Tactical strategy titles have always been a tough affair with big names like XCOM and Company of Heroes making a mark on the industry above all else. That being said, that doesn’t mean other companies like King Art Games aren’t taking a stab at it. The developer revealed Iron Harvest: 1920+, a tactical strategy game set in an alternative World War 2 history featuring steampunk technology and mechs. Though still a long way off, the overall aesthetic has us intrigued, and unlike most strategy games it’s heading to the Xbox One and PS4 as well as PC.
GamingBolt had a chance to speak to Julian Strzoda of King Art Games about the concept, the overall gameplay mechanics and inspirations behind Iron Harvest: 1920+. What makes it so special? Find out below.
"We’re going to do a similar structure with one big, overarching story and three campaigns, one for each faction. So there is a certain order in which you should play the campaigns."
Iron Harvest: 1920+ looks extremely compelling, especially since the initial gameplay reveal. What was it like moving from a series like The Book of Unwritten Tales to an RTS with such a tactical scale?
Thanks! We’ve done other genres before, like turn-based strategy with “Battle Worlds: Kronos” or RTS/RPG with “The Dwarves”. So this isn’t the first time we tackled a new genre. Nonetheless, Iron Harvest is our biggest and most ambitious project yet, of course. We like a challenge!
What inspired the game’s concept and core aesthetic? What was it like working with Polish artist Jakub Rozalski?
I saw Jakub’s work for the first time three or four years ago and was blown away by it. A couple of years later we were thinking about making an RTS in the tradition of Company of Heroes and I remembered his work. He was very excited about the idea and he’s very much involved in the production today. He designs all the mechs and characters. Fortunately, he’s not only a great artist but also a great human being, so working with him is a blast.
We know about the game’s three main factions. Can players choose from any faction while starting the game or will all three be playable in the campaign?
We played many, many RTS campaigns as research and for us, the best RTS campaign out there still is Warcraft 3’s (including Frozen Throne). We’re going to do a similar structure with one big, overarching story and three campaigns, one for each faction. So there is a certain order in which you should play the campaigns.
What are some of the different units and heroes for each faction, especially given their underlying philosophies and resources?
Each of the three factions has three playable heroes, each with a unique playstyle. For example, Polania has a sniper hero (stealth, long range), a mech hero (slow, lots of firepower) and a cavalry hero (multiple units, speed). In general, each faction has a slightly different combat focus but it’s more like the different factions in Company of Heroes or other war games than the completely different factions in Warcraft or Dawn of War. Each faction uses the same resource type.
"We think there is a lack of real-time strategy games where indeed your strategy and tactics are the key for success, instead of dexterity and ‘clicks per minute’."
The game is touted as having a dynamic storyline. Will certain win conditions be available to change the direction of the story?
No. The storyline is not dynamic. The missions within the campaign however are as dynamic and open as possible. The idea is: We give the players tough obstacles and various tools to overcome them. How they go about it is up to them.
Can you tell us more about the open, sandbox-style levels? Will there be different side-quests that players can discover while exploring the world?
Absolutely. We think players want a sense of freedom in how to approach a task and how to deal with obstacles. In each map, there are different ways to reach your goals, some of them more obvious than others. (And we’re pretty sure players will come up with solutions we won’t even have thought of ourselves, which is exactly what we want.)
Thus far, Iron Harvest has been compared to Company of Heroes and Rozalski even noted that there was a bit of XCOM involved. How does this work with regards to the cover mechanics and destructible environments? How does Iron Harvest differ from those games?
We think there is a lack of real-time strategy games where indeed your strategy and tactics are the key for success, instead of dexterity and ‘clicks per minute’. In many games, it’s more about managing your economy and throwing units into battle faster than your opponent does. We don’t want “blobs” of units. Instead, we want to give players time to explore all possibilities, to come up with a plan, execute this plan and adjust it on-the-fly if necessary. A cover system in which units behind cover are relatively save, slows the gameplay down. We think that’s a good thing because it gives you time to come up with a new plan.
Furthermore, how will the mechs work in-game? Will they be super units that players can use every now and then?
Mechs are the equivalent of tanks or armoured vehicles in other games. So they are not super rare, but they are always a threat. Even heroes are not super-powerful. What makes them special is that they have more skills and therefore more options in combat than other units.
"That’s one of the biggest challenges because we think it has never been done perfectly. We’re still in early development, but our UI and controls tests with gamepads are very promising."
Iron Harvest will be coming to consoles as well as PC. How difficult was it to translate the RTS gameplay to consoles with regards to the interface and controls?
That’s one of the biggest challenges because we think it has never been done perfectly. We’re still in early development, but our UI and controls tests with gamepads are very promising. We don’t want to compromise the PC version, so there are two completely different UIs and controls for both input methods. The PC controls are pretty much what you would expect from a modern RTS, there is not that much room for improvement compared to the console controls.
When can we expect the game to release?
We’ll decide early next year whether we’re going to do a Kickstarter for Iron Harvest or not. If we do a Kickstarter, a backer alpha version would be available 2018, but the release is scheduled for late 2019.
The game is coming on the PS4 and Xbox One as well. What frame rate and resolution are you targeting for both? 1080p and 60fps?
1080p for sure, but we don’t know about FPS yet. Again, we don’t want to compromise the PC version,so it might be a problem to obtain a stable 60fps on these consoles.
Will the game run at native 4K and 60fps on the Xbox One X?
I think there is a good chance to achieve 1080p/60fps and probably 4K/30fps, but I’m not so sure about 4K/60fps.
"There’ll never be such a thing as enough memory. Ever. Of course it’s great to have more memory available. But in the end, the differences won’t be dramatic."
Do you think the Xbox One X’s weaker CPU hold it back?
For “The Dwarves” the CPU was, in fact, the bottle neck on Xbox One, not GPU. At the time Iron Harvest will be released, the original consoles will be 6+ years old. It’s always a problem when PC and console hardware capabilities drift too far apart (Although I think this time the problem isn’t as big as it has been for the previous generation.)
Are you aiming for parity between PS4 Pro and Xbox One X, or will you push the latter to its limits?
As a small developer we don’t have dedicated developers working on Xbox One X or PlayStation 4 Pro. We’re going to have seven different quality settings. Three for PCs (high, medium, low + custom) and one for each console. For each setting we’ll try to figure out the best compromise between visuals and performance. So, yes, if a system is more powerful it’ll get the better version of the game, but we’re probably not going to write specific code for any of the platforms.
From a development perspective, what are the advantage of 12GB memory in Xbox One X?
There’ll never be such a thing as enough memory. Ever. Of course it’s great to have more memory available. But in the end, the differences won’t be dramatic. For example: It’s not enough memory to double the size of all textures in the game or something like that. So, yes, there will be more stuff and stuff will be higher quality. But the differences won’t be huge.
Is there anything else you want to tell our readers before we let you go?
If you’re part of our Facebook community I would like to say: Thank you. The involvement of our fans on there is insane. Whenever we ask questions or we would like some feedback, we got 500 competent answers within the hour. That’s a first for us and its great to see that there is so much enthusiasm for this project!