First-time RTS developer Daedelic Entertainment, best known for its point-and-click adventure games, has set itself a bit of a challenge with A Year of Rain. It's a co-op RTS where players control hero-led armies across a campaign and skirmishes, and it's already gunning for a slice of the esports pie.
Three factions are fighting over a pretty miserable-looking realm, clashing in battles that promise to mix traditional RTS shenanigans like gathering resources, building and upgrading a base, and recruiting an army with a focus on legendary heroes and teamwork.
It will be "esports-ready" at launch, says Daedelic, with a league system, leaderboards, competitive seasons, replays and an observer mode. A 2v2 skirmish mode is being designed specifically for competitive matches, too.
Games designed with esports in mind are often the least successful when it comes to their focus, and RTS games continue to be largely played for their singleplayer campaigns. Even StarCraft 2, the most popular RTS for almost a decade, relies on its exceptional trio of solo campaigns. A multiplayer-focused esports RTS, then, seems like quite a risk, especially when it's the studio's very first game in the genre.
A Year of Rain's co-op campaign can be played solo, however, so it's not entirely dependent on you finding some mates or randos to play with. Every mission is designed for two players, but Player 2 doesn't need to be human. The AI can take control of the second hero, though hopefully we'll still have some way to give orders and work together.
As well as the campaign and the 2v2 skirmish, there's also an asymmetric co-op mode, with two heroes taking on two whole armies, full of units and buildings. I assume the heroes will get a bit of a buff to take on this particular challenge. They each come with unique, powerful abilities and skills both magical and martial in all the modes.
I'm cautiously intrigued! I'm staunchly solo when it comes to all but a few strategy games, but I do love the occasional co-op comp stomp, which this promises to have in spades. We've got a dearth of good RTS games, and I've got a big itch that needs scratching.
Keep an eye out for A Year of Rain's Early Access launch this year. In the meantime, there's a Steam page with more details.