A Tactical Battlefield For Ambitious Players
Phew, it’s been a long time since we first heard of Eximius: Seize The Frontline back in 2016 as part of Steam Greenlight (Who still remembers it?). Now the ambitious mix of multiplayer shooter and real-time strategy has finally been launched on Steam. After a long development period, a dispute with the former publisher, and a long and successful early access phase, has Ammobox Studios from Malaysia achieved their first big hit?
In Eximius: Seize The Frontline, two parties face each other to fight in a post-apocalyptic world. Class-based squads of up to five players battle for supremacy on expansive maps, secure resources and control points while spraying bullets at their enemies. So far, the game sounds like the little brother of EA’s successful Battlefield series. Unlike the big AAA competitor’s recent releases, however, Eximius brings back the tactical element of the commander, who issues commands from a bird’s eye view, assigns AI troops and vehicles, expands the base and initiates special skills such as airstrikes or supply drops. Wait, the commander is building the base? You read that right; in Commander Mode, the game not only plays like a first-person shooter but also reminds you of a classic real-time strategy game due to its bird-eye view. In a way, Eximius is a modern representative of a genre hybrid that we had believed to be forgotten since classics like Battlezone or Command & Conquer: Renegade.
The gameplay seems complicated, and in the beginning, it surely is. Despite an extensive tutorial and help video, Eximius initially overwhelms new players with its multitude of functions, game mechanisms and the confusing UI. It takes a while to get used to the game and grip all the weapons, vehicles and upgrades. During a battle, something’s simply happening all the time: take control points, give orders to AI companions, buy new equipment, pay attention to the commander’s requests, and much more … Sometimes, you just don’t know where your head is.
But if you stick with it and let the friendly community help you, you will soon recognise the game’s fascinating complexity. Unlike the Battlefield series, it’s all about team play. You won’t get very far without communication, and the individual skills, troops, and the correct positioning towards the enemy are essential. Anyone who rushes blindly into battle has little chance of success. On the other hand, if you listen to your commander, use your squad skillfully and acquire the right equipment, including the cool battlesuits, you can look forward to some challenging, tactical and heavily armed conflicts.
So is Eximius the longed-for tactical shooter dream? Not quite. The biggest problem of the game, besides the inaccessible onboarding, is the size of the maps. Up to 10 human players take part in each game, and the battlefields are simply too large for that. Although AI troops are present on the battlefield so that there is more going on overall, there is still far too much dead space where nothing happens. Less would have been more here.
Graphically, however, Eximius makes an excellent impression thanks to the Unreal engine. Even if the textures often have a low resolution and therefore appear slightly blurry, Ammobox Studios conjures believably beautiful urban scenarios. Overall, however, the style lacks its own identity, with many of the characters, weapons and vehicles appearing in too generic sci-fi design. The sound, on top of that, seems flat and meager in many instances. Despite the atmospheric “battlefield announcers”, here genre competitors are far ahead.
The biggest challenge for indie multiplayer games is the lack of a large enough player base. So far, we can give an “all-clear” for Eximius regarding this point. After the release on March 16, 2021, we always found enough other players, even for skirmish or PVE matches. It is up to the developers to ensure that this remains the case in the future.
Overall, however, you can tell their passion for Eximius. The long development time and the early access phase are positively noticeable because the game runs well from a technical point of view (except for a few connection problems) and seemed well balanced during our first games. It is commendable that Ammobox Studios continues to provide the game with patches, updates and multiplayer events even after its release.
In the end, one can say that the Eximius experiment was a success. Ammobox Studios has succeeded in making a competitive multiplayer shooter that stands out from the competition with its tactical RTS elements. Even if the graphics, sound and polishing cannot keep up on AAA level, the overall package is satisfactory enough, and its complex gameplay primarily appeals to experienced gamers.
Eximius: Seize The Frontline is available for PC on Steam. This review is based on a free review copy provided by the game’s PR agency.