steam Early Access, but at a very early stage. This is a big project for a solo developer, so it’s taking a long time to develop, but it’s basically my dream game: combining the scale and strategy depth of a Total War while being able to control your general in the third-person like in Mount and Blade.

Final takeaways

The sandbox mode is fun. Unfortunately, there is only one map to try, but there are quite a few different ones that’ll presumably unlock once the official game releases on November 29, 2019.

I had a bit of difficulty getting the hang of the camera system. It didn’t move exactly where I thought it would, so I was constantly readjusting with the mouse scroll wheel. That being said, with a bit of practice, it wasn’t that bad. And while I understand why you’d have the humans stay still, it felt soft of defeating that the zombies could run through without interference if my human was too far left or right. But, that probably just calls for better planning on the player’s part.

Cinema mode allows the unobstructed witness of battle.

Overall, I think that the game will be worth its soft asking price. I can see anyone with a love for zombies having a blast here. I’ll hold my final thoughts for the full release of the game, but I like where this is going.

Estevan Zamora
An entrepreneur, photographer, and writer. He likes capturing beautiful images, scrubbing it up in various competitive FPS games, and browsing reddit like it's about to shut down.

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