DwarfHeim (PC) Preview

By Eric Ace 31.10.2020

Review for DwarfHeim on PC

Trying to throw a new spin on the real-time strategy genre, developer Pineleaf Studio delivers DwarfHeim, a game in which the 3v3 setting locks players into specific roles. Not completely unique to the RTS world (all the way back in the 90's, Starcraft had a similar mode of 'sharing' a single team), the idea of having multiple players control only one team is sufficiently rare for how much more realistic the idea actually is. Forcing a balance between sharing resources, priorities, and counting on fellow teammates, the game presents with a unique feel even if the fundamentals are largely a staple of typical RTS fare.

For all intents and purposes, DwarfHeim is as basic as it gets for the general RTS fantasy game: slowly building up an economy, expanding the town, building some military and eventually killing the enemy. At the very least, it lessens the learning curve, allowing more time for the main gimmick of the game, which is the shared team control. While not completely new to the genre (Blizzard games featured types of share-control modes), it largely is a novel idea of having a bunch of players on a single team trying to share resources to outcompete the other team.

At the start of a match, one of three roles can be picked: builder, miner or warrior. This is the set job for the entire battle. Builders focus on the more conventional economic engine side of a strategy game which involves constructing farms, chopping wood, building houses and walls and so on. Miners work a type of logistics system by getting different metals from underground that are needed for upgrades and better units. Lastly, warriors predictably do the fighting with the units.

The key gimmick, in case it was not obvious, is that everyone relies on everyone else. The warrior is absolutely hamstrung if the builder and miner are not pumping resources out; conversely the builder can watch their town be destroyed because there are not any fighting units defending them. Balance with the own team is critical to winning. Examples include that, early on, food and wood are vital. While the miner is trying to get metal production going, the builder is trying to use these to get an overall economy going, so they have to balance who uses what and when.

Screenshot for DwarfHeim on PC

As far as how the game itself plays, it feels like a very typical RTS, if lacking a few quality of life aspects. Many workers, for example, have very bad AI when it comes to trying to auto-assign them to tasks, selection of units is weak, and the controls just feel a bit off. Other complaints are things like resources looking very, very similar (there are 3 to 4 resources that all look like grey blocks). Within the jobs there is not truly that much to do. For example, the builder gets some food, some wood, builds a few houses and walls and calls it good.

The idea seems great in theory, but in practice it will be interesting to see how the fan base takes it. In other team-share games, a good player can still largely carry team, but because roles are locked here, even the best builder or warrior can lose simply because of a bad teammate. Still in early access, hopefully some of the problems mentioned above get addressed.

Specifically though, there needs to be much focus on the way the roles and resources are shared, because a set team will absolutely mow down a random team and this imbalance would quickly tank the user base. One last concern is how much depth there will be to the game, as early on there is some interest in bouncing between jobs, but ultimately it is not very intricate, requiring less than average understanding of a typical RTS system which may quickly lead to boredom.

Screenshot for DwarfHeim on PC

Final Thoughts

Still in early access, the idea of shared control of a team is a unique take on RTS. Each player has a very distinct role which gives a degree of replayability. However, this is a very dangerous gamble as an outstanding player cannot carry a team, and a bad player can single-handed wreck a team, which will likely lead to many people upset at the structure of the game. At a very high level of play it would actually be interesting watching a delicate balance of resource usage and teamwork, but at low levels it would be largely seen as frustrating.

Developer

Pineleaf Studio

Publisher

Merge Games

Genre

Strategy

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  n/a

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   

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