Frost Giant’s upcoming free-to-play RTS Stormgate is hoping to push back against the idea that RTS is a difficult genre for newcomers, largely due to the genre’s history as a pillar of extremely competitive eSports. While a free-to-play model is already a solid way to welcome budding RTS fans without a financial commitment, it’s Stormgate‘s refreshing attitude toward new player approachability that makes it truly stand out among its peers. An easy-to-read UI, customizable automated assistance, and an emphasis on cooperative and campaign play are some of the highlights that make Stormgate a solid first RTS.

Game Rant recently tried out a test build of Stormgate and got a first-hand look at how easy the game can be to get into. That’s not to say Stormgate is dumbed down–Stormgate boasts a fairly complex web of interacting mechanics–but players also have more tools at their disposal than is typical of the genre to help manage the learning curve. Once players are acclimated, the “training wheels” can come off, and they’ll be in full control of every tactical decision.

Stormgate Recognizes That Most RTS Players Are Not Competitive

Although StarCraft tournaments and professional competitive streamers are the most visible aspect of RTS gaming, the truth is that the vast majority of RTS gamers are not competitive. Frost Giant’s Gerald Villoria pointed out that 75% of StarCraft 2 players never played a single ranked game, and it’s important to remember this significant but less visible audience when designing features.

I don’t know if you knew this, but 75% of StarCraft 2 players never once played a ranked game. They’d never once competed on the ladder. RTS is a genre that is largely played for the story and played with your friends. They played comp stomps. The StarCraft 2 Co-Op Commanders mode was incredibly popular. When that came out, overwhelmingly that was played the most.

One of Stormgate‘s most compelling innovations is its automated BuddyBot system, and it’s something that every RTS should probably take a close look at. BuddyBot is an optional AI assistant that can be customized to manage the player’s base building, worker training, and unit production automatically. This is a tremendously helpful feature for RTS beginners who may have trouble splitting their attention between building workers and commanding their army, though its decision-making is also not perfectly optimal. Once players have a firm grasp on strategy, they’ll likely wish to get hands-on with each of these elements.

Stormgate Is Newbie Friendly, But Not Dumbed Down

Stormgate‘s UI is also very easy to use, though ironically it may initially be mildly confusing to RTS veterans. Buildings, units, research, and advanced unlocks are accessed through tabs corresponding with the QWERT keys similar to MOBA games, though players used to other RTS titles may find themselves instinctively seeking out their barracks to queue up some units. However, this tab system cuts down significantly on keybind memorization and makes it intuitive to carry out tasks. Additionally, control groups can be automatically generated and updated so that players can press the 3 key and know that it will always select all available aerial units. Villoria says that the idea is to cut down on some of the more tedious or taxing aspects of RTS gameplay while keeping the overall strategy layer fully intact.

We just want people to enjoy RTS and to make this a more approachable RTS. We’re not making “Baby’s First RTS.” We’re definitely not going to nerf the the high skill ceiling; we want that to be limitless. We want the best players in the world to still feel like they can express themselves at the highest levels.

But we also want to make the game more approachable to the “every gamer” or even younger gamers or players with disabilities who might feel like RTS has just been outside of their possibilities zone because of how taxing it might be with the physical movements required to play the game.

So far, Stormgate seems to be a perfect entry point for gamers who have been intimidated by RTS games in the past due to their reputation as being extremely complex and competitive. With a friendly feature set, a narrative-heavy campaign, and plenty of co-op opportunities, this might be the game that marks a refreshing new era for RTS.



Frost Giant Studios’ Stormgate is an upcoming free-to-play real-time strategy game. Envisioning a post-apocalyptic landscape, the game seeks to offer an accessible entry point into the genre.

Frost Giant Studios

Frost Giant Studios

Real-Time Strategy

Unreal Engine


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