I haven’t really played an RTS in quite some time, so getting a chance to look at a new up-and-comer was a pleasing prospect. Having loved Command and Conquer, Starcraft, Warcraft, and others like the oldie Ground Control I was excited to look at this game developed by a single person over the course of years.
The subsequent disappointment was pretty crushing.
Meridian: New World is a real-time-strategy game set in the somewhat-far future that tells the story of Daniel Hanson, “commander of the first mission to a remote planet called Meridian.” Starting up the game, you’re asked to create a name for your commander and pick a starting skill from a choice of one.
You’ll be playing as Daniel Hanson in the campaign, though, so don’t get comfy. The handle name only applies in multiplayer, though who will be playing this game there is anyone’s guess.
Meridian is gorgeous and smooth, but makes far too many mistakes just out of the gate for me to want to stick around for the full game. Notably, one of those mistakes is making this game available for “early access.” In its unfinished state, it fails to appeal at all nor does it inspire any sort of confidence that the end product will be worth playing, let alone money.
Meridian, as previously stated, is graphically well-made. Unit textures seem crisp (there’s no zoom to check for sure), and the environments are rendered nicely in a pseudo-3D (there’s no rotating camera to check for sure). The interface is futuristic, and everything responds well to the inputs and quick commands necessary to play a modern RTS.
The compliments pretty much end there. The game itself is boring, and trips itself up too often to get a player invested. First off, was the attempt at commander customization. If we’re going to play as Daniel Hanson, make us play Daniel Hanson and just give us the skill tree. Too many RTS’ separate the commander from the game, or make the player a character like C&C; half-assing it won’t cut it.
As an RTS, the game itself falls short in a number of gameplay areas. Available to play is a single faction, and there are zero plans to introduce any others. This faction also boasts a tech tree represented by less than 10 icons’ worth of buildings, and there are only seven units that can be built (only one of them is infantry).
Buildings themselves are standard. Barracks, factories, tech center, aircraft tower, turret control center with satellite turrets, power plants, and unfortunately there’s no ‘etc.’ That’s it. Resources are limited to “shardium,” and it is the only resource needed.
Where Meridian: New World tries to set itself apart is the customization aspect. Why bother having 20 different units when you can simply spec out a Chimera mech with five different weapons? Each weapon other than the basic laser combats a certain type of unit strongly, and everything else at a base level. Some restrict targets to ground only, like the infantry-shredding auto cannon. Even mining and construction units are built from the light mech “Chimera.”
Other specialties include the commander’s special abilities. Some of these include healing units, creating small one-time explosions, and others. They run off a separate energy bar that very slowly regenerates over time, keeping the player from continuously healing units and trying to wait for the bar to fill up.
Of the small campaign available and skirmishes to play, none of these customizations mattered at all. Despite the game featuring a large range of this-beats-that and that-beats-something-else opportunity, the missions were simple. Though they featured some nifty mechanics including a 25-wave-long turret defense segment, they were winnable with the usual strategy of stocking up a bread’n’butter unit and assaulting the enemy full-force.
Pathfinding issues were also abound, death in an RTS where micromanagement goes a long way to victory. Units themselves were also boring; with the tech available, there wasn’t any reason to build anything other than units with the strongest weapon possible to the maximum capacity and flinging them at the enemy until the victory bell sounded.
Meridian: New World is ‘looking’ good out of the gate, but its release in this unfinished state isn’t helping it much. Though the campaign will no doubt be extended beyond its initial baby steps, the story was boring and failed to engage. With no plans to expand on factions or even the tech tree of the one playable race, Meridian: New World doesn’t really have anything new to show.