Guns of Icarus Online is a Co-operative Airship Combat Simulator for PC. The game is developed by Muse Games who previously developed the original Guns of Icarus and CreaVures.
Guns of Icarus Online takes place after a large war which has run the earth barren. Humanity has developed technology which allows them to traverse the skies in airships. They do so seeking resources and trade to protect their livelihood. Rising from the ashes of a ruined planet, humanity has split into factions each with their own views, rules and aesthetic style. Ranging from the Mercantile Guild – seeking material gain, but never forgetting their origins – to the Arashi League – living in the harshest of environments, forced to co-operate with eachother.
One thing is true of every faction in the game; they’re fighting to survive.
In Guns of Icarus Online, you won’t get far without some friends. Each ship is manned by four crewmen. Crewmen are split into three classes; pilot, gunner and engineer. While a gunner can fly a ship, it’s obvious that you’d want a pilot to do so. Each class is given bonuses to their related activity. Pilots have trinkets they can use to push the airship to its limits, Gunners can load different types of ammo with varying effects and engineers can carry the most repair equipment. Repairing is very important, arguably more important than shooting the enemy airships. Airships have different components; balloon, engines, hull, hull armour and guns. The two most important parts of the ship are the hull and the balloon. Loss of the hull means loss of your ship – and defeat. Loss of the balloon will cause your ship to quickly plummet to the ground – but if you can repair it quickly enough, you’ll survive. The overall goal is to keep your ship in good repair and destroy the opposing ships. This requires a lot of communication between the crew. The crew will need to spot enemies and mark them with their spy glass, then the pilot has to line the ship up and call out which gun (or guns) can hit the ship. Engineers have to keep the repairs up and man any secondary guns to ensure your ship is doing enough damage to beat out the engineers repairing the enemy ship.
Luckily, you’re not alone in all of this. The game is highly co-operative and not only do you work with crew-mates on your ship, you work with other captains to manoeuvre around the enemy and focus fire on the same ship.
In Guns of Icarus Online, you can choose between an array of ships and also outfit said ship with guns of your choice. Airships have different aspects that may make you choose them, such as speed, turning speed, size, gun mount positions and in many cases, your decision will also be swayed by the map as some maps are wide, open areas and others are closed off corridor-like maps which require precision to navigate.
As previously mentioned, the game features three classes. These classes can be levelled up by gaining class-related achievements. In an environment where achievements have become a big part of gaming, this is a very interesting way to do a levelling system. Achievement-hunters are doubly-motivated to go out there and gain achievements as it will also help them progress within the game. Not only this, at time of writing, Guns of Icarus Online has a whopping 464 achievements.
Guns of Icarus Online features three game modes; Deathmatch, King of the Hill and Crazy King. Deathmatch is a traditional game in which players are split into teams and compete to reach a certain number of kills first. King of the Hill has players fight to hold control points on the map. Crazy King is a variant of King of the Hill in which the control point moves randomly through the map. They’re all fun modes, but it’d be nice to see some variety with some like a Defend the VIP mode.
Guns of Icarus Online is full of gorgeous scenic maps which have a sort of desolate, forlorn beauty to them. Vast spanning desert, littered with scrap, surrounded by dust clouds and sandstorms. Craggy peaks protruding out of rough oceans, washed blue with lightning. A desolate city, crumbling from disuse. The variety is excellent and the sky-boxes are just as good. Piercing blue skies contrasting the yellow-orange deserts. Grey skylines erupting in shards of blue lightning. All of this is accompanied by a wonderfully orchestrated soundtrack which only drives to accentuate the scenic views. The ships themselves almost contrast the beauty of the maps in their scrap-like appearance, making great use of rusted reds, browns and dull greys.
Guns of Icarus Online features a tutorial and practice mode which helps you learn the ropes of the game and practice some strategy, I say “some” because the practice mode is a bit shallow and doesn’t allow as much customisation in set-up and is also limited to one map.
The game contains an in-game shop which allows you to buy cosmetic items to further customise your character. These cosmetic items are mostly reasonably priced, with some even being outright cheap. You’ll unlock a few of these by gaining levels in the related class, so there is some element of free customisation of character, but not much.
While it can be touted as its biggest strength, it’s also its biggest weakness. The fact co-operation is absolutely required can often put you in the situation where you need to play with random players. While the majority of the community is a pleasure to deal with, you often-times run across people without microphones and sometimes bad eggs. This is normal for any game, but when co-operation is such a big thing, it stings a bit more.
Guns of Icarus Online is a great example of a co-op game and does plenty of things right. There aren’t really any comparable games, but it does what it does and it does it well. If you’re looking for a fun co-op romp with friends this is definitely one to look at.